Thirty-one years after “Jessie’s Girl” made him an 1980s pop culture icon, Rick Springfield can still rouse a crowd. On Sunday night in Toronto, Sylvia Caminer’s Springfield-centric doc “An Affair of the Heart” made its international premiere after winning awards at US fests like Florida and Nashville. Fittingly, the crowd was dominated by middle-aged women clutching Springfield signature-ready posters because the film is just as much about Springfield’s fans as it is about the single.
Springfield, 61, still gives over 100 performances a year. This includes on a “Springfield and Friends” cruise in which hundreds of fans join him on a ship that sails from Miami to the Bahamas. Caminer’s doc take us on the cruise and to dozens of other performances across America (and one at massive outdoor hard rock concert in Sweden, where Springfield wins over a crowd that mostly seems to have no idea who he is).
The doc also focus on a good dozen of Springfield’s biggest fans, who seem to devote their lives to following the singer. Springfield knows them all by name (as he seems to with all of his fans) and the charmingly cult-like community based around the singer quickly becomes clear. It never appears exploitative on Springfield’s part. He comes across as enjoying the community just as much as his fans, and seems genuinely grateful for the career longevity they’ve given him.
The doc also makes a few husbands of Springfield addicts primary characters; for them, things aren’t so fun. One candidly discusses his jealously for Rick, particularly since he once had hopes of becoming a rock star.
“I hate him,” the husband says rather seriously in the film, in a moment that, oddly enough, probably drew the most laughter from audience.
After intense applause as Springfield and the film’s team (including some of the fans featured in the film) took the stage after the film, the Q&A expectedly turned into a Rick lovefest.
“When I read your book I was upset for two months because you had sex with everybody in the ’80s but me,” one audience member said.
“We’re going to change that tonight,” Springfield joked in response.
Another asked where the scar on his chest came from, while a bunch of groupies in the back started asking who was all going to a Springfield concert planned in Mexico in the near future.
“You going?” Springfield asked. “Well, then you better start drinking now.”
Check out full video from the Q&A here. “Affair” screens again this Thursday at Hot Docs.