Why Katy Perry's 'Witness' Pop-Up Embodies What Being a Fan Is All About

Katy Perry performs during 'Katy Perry - Witness World Wide' exclusive YouTube Livestream Concert at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts on June 12, 2017 in Los Angeles.
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Katy Perry performs during 'Katy Perry - Witness World Wide' exclusive YouTube Livestream Concert at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts on June 12, 2017 in Los Angeles.

The security guard in front Los Angeles' Kim Sing Theatre on Thursday was most likely just there for a check. In all black and thin matching sunglasses struggling not to slip from his glistening nose, the heavyset man was not quite as chipper as attendees who floated by him to get a glimpse of Katy Perry’s four-day YouTube-streamed home. Chugging icy Gatorades, he was just doing his job. 

After Katy's Los Angeles-based YouTube marathon (where 41 robotic cameras shot for a collective audience of nearly 50 million viewers), fans were invited to peruse the crib. From noon to 8 p.m., anyone could walk through Perry's temporary digs: There's the long kitchen table Caitlyn Jenner got schooled on race-relations at. Oh, look at the grass patch and fire hydrant where Nugget, Perry’s cutesy-wootsy dog, handled his biz.

On the surface, taking the trip to a locale where a celebrity merely existed for 96 hours sounds a bit much -- the type of superfandom that’s reserved for Elvis nuts who flock to Graceland and such. And yeah, this exhibit of sorts at the Katy Perry - Witness World Wide house had many echoes of that fan intensity.


Open house at @katyperry Witness publicity headquarters? You bet I'm going to drag @amcarrier there! #KPWWW #Witness

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"Let me take one for my Tinder profile," one young lady said to her girlfriend in front of the enormous indoor tent upstairs, as she forked over her iPhone and requested a picture be taken.

Elsewhere, two teen girls in denim cut-offs asked their guardian to snap a shot of them cuddled up in Perry’s onetime bedroom for their Instagram pages. Downstairs, others lounged on couches and hunched over the kitchen aisle, bopping to Perry’s new album. “If I could sleep here,” began another, resting in a hanging neon pod chair and slightly cocking her head just so while a buddy took a picture, "that'd be so amazing."



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I love naps #KPWWW

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Nearing the exit meant passing through the pop-up merchandise shop. Pieces like a pink tee captioned “Make Me Ripple Until I’m Wavy” or a navy sweatshirt with “Bon Appetit” on it go for $30 to $65. A royal blue souvenir jacket with an orange lion embroidered on the back is $85. And the cash register keeps ching-chinging. They’re going fast.

So much of the Witness house -- closing for good at 8 p.m. local time on Friday (June 16) -- lends itself to sarcastic and downright mean jokes about the people who attend; perhaps only there to gather likes and favorites on their social media pages, or just flat-out desperate for a few minutes of a celebrity’s air. But one area of the house is sobering for those dispensing mean-girl slights. 


That's a wrap! #KPWWW HQ will be open again tomorrow at 12pm! -TeamKP

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On a table next to the house entrance, there’s a journal for fans to leave notes to Katy. Flipping a few pages reveals lengthy messages that are a bit too personal to share on a mass scale. They range from “We’ve got matching tattoos!” to vivid accounts of how Perry’s lyrics and existence provided strength to recover from both sickness and heartbreak. 

After a couple such letters are digested, what at first may appear like a playground for immature adults and tweens quickly becomes a forum to appreciate an artist who has an enormously positive effect on so many listeners. The Witness house is what being a real fan is all about.