To be a fan is to believe in something, and to believe is to have faith.
Faith can't be willed. It simply is. And it's often found where you least expect it.
Like all true believers, a Magnolia native who calls himself Durandy has faith in something greater than himself. It has charted the course of his life, his work, his passion. The source of his inspiration is a band, the band so big its name is spoken twice: Duran Duran.
"Most fans are content to collect autographs, or to go see the band as often as possible," Durandy, also known as Andrew Golub, says. "But there is a deeper level of fandom that not many people can say they belong to. This is the space I occupy. It's not about chasing autographs, not about just collecting. It's about taking Duran Duran's legacy to a whole new level."
While Durandy, 34, may be a fan's fan, he deftly eschews the negative stereotype of the rabid fanatic. He's not afraid to talk extensively about his favorite subject, gesticulating exuberantly to drive home his points, but he in no way tries to emulate the members of the band he idolizes. His dark hair is cropped short; he doesn't sport a feathered mullet or wear makeup and pastel booties when he goes to his job at a downtown law firm.
Nor does he come across as the quintessential insular fanboy, more comfortable with his LPs and pieces of band paraphernalia than he is with fellow members of the human race. Quite the contrary.
He has indeed amassed a possibly unparalleled collection of Duran-associated memorabilia, but the last thing he wants to do is to keep what he has gathered to himself.
"What I've built is more an archive than a collection," he says. "It's great to have all this, but the real magic is in sharing it. Anyone can put things in a hole, keep them forever and just drool over them. But my collection has gotten bigger than that and taken on a higher purpose."
Durandy grew up in Magnolia and first became acquainted with the band's music when he was in middle school in 1985.
"It's a good thing I got into them a bit later in their career," he says. "I don't know if my nerves could've taken the hit of discovering them when they were at the peak of their fame."
For Durandy, Duran Duran represents a perfect combination of music, image and message. The band came together in Birmingham in 1978 and quickly rose to the top of the British charts as scions of the "New Romantic" movement which filled the void left by punk rock and later became known as "New Wave."
Their songs were driven by hook-laden synth melodies inspired by such glam acts as David Bowie and Roxy Music, and were fleshed out by the enigmatic lyrics of their lead singer, Simon LeBon. When they broke in the United States in the early 1980s, they were one of the first musical acts to capitalize on the nascent medium of music video, skyrocketing to international stardom on MTV with hits such as "Rio," "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Save a Prayer" and "Girls On Film."
"Duran Duran took the music video to a completely different level," Durandy says. "The video for 'Hungry like the Wolf' was as exciting as an Indiana Jones movie. It was epic, completely beyond what anybody had seen before."
Two of the five members left the band in 1986, leaving the remaining trio to forge on with various other replacement players until the original fivesome reunited in 2001. Durandy has been along for the entire ride. He sees the band's career as a process of constant innovation, an odyssey of profound musical and cultural importance.
"There was a reason they were dubbed the 'Fab Five' when they came to America," he says. "They captured a spirit of innocence in the '80s that's often overlooked. Everyone sees the '80s as just a time of excess and decadence-there was that, but there was also fertile ground for pioneers. Duran Duran exemplified the spirit of 'anything goes.' It was about standing out, being yourself, and creating your own image. They didn't dwell on melodramatic darkness like (bands) The Smiths or Depeche Mode, and they weren't ridiculously over the top like Culture Club."
Duran Duran are often dismissed as insubstantial pretty boys, the vapid poster children of defunct heartthrob magazines like "Bop" and "Teen Beat." This characterization frustrates Durandy no end.
"People love to write them off as a pin-up band, but the truth is that they completely managed their own style," he says. "It wasn't like the New Kids on the Block, some image that was manufactured by a marketing team. Their image was manufactured, sure, but they were the ones doing the manufacturing. There was a depth and grace to their music and their presence that was completely unmatched."
In his effort to set the record straight and restore Duran Duran to the position of historical prominence he feels they richly deserve, Durandy is launching a campaign using his greatest asset: his archive. He began collecting all manner of band memorabilia in high school, but soon discovered the importance of narrowing his focus.
"You can't collect everything," he says. "There's just too much out there. So, I decided to concentrate on posters."
When he ran out of space in his room at his mother's house, he rented a storage space underneath the Magnolia Bridge, where his collection stayed until he moved out of Magnolia to the Eastside in 1998. Now housed in a Bellevue storage unit, the archive is a sprawling testament to Durandy's tenacity and skill as both a collector and archivist.
Working with a poster doctor, he has mounted many of his larger posters on canvas and has filed away the remainder into boxes and protective Mylar bags. Even in the large storage unit, he's still running out of space.
He now has more than 1,000 posters spanning the band's entire career, along with thousands of pin-up pages, hundreds of photographs and boxes upon boxes of sundry collectibles such as books, buttons, bumper stickers and board games.
The storage unit also houses the massive Duran Duran record collection of girlfriend Christine Born.
"She's the only person I've ever encountered who collects with the kind of dedication and passion that I do," Durandy says. "One thought that we've had is to put together a sort of Duran reference book, a comprehensive compilation for people to use. Something completely original and innovative, like the band itself. That would be totally cool."
Durandy has had part of his poster collection on loan to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland for almost four years. It's hanging alongside stage outfits and artifacts donated by the band and could become a permanent exhibit when Duran Duran becomes eligible for induction next year.
In 2001, Durandy put a large portion of his collection on display at the Art/Not Terminal gallery in downtown Seattle. More than 100 people showed up on the exhibition's opening night, and the turnout, as well as the overwhelmingly favorable response, encouraged Durandy to set his sights on the Experience Music Project. He's currently petitioning the EMP to exhibit his collection, and he says he's optimistic for other showings as well.
Besides the sheer size and scope of his collection, Durandy has the added credibility of being endorsed by the band itself. He's met its members on more than one occasion, has impressed them with the rare artifacts in his possession and has even shared some of his pieces with the band's manager for promotional purposes.
One of his prize possessions is a personalized answering machine greeting recorded and given to him by Nick Rhodes, the band's keyboardist.
As thrilled as he is by the band's acceptance of his work, what interests Durandy most is sharing his archive with the world at large.
"You can chart Duran's entire career through these posters," he says. "When I come across these things, restore them and give them new life, I can see that they are beautiful pieces of art, of music history. And together, the collection paints a picture of the band that I don't think many fans have ever seen.
"You'll never find a more loyal fan base than Duran Duran's," he adds. "I'd liken it to the Grateful Dead's. We believe in this band, we've been there through thick and thin, because the band has been there for us.
"For me," Durandy continued, "this storage unit is like Superman's fortress of solitude. I come in here and nurturing forces envelope me. It's very mood-altering, very uplifting, and it's wonderful to finally be able to share it with people and have them respond so well."
Sean Molnar lives in Seattle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.[[In-content Ad]]