Saturday night I shot a fairly large show on assignment. The gig was so much fun; the crowd was courteous to my needs as a photographer without a pit, the band I was there to shoot was incredibly gracious, and everyone playing put on a hell of a show. At the end of the night I went over to the merch booth to buy a record and stood to the side of the table chatting with the lead guitarist as the rest of the guys in the band signed it. A woman walked up to us and said “You shouldn’t have to be back there. You guys should find a groupie to sell shirts so you can meet your fans” and cut her eyes at me. I like to think I’m pretty collected and professional but that cut me deep.
A few years ago, I was hanging out with Toadies and Everclear after they wrapped up a show in St. Louis and I got the chance to chat up the girl that was working their merch booth for the tour. When I asked her how she got the gig she said she was lucky because she had been friends with the guys in the band. We ended up having a long, passionate talk about just how fucking hard it is being a lady in the music industry.
Women are viewed as a liability. What if you decide you want to sleep around on tour? What if you get knocked up? What if their wives don’t feel comfortable with you being on the road with the band? We’re told to stand aside while men do load in/load out. We are viewed as meek and delicate. We are called groupies.
So the next time you see a gal standing side stage, in a booth slinging merch, or literally anywhere in the venue doing something that can even resemble work know that she busted her ass to be there because the odds are stacked against us.