Sunday marked the third time I’ve visited a Twilight tent city, and it was once again filled with wonderful interactions with fans. I am confident of one thing: the fans that camp out for days waiting to score a coveted spot along the premiere red carpet get a bad rap. Sure, they’ve got obsessive tent decorations and flair-filled outfits, but so what? Tent City is the Twilight fandom’s Mardi Gras, and it’s a safe space to let your Twi-freak flag fly.
“This is the only place I’d ever dare wear this t-shirt,” one fan told me, pointing at the picture of Robert Cullen (um, that’s a typo – obviously – but I’m keeping it in!) that spread across her torso. It’s not like the bulk of the fans camped out this weekend head to their office jobs in their “Imprint Me, Jacob” hoodies and curl up to sleep in Twilight sheets each night. But they let it all hang out at Tent City, and enjoy every second of it (and I totally enjoyed the two hours I spent there). It’s a weekend of friendship, bonding, celebration and good ol’ fashion dorking out over a thing you really love. And I am INTO it.
I spoke with a bunch of the fans and asked them five final questions about their Twilight experience:
- What’s the best part about being a Twilight fan?
- What’s the worst part about being a Twilight fan?
- What’s the biggest misconception about Twilight fans?
- What part of the Twilight fan stereotype is actually true?
- What will you miss most about Twilight?
Their answers are below. These are women from around the world (Australia, Mexico, Colombia, Canada and the US) with jobs, lives, families, friends…and a fandom. It was a honor to meet them and sit in their camping chairs. Until next time.
What’s the best part about being a Twilight fan?
Teri: “The friendships, obviously.”
MaryLou: “The community and being with people who love it the way you love it.”
Sandy: “It’s the friendships I’ve made because of it. That’s been the most memorable thing – finding people I know who will be friends for the rest of my life. They are the first ones I call when there’s a problem in my life. There’s something really special about it.”
Liza: “I like the books a lot better than I do like the movies. And to see people talk about it with such passion. I like that the most.”
Cat: “The story itself. That’s what I fell in love with and seeing it cme to life is the best reward ever.”
Heather: “I like the comraderie and having a group of people that all care about the same thing. Yo always have something you can talk about. You meet people here that you’re better friends than in your real life.”
Melissa: “All the friends I’ve made, sharing the same kind of passions that I do.”
Sarah: “Meeting all these cool and amazing people. I’ve made friends through Twilight that are definitely going to be my friends forever.”
Jennifer: “It’s just an awesome experience. I think a lot of people are scared to go after things they’re passionate about and with Twilight, everybody goes for it and they don’t care what other people think. It’s amazing that we get the chance to do this.”
Lindsay: Everyone we’ve met on all of the trips we’ve done. We’ve met so many people, they’re friends I think I’ll keep forever.”
Sylvia: “Meeting all these people. It changed our lives because we found something we all love and we can share.”
@Leavecheck (I am spelling this wrong!): “The passion that unites all of us. To find someone you can share that passion with. because in life my friends at home don’t get it. And here I feel totally comfortable.”
Melinda: “Friendships. Definitely. Everyone we’ve met from all around the world.”
Jade: “I feel like it’s everything. It’s been so many years, meeting so many wonderful people. It’s brought so many people together. I just love it.”
Amy: “It’s definitely the friendships that we’ve managed to make through our love of something.”
Melissa: “My wonderful friends. They’re part of my family now.”
Casey: “The friendships.”
What’s the worst part about being a Twilight fan?
Teri: “Watching people watch us. The comments and the looks.”
MaryLou: “People judging you. ‘You must be crazy, why do you like Twilight.’ Things like that. My friends all roll their eyes at me!”
Sandy: It’s being 45 years old and loving something that people perceive is for teenagers. Being judged by other people age who think that I am crazy for loving this so much.”
Liza: “People used to say to me, ‘You’re reading THAT?’ They just stereotype it because girls like it.”
Cat: “That people think we’re all crazy teenagers; that we’re weird.”
Melissa: “The judgement that we get. I have a bunch of friends that are non-Twilight fans and they all think I’m crazy for flying out here for something like this and cmaping on the streets of LA.”
Sarah: “When people find out I’m a Twilight fan. Because somehow, I think, their perception of me has then changed.”
Jennifer: “When people find out they’re like, ‘Oh. You’re with all those teenagers and you’re thirty-two. Don’t you think you should grow up?’ They don’t understand what’s behind it because they haven’t read the books or seen the movies or given it a chance before they pass judgement.”
Lindsay: “Being made fun of, probably. I tend to closet the Twilight love until I feel people out. Especially on the dating scene.”
Sylvia: “That people judge us.”
@Leavecheck: “At times you can be considered dumb or silly for being so dedicated. You’re teased and criticized over it.”
Melinda: “That everyone thinks your insane.”
Jade: “I can’t think of one. Is that bad?”
Amy: “The stigma that’s attached to it, that we’re all a little bit crazy. Also, I think people don’t take it seriously enough, and we do. It’s a serious thing for us, it means a lot to us.”
Melissa: “They think we’re all crazy and teenage girls. I’m 28!”
Casey: “The haters and the people who are mean on Twitter and judge you. The people that are so critical about every little thing. We’re all here for one thing. let’s all get along and not be so mean to each other.”
What’s the biggest misconception about Twilight fans?
MaryLou: “That we’re all teenagers. Definitely.”
Sandy: “That they’re all teenagers.”
Liza: “That the fans live in a fantasy world because they like vampires and wolves. We like the love story.”
Cat: “That we’re either teenagers or all older and have some sort of fantasy about Rob.”
Heather: “We’re not all teenagers! We’re not tweens. The majority of us are way over eighteen, and everybody thinks we’re twelve. They also think we’re just Twilight fans when there are a lot of us who love the actors and that’s why we’re Twilight fans.”
Melissa: “That we’re all super crazy and that we run up to people and stalk people and scream at the top of our lungs. And that we love Hot Topic! I don’t know how that started out. We don’t all love Hot Topic.”
Sarah: “That we all scream when we see actors from the movies, or that our houses are all decked out. We live normal lives and we have things outside of Twilight. It’s just a fun hobby.”
Jennifer: “That we’re all teenagers or that we’re all cougars that want to sleep with Robert Pattinson.”
Lindsay: “That they’re all creepy, crazy, obsessed fans. I’ve met a lot of well-rounded, educated people, who have jobs in all kinds of fields, moms, young people. I think this is the most diverse group of fans for one particular thing that I’ve ever seen.”
Sylvia: “That we are all crazy little fan girls, fangirling over Rob.”
@Leavecheck: “That we’re all crazy.”
Melinda: “That we have no other interests.”
Jade: “That all of us are crazy.”
Amy: “That we’re all teenage girls.”
Melissa: “That we’re crazy, that we’re little girls that will follow them everywhere.”
Casey: “That we’re all twelve.”
What part of the Twilight fan stereotype is actually true?
Teri: “For us, we’re older women and we don’t scream. But that is true.”
MaryLou: “The intensity. We are not the screaming type, it’s almost embarrassing to be in that crowd. We’re not those people. We are kind of on the outside looking in.”
Liza: “There are some people for whom it does become their obsession and their life. But I can’t judge that.”
Cat: “I definitely think there are a lot of older people that try to fantasize and try to live vicariously through the love story.”
Heather: “The camping out thing. It’s just become a norm, if you’re gonna be a Twilight fan and you want to do an event, you have to wait.”
Melissa: “That we’re extremely supportive. And we really will go out and camp for these things, or we will go out and support other things. I even went to Paris for Rob’s Cosmopolis premiere. I didn’t go specifically for that, but I extended it a little so I could go to it.”
Sarah: “The dedication is definitely true. And I hate to use the word fanatic, but I think the fact that I flew thousands of miles across the country to be here amonsgt my peep — I think that’s very telling.”
Jennifer: “There are certain groups of fans that are very aggressive that will literally knock you out of the way [trying to get an autograph].”
Lindsay: ”There are the extreme fans that have tattoos and Twilight rooms in their houses. I know some of them and they’re the sweetest people in the world, but I think it’s a little creepy.”
Sylvia: We are really, really passionate. If you mess with someone that we like, we will not be happy about it. Don’t touch Rob, don’t touch Kristen. We are really loyal to them.”
@Leavecheck: “That we have our moments when we are all crazy.”
Melinda: “The dedication.”
Jade: “That some of us are crazy.”
Amy: “That we all really like camping.”
Melissa: “We are very passionate. Not crazy, but we’re dedicated. We love this very much.”
Casey: “I think we all have a little bit of crazy in us. I don’t think we’d be able to camp for a week without a little bit of crazy in us.”
What will you miss most about Twilight?
Teri: “Looking forward to it all.”
MaryLou: “The people I’ve met and the friendships I’ve made.”
Sandy: “I am going to miss the events that we gather for, from all around the country. And having another movie to look forward to, because the stories have meant so much to us.”
Liza: “Seeing my best friend’s face after she finishes a book or movie.”
Cat: “I miss it already. I just re-read the books because that’s what I love the most. And then the casting brought it to life in the movies. I’m going to miss it all.”
Heather: “Just having there always be something new coming out. Living in it. It’s gonna be sad to miss having all the firsts.”
Melissa: “Having the cast together. I think they all have a great chemistry. And the events they put on – no one else does stuff like this.”
Sarah: “I’ll always have Twilight, but I won’t have these events. There’s never going to be a time where all of my friends and I that’ve I’ve meet from all across the world will be together to do this. That’s what I’m going to miss the most. The family feeling of all of it.”
Jennifer: “I’m gonna miss camping out and the funny stories from it. Last year people were heckling us because they thought we were Occupy LA. They were like, ‘Go get a job!’ and I was like, ‘I have a job, I’m on vacation! I paid to camp out on these streets.’”
Lindsay: “Some of us can’t even remember what we did before Twilight was around. A lot of my trips have been around Twilight. I’m not really sure where I’m going to go on vacation next year.”
Sylvia: “This. Hanging with all these people. It’s been so much fun all these years. It’s not about coming to meet the stars, it’s about hanging with everyone, going out to dinner, getting autographs. Getting on the red carpet is a plus. It’s all of this.”
@Leavecheck: “Having something to look forward to every single year. This is my vacation every year, for the past five years.”
Melinda: ”I think the friendships will continue, because we’re all Rob and Kristen fans.”
Jade: “Everything. Just, moments like this. This is my first one – my first time in America, my first fan camp. I just had to be here, because this is it now, this is the end.”
Amy: “Fangirling. When new pictures come out, or there’s a premiere or an event and we all get together and just, you know…and we all scream a little bit and cry sometimes. And that’s the fun part. It’s brought us together.”
Melissa: “Coming together with my friends every year to come to a premiere.”
Casey: “I love seeing all three (Rob, Kristen, Taylor) of them together. I love their interviews together. When Josh Horowitz‘s MTV First interview was over I bawled like a baby because that was the last time all of them were going to be together. It ruined me. I love them together. And it’s like, it’s over.”
*Thanks to all the fans who talked to me for this story.