So, based off of the horror that was Donnie Loves Jenny, I found myself riveted by the New Kids on the Block the other day.
Actually, scratch that. It happened last night, while I struggled to fall asleep. I sat here, in my $39 hotel room, and started Googling NKOTB, wondering what they were up there, where they’ve been, etc. And I found the above video, which just blew my mind.
There is, it turns out, a New Kids on the Block “party plane.”
I don’t know how these things actually happen, but I’m beyond riveted. So let’s begin …
First, and most important, there is a member of the New Kids who is gay. His name is Jonathan Knight, he came out a few years ago. He’s Jordan Knight’s brother, he seems like a pretty nice guy … and, if you watch any videos featuring NKOTB, he barely exists. When I say, “barely exists,” I mean he’s basically taken on the role of the fourth member of Boyz II Men, a baritone named Michael McCary. Though McCary left Boyz II Men in 2003, and hasn’t appeared with the group one time since, he and Jonathan Knight get roughly the same amount of video time (zero). Is this accidental? I doubt it. Sad as it may be, middle-aged housewives begging to fly with the New Kids to live out some private fantasy aren’t clamoring for the gay guy. In fact, the gay guy is almost anti-fantasy, because he reminds the middle-aged housewife that, truly, it’s all just a show, and the New Kids are real people with bills and car accidents and poops and farts.
So, here’s Jonathan Knight’s big appearance in the party plane commercial. It last for roughly one second. I’ll take a guess that this woman either A. Doesn’t know he’s gay; B. Thought he was a flight attendant and got roped into a photo; C. Felt bad for the poor guy.
The video begins with us in an airport, at the Southwest terminal. Bad music is playing, and we’re shown—for about 1 1/2 seconds—the long line, proof that people are REALLY into this. Only the line isn’t long. It’s short. And I’m pretty certain it’s not the NKOTB crowd. Why? Because if one looks closely, there are a couple of really old people. There’s also a ton of luggage, which doesn’t make sense for a quick flight with the New Kids. I also spot a young, muscular dude in Cargos. I’m guessing he doesn’t even know who the New Kids are. He sure as hell doesn’t want to travel with a bunch of salivating middle-aged housewives.
Quick flash to a few worthless but (cha-ching) necessary things. The Southwest logo. Tickets being stamped. Then, this …
I would love to meet the woman wearing this shirt. My questions: A. Did you pay real money for it? Where did you get it? And, most important, can I please fucking have it? Because in my closet of oddball Ts (two USFL offerings, a bunch of soda shirts, a Kurt Rambis No. 31 Laker shirt), a Joey McIntyre THE FLIGHT STUFF shirt would take the cake. I’d stretch that thing out until it’d fit, then wear it repeatedly until the wife would finally moan, “Please, if you love me, stop wearing your Joey McIntyre NKOTB shirt!” Eventually, she’d hide it and I’d move on.
This woman on the right says, “I looooove the New Kids on the Block.” No follow-up. Which is wise. Because, unless the camera operator is also a middle-aged housewife, he/she would almost certainly have follow-ups. For example:
• Um, you what?
• Have you noticed that all their songs sound the same?
• Did you see Jordan on the Surreal Life years ago? God, he was such a fucking dipshit.
• You didn’t pay real money for this, right?
• The gay New Kid wants to take a photo with you. Does your religion allow that?
This is probably my favorite moment, and we’re only 20 seconds in. “Welcome to the Block Party” is playing, and the guys are walking toward the plane, smiling, laughing, clearly excited (though, I’m guessing, secretly mortified). But there’s someone … missing. Someone … gay. Hmm …
Here at 27 seconds is my second favorite moment. A group shot! With Jonathan, though sorta obscure and to the left! I’m taking a wild guess here, but $50 says someone in charge ordered something like, “Can we please find, oh, 10 passably young-ish women and throw them all in the picture.”
“Yeah, I guess the chick in the red can stay.”
Before taking off, Joey sings a Frank Sinatra song to the adoring women. Somewhere here, Frank is rolling over. Twice.
A note from JeffPearlman.com here at the 42-second mark. Unless you have some truly damaging ocular issues, wearing sunglasses on an airplane is just stupid. And makes you look like a tool.
OK, so I was thinking these two guys were paid photographers, hired by either Southwest or the New Kids to chronicle the event. But then I noticed the man on the right is holding an iPhone. Which suggests he paid to be on the plane. Which means he’s either: A. Married and hanging in the back with another married guy, thinking, “Well, I’m here. I might as well snap photos for Brenda.” Or, “Damn, I just fucking love the New Kids!” Which, eh … um … yeah.
I would love to know what the guy in the background of this photo is doing on the New Kids Party Plane. Truly, I have no clue.
I want to stop for a minute and take a wild stab at something. Look at the below photo. There are a pair of couples. The African-American couple in front are probably in their mid-60s. The Asian couple behind them—also in their mid 60s. I probably know a couple of Asian friends who, back in the 1980s, liked the New Kids. But I’ve never, ever met one African-American person who would willingly identify himself/herself as an NKOTB die-hard. Why? Because the New Kids were aimed—squarely—at screaming white girls. It was their target demographic, and I’m quite certain the black people of the earth (of all nationalities) were far too intelligent to fall for putridity like “Step By Step” and “Please Don’t Go Girl.”
So here’s my theory: The flight didn’t fill. Agnes and Larry, Jim and Sue needed to get to Cleveland. “We’re sorry your flight was oversold, but we have quite a bit of availability on another plane. There’s just one catch …”
Next thing Larry knows, some douche in sunglasses is singing “Step By Step” and handing him animal crackers. (oddly, both couples get more video time than Jonathan Knight)
Life is funny.
At 1 minute, Donnie Wahlberg announces all flight participants will receive free tickets to the upcoming NKOTB show at Planet Hollywood. The bearded guy on the right seems downright giddy. Which might be constipation (I make a similar face). My favorite reaction, though, comes from the dude sitting against the window, two rows back. He’s clearly irritated, wearing his $2 headphones, probably trying to sleep. He won’t be attending.
Very bewildering two-shot sequence here 1:09 in. So Jordan Knight is walking through the plane, handing out snacks. This should be THE money moment. Jordan Knight! New Kids lead singer! Bringing snacks! To me! I don’t even like his music, and I’d probably have half a wood. So he walks up to this person, lowers the box of treats … and the man/woman has his/her laptop open … and is watching a movie. Look! It’s right there! I’m not saying this is Serial-worthy, but the mystery fascinates me. If one paid money (presumably a lot of money) to fly with the New Kids, why would you spend the duration of the trip staring at your screen?
Hmm … Larry? Agens? Anyone?
Anyone who has spent considerable amount of time around celebrities has an ah-ha! moment when they realize these people are, quite often, dorks. I don’t mean that meanly. They existed as the ostracized drama kids, the geeky band kids. Once, long ago, they were the ones made fun of. They wore dark clothes, sang in the corners, were ignored in favor of the quarterback (who’s now, quite poetically, stocking shelves at K-Mart). Then—bam—Lotto ticket, big bucks, cool clothes, fame, fortune. And they’re cool. The world decides they’re cool.
Here, however, at 1:14, Jordan reminds us that he’s sorta lame. He’s wearing sunglasses on a plane, holding his iPhone, leading everyone on a NKOTB cheer. Someone on the plane, probably the guy watching his video during snack time, is thinking, “Please, dude, just shut the fuck up.”
So the New Kids have five members. Jordan and Joey are the biggest, Donnie right behind. Jonathan is gay, and therefore doesn’t appear. But there’s a fourth, and if you watch closely, he’s here. His name is Danny Wood. He was always sorta the equivalent of the slightly unattractive girl with the hottie friend. Not horribly ugly, but far from a pretty boy. Or, put different, he’s the Oates of New Kids. On this trip, he apparently either drinks beer or signs T-shirts. Which is fine. He’s 45, getting paid.
At 1:43, something confusing happens. We meet this woman. She has some sort of lasso roped around her forehead. A piece of metal protrudes from her face. And she says, “TOTALLY THE BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!”
OK, I’m calling bullshit. You’re, oh, 42. You’ve probably made best friends, traveled the world, had sex, won contests, graduated from school, fallen in love, eaten great pizza. And the TOTALLY BEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE is flying from Cleveland to Detroit with the New Kids.
I don’t endorse cocaine. But some people might benefit from its impact.
The video raps with Donnie speaking of the “very serious” connection the Kids have with their fans. Which is probably true, and sounds sincere.
If not a tad inexplicable.