MELISSA AUF DER MAUR OF HOLE: "If I've made people feel good about themselves, I know I've done a good job".
photograph by MELISSA AUF DER MAUR

Melissa Auf Der Maur

Gold Coast, Australia

If it's summer in January, it must be Australia. Hole are on the first leg of a worldwide tour in support of their latest album, Celebrity Skin, and Melissa Auf der Maur, the group's bassist, is toweling off after playing to 45,000 sweaty Aussies at the Big Day Out festival on the North Coast. Hole are royalty here among a cavalcade of modern-rock come-latelies, including Ash, the Fun Lovin' Criminals, and co-headliners Korn and Marilyn Manson, and the group and their hangers-on are luxuriating in a tightly guarded compound set far away from the unwashed masses. Courtney Love's helicopter, ready to whisk her away at a moment's notice, sulks silently nearby.

Auf der Maur had driven to this arena earlier in the day to check out the festival's side stage acts. Out on the grounds, teenage girls nervously approached her. Some slipped Auf der Maur handscrawled notes filled with such heartfelt sentiments as "I think you're wonderful," and "Thanks for making it a little easier to be a woman in the industry." This is nothing unusual. The cred girl to Love's alpha female, Auf der Maur used to be Hole's secret weapon, the cool indie rock chick guys wanted to date and girls wanted to hang out with. But lately, the former Canadian metalhead has been slowly inching toward headline status, appearing in glossy fashion spreads, guesting on albums, and, today at least, being constantly shadowed by a group of hormonally challenged adolescents. Climbing the rock-star food chain is fine, but for Auf der Maur, fandom is its own reward. "Who am I to affect and inspire young people?" she asks. "I honor it and cherish it. If I've made people feel good about themselves, I know I've done a good job."

Auf der Maur hasn't quite shaken being a fan herself. When word spreads through the Hole camp that Fatboy Slim (a.k.a. Norman Cook) is spinning as we speak, Auf der Maur passes on a helicopter ride back to the hotel and rushes out to a nearby tent, where the DJ is deliriously moving the crowd. Auf der Maur just has to meet him. After the show ends, she's brought back to Cook's modest trailer. Gushing like a schoolgirl who's just been given a private audience with all five members of 'N Sync, she launches into a breathless monologue about how she was in Montreal over New Year's, listening to the radio, searching for "Praise You" (she sings this to him), and how much she loved Cook's previous outfit, the Housemartins (especially "Happy Hour"-she sings this, too), etc., etc. Cook blushes a bright red. "How could you tell me, someone that spins records, that I'm good?" he asks incredulously. "You're a rock star!"  MARCELLE KARP

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