The recent closure of Kellie Pickler’s online fan club has taken a toll on local superfan Herb Granucci, who had been a fixture of the exclusive members-only area of Pickler’s site since 2007. Writing under the handle picklerpal11, Granucci was often the first to comment on news items and videos posted by Pickler’s camp, according to former fan club members and staff. He had attained the status of “Pickler Phanatic” for 10,000 forum posts.
“Whenever anything new went up on the site, Herb was right there with a comment about how Kellie was the best. One time, he posted a picture of his Kellie back tattoo. The depth of his devotion was impressive, verging on creepy,” said Alice Showalter, a Pickler message board moderator. “We did have a few private conversations about whether he might be a threat to Kellie’s safety, but ultimately decided he was harmless.”
When we caught up with Granucci, he was flipping wistfully through computer printouts of Kellie candids.
“Where am I supposed to find news and updates about Kellie Pickler now that I’m not paying $20 per year for access to a message board?” Granucci wondered aloud, seemingly unaware that the same pilfered wireless connection that linked him to the password-protected area of www.kelliepickler.com can also connect him to countless other country music sites, CMT and GAC among them, many of which frequently run news items about Pickler. Pickler also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The message boards on Pickler’s own site are still operational, but now open to everyone. According to Granucci, whose bedroom windowsill is lined with a collection of homemade Kellie bobbleheads, the change is for the worse. “It’s not the same when you don’t charge an annual fee for it. You get some real nuts signing up at the free level that you wouldn’t have to deal with otherwise. It used to be like a family – Kellie was the mommy and I was the daddy and they were all like our kids – but now they ruined it. They ruined our dream.”
Without the close-knit family atmosphere of the old fan club, Granucci has found his interest in Pickler’s music, and all the details of her personal life, waning. “I need to find something else to do with my time, I guess. I think Laura Bell Bundy has a fan club that she charges for, so maybe I should look into that.”
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