I am a Rammstein fangirl. I freely admit this, and I am not ashamed. I perv endlessly over Richard's chest and jawline and that finely-sculpted ass, and over Till's booming voice and muscular arms. I dribble over Christoph's eyes. I wouldn't even kick Paul out of bed, though Flake would be left at the coat check. I find Rammstein sexually attractive. Sue me.
I am also a Rammstein fan. I came to their music, not through videos or photos, but through a book of creepy love songs. Touch me, I'm Sick: The fifty-Two Creepiest Love Songs, by Tom Reynolds, if you're interested. He featured "Heirate Mich". I read his analysis and was hooked, and the next day, I ran out and bought Sehnsucht and Mutter. By the end of the week, I'd bought the rest of their catalogue. It was love at first listen, and I've never looked back.
I came to their music before I knew what they looked like. I loved it before I thought to like them. That I ever knew what they looked like was a happy accident of buying their albums. If artists truly wanted their art to be the only commodity in which a fan had interested, then they wouldn't plaster pictures of themselves all over the art. Yes, art is beauty at its heart, and comfort, and commentary, and all those lofty notions that poets and patchouli-soaked beatniks palaver about to the strains of a sumac bush being pruned by a phlegmatic wood chipper, but it's also vanity and self-promotion. Artists wouldn't put their work up for public scrutiny and consumption if they weren't pig-headed enough to think the rest of the world could or should give a damn about their artfully arranged and carefully composed thoughts on yaoi.
So, they put the pictures on the albums, and I noticed. Oh, did I notice. How could I not? I had eyes, and they had chiseled jaws and bulging pectoral muscles and piercing eyes. They exuded a raw sensuality that appealed to me. I started as a Till lover, but quickly switched allegiances to Richard. The man was a stone cold fox. Even better? Unlike the rest of the band, who behaved like a family of constipated meerkats, giving terse, disinterested interviews and fleeing from the merest hint of attention, Richard was a chatty soul and wouldn't hesitate to give you his thoughts on yaoi, plus his thoughts on hentai, slash, and that short-lived wheelchair-bound Barbie that never fit into the dream house. He embraced the attention and the fans and didn't treat them as necessary evils to be exploited for their money and then scraped from the bottom of his shoes.
I liked Richard, and I wanted to know more about him, and so I went looking for information--interviews, articles, videos. I scoured fansites and music sites and Youtube. I became a magpie, collecting every bit of information that I could find. In searching for "him", I discovered his side project, Emigrate. I, who at the time, scarcely had a pot to piss in, scraped together the money to order the Emigrate CD and have it shipped.
And in looking for Richard, I learned about the others. That Christoph served in the East German army. That Paul was actually named Heiko, and that he'd lived in Russia for a year. That Olli was an only child. That Flake was a fine classical pianist who despised America. That Richard had been abused by his father and stepfather. That Till wrote poetry. I would not have made the effort to dig this deeply if I hadn't first been drawn to them by bare chests and chiseled jaws. Physical attraction might be shallow, but if indulged, it can sometimes become deeper, admiration, or perhaps even love.
I'm not one of those tinhat-clad kooks who claims a special connection with Rammstein. I don't know them from a hole in the ground, and what I do "know" is little more than the public persona they choose to project. For all I know, they're complete tools who sit around their expensive houses, drinking Cristal and laughing at their gullible fans. But I like what I see, what they let me see, and I wouldn't have seen it if I hadn't seen them first.
So, yes, I'm a Rammstein fangirl. I am also a Rammstein fan. One who adores the music and loves their sly humor and their cutting cultural commentary, and the hubris with which they thumb their noses at the label of being a Nazi band simply by dint of being German. I am a fan because I was allowed to be a fangirl first, and to grow into something else as well. I am a fan because older fans were patient enough to let me drool and twitter and leer.
And make no mistake; I am a fangirl still. Fangirl and fan are not mutually exclusive states of being, not a binary system. I still dribble over Richard and write fanfiction and daydream about what they're like in bed, but I also wonder if he still feels unloved and unworthy, or if Flake still thinks the U.S. is an irredeemable cesspool of acultural depravity. I think Richard has a magnificent ass, but I also think that "Los" has one of the nastiest grooves in rock, music for a coffeehouse strip joint. I'm in awe that he created that, and grateful that he chose to share it. Is my awe or gratitude less valid because I think the man who inspired it is sex on a stick?
I am a fangirl, but I am not stupid. There is a time and place for fangirlish behavior. It is not when in the presence of the person you admire. They deserve respect, and if I were ever to be in front of Richard or Till or any member of Rammstein, I wouldn't dare mention the effect their chest is having on my libido. That would be crass and immature and insulting and minimize the impact their music has had on my life.
I would, however, return from my encounter and squee from the rooftops to fellow fans. I would swoon over their hotness and recount with relish every detail, including their ass and the way they smelled. That's what fans do, and it doesn't make me a bad or lesser fan.
If it makes fans feel better about their fannishness to claim that their reasons for being a fan are purer and nobler than mine, then they can knock themselves out and dislocate their shoulders patting themselves on the back, but they also run the risk of nipping fledgling fannishness in the bud and discouraging squeeing fangirls from becoming lifelong fans, because who wants to stay where they aren't wanted or are ridiculed for not being "right" enough? If my early experiences in Rammfen hadn't been so positive, I might not have stayed around long enough to appreciate the group as people. Who wants to support a band that attracts jerks, even if the music is sublime?
I'm a fangirl, but I'm not an idiot incapable of respecting the men as individuals, and to look down your nose at me because you don't think I view them in the proper context is your failure, not mine, nor is it my responsibility to police my fannish behavior to meet your narrow, elitist, better-fan-than-you standards.
Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to listen to Rammstein and have a good time. You know, like Rammstein intended.