Meet the Lanatics: documenting Lana Del Rey’s most adoring superfans

Director and LDR stan Taylor Ghrist meets some of the Norman Fucking Rockwell singer’s most passionate fanbase in an intimate, DIY documentary

You’re having a break-up and rain is softly hitting the bus window; you’re watching the sunset on the beach with a spliff in one hand and a hot dude in the other; you’re face down on a duvet coated in pizza crumbs, the laptop screen’s blue aura the only offensive in your hangover lair; you’re approaching your elderly sugar daddy’s table in a crowded capital city restaurant, weighed down by the jewels around your neck. That last vignette may not be as likely, but whether Norman Fucking Rockwell, Ultraviolence, or Born to Die, the queen of summertime sadness and wistful sugar baby pop Lana Del Rey can soundtrack anything.

With her cinematic lyrics, bittersweet drawl, and Americana aesthetic, Lana has given us emotional solace, look inspiration, and huge national anthem bops. But who out there is pledging their ultimate allegiance to the Star Girl? Enter the LDR stans, a hardcore, expansive community of Lana enthusiasts and the subject of The Lanatics, a documentary short by Los Angeles filmmaker, Taylor Ghrist.

Made by a Lana superfan, this doc delves into the Lana Del Rey fanbase, uncovering their undying passion and adoration for her music, career and artistry. The director explains that he was inspired by Is It Really So Strange? which he describes as a “brilliant doc about Latino immigrants in LA that are obsessed and completely affected by Morrissey”, and “just like Morrissey, Lana has an interesting subculture as well”. A true project of love, Ghrist worked on the doc for a year: “It’s an artifact of the times we live in,” he says.

The doc follows the release of the musician’s sixth studio album Norman Fucking Rockwell. With its cut n’ paste, DIY aesthetic, The Lanatics introduces us to three Lana Del Rey stans. “I specifically focused on young gay men that love Lana because I see myself in them and wanted to really hone in on a fanbase that truly goes the extra mile,” Ghrist explains. “It feels like a community and it moves me.” 

Existing in the same stanbase realm as other women who have become queer icons, from Madonna to Britney and Charli XCX, the LDR fans we meet maintain that there’s an openness to Lana that the LGBTQ+ can really relate to. “There’s something about her vulnerability that I think gay men just really connect to,” LDR stan Joe says. 

“There are other ‘queens’ that have massive radio play, (but) Lana is a true one-of-a-kind artist that has always played by her own rules,” adds Ghrist.

But what sets the sad girl pop super fans apart from us local listeners? For Grant, who we meet sitting in a den of Lana memorabilia, it’s the commitment. “I’ve seen Lana 17 times in the past two or three years,” he says. We get a tour of his bedroom, complete with a Lana-inspired wardrobe and the pièce de résistance: two knitted jumpers worn by the star whilst visiting sick children in hospital.

“I see the passion and fervor these fans have and it inspires me,” says Ghrist, who’s also seen the singer 14 times since the release of her seminal album Born To Die in 2012. “I only wanted serious fans for the documentary”. The documentary flits between clips of fans in action – at one arena show, a man shouts “Lana – sit on my face!”. Why you may ask? “I just wanted to make her smile or something,” he chuckles. 

It’s easy to see why Lana has such a devoted circle of followers, her eagerness to stop, chat and even kiss her ‘Lanatics’ is shown in rapidfire but intimate moments in the doc. “She talks to the fans like we’re friends”, “She’s like ride, or die with us, she really is,” they say. 

The Lanatics is a testament to the fanbase that has stuck by her since the beginning,” Ghrist asserts, a homage to the homagee’s, in recognition of their loyal devotion.

Watch the documentary The Lanatics premiering above.