In a safe and serious corner of the internet, Club Chalamet is a strict no-kids-allowed zone. It’s not a silly or a particularly sexy place: a photo of 23-year-old actor Timothée Chalamet from his 2018 GQ cover shoot looks at you from the top of the page, next to the name of the website written in bright yellow letters. There is an atmosphere of calm and precise organisation. This is a forum for mature fans of the young actor, offering an inclusive environment for older people to share their love.
Although it’s the only message board of its kind, Club Chalamet is indicative of the growing community of adult fans – self-described by some as 'stan-mas'. The name riffs on the possibility of being Timothée’s grandparent, while reclaiming the power of the sound-minded 'stan' – itself a portmanteau of the words 'stalker' and 'fan'. Simone runs the forum as well as the associated Twitter and Instagram accounts. "I want to help carve out a niche fanbase of mature, well-balanced adults in support of his career," says the 52-year-old healthcare professional. Based in Los Angeles, Simone joins a thriving worldwide community: Leslie, a US-based store manager in her 50s, moderates a Facebook page for mature fans of Chalamet which is liked by over 6,000 people – more than half of whom are men, she says.
These spaces are where older fans congregate, away from the whirlwind Twitter feeds often dominated by younger stans. Slack workspaces, Twitter direct messages and WhatsApp groups categorise discussions around infatuations, in turn enabling the creation of podcasts like The Thirst. The series documents the pop culture obsessions of Apryl and Steph, two 29-year-old stans from Norwich. "The running joke with our podcast seems to be that a lot of guys call us 'thirsty' for our views," Steph explains. "It’s as if what we are saying is out of the norm for women of our age. It really isn’t!"
The perception of 'hysterical teenagers' is one that plagues fan communities – and one they are keen to correct. "Stans are dismissed as obsessives – [people think] that we’re fickle and that we’ll lose interest just as quickly as it developed," says Simone. "I’m trying to convey that I’m a mild-mannered fan who is very interested in Chalamet’s career." The rise of older stans demands a reconsideration of how we stereotypically judge obsession in a negative light, instead of allowing intense feelings to manifest through rational behaviour.
Nicole*, 50, is happily married and has chosen not to have kids. She talks about her Chalamet obsession with her husband – he knows she’s seen Beautiful Boy three times already. "I’ve always liked tall, skinny guys who dress cool," she explains. "[My husband] was as skinny as Chalamet as a teenager. He got bullied for looking like a girl, so it’s great to see a different kind of male sex appeal now." Whenever Nicole’s husband is sceptical about her passion, she just tells him, "Well, you married me!"
For many older fans, this passion veers away from physical attraction, focusing on Chalamet’s talents across and beyond his acting roles. Christie became a stan after seeing Call Me By Your Name and falling down the 'Timmy YouTube abyss' to learn more about the multilingual, musically gifted actor. The 43-year-old business systems analyst and film lover has two children, and a Call Me By Your Name tattoo. "[Timothée] is a chameleon," she explains. "I felt every emotion of Elio."
As a teenager, 32-year-old Russian-born Susanne's* favourite actors were Russell Crowe and Bruce Willis. "They couldn’t be further away from Timmy!" she admits. "I don’t sexualise him, but I did sexualise them." Talent takes precedence over romance for Susanne, with an emphasis on Chalamet’s charisma and grace; there’s a sense of protection and concern. Simone agrees, telling me: "He’s a cute and talented kid. I just wish him the best, like an aunt would." Many see a blossoming career, while some also enjoy noticing patterns from the past. "It reminds me of the thrill of young love," says Nicole, "when you were obsessed with someone and would daydream about various 'what if' scenarios."
Beyond the glow of nostalgia, stanning can provide a vital escape from daily life. Across industries including tech, healthcare, retail and the arts, many find relief in Chalamet fandom, where things feel less lonely. "It’s pretty miserable trying to establish yourself in a new place," says Stella*. Her family relocates frequently for her husband’s career, so she enjoys following the community as some kind of constant. "Timmy is an escape for me, where I can be happy that things are going so well for him." The 47-year-old is the mother of a daughter, and a son with special needs. "Sometimes I feel a bit wistful thinking about how happy and proud [Timothée’s] parents must be," Stella admits, "when I think of the challenges my son faces in becoming independent."
Loneliness plagues adults who struggle to make or maintain friends in a fast-paced society where geography is often a hindrance. Maria*, a 54-year-old from Russia who works in insurance, suffered from severe depression and lost faith in life until she saw Call Me By Your Name. "After the movie, I just felt that I could be in love again," she admits. The community that has developed from Steph and Apryl’s podcast also shows the healing value of fandom across oceans. "[The fans'] interests have helped [them] get through some tough times," Steph explains. "Their connection to that film or person has made them less lonely."
I’m trying to convey that I’m a mild-mannered fan who is very interested in Chalamet’s career.
While discussions cover everything from Chalamet’s hair to his career choices, older stans develop friendships that extend beyond their obsession. "We are soulmates," says Leslie, who has travelled to Toronto and LA with new friends from the stan community. They talk about their jobs and families, as well as movies, music, literature and art. Fans use creative skills to further celebrate the artists they love, as dedicated themed accounts prove: chalametinart photoshops the actor into famous works of art, while timmyillustrated keeps a watercolour record of his life.
"As an older stan, you are prepared for the ebb and flow of fandom," Lily* explains. The 36-year-old loves Chalamet but recognises that cultural movements come in waves. She recommends spreading attention across several things in order to minimise disappointment. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Alias and The Office have all punctuated Lily’s life, but she recognises that nothing has left an impact like Call Me By Your Name.
India-based research scholar Julia*, 30, feels similarly. She runs several stan accounts on Twitter: "I didn’t create [them] to gain followers or likes. I enjoy promoting [the artists'] work." What seems like a throwaway phase to some is a lifelong, often professional commitment for many. "I’m a stan-type person," Stella explains. "I do tend to get pretty fascinated by celebrities for a while." Names that reappear frequently when discussing previous interests include Ethan Hawke, Christian Bale, Damian Lewis and, of course, Harry Styles.
In the most vibrant era of the stanbase, age is seen as an advantage. "Being Generation X and not having grown up with social media helps," says Christie. She explains that a more tempered relationship with the internet allows an understanding of what is real, and how online appearances might sometimes warp and heighten emotions. However, while this type of devotion might not be new (Beatlemania, anyone?), the sophistication of the internet undoubtedly strengthens the worldwide kinship. Several older fans emphasise how they admire the maturity of young stans leading the community, born into a world that lives and loves online. "I am so proud of this new generation. I’m not ashamed to say I learn from them in a lot of ways," Susanne admits.
The benefits of older age are financial as well as emotional. "Our purchasing power is more," explains Julia, "as we don’t have to ask our parents." A higher disposable income allows fans to purchase tickets for screenings and downloads of Chalamet’s films – even if they won’t be reaping the benefits directly. It’s not uncommon for stans to boost sales in several locations to help a film’s success, and in some cases this serves a younger generation that might have less access. In the lead-up to Beautiful Boy's US release, Simone organised a contest to win a ticket she'd purchased for a Q&A with Chalamet in Boston; the winner was a 19-year-old fan who submitted a story about why she wanted to attend. "Only a mature fan with the financial ability and altruistic interests would do that," Simone says. "I felt the need to give something back to the fandom."
Each fan assesses their part in the community differently. Some prefer to observe from a distance, keeping their online life separate from the real world. "It’s honestly just as fun for me to observe young stans having so much fun," says Stella. "I’m not against [making friends], but I wouldn’t want to deceive anyone about my age and I want to be anonymous." Many of the people we approached for this article spoke via anonymous accounts – if the avatar shows a face, it’s usually Chalamet’s. "I watch fandom life from the side," Susanne explains. "I know almost everybody but I’m satisfied for it to be one-sided."
It feels like an essentially human instinct: to idolise beautiful people and fantasise about them.
The world might not be ready to fully embrace the seriousness of the stans but thankfully, a lot of them have stopped caring. "It’s fun to be obsessed, and being made fun of really is no deterrent," Nicole says. "It might even make the bonds stronger – an us-against-the-world kind of feeling." Age won’t deter Amy (a self-confessed "professional fan girl" since the age of 10) from posting about her obsessions on Instagram Stories. "I do find myself waiting for a reaction," she says. "Any negative comments usually make me feel sorry for that person, because they don’t unabashedly love something this much, and they feel the need to categorise what’s acceptable to enjoy at a specific age."
There is no hierarchy distinguishing a 13-year-old Chalamet fan from a 53-year-old Chalamet fan; loving the actor because you could be friends or because he could be your grandson. While women remain more vocal, a number of fans insist that men also participate. Nicole recognises a universal quality to the art of the stan. "It feels like an essentially human instinct: to idolise beautiful people and fantasise about them. Isn’t Michelangelo's 'David' the ultimate fanfic expression?"
Julia points out that everyone is a fan of someone – Chalamet previously managed his own stan account for his favourite rapper, Kid Cudi. After hours of conversations about Call Me By Your Name, as well as Chalamet’s impact on her family, Maria concedes that being older doesn’t feel like an obvious asset, or a liability either. "I don’t feel more mature, smarter, better or worse than a young person. When I listen to TC’s interviews, I see that age is nothing."
Fans have found relief in each other across all ages, and many within their own families, with parents and children enjoying Chalamet’s films together. The prejudice that paints a picture of desperate, incensed people caught in a hype machine belongs to those who ignore the value of the community. As awards season progresses and more fans see Beautiful Boy this month, Club Chalamet will only grow stronger, its members ever louder. "I’m from Generation X – coolest fucking generation alive!" Simone says. Like many others, she shows no shame. "I love being my age, and supporting Timothée Chalamet."
*Names have been changed upon request