When you talk to a woman who was either a pre-teen or teenager during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, they are either going to have one reaction or another to the mention of New Kids on the Block. They either loved them back then and still love them today or they couldn’t stand them then or now. There isn’t a lot of middle ground.
Even before our current pandemic, I wasn’t really into big crowds or loud music. It’s all really overwhelming for an introvert such as myself. I’d rather watch You Tube uploads or a DVD of music videos with an ice cold Coca-Cola Classic.
Just let me sit in my cozy Lay-Z-Boy recliner and I can watch the guys sing and dance. I’ll be perfectly happy. Honest. I don’t need to stand in the heat outside a stadium for several hours. I think that might be because I had the experience of going to the New Kids’ “Magic Summer” concert a few weeks after my thirteenth birthday from standing in line for tickets to the drive (and my first and only) ride on Marta.
My mom took me, my friend Vivi, her friend, and her younger brother to the concert. We had painted a bed sheet with spray paint. I don’t remember what it was supposed to say, but I don’t remember it as being something the guys would have been able to see from the stage anyway. Supposedly, we wanted to decorate my mom’s car with crepe paper, but that request was declined due to the inevitability of rain in August in Georgia.
We were kids from the suburbs and we had never been on public transportation before, so the Marta station was exciting. A businessman wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase came up to my mother and gave her his tokens. My mom later told me it was obvious to her that the businessman was leaving town and wouldn’t have any use for the tokens, but my friend’s friend was very upset about “stranger danger”.
We were all very anxious about getting to the stadium in time for the concert. My mother took us over to the map to show us where the train we wanted to get on would be coming from. While we were looking at the map, a train came by. We wanted to get on that train, but my mom told us it was going the wrong way. I believed my mom and trusted her to get us to the stadium in time for the show because she had experience riding the “L” in Chicago.
When I looked in my journal for my memories of the actual concert, I must have been tired after the long drive home because I really didn’t write much. I wrote that I got a t-shirt and a program and that Donnie and Jon were “weird”. Apparently, I was most impressed with Jordan and Joey (not surprising as they were my favorites) and Danny.
I was also not impressed with the opening acts. Anyone remember Rick Wes or Perfect Gentlemen? Last week I went to You Tube and did a search on Rick Wes to see if he was really as awful as I remembered. His singing wasn’t too bad, but at various points of the video, I noticed sometimes he looked a little like Brendan Fraser and others like Joe Keery from Stranger Things.
Perfect Gentlemen just looked like an effort to remake New Edition. I didn’t know what nepotism was back then, but given the lead singer of Perfect Gentlemen was Maurice Starr Jr., that would have been a perfect way to explain it. He was okay, but he was no Bobby Brown.
I don’t remember the first time I saw a New Kids on the Block video, I just remember starting sometime in 1989, they were everywhere. They showed up on Nickelodeon, MTV, and Arsenio Hall. Their songs were catchy and fun to dance to, but mostly, the guys were cute.
My thirteen year old self thought Joey was beckoning to me from the Jumbotron screen while he was singing a song called “Funny Feeling”. I would be very curious to find out how many other girls thought Joey was making that gesture just for them.
Given the actual concert itself didn’t give much material, I’ve rounded up some of my merchandise.
Top Five Favorite New Kids on the Block Merchandise:
5. Giant Pin Back Buttons
These went with the jean jackets and jeans. The fashion was to wear them on your jean pants, but I was always afraid I’d poke my leg with the sharp pin. I still have these giant buttons, but I forgot about how I decorated them with a gold metallic paint pen. I drew hearts next to Jordan’s face.
I didn’t have any Joey giant buttons, so the giant button phase must have been before I added Joey to my favorites.
They also had a stand on the back so I could stand them up on my desk as they are here on this tray.
4. Satin Pillow
Sadly, I no longer have the original satin pillow. I now have this pillow case of the guys as they are now.
I learned the hard way that when nail polish remover comes in contact with satin, it shrivels up satin. It was ugly. The boys all deserved so much better and I feel the need to apologize to Donnie, Danny, Jordan, Joe, and Jon for having been so careless.
3. The Coffee Table Book
I received the paperback version of this as a Christmas gift the year it came out.
The book has never been on my actual coffee table because I don’t want to spill coffee on it. The binding is a little loose from a lot of love.
Even though Jordan and Joe are my favorite New Kids, my favorite picture in the book is the one of Jon eating a slice of delicious looking pizza.
There were also some strange captions on some of the pictures, like one of Joey wearing a thick gold chain around his neck standing next to a man who either was or looked like his father with the caption: “My father would laugh at all of this gold.”
2. NKOTB Dolls
I have “Street Wear” and “Concert” dolls of both Jordan and Joe, but Concert Joe got decapitated when a boy I was babysitting threw him down a stair case. He’s recently had a successful head reattachment procedure and is able to join his casual wear twin and both of the Jordans.
Things were never the same for poor Ken once the New Kids took over the toy chest. Dark-haired Barbie preferred to sit with casual Jordan and Blond Barbie liked to cuddle with Joe.
1. Comic Books and Novelizations
I remember getting a bunch of the New Kids on the Block novels and reading them on a trip to Huntsville, Alabama. My brother’s Boy Scout troop went and the families of the scouts were invited to come along. Somehow, I could read in the car back then without getting motion sickness.
I also remember going to the local drugstore, Revco, to get the New Kids on the Block comic books. I remember going to my friend Vivi’s house and we would read the comic books together whenever a new issue came out.
Most of the stories in the comic were about encounters with overzealous fans or the boys playing pranks on each other. One of my favorites was about Donnie and Joe falling asleep on a spaceship and meeting “aliens”, but it turned out they were just on the set for a new music video. The humor was very similar to what you would find in an Archie comic book or in their own Saturday morning cartoon.
The only thing the New Kids on the Block never had that other licensed properties had was a breakfast cereal. The only shapes I can think of would all have been too similarly shaped to have worked. Things like music notes and microphones. Still, it would have been nice to have seen at least see one of the big brands give it a try.