A Staggering 24,932 Friends on MySpace

I had always wanted to be a star. Who didn’t? It was the best thing to be ever since the Lumière brothers figured out how to document one’s movements for all to see on a mass scale. Immortalized forever on a screen. Of course, I wasn’t necessarily the most attractive thing that could be rendered in celluloid–but that didn’t matter anymore. So long as you were willing to make a fool of yourself, you were a strong candidate for fame not just in the U.K., but worldwide. That I could incorporate the many humiliating anecdotes from my life into song lyrics was certainly helpful to my cause of gaining enough illustriousness to make money as well. So I started to do just that, around late 2003, right after MySpace was created. I was eighteen and had come back from a summer spent in Ibiza, on the part of the island overrun with Brits called Sant Antoni de Portmany. I had a cousin there–Allistair–who was three years older than me and had started DJing at the lesser loved clubs (he was never going to get a gig at Amnesia, let’s just say that), and he had suggested that I put some of my lyrics to his tracks as a sort of experiment to see how the crowd might react. I didn’t imagine it would be favorably as I half-rapped, half-sang, “Monday morning he was making me cum, Tuesday night I thought he was dumb/This is what they call the twenty-something crack whore rhythm.”

To my surprise, the crowd was bewitched by my tales of male woe and neglect. Maybe things were changing. Maybe the world was finally actually ready to embrace female stories instead of flagrantly ignoring them. Maybe they were all X’d out of their minds. I didn’t care, I was lapping up the feeling of being adored, of my words carrying weight with thousands of strangers. When I got back to London in September, I immediately got to work on writing more songs. Within two months, I had sixteen tracks, more than enough to compile an album. The problem was, Allistair was the extent of who I knew in the “music business” to “pass something along to.” So clearly, I was right back where I started even though I had an actual product to peddle. It was one night while depressively drinking too much vodka on ice that it occurred to me I could just upload it to MySpace. Why the fuck not? I had enough random friends on there that I didn’t really know to serve as an objective audience that could perhaps disseminate the knowledge of my music if they liked it. Wasn’t word of mouth always the best way to feel as though success was real anyway? Instead of bought off like a politician’s seat in office?

So, in that fit of drunken brilliance, I uploaded five of my songs, the titles being, “Shit-Eating Grin,” “Drunk, Not In Love” (Beyonce definitely ripped that off from me), “Britney Spears Effigy,” “The Customer Is Always Right (to Give Me Head)” and “Ibiza Slut Club.” Laughing to myself as I reviewed all of these titles and how not a one of them was designed for commercial consumption, I turned my computer off and went to bed. The next afternoon (I woke up at around 12:45), when I turned it back on (for even at that time, we were being conditioned as a society to “plug in” each day to the matrix upon entering so-called consciousness), I was stunned. “Shit-Eating Grin” alone had been played 300,786 times. I couldn’t fathom it. How had it spread so rapidly? Like chlamydia, or stupidity. Unsure of what to do with this information, I called Allistair. Maybe he would have some insight.

Instead, all he said was, “Shit.”

It didn’t help me very much, so I kind of had to figure out where to go from there on my own. I started selling my own limited-edition pressings of seven-inch singles as a shtick that also miraculously started working, prompting people to go into the record shops on the High Street and ask for my work by name. Soon, I was selling out shows at small and medium-sized venues all over London. By mid-2004, the record labels finally caught on–they were kind of forced to when I was featured on the cover of The Observer Music Monthly. In it, the journalist that had interviewed me about my meteoric rise at a time when the purpose of the record label was frequently being called into question felt the need to quantify my value in the intro with the statistic, “She’s got a staggering 24,932 friends on MySpace, is selling out shows every week in London, Manchester and Birmingham and can’t keep her seven-inch singles on the shelves for more than ten minutes. What’s next for Rory Blake? Only she can answer that.”

Well, in truth, I still haven’t answered it. I’m famous thanks to the internet. It’s a strange feeling. And one that I might not ever fully get over. Mainly because I’m just a hair bitter over the fact that I wasn’t given a chance to have a “Lana Turner story,” you know. There is no “discovery,” no “lore” to being made famous by the 0s and 1s that control the screens that have somehow learned what it takes to unlock our increasingly nonexistent hearts. Can it be said that it was a “platform” I would never have “made it” without? Of course. But I think, the truth is, my “fortune” feels hollow without that bona find rags to riches–I struggled, clawed tooth and nail to make it–backstory.

Oh shit, the maid is coming to bring me some strawberries to go with my champagne and bubblebath. I’ve simply got to run, and jot down some quick lyrics for a frivolous little ditty called “Strawberry Whore Cake.” Maybe I’m wrong to feel a “lack” for having risen to the top in this twenty-first century manner. For, other than youth, wealth is so much more inspirational than poverty. And in order to stay young, well, you’ve got to be rich. Or exist solely on the internet.

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