This article is supported by TEG Dainty, who are bringing Bon Jovi to Australia this December. Ahead of the tour, we meet an Australian super-fan.
When Jon Bon Jovi arrives in Australia this December, Alicia Privitera will be there. In the front row. Twice: once in Melbourne, again in Sydney. And she’ll be at the sound check. And at an exclusive Q&A with John Francis Bongiovi himself.
It’ll be the fourteenth time Alicia’s been face-to-face with her big-haired hero. The first was back in 1995, but with each tour, Alicia’s ardour for JBJ only grows more pronounced, and her appreciation for his songwriting chops only deepens. And her pile of Bon Jovi memorabilia only grows higher.
Noisey sat down with Alicia to discuss Sayreville, New Jersey’s favourite son.
Noisey: I have never owned a Jon Bon Jovi record.
Alicia Privitera: Okay…
Can you please explain Bon Jovi to me?
He’s someone who’s passionate about the craft of songwriting, music, and does it for the people. He doesn’t do it for the adulation. He’s a great example of passion.
What was your first experience of Bon Jovi?
‘Keep the Faith’. I would have been at home, as a 12-year old. I remember watching the ARIA awards, where Bon Jovi performed. I just thought he was wonderful. He was the first musician I really loved. And 26 years on, I still feel exactly the same.
I know some of the bands I listened to when I was a teenager, I probably wouldn’t listen to now. That passion hasn’t changed for you?
Most of the time! Probably the only time it waned would have been when I was 17 or 18. It was still there, there was just no records released, there was no social media, I didn’t really follow it on the internet. Then, in 2000, when ‘It’s My Life’ came out, it was 1992 all over again.
Then they went through periods of change, where they released This Left Feels Right, where they did different takes on their classic songs. We dealt with people saying it was rubbish and asking why they’d do that. Then they went through a country theme with Have a Nice Day, and then it just kept going.
They’ve kept recording and touring, and it’s just evolved. Anybody who knows me knows I’m into Bon Jovi. I quote lyrics, I’ve used it in job interviews, even job applications.
What did you use in a job interview?
“Luck ain’t enough, you’ve got to make your own way”.
I love the meaning that comes out of the songs. They’re from the heart. Everyone can resonate. You can find something that applies to you, in a positive tone. It’s just uplifting. Not only is Jon Bon Jovi a great musician, he’s a Great. He’s a fantastic person. An excellent role model—these days for his philanthropic work, and his contribution to music. He’s inspired many people to go for their dreams and get out of tough places.
Reading about him, he seems like a good dude.
There’s no trouble. He’s just a really good example.
How did you first connect with other fans?
I suppose up until 2013, it was my own little bubble. And then I paid a lot of money for a ticket in the sixth row, and found myself wandering into the pit at Etihad Stadium, and found myself looking around at all these girls who were in short skirts and barely-there tops and high heels, and feeling a little bit out of place. I was just in jeans and a t-shirt—a real fan!—and I found myself sitting among these two girls who I still keep in touch with. I’ve got this whole new circle of Bon Jovi-centric friends. My bubble has grown and expanded!
This year in May, I went to New York, and met up with a couple of girls from America who are in a Facebook group, and got to enjoy the whole concert experience at Madison Square Garden. I could not have thought of a better place. I just fulfilled a dream. Absolutely a dream.
Tell me a bit more about the fan community. What are they generally like?
I’m probably the youngest, they’re mostly forty-plus. They’re everyday people: people with kids, people who are passionate, people who love music. There’s no pretentiousness. We’re all the same.
Jon Bon Jovi isn’t in the music game for the adulation. He doesn’t care that he’s played in front of millions of women around the world, and most of them would just love to have a piece of him. But yet he puts himself out there are just a regular person. That’s how I see the people in my group.
And do you stay in touch with that crew regularly?
About three or four times a year we catch up for dinner somewhere in the city.
What do you talk about over dinner?
Oh, upcoming events. We’ve got an event on a Friday night in July. Most of us are going to Sydney and doing the Runaway package, where we’ll have the opportunity to meet Jon Bon Jovi, Tico Torres, and David Bryan, and have our photos taken, and do a question and answer—so I finally get to ask my question that I’ve had for a long time…
I don’t want to say! Someone will steal it.
Will this be the first time you’ve met JBJ?
Yep. I’ve paid a lot of money to fulfil a dream. I probably should be using that money for other things. People would think that a girl in her 30s should be spending it wisely. I consider it as an investment in my happiness.
Any men in the fan base?
No. I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ve seen any. There are husbands that get mentioned.
How has social media changed the fandom?
It used to be just me and my little bubble. Now I share it. Before I could have sheltered myself from comments I might not have liked. But now, particularly when Richie Sambora left, people were constantly bringing that up. It’s there, and you don’t want to see it, because Jon Bon Jovi remained so professional with that situation, but other people were putting stuff out there and insinuating. You have to be a strong person to put the blinkers on.
Does that sort of stuff upset you?
Not upset, so much, it’s just disappointing. I get annoyed. But then I just remember why I love Bon Jovi as a band, and move on. It’s a mental strength.
Do you know all the lyrics?
Yeah, to the big songs. There’s stuff from the ‘80s I don’t know, I’m not familiar with 7800 degree Fahrenheit and Bon Jovi the first album. But anything post-1992, I’m good.
Are you the kind of fan who sits down with the liner notes?
Initially, yeah. And then as time goes on, I try and understand the meaning behind, or find a correlation to something in your own life. I’ve got a song that, if I ever get married, I want played.
‘You Want to Make a Memory off Lost Highway’. About halfway though, it just breaks into music with no vocals. I just think it’s absolutely beautiful. If I ever get married, that’s the song I want played when I’m dancing.
So obviously, if you did have a husband/wife they’d have to be into Bon Jovi, right?
They’d have to at least appreciate the passion. They could be passionate about something else, that’s fine. But they’d have to be passionate about something.
Is it going to be difficult for any future partner to measure up to Bon Jovi?
No, because that’s in fantasy world. I’ve got a little Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who I adore, and I speak about just as much as Bon Jovi. If I had to choose, it’d always be D’arcy, because she’s real.
I guess Jon Bon Jovi is a high bar to pass.
How does the live experience differ to listening to an album at home?
I can’t believe I’m actually there. It’s a different sound. The fact you can stand there and see him looking at you, and be close enough to make eye contact with you.
How much memorabilia do you have?
I think I have… a lot. A lot of normal stuff - in terms of DVDs and CDs. Maybe the journal tips it over…
Tell me about the journal.
It came to me as part of a package in 2013, which I paid a lot for. I thought, ‘It’s a beautiful leather-bound journal but what am I going to do with it? I’ve got ticket stubs, I’ve got photos’. So I then proceeded to start writing. I thought about all the concerts I’ve been to, and I found a website that does setlists that took me straight back to 1995, my first show. I had to remember as an adult what I thought as a teenager. But all those memories were quite vivid. It just continued on, and now I feel like it’s my Bon Jovi life. It documents everything. God help me if I ever lose it.
How do you feel about being called a mega-fan?
I don’t see myself as a big Bon Jovi fan. I’m just somebody with a passion. I love that particular sound of music.
Who’s a big fan if you’re not?
Some of the girls in my group, I think they’re bigger. They’ve been to America multiple times. They sit at home and talk about it all day and constantly scour the internet. They must have some sort of setting that picks up articles. I don’t have time to do that. I’m just an ordinary person who has a passion for Bon Jovi and music. That’s how I see myself.
This article is supported by TEG Dainty, who are bringing Bon Jovi to Australia this December. The tickets are on sale now.