by Blair Cannon
Zara Shannon, junior in the College of Arts and Science
Can you describe exactly what you do?
A: So basically, I just find out where celebrities are going to be, and then I go and try to meet them.
Would you call it stalking?
A: I mean, in the little community that there is, we do refer to it as stalking. But I wouldn’t say it’s criminally stalking. It’s just ‘chasing after,’ perhaps.
What do you mean by community? Which community.
A: There’s a lot of people that you just get to know from doing it. I have made a lot of good friends — like some of my best friends — from stalking.
What kinds of places do you go?
A: Mostly hotels and then oftentimes events. And then I’ve gone to the airport or nightclubs.
And then, when you meet them, what happens?
A: Mostly, I just try to ask for a photo, because I’m kind of shy. Most of the time I don’t try to form a friendship with them.
How do you find out where they’re going to be staying?
A: Well, if you know there’s going to be an event, say someone is going to have a book signing somewhere, then you can be like, ‘Okay, they’re probably going to fly in this day if they’re coming from LA.’
You can look at times that the paparazzi at the Los Angeles airport posted pictures and you can be like, ‘Okay, they’re probably gonna take this flight.’
And then, you can guess that hotel they’re going to be at if you know the secret name they stay under. A lot of times me and my friends will call and pretend to be from their management and use the secret code name, so they know that we’re kind of legit. And then we can be like, ‘Okay, now we know they’re staying here.’
How do you know the secret code names?
A: It’s just a lot of sharing information with people. People were waiting in the lobby and they just overheard.
When you call the hotel, what do you say?
A: You just be like, ‘Hi, I’m calling from whatever management. I just wanted to check in and confirm that blah-blah-blah has a reservation for this date.’ And they’ll either be like, ‘Yep, that’s right,’ or they’ll be like, ‘No, we don’t have a reservation.”
So when you find out which hotel they’re staying at, you just go?
A: You just go and wait, yeah. Sometimes if it’s a low-key hotel, you can go inside and wait at a restaurant. I’ve done that for the Jonas Brothers. But then, if it’s One Direction, as soon as they see a girl, they’re like, ‘No, you’re not getting in.’ So you just have to wait outside and wait for them to drive away. And then you can chase them.
Do you chase them?
A: Yeah, I have. For New York, it kind of works. But you need a taxi and then you can follow them. I’ve followed One Direction to JFK. But then, when I’m in Boston, which is where I’m from, my mom likes to do this. So she’ll drive around. It’s easier that way.
Your mom likes to do it? Who does your mom follow?
A: Yeah. Well, I mean, she does it with me, she doesn’t do it by herself. She started off with her sisters when she was younger, camping out for bands when they were teenagers and sleeping in alleys. She kind of already has a knack for this.
Do you ever have to travel far?
A: The spring semester, I actually studied abroad in London and that was kind of because One Direction is the new object of my affection…I got tickets for them while I was still living here, so I was like, ‘Okay, either way, I’m going to have to go to London.’ So then I decided to study abroad there so that made it easier for me to kind of join a new group of stalkers in London. Because people do this all over the world, not just in New York.
Is security ever a problem?
A: Yeah, they can be pretty rude. I have a friend who, actually one time, she was walking alongside someone from One Direction and their security pushed her into a phone pole and she got a huge bruise. She ended up contacting their management, saying ‘This isn’t okay,’ and she got a prize pack. They are, most of the time, really rude. But if you just show that you’re respectful and you’re not going to trample them. Because that’s what they’re afraid of, and that’s understandable. There are a lot of crazy people. But if you just act like you’re a normal person, ‘I’m not gonna attack someone and I’m not gonna scream in their face.’ As long as they see that you’re under control, they’re pretty nice about it.
Is it ever competitive between you and others?
It gets really catty actually. I try to stay away from that. My group of friends, we know we always share information. But one time last year, me and my friends kind of decided in advance that we weren’t going to go to the airport to meet One Direction because we didn’t think that they were going to stop. And then they decided to go behind my back and do it. That’s hurtful, especially when it’s people that I’ve kind of trained to bring into this world and help them out.
Was it just because they didn’t want to have more people with them?
A: Yeah, they wanted to have more one-on-one time. Because if there’s a big crowd then obviously they’re gonna be like, ‘No, the person can’t come out and meet you.’
Are there a lot of people around our age, or mostly younger?
A: I’d say there is a general mix…I know someone who’s in her thirties and she still does it. There’s some crazy lady that walks around New York that’s in her eighties that does it…And then our age, like maybe seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. But then again as you get older, people have more experience doing it. I know things that have taken years to learn.
It’s kind of like any hobby: you get better as time goes on. So when you get older, everyone is willing to do crazy things.