I Wanted It That Way, Part II
|April 8, 2013||Posted by Jess under Adventures in Real Life, Celebrities, Music, Tweendom|
Unable to spend money on BSB tickets, I did the next best thing and spent money on anything else I could find with their faces on it. A short, incomplete list:
- CDs. I mean, obviously I rushed right out and bought Backstreet Boys and Millennium, but I also combed the racks at the music store in every mall I went to (I went to high school in New Jersey. I spent about 40% of those four years in various malls), looking for anything that might have a hard-to-find B-side. (To put this in a little context, if I recall correctly, CD singles at the time were about $10. Which I’d be paying for one new song, plus half a dozen remixes of an old one. And I forked the money over gladly.) Jamie and I also got her mom, who was endlessly willing to enable our joint obsession, to take us to Virgin Megastore in New York, where I scored a bunch of foreign releases: Backstreet’s Back, the Australian Millennium, the Japanese Backstreet Boys, and so on. They were each about $30, which was a lot of money to a high schooler without a steady job or allowance. But they had one or two rare songs! And sometimes a picture I hadn’t seen before! And even once I got Napster, I didn’t have a CD burner, so if I wanted to listen to “Tell Me That I’m Dreaming” or something on my Discman I had to oh Christ I feel so old right now.
- Teen magazines. Of course, I bought any “real” magazine with them in it, like Rolling Stone (oh God, this cover), and I already had subscriptions to Seventeen and Teen People, but I also had a huge drugstore on my corner that kept a full complement of the teenybopper rags: Sixteen, J-14, Teen Beat, Tiger Beat, Pop!, etc. I stopped in at least once a week on the way home from school, and leafed through all of the new mags to see if any had a solo pinup – or better yet, a poster – of Brian. They all had BSB posters and solo pinups of Nick, but Brian, my favorite, was slightly more rare2 and thus kept me from spending all my money (just most of it). I still probably bought three or four of these magazines a month, which at $3 a pop was a lot of babysitting money.
Once purchased, I’d take the magazines home and read them through. Then I’d carefully dismantle them by removing the staples from the center and methodically sorting all of the pinups and posters. Brian ones went up on the two walls over my bed unless I already had something similar. I had dozens of pictures of him up there, all sort of framing a huge store-bought poster of him like a creepy shrine. They covered the walls so completely that when I finally took them down, they came off in one big sheet.
If there was one of the band that I really liked, it could go up on one of the other two walls. My closet door was dedicated to pictures that I really loved of Nsync and/or JC Chasez. The remaining pinups and posters were carefully sorted: Extra BSB posters went into a BSB folder. Extra Nsync and/or JC posters and pinups (but not the other four guys) went into…a different BSB folder, as a sort of dig. BSB pinups were sorted by member and filed – I shit you not – in clear plastic sleeves inside a three-ring binder labeled with a BSB sticker; first Nick, then Brian (the smallest section, because most of the were up on my wall), then AJ, Kevin, Howie, and group photos. And it all went into the Backstreet Drawer under my bed.
So yes, I was super anal retentive in high school and that hasn’t changed one bit. Have you seen my spice rack???
- Photocards. These were basically boy band trading cards. (They had those too, but they were much harder to get, having been released in Europe several years before.) They looked like 4” x 6” photos, but each had a number on the back, and they came in envelopes of 6 for $2.99 each. Each set of photocards (which were themed by album/tour/era/etc., i.e. “Millennium” or “Larger Than Life”) had something like 64 cards in it, and had a matching album you could buy. The object was to buy a bunch of packets of cards and trade with friends until you had a complete set. Since I only had a couple of local friends who collected photocards, I joined some Yahoo groups and traded with other girls to complete my collections – and kept it secret from my mother, because this was back in the days when giving anyone your information over the internet was tantamount to asking to be murdered by a creepy dude with a van. I had at least three different complete sets, plus a few hundred doubles I hadn’t traded yet, so…God, someone else do the math, I’m afraid to.3
- The concert was both cringingly embarrassing for AJ in retrospect and TOTALLY AWESOME. It was so hot and packed and hyperventilatey inside (and remember, we were all wearing heavy jackets because of the snow) that five girls fainted and had to be carried out by security. I thought girls swooning over pop singers only happened at Conrad Birdie concerts. ↩
- Nick was by far the most popular, with a significant dropoff in popularity to Brian, then AJ right behind him, then another, steeper dropoff, then Kevin, then Howie. Poor Howie. Also, “pinup” in this sense just means a full-page photo, but wouldn’t it be great if they had done, like, classic Hollywood-style pinups, in bathing suits and heels? ↩
- They make photocards for One Direction now, which seems odd to me in the era of Google Image Search, hey. ↩
And this is to say nothing of the specials they’d released on VHS, the comic book Nick Carter and Stan Lee had co-created, the random key chains, concert glowsticks and programs, mousepads, computer games, magnets, posters, stickers, and the stacks and stacks of blank VHS tapes so that I could record all of their television appearances, and matching stacks of floppy discs crammed with random pictures of them found through Ask Jeeves searches. If something had Brian Littrell’s face on it, I wanted it, and it didn’t take long for me to go from being the girl who didn’t know the name of anyone on the radio to being well known as one of the biggest Backstreet die-hards in the school. (Why no, I wasn’t cool in high school. Why do you ask?)
I had to spend money because it was the only way I could feel close to them. They were recording an album, slowing starting to branch out into more private personal lives, and – though we didn’t know it at the time – having some internal meltdowns, so they weren’t around much.
But in November 2001 they released their fourth album, Black and Blue. I was a senior in high school by then, and the relative freedom that gave me and my friends led to some of my less rational Backstreet-related decisions (not that many of them were rational at all). Next week: storming Times Square, high speed car chases, and – gasp! – meeting Brian.