Felled by the flu, I croak a voicemail for Durandy (né Andrew Golub), apologizing for taking so long to schedule our interview. Durandy responds by e-mail, wishing me a swift recovery and cheerfully exclaiming, "I've heard repeated playings of the Rio album has some beneficial effects on the immune system."
Durandy's other exuberant e-mails, especially the one wishing me a "Happy Wild Boy Wednesday!", show that this Seattle resident is no casual listener of the British babes renowned for a string of such synth-pop classics as "Hungry Like the Wolf," "Save a Prayer," "Rio," "The Reflex," and "The Wild Boys." Although he shuns the Day-Glo makeup and pastel clothing of his idols, Durandy also refutes the stereotype of the geeky, introverted, greasy-haired collector. Apart from looking younger than his actual age (34), he is discreetly muscular, has short, wiry black hair, and works at a local law firm.
Over a hamburger and Caesar salad at the Cheesecake Factory, Durandy's emphatic gestures and rapid talk confirm his enthusiasm for Duran Duran. As I page through contact sheets illustrating his immense collection of band memorabilia, he declares, "What I'm building is not so much a collection but an archive. I'm not out to collect some stuff and throw it in the closet. I've learned more about archival procedures than I've ever wanted to know. And this has taken on a meaning and significance well beyond my own enjoyment. I want to bring something to the band, the fan community, and to the world."
Like many other groups of the early '80s British Invasion (Depeche Mode, Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club), Duran Duran's good looks spawned reams of posters, magazine centerfolds, and picture sleeves for 7-inch and 12-inch singles. Every pop-culture phenomenon attracts collectors, but few are as driven and determined as Durandy.
His interest in the band started with "The Reflex" in 1984. "In middle school," Durandy remembers, "I'd go around with pictures of [keyboardist] Nick Rhodes in my Trapper Keeper." He's since stuck with the group, through the dissolution of the classic lineup in 1985 and the members' myriad side projects, during the recruitment of additional musicians (ex–Missing Persons guitarist Warren Cuccurullo and many drummers), and to the original lineup's reunion album—2004's Astronaut (Epic), with its catchy "(Reach Up for the) Sunrise," which was made popular by an appearance on the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy soundtrack.
"I'm telling you, it is hell being a guy and being into Duran Duran," Durandy admits. "People don't quite know how to take me. I'm male. I'm straight. I absolutely take my affection for the band to a level that is beyond what you normally see." Indeed.
A collector, curator, and cheerleader rolled into one, Durandy has amassed what he calls the "Collection"––close to 10,000 magazine pages, newspaper articles, and pinups, as well as more than 1,300 posters, of which many are quite large: up to two feet by three feet. Along with a rare Seven and the Ragged Tiger jigsaw puzzle, magazines, key chains, and other artifacts, Durandy has 20 posters on loan to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Praising the depth of Durandy's dogged collecting, the museum's Assistant Curator Meredith Rutledge states, "He's been wonderful––and essential to putting together this exhibition."
Duran Duran are also aware of the Collection. At a recent meet-n-greet event at the Everett Events Center, Durandy even managed to surprise the Fab Five––not an easy task considering the band's avid and enduring editorial control over their visual image. Eyes ablaze, he explains, "In the early '80s, Duran Duran did a Japanese ad for a brand of whiskey called Q Whiskey. They actually made a [television] commercial that featured the Duran faces on marionettes. I have the poster from that commercial! When Nick Rhodes saw it, he had no idea! He had never seen it before. Talk about schwing! It was fantastic! Another thing, one that really surprised [bassist] John [Taylor], was a poster of Hazel O'Connor's Breaking Glass tour; at the bottom it says 'plus Duran Duran' in tiny print."
Nick Rhodes—"the collector in the band," according to Durandy—attests by e-mail, "Of all the collections of Duran Duran memorabilia I have ever encountered, I can safely say that Durandy's posters reign supreme. Like all great collectors, he is remarkably thorough, so through painstaking research and absolute dedication he has even managed to acquire posters for concerts that I barely remember playing!"
When asked if he collects the band's limited-edition picture discs, imports, vinyl EPs, and other music-related items, Durandy outlines what sounds like an ideal division of labor. "My girlfriend collects the vinyl—thousands and thousands of records. I do the paper." Later, he elaborates, "She's the only one I've ever encountered who collects with as much detail as me. Fifteen different versions of 'Rio' down to the serial number: 'Oh, it's different? Gotta have it.'"
After lunch I rejoin Durandy at his climate-controlled Eastside storage unit, which is the size of a snug studio apartment. He flings open the door and, after the rasping roar of corrugated metal subsides, announces, "Here you go. My babies!"
As Durandy points to well labeled and carefully positioned archival boxes, rolling racks, and watertight plastic bins, I realize I'm in a repository, not a storage unit. Durandy enumerates part of his collection. "Okay: centerfolds. I love these numbers. We've got box one, two, and three with 195, 187, 146—close to 500 fold-out posters."
Durandy also shows me his scrapbooks. "I can't make scrapbooks like everyone else," he proclaims. "We're not just talking about putting crap in a book and slapping it closed." Carefully pasting in photos, reviews, and articles from tabloids, newspapers, magazines, and other periodicals from around the world in chronological order, Durandy makes each page graphically provocative and alluring. He refuses to whitewash his work. Showing me his scrapbook covering the 1986 album Notorious, Durandy indicates "a lot of not-so-stellar reviews—but I suppose that's part of the bigger picture. I have to include it all."
Those who attended Durandy's 2001 exhibition at the Art/Not Terminal Gallery, Duran Duran: A Retrospective, can also confirm the breadth and depth of the Collection. Apart from familiar promo posters for all the albums, Durandy collects the band's side projects, too. "I collect everything," he enthuses. "Arcadia, the Power Station, John Taylor solo. Every nuance of their career is represented. I have posters of [guitarist] Andy Taylor!"
When exhibited, the Collection metamorphoses from memorabilia into myth. Variants of the same or similar photos and disjunct graphic styles evincing influences from Russian Constructivism to Helmut Lang, as well as the overwhelming presence of the same, yet radically remade and remodeled, faces and clothes of Duran Duran invite viewers to decode a symbolic biography of the band, their music, and their lives.
Despite battling public indifference and what he calls "the o word"—being labeled an obsessive—Durandy is eternally optimistic. Reflecting on long-gone insecurities and self-doubt, he says, "My passion for the band embodies the best of who I am." He pauses, then adds, "It's almost like I reinvented myself." Just like Duran Duran.
See part of Durandy's colossal collection at www.durandy.com.