Judy Garland fans are hardcore. I should know, I’m one of them. Garfans (as I call them) are divided into two groups: the fans and the freaks. Call them Garfans and Garfreaks, if you will. Garfreaks constitute one of the most hardcore celebrity fan bases out there. They define the term “fan” in the basic sense: fan. noun. an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: a baseball fan; a great fan of Charlie Chaplin. They also define the term in the most extreme sense: noun. 1520s, “insane person,” from Latin fanaticus “mad, enthusiastic, inspired by a god,” also “furious, mad,” originally, “pertaining to a temple,” from fanum “temple,” related to festus “festive.” Meaning “zealous person” is mid-17c. As an adjective, in English, 1530s, “furious;” meaning “characterized by excessive enthusiasm,” especially in religion (of Nonconformists), is from 1640s.
Perhaps only Marilyn and Elvis fans are as hardcore as the most ardent Garfreaks. Maybe Trekkers (Star Trek fans). By hardcore I mean that they will say and do anything to achieve what they perceive as fame within their ranks, even if that means stooping to slander, theft, smear campaigns – you name it, they’ve done it! Think of a spotlight whore on L.S.D.
I should stop here for a bit of clarification before I alienate every fan I know. I use the terms Garfans and Garfreaks differently. Garfans are the nice, well adjusted, regular fans out there. Garfreaks take their fandom to the most extreme level, usually with victims of their nasty deeds left in their wake. When the term “Drama Queen” was first used, it just had to be in reference to a Garfreak!
Garfans and Garfreaks generally refer to themselves as a “community.” Community is not a word I would choose. Not for the Garfreaks. If anything, they’re more of an anti-community. There isn’t much of a communal aspect to be found. Well, not unless you’re part of one of the clusters of covens. If you are, then you’re in over your head and need serious counseling. These covens are part of a subculture twice removed. The largest circle encompasses the subculture of fan bases of all celebrities, with each individual fan base being a subculture of that. Under that we have the coven subcultures. Cult is the word first used to describe Garfreaks by the press in the 1960s. I agree with that. Garfreakdom is most definitely a cult. Look it up. All the players are there: The goddess (Judy Garland); the high priests (self appointed experts); and the rabble (the sheep that blindly follow the high priests).
On the flip side we have the Garfans who really ARE a community. Just regular middle class suburban types who enjoy their common love of Judy Garland. They’ll talk about her, agree, disagree, but always with the upbeat and positive attitude and outlook that Garland herself gave to us through her performances. They’re not pathological. They don’t turn everything into a competition where the stakes are ——— nothing. These are the people who make it all worthwhile. Wading through the minefield of Garfreaks to get to the real fans is worth it in the long run. You’ll make some wonderful lifelong friends if you can endure the trek.
A fanatic is someone who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
– – attributed to Winston Churchill
For more than half a century now, the most pathological and and insane of these Garfreaks – who are also the most vocal – have given the Garfans a really bad reputation. “Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?” Oh yes. Garfreaks are looked upon by the rest of celebrity fandom, and the rest of the entertainment industry for that matter, as “those crazy Garland freaks.” This is unfortunate. Tell anyone on the outside that you’re a Garland fan and they will probably look at you with a befuddled or confused look. Or they’ll roll their eyes. Whatever the case, they’ll immediately assume that you’re crazy. Or they’ll assume you’re gay. Gay men have been linked to Judy Garland since the 1940s, although it wasn’t until the late 1960s that the media began to remark about the rather odd fellows who seemed to be taking over her concerts. Straight men who are Garland fans hide their fandom as much as a gay men who are still in the closet hide their sexuality. That’s how big that stigma is. Judy Garland isn’t seen as one of the top gay icons of all time for nothing.
Before I go on, let me get this off my chest: I love Judy Garland. I do! Well, I don’t love her in a physical sense of course. What I love and have always loved is her talent. For my money, she was the greatest singer-actress of the 20th century. I love watching her perform or simply listening to her sing. That voice! When people ask me “Why Judy? What IS it about her that attracts you to her?” I always respond with “Her voice. There’s something about the way she sings that gets me every time.” Over the years, I have wafted back and forth as a Garfan and a Garfreak. The freak part was the result of my allowing myself to get sucked into the tornado of drama by the Garfreaks. No, I didn’t steal or anything like that, but I’m not proud of allowing the hardcore Garfreaks get to me. Baptism by fire, as they say.
This web series chronicles my experiences, good and bad, in this wacky world of Judy Garland fandom. I start at the beginning before the Internet came along, and continue up to the present day. It’s all done with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. Sure, there’s drama. There’s mud flinging. There are some really horrible, nasty actions by many people out there. But there is much joy and happiness too! Let’s face it – we’re talking Judy Garland fan stuff here, not state secrets or the inner workings of terrorist groups. No one outside of our community gives a shit about any of this stuff. Really! It’s not a big deal at all. And therein lies most of the comedy in all of this. The passion and seriousness exhibited by the players in these chapters will have you cracking up. Or rolling your eyes. Or maybe their insane zealousness will have you running for the hills. Whatever the case, or at the very least, it’s entertaining. And that’s what Judy Garland was all about wasn’t she? Entertainment!
© 2015 Scott Brogan, The Judy Room & Judy Garland News & Events
Back to Preface | Continue to Chapter One “My Early Years”
Hi Scott. I understand completely now that I’ve been dragged through this over the last few weeks.
To Miss Rapp: I would caution you to read more carefully as you have it completely inverted: to use Scott’s parlance, Stevie Phillips is not a “Garfreak,” she is woman who had a very long and successful entertainment industry career who has now written a memoir. The “Garfreaks” are the folks are attacking her and her book without reading it! She was not an employee. She worked for Freddie Fields and David Begelman. Garland was their client. You would understand all this if you read the book. You’re playing right into Scott’s narrative only you don’t realize it.
As for the book, which I covered for my website stargayzing.com and for the Huffington Post, it is about much more than JG and was, for me, a very compelling and straight forward story of a woman’s ambition to succeed in show business.
We are all free to have our own opinions, but I must speak up when folks proffer a position without the benefit of having done any due diligence. If you took the time to read the book, I bet you would find yourself identifying much more with Phillips than with stars she represented.
There was a wonderful Judy group about 15 to 20 years ago, I think it was on either Yahoo groups or AOL groups, it was run by a Judy fan who lived in Arizona – Tuscon I think. It had members from around the world
I forgot his name, but I remember he posted an article about him in the local paper, showing his home with the walls covered in Judy-bilia.
He was a riot – very funny and witty. If you didn’t cross him he was always helpful with stories and answers to questions. But if you rubbed him the wrong way – watch out! He would skewer you with a devastating comment that was often very funny – to somebody else!
I was always meaning to archive the site and comments by copying some of the best threads.. But alas, one day the group became too much for him to deal with and he deleted the group, taking all the great conversations and comments with it.
Would anyone remember his name by any chance.. Maybe he’s reading this now!
I believe you’re talking about the Yahoo Group “Judy Chat” which was run by the late Eric Hemphill. Sadly he passed away a few years ago. He ran the “Judy Chat” group in the mid-2000s. It was one of several Yahoo Groups that popped up after “The Judy List” ended in 2002. Eric was a friend of The Judy Room and was THE major contributor to The Judy Garland Online Discography as well as most of the movie spotlight sections at the site. He is greatly missed.
I don’t know what happened to his immense collection after he passed. I’m not sure what his family did with all of that. It’s a shame he left us at such a young age. 🙁
Hi. I’m not an actual fan of Judy Garland, but I thought you would like to know that I saw “Meet Me in St. Louis” at the AFI Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland recently. The whole movie was wonderful, and of course J.G. was the main reason. I tend to like a lot of popular culture from the 1940s and 1950s. Then the 1960s came along and a lot started to change. What a contrast.
I love this! I too are a GARLAND FAN! I don’t consider my self a garfan BUT A GARLANDITE! In the ture since! Yes! I’ve left a few bloody little people’s dead bodies in the waste, those who! Think they love her. I remember going to a bar/club in the late 70’s with a friend, a Bab’s fan, who introduced me to a friend of his, who was a bar tender there. He introduced us and said” you too have something in common! You’re both Judy Garland Fans.” He said to me” you love Judy too?” I said”Yes!” And as I order my drink he said” SO WHAT WAS HER FRIST FILM?” the blood bath was on, My reply was” PRE METRO? METRO? POST METRO?” He looked at me and said” every time you come her YOUR DRINKS ARE ON THE HOUSE!” and we spent the rest of his shift talking about Judy and singing Her catalog. You’re right there are us GARLANDITES! and then there’s the fans! Please! Keep me in though and keep the THE WARS UP! 🎼🌈🤗! Love Orlando a simple humble GARLANDITE! 😀
Thanks! That’s great. You made a new friend and got free drinks! Can’t beat that! 🙂
PS – More to come. I’ve been busy with the “On this day” project which will end soon and then I’ll be able to continue the chapters. LOTS more craziness ahead….. 🙂
I love these stories in the Garland Wars. They are funny,revealing and suspenseful. You mentioned that the On this Day project is ending soon,which I also love. Is this ending because you’ve gone through the complete “On this Day” year Information? I love it so much and reminds me of the book “Day by Day” by the late Scott Schechter. It would be great to put out a book by Scott Brogan based on the On this Day ” project when it ends. Have you considered that? The “On this Day” is a very good documentation and history of Judy Garland and of the entertainment business!
Thank you! Much of the information in this series comes from Scott’s book. You’re right, I’m almost done because I’m coming up on the one year anniversary of beginning the series. I’ll keep updating the pages as I find more information.