"Sexiest Man Alive" was attacked during Maroon 5’s recent Anaheim, California, show. And while it made for some entertaining memes and headlines such as Unless you've been living under a rock the past few weeks, you've probably heard that lusting over Adam Levine from afar wasn't enough for one of his more zealous female fans. People's When Female Fans Attack… Beware Sharp Fingernails, the incident raises a serious question: How close should fans be allowed to get to their favorite celebs?
Levine isn't the first star to have a fan invade his space. In 2010, a male hopped on stage and tried to smooch Paramore's Hayley Williams. Matt Damon was leaving the Golden Globes last year and had a woman kiss him out of the blue — when he had an injured arm in a sling and was unable to fully defend himself. At the opening night of 2014’s RodeoHouston, a crazed fan flipped over a barricade and hugged country hitmaker Brad Paisley in the middle of "Old Alabama." And, if we're talking recent news, Madonna just basically did the same thing when she spontaneously decided to plant what was reportedly an unwanted smooch on Drake during his Coachella set. (Though it looked like Drake was freaked out by the kiss, he has since taken to Instagram to set the record straight: "Don't misinterpret my shock!! I got to make out with the queen Madonna and I feel 100 about that forever. Thank you @madonna.")
While many of these encounters seem to be fairly innocent and only mildly violating to the artist (Levine said his ear got scratched during his fan encounter… poor baby), some surprise fan run-ins have been a bit scarier. During a 2013 concert in Dubai, for instance, a male fan rushed the stage, blindsided Justin Bieber, and nearly knocked the "Believe" singer off of his piano.
Celebs like Levine playfully brush off these incidents but others are vocal about being fed up with fan violations. Iggy Azalea, for instance, used to hop into the audience during her live sets and crowd surf with her fans. But after she was groped on several occasions, she quickly changed her tune. Now whenever she takes the stage, she has admitted to even going so far as to wear two pairs of underwear and flesh-colored tights as a protective barrier. "[Fans] think I'm real slutty, like 'Oh, she got a song called 'Pu$$y,' I know what she wants,” Azalea said. "Buying my album for $12 doesn't mean you get to finger me when I come to your city."
It can definitely be argued that these crazed fan encounters continue to happen as a result of us living in a day and age where celebs make themselves too available and human to the public by revealing intimate details of their lives on an hourly basis across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. But what ultimately seems to be catalyzing these fanatics is the examples that are set by artists who initiate racy fan interactions themselves.
Earlier this month, Nicki Minaj brought an overly excited 12-year-old boy up on stage and comforted him by cuddling him against her bosom. Later, she posted a video of the incident on Instagram with the caption: "Get your life from this little boy in this video pls. Look at how he stopped crying when he laid his head on dem thangs. They have real power beaming out of them that can cure the sick."
Enrique Iglesias is another artist who frequently invites girls up on stage so he can serenade them with "Hero," which usually results in the shocked admirer being sent back into the crowd after receiving a smooch from the crooner. Carrie Underwood even gave a preteen boy his first kiss at one of her shows.
According to Dan Saxton, production manager of West Hollywood’s famed Roxy Theatre and co-founder of VRLive.tv, incidents like this send mixed messages to fans about what is and is not appropriate during a concert. "At most shows, the fans are respectful and would never get on stage, but some crowds just think it's OK. And those tend to be with artists that have sent conflicting messages and pulled fans up on stage or have taken a fan interaction a bit too far,” he tells Yahoo. And as Brent Mendoza, a manager at The Viper Room in L.A. explains, "There are definitely some artists that do not want any sort of that thing going on." He adds, however, that this is often clouded by the fact that other performers will encourage or praise fans that jump on stage to interact with them.
But what are the repercussions for fans who illegally jump onto a stage? Mendoza notes that as far as he knows, an artist doesn't have the ability to fine a fanatical concertgoer for this type of incident. They can, however, file assault charges — if the situation is severe enough to warrant it. "It would have to be a pretty extreme case of assault though," he notes, admitting that the incident could easily turn into a PR nightmare for the artist involved. As a result, the situation usually gets swept under the rug after the buzz dies down. The venue, however, isn't always so accommodating.
Many arenas will toss you out the back door with a few nasty words and ban you from re-entering the show, but Detroit's Palace of Auburn Hills and DET Energy Music Theater take these types of fan security breaches even more seriously. "A person who runs on the stage is arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to 93 days and jail and a fine of up to $500," explains Thomas Hardesty, Director of Security & Traffic Management for Palace Sports Entertainment.
Hardesty also reminds fans who are thinking of scaling security barriers to keep in mind that their favorite artist might not exactly be happy about the surprise visit. “The performers do not know who this person is or what the person’s intentions are when they run at the performer. Some performers might react aggressively towards the fan.”
During a 2012 Ted Nugent show, a fan got so into "Cat Scratch Fever" that he rushed the stage mid-song. The bass player immediately ran over and kicked the fan in the head before he was quickly escorted out by security. Randy Blythe, of Lamb of God, pushed a fan from the stage during a 2010 show. As a result, the concertgoer hit his head and sustained injuries that caused him to die two weeks later.
Then there’s the issue of the crowd turning on a fan that does manage to make it back to their seat after climbing on stage. In February, a heckler at a Ghostface Killah concert was pummeled by the artist’s loyal constituents.
And in other bizarre repercussions, some artists may even try to deny that the one-on-one encounter with a fan took place at all. When Common performed at the Tanqueray Trunk Show in Detroit earlier this month, he engaged in an impromptu makeout session with one of his female audience members. But when some of his adoring fans began to post photos and videos of the incident on Instagram the day after, accusing him of "cheating" on them, the rapper responded on Twitter: "Now u know u can’t believe what u C on IG!"
Getting up close and personal with your favorite artist during a live concert is a special moment. But pretty soon, if people don't start behaving, we may all find ourselves attending concerts that have sky-high fences set up in front of the stage. Seeing a band perform won't be much different than going to see a caged animal at the zoo.