Sunday, July 16, 2006

Never Trust a Big Butt and A Smile

Let me start with a little history lesson. Those of you that have known me for a while will already know this. To some, it may come as a shock.

In the summer before my junior year in college, I was hired as a DJ at a local radio station. That particular station, WCRK, was AM and had a country/oldies format. I, not being fond of the country side of that list, chose to "spin" mostly the oldies. I got to play a lot of Elvis, Johnny Cash, mellow Beatles, The Turtles, Beach Boys and, of course, Melanie (I do love to Roller Skate). That job led to a job in my senior year of college at a local FM Top 40 station. At WAZI, I started out on the weekend graveyard shift taking requests from bored teenagers and grocery store stock boys. They would call and ask me to play the latest hits from Bon Jovi, Debbi Gibson, INXS, Chicago, Poison, Cinderella - you remember the late 80's right?

After college, I moved to San Diego where my radio experience somehow qualified me to step behind "the wheels of Steele" and work as a club DJ. This was a whole new world. Here I couldn't just start and stop records (yes, in the olden days music came on big round pieces of black vinyl and we played them on turntables with diamond needels. Oooo). I couldn't segue between cuts with witty banter. In "da club" (see, I'm hip to the slang of the day) we had to "mix" songs by BPM's (beats per minute) so that one song flowed seamlessly into the next. The idea was start off slow with some "lone song" that people would slow dance to and gradually increase the BPMs to the point where the dance floor was "hopping" and the people were sweating and working up a thirst. Just when the crowd looks as if they can't take it anymore, you slow it back down. Half the people couple up and grind to the sultry sounds of Simply Red's "If You Don't Know Me By Now" while the other half would rush over to the bar to get a cool refreshing cocktail to quench their thirst. That's where the bar made their money.

But that's a little off track. You must understand the while working as a DJ, I certainly had fun, but in no way was I playing the kind of music that I was listening to on my own record player at home. With the possible exception of INXS and the rare REM song, I basically HATED that music. Ick. Blah. Puke. And, in my opinion, the worst of the WORST were those annoying boy bands. Oh, no no. Not N'Sync or Back Street Boys. No kids, we have to go back to New Kids on The Block and New Edition. The New Kids were just terrible. I think I know every word to every song they ever released and I actually still have their "Hangin' Tough" album in my stacks. But it was purely an ironic possession.

New Edition, on the other hand, escaped me entirely. They were just breaking up when I started spinning, so I rarely played anything of theirs as a group. What I DID play and play and play - both at the radio station and the bar - were the products of The New Edition Spin off projects: Bobby Brown and Belle Biv DeVoe. In fact, I can remember my request log at the bar being just FILLED with pleas to hear "Poison," "Do Me," "My Prerogative," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Rock Wit' cha." I also remember CRINGING each time I put needle to vinyl on any of these tracks. They all seemed to be the exact same song and I had to play them over and over and over.

OK - that's the back story. Now, flash forward too many years to admit, and find me sitting at my desk at work. I am the oldest person in the office by several years - over a decade in some cases. One of our editors comes running into our office and says "Oh my God, you guys. What are you doing Saturday night?" Now, I have of late become a bit of a shut in. Mostly because I have been bitten too many times by socializing with co-workers. I prefer to keep my friends out of my work place. But, this particular week my husband was heading out of town and I was to be single and childless for perhaps the last time for YEARS to come. So, I found myself uttering the phrase, "nothing, why?"

"There is a 90's reunited show at the Greek! It's En Vogue, SWV, Bell Biv DeVoe and BOBBY BROWN. We are SOOOOOO going."

I don't know if it was the 3 - 5 % shrinkage of my brain due to pregnancy or the sesame seed bagel I'd had for breakfast but for some reason I actually agreed to go. Stranger yet, I was actually pretty excited.

5 of us met Saturday evening for dinner at a Thai place in Silverlake and then drove over to Los Feliz where we parked the car and walked up Hillhurst to the Greek. (I figured if nothing else, the walk up the hill constituted my exercise for the weekend.) What transpired over the next 3 hours was, well, mind blowing.

First, let me say that I don't really remember SWV (Sisters With Voices) but I don't know why they aren't HUGE stars right now. Those girls can sing. They were FLAWLESS. Following them were En Vogue. Again, I say, "what the..." I remember always thinking the ladies of En Vogue were pretty talented, but I had NO IDEA. There was no lip syncing, no voice enhancements, no background tracks. It was just these 5 chicks with pipes that I swear didn't even need microphones. How is it that people like Brittney Spears have careers when there are women like this in the world?

Once the ladies were done, Bell Biv DeVoe came out and just blew me away. In case you didn't know, they were 3 of the original members of New Edition who broke off to do their own thing after Bobby Brown's ego split up the group. You know them - they had that song "Do Me" that went a little something like this:

The time was 6 o'clock on the Swatch watch
No time to chill, got a date, can't be late
Hey, the girl is gonna do me
Move to the Jacuzzi, ooh, that booty
Smack it up, flip it, rub it down, oh, no
Pretend you've never heard it. Pretend you never sang along to it in the car. It was infectious. Anyway, they have to be my age (gulp) pushing 40 and yet they bounced all over that stage like they took some kind of MC Hammer pill. And their harmonies were killer. I don't know where these guys have been for the past 15 years, but they should really think about opening up their mouths once in a while.

Finally, the man, the legend, Bobby Brown came out. And that's where the night took a terrible turn for the bizarro. Mr. Whitney Houston has apparently smoked a little to much crack over the years because his once clean tenor vocal chords have been burned into a gravely "just smoked a pack of unfiltered cigarettes" horse whisper. He didn't sing. He would chant the first few lines of each song and then hold the microphone out to the crowd to let US do the work for him. Occasionally he would bring the mic back and utter another line or two only to send the responsibility back to us to finish up. His "stage show" was quite possibly the funniest things I've ever seen. He strutted back and forth "teasing" us as he removed his coat, his shirt, his tie..."oh Bobby PLEASE take off the wife beater (he he he pretty appropriately named garment for him)." At one point he had a roadie tie his shoes (he went to stage left, put his right foot up on the speaker and a roadie came out and tied it while Bobby continued to let us sing - then he strutted over to stage right and repeated the process with his left foot). He brought a LARGE sistah up on stage and dry humped her while "singing"
his classic "Tenderoni" But perhaps the most disturbing moment was when he laid a crisp white towel on the stage. He knelt down in back of the towel and spread it out all neat. I thought maybe he had converted to Muslim and was about to perform his evening prayers. Instead, he proceeded to mount the towel and simulate his love for his wife right there on stage for all to see. I would like to think that the 12 year old girl sitting a few rows in front of me really believed her dad when he told her that Bobby was just doing some push ups. ICK. The show was capped off by Bobby's announcement that he and his wife are moving to LA. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Where's Godzilla when you need him?

So, that's how I spent my Saturday night. 6 1/2 months pregnant, sober, watching a washed up pop star making love to linens.


Blogger Joe Powell said...

dear god.
how does Bobby B. even have a career? it must be like watching a train wreck in slow motion.
them en vogue girls were hot and talented, but not, apparently, willing to sell out.
haven't neard the phrase bell biv devoe in a long time.
the 90s are oldies?
then i must be a fossil.

7:05 PM, July 16, 2006  

glad you had fun. we missed you at the gallery fun. maybe another time....

10:25 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger The Editor said...

You party animal!
Well, I spent my Saturday night nursing Sophie and passing out on the couch with her while watching The Road Warrior (thanks to a Xanex and a Guinness).

11:52 PM, July 16, 2006  
Blogger Camshazam said...

I totally should have been there. This reunion tour was just genius. I guess it's the penalty I pay for refusing to listen to the radio. It's just garbage right now, but I digress. I'm glad you had fun, girl!

11:47 AM, July 23, 2006  

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