I only heard of Amanda Palmer because she was married to the fantasy writer Neil Gaiman. I followed him on twitter and he tweeted to and about her a lot – so I followed her – because I followed her I looked up her videos on YouTube and I liked what I saw.
Her band The Dresden Dolls had a lovely Gothic late-90s/early-00s vibe (they called it Punk Cabaret)… and her solo songs were like Brit Pop’s American girlfriend getting in on the act.
There was a video for ‘Map of Tasmania’ and it was funny… then a hoo-ha about her being too fat for a video that inspired a Rebellyon (fans posted pictures of their own stomachs in solidarity) which prompted her to dramatically leave her record company and raise money on Kickstarter for a new album which raised a million dollars and a heap of ill-will when it was discovered that she wasn’t paying musicians who played one-night gigs with her (that was because they were part of her informal community and it was meant to be a fan jam – not a way of getting work for free – but that’s an alien concept to the media) and somehow – through all that – I developed an unconditional girl-crush on her.
(WARNING: bit rude)
The teeth, the entitlement mixed with variable self-esteem, the honesty, the unshaven armpits, the attention-seeking, the hint of potent smug mutual narcissism wafting off her relationship, the cartoon eyebrows, her family issues, the Bohos in Boston… it should all be irritating – I might even be jealous of her ‘undeserved’ profile – but I found it charming; adorable; absolutely right and just.
She’s a natural, vivid storyteller and her art is her life… Her voice is majestic but not pitch-perfect, her tunes are only nearly hum-able… but it’s the soundtrack to her personality and it’s perfect.
She wrote a book about asking people for money and stuff and help – The Art of Asking – and there are bits of it I can remember far more clearly than I can a novel… her hurting her leg in Scotland… her working in a coffee shop and being a living statue… her drawing a fan in Australia… her being mistreated by fans at a show… She’s one of my all-time favourite heroines. I want her to prosper. I want her to win. I want another chapter.
It’s that fan fervour her ‘haters’ find so incomprehensible… we forgive her her faux pas because they make the narrative more intriguing.
It’s a strange kind of art – asking – being – making your own soundtrack – but it’s still art and it’s beautiful.
To support Amanda – here’s her Patreon Page: https://www.patreon.com/amandapalmer