For fans hoping to interact with their idols, the journey may be complicated, expensive, or ultimately disappointing. Stories abound on the Internet of celebrities who have blown off fans seeking a photo or an autograph. And while some stars go above and beyond to show love to their most devoted followers, just as many have been the subject of negative tweets or blog posts from those they’ve let down.
Basically, paying to interact with celebrities is a gamble, but plenty of stars still host meet-and-greets for deep-pocketed fans wishing to have the experience of a lifetime. With the rise of Cameo — a platform that allows users to purchase personalized videos from celebs — many famous names have even become available for fan interactions at the simple click of a button.
Whether online or in person, we can’t help but wonder: are these celebrity-fan meetings always worthy purchases? After all, it doesn’t always pay to meet your heroes. Let’s shine a spotlight on the stars who are willing to interact with paying fans … and the controversies that have sometimes followed.
Ariana Grande's pricey meet-and-greets impacted her mental health
Ariana Grande’s Sweetener World Tour included a $800 package that gave fans a chance to snap a photo with the star, in addition to attending her “soundcheck dance party and Q&A session hosted by [her] dancers” and obtaining “pre-show lounge access, poster, gift and commemorative laminate,” per BBC News.
However, the pressures of interacting with fans eventually caught up with pop starlet, who’d previously opened about the mental health issues she’s experienced following the May 2017 terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester, England. After canceling her Antwerp, Belgium meet-and-greet in late August 2019 due to her battle with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks (via Us Weekly), the “Thank U, Next” hitmaker decided to ax the rest of her meet-and-greets on the European leg of her tour that September. While most fans were supportive of Grande’s decision to put her health first, some ticket holders were disappointed, including one Manchester fan who claimed to the Mirror that she wasn’t fully reimbursed: “I just feel upset and let down to get the email saying not only has the meet-and-greet been canceled, they’re keeping my money.”
In response to a fan’s tweet about the cancellations, Grande tweeted out, “A. my anxiety had worsened and it was noticeable. i only want to give u the best version of myself. B. i wasn’t allowed to spend as much time as i wanted with everyone and it’s so expensive and i felt badly.”
Lady Gaga's costly fan interactions have drawn mixed reviews
During Lady Gaga’s Enigma Las Vegas residency, which kicked off in 2018, fans could pay $2,000 for a meet-and-greet with the Mother Monster herself, as well as access to “a backstage tour, pre-show reception and ‘swag bag'” (via BBC News). But unfortunately for attendees on a budget, that price didn’t actually include a ticket to the concert, which would set them back even more. That didn’t stop fans from shelling out for the packages, with photos circulating on social media from a December 2019 meet-and-greet, showing Gaga in a sleek catsuit and blue wig posing with excited attendees.
However, Little Monsters haven’t always celebrated their interactions with the star. Enough fans were disappointed with the group meet-and-greet package for Gaga’s Joanne World Tour that a petition asking the “Stupid Love” singer to devote more time to fans during the sessions popped up on Change.org. “The only encounter with Gaga consists of a group photo (group of six) with random people and absolutely no individual photo,” the petition, which garnered almost 700 signatures, read. “This idea seems so impersonal and weird and a lot of her fans, who were expecting a serious meet and greet opportunity, are so disappointed.”
Still, another fan confirmed on Reddit that they paid $1,500 to meet Gaga during this tour, but called the group photo with Gaga and five other fans “worth every goddamn penny.”
Britney Spears' high meet-and-greet prices have sparked controversy
Fans who attended Britney Spears’ Piece of Me Las Vegas residency and her ensuing world tour could pay to meet the pop princess backstage, but it would cost them a pretty penny: meet-and-greet prices for the long-running residency, which stretched from 2013 to 2017, were priced at the hefty sum of $2,525, according to Forbes. Woah. Meanwhile, fans seeking to meet Spears during her 2018 tour would pay nearly as much, with meet-and-greets costing between $2,100 and $2,300.
Unfortunately, controversy surrounding the prices of Spears’ meet-and-greets have been swirling for years. Back in 2014, a source cited by Radar Online claimed that participants were only allowed to spend mere seconds with the star and were prohibited from touching or hugging her “without her permission,” as well as from “[bringing] her any gifts.” Spears also allegedly seemed uncomfortable while interacting with fans, with the media outlet’s insider alleging that she reportedly “barely spoke” and “just smiled and nodded and said ‘Thank you’ a lot.”
The “Toxic” singer faced a similar backlash for her meet-and-greet prices in 2018, as disappointed potential buyers voiced their complaints on Twitter, with one disgruntled user quipping, “They should really call it the ‘Piece Of You’ Tour, since you’ll need to sell an organ to afford to go. Truly a joke.”
Justin Bieber once said meeting fans 'exhausted' him
Before Justin Bieber’s Changes tour was postponed in 2020, the dates included a meet-and-greet package for $1,549, according to Pop Crush. While not everyone is a fan of the Biebs, the “Sorry” hitmaker has had a spotty history even among the most devoted Beliebers during previous fan interactions.
In 2016, the star’s meet-and-greets during his Purpose World Tour went viral for all the wrong reasons. Bieber’s fans were given the option to pay a whopping $2,000 to meet their idol at the time, but shortly after the tour kicked off that March, he was criticized for looking “bored” in the photos he took with adoring fans who had purchased the meet-and-greets.
Several weeks later, we found out why when Bieber announced that he would be canceling all future meet-and-greets for the tour, writing on Instagram that the fan experiences left him “feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted to the point of depression.” He added, “The pressure of meeting people’s expectations of what I’m supposed to be is so much for me to handle and a lot on my shoulders.” Meanwhile, his team cited that a “security incident” had in part led to the decision in a statement to Billboard. Whatever the reason — or price — we’d hope even Bieber’s most disappointed fans were glad to see him putting his health and safety first.
Shawn Mendes has dodged questions while interacting with fans
Meet-and-greet prices for Shawn Mendes’ self-titled 2018 tour ranged from $450 to $550 – and considering these packages didn’t include actual tickets, some fans took to Twitter to vent about the steep price tag. At the time, the “In My Blood” singer-songwriter reportedly responded to one of his disappointed fans in a direct message. Allegedly writing that it was “so upsetting” to see the negative buzz, Mendes supposedly encouraged his concert attendees to “just come see me at my hotel and I’ll take 10 photos for free … I just want you guys to be happy.”
Ah, crisis averted. Well, sort of. Unfortunately, Mendes landed himself in hot water once again during the Q&A portion of a July 2019 meet-and-greet session with fans ahead of a concert in Tampa, Fla. According to Yahoo! Life, things got uncomfortable when an attendee asked the musician about the inspiration behind “Senorita,” his hit song that happens to feature Camila Cabello, a.k.a. his then-rumored girlfriend. But rather than speak about the song or Cabello, Mendes simply said, “I love you guys, have a great night!” and promptly walked off stage … sparking swift social media backlash over seemingly cutting his pricey time with fans short.
For his part, Mendes later apologized in a since-deleted tweet, writing that he meant his stage exit to be a “[lighthearted,] funny goodbye” following the last question, but was “sorry if that upset anyone.”
Miley Cyrus' fearless fan interactions cost a pretty penny
Miley Cyrus didn’t tour as much as she used to in the later part of the 2010s, but she made her Bangerz World Tour count in 2014 by making bank through her meet-and-greets. Per Business Insider, Cyrus charged attendees $1,000 for a meet-and-greet package. It may have cost a pretty penny, but the music star was clearly willing to create some wild and memorable experiences for her adoring fans, with photos emerging of one meet-and-greet participant grabbing her chest and pretending to kiss her.
Cyrus later played a one-month string of concerts in 2015 dubbed the Milky Milky Milk Tour. Around that time, one fan sharing a behind-the-scenes video on YouTube of his positive experience meeting the “Malibu” hitmaker, during which she signed several vinyl records and happily made conversation, calling him “so sweet” and thanking him repeatedly. Aww!
While many Internet reports of Cyrus’ public interactions with fans have been positive, one person unfortunately crossed the line in 2019, when they suddenly lunged at Cyrus in a crowd, grabbed her hair, and kissed her without her consent.
Demi Lovato's fan interaction fees and demeanor have angered some Lovatics
Demi Lovato charged $500 for meet-and-greets during her 2018 Tell Me You Love Me Tour, though the experience left at least some fans unsatisfied. So much so that one unhappy attendee even spoke with Hollywood Life about meeting his idol that month, claiming Lovato had a “s**tty attitude” and “blew [him] off” after he shared a sincere message of adoration. “During the concert, she said how she loved all her fans and ‘never feel alone cause I am there for you,'” he added. “But, she wasn’t really.”
The negative buzz piled on around this time, with other fans taking to social media to share similar experiences. In response, Lovato wrote on Instagram (via Hollywood Life), “If my meet and greets aren’t good enough for you guys then why do them anymore?”
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time Lovato’s meet-and-greets drew jeers from her Lovatics. In 2015, she and Nick Jonas offered a $10,000 VIP package during their joint Future Now outing, which included meet-and-greets with both stars and signed merch … but not a ticket to the actual concert. A fan’s account of an allegedly negative experience with Lovato went viral during this tour, involving an Instagram essay (via NME) that claimed the “Skyscraper” singer didn’t pay enough attention to her fans and appeared relieved when the event was over.
Sarah Jessica Parker's fan interactions went digital to raise funds
Beyond in-person meet-and-greets, some celebrities have found financial success while interacting with fans on Cameo, the burgeoning platform that enables users to purchase personalized videos from stars.
One celeb who created a Cameo page for a good cause was none other than Sarah Jessica Parker, who was available on the website for a brief window in September 2019. For $1,000, fans could purchase a video from the former Sex and the City actress, per Fox News, with Cameo advertising her page as part of a fundraiser for the New York City Ballet’s annual Fall Gala.
Parker’s efforts paid off, as she reportedly raised $50,000 for the ballet company. As seen on her Cameo page, examples of her videos included happy birthday wishes and congratulatory messages — and judging by the countless five-star reviews, her fans couldn’t have been happier. “Best Birthday Present Ever!!” one person wrote, while another shared, “Thank you very much! I’ve added an addition $1000 for the charity. Have a wonderful day.”
Caitlyn Jenner charges the big bucks to interact with fans in support of charity
We might not see Caitlyn Jenner on TV so much these days, but the former Keeping Up With the Kardashians star has become one of the more expensive celebs on Cameo, with her page advertising $2,500 videos to support her charity, the aptly called Caitlyn Jenner Foundation.
“When I’m out in public, people constantly ask me, ‘Would you do a video wishing my cousin happy birthday?'” Jenner revealed in a video on her page. “Well, here’s an opportunity to get your own personal video from me to [do] basically whatever you want. It’s a great way for me to connect to my followers … and I’m looking forward to doing a lot of personal messages.”
With a 4.9 rating, it seems the reality TV starlet’s fans were overwhelmingly happy with the results of the clips, which include a bevy of happy birthday messages, with one person writing, “You’re AMAZING! Thank you so much for everything Caitlyn. Icon is RIGHT.” However, it seems as though the rest of the Kardashian-Jenner clan may not have been quite as thrilled about the former Olympian’s decision to join the site. According to a March 2019 Radar Online report, the rest of the famous family allegedly “[wished] they could put a stop” to Jenner recording Cameos, with an insider claiming, “[They] disapprove because they believe she’s cheapening their brand by allowing anyone to buy a recording in this way.” Hm.
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