As anyone who has been anywhere near social media for the past month knows, I spent the weekend in Las Vegas for New Kids on the Block: After Dark. It was originally touted as a 30th Anniversary celebration and went on to promise surprises, parties and a risque four-off performance. I ran the proverbial gauntlet to get there, hurdling over scheduling conflicts, cash-flow stoppage (and subsequent crowd-funding), polite eviction from my home and even disgruntled airline employees. But I made it. And here’s the story:
I flew out of Grand Rapids on Friday afternoon and arrived in Las Vegas at exactly the same time. The three-hour time difference is only fun on the way there. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I did manage to explain the entire 30-year history of the New Kids to a curious Lansing Disc Jockey who was on his way to celebrate the dawn of his 40s. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he was more curious about what was in my pants than what the “five bad brothers from the Beantown land” have been up to. But I digress.
Much like the beer I’m (not) enjoying as I type, I was traveling cheap and light. I zoomed out of the airport and right onto a shuttle bus without ever having to step into the incendiary desert atmosphere. And thank gos. The strip was 111 degrees on the hottest day and not even Body Glide could stop my thighs from chub-rubbing together with a ferocity that was sure to spark and set the air ablaze. Once the air-conditioned shuttle bus pulled into what can only be called the Planet Hollywood “compound” I started to feel the excitement bubble up. That, or I had forgotten to take my Prevacid again. The other Blockheads on the shuttle helped get my boyband blood boiling as we excitedly discussed plans for the coming weekend extravaganza and compared seats for the show. This particular group of Blockheads was so cute, it almost hurts me to talk about them. They were two sisters from the east side of Michigan and their elderly father. He had taken them to their first show in the late 80s and wanted to keep that tradition alive and join them in Vegas. He was going to the show and was looking forward to “watching all the ladies now that they were adults”…it sounded cuter when he said it. But that could have been the Superfan-euphoria clouding my creep-o-meter.
Walking into the heavily decorated doors of Planet Hollywood and really beginning my first-timer’s journey in Vegas was surreal. It was like a Blockhead convention and I didn’t hate it. There were posters advertising the weekend’s shows and each of the elevators had been transformed with pictures of the guys so that each time we used them, it was required to say something like, “I just went down on Donnie Wahlberg” or “I’m riding all of the guys tonight.” You know…standard fare for when your favorite adult boyband is plastered on elevator doors. After taking a few selfies in front of Donnie and Joe (the elevator versions, unfortunately) I made my way into the casino and then what appeared to be a mall to find my roommates for the weekend. They were in line for their VIP experience, those lucky betches. I had met Alyson in Boston when I went solo to the Album Release event at the Orpheum. Since BH friends are for life (which is something I just decided), we reconnected in Vegas and she introduced me to another Boston Blockie, Andrea. There’s something about a common lifelong fandom that makes it totally fine to share a bed with someone you met only briefly a year and a half prior. It’s hard to come by people in real life who want to spend time and money on this obsession, so we have to make friends in Block Nation and converge accordingly. It’s a thing. If you say “real life” to any BH, she’ll know what you mean.
After riding Jordan Knight up to the room (Can’t stop, won’t stop) I dropped my things, puckered up to some signature red lipstick and set out to find some trouble. My night was open. I had only planned to attend the Saturday night show and since my roomies were lucky enough to have tickets to all four nights, I was looking at a lot of alone time to kill. I decided to choose wisely and sidled up to the Halo Bar right outside the concert venue. There was a man with an enormous (and rentable) mohawk there and it seemed like an interesting place to start. He had airbrushed “NKOTB AFTER DARK” on one side, and the famous “Welcome to Vegas” insignia on the other. It was pure genius. He told me that he rakes in somewhere around $200 a day just sitting at the bar and accepting tips for photos. Pure. Genius. And it would only work in Vegas. His job is to literally sit and drink and have a mohawk. I wasn’t the only one who was drawn to his side. A California BH with the quintessential California chesticles and some disturbingly bedazzled jeans was sitting directly to my right. I silently judged her life choices but then realized that we had one important life choice in common. So we started talking and I’m man enough to admit that she was very cool. I cast my judgment aside and made my first Vegas friend. I mean…I reserved a little judgment. How could I not? But Cali-Boobs was legit. After doing some bonding-shots and watching Mohawk-for-hire take about a thousand photos with fans, both he and Cali-Boobs helped me look for a ticket to that night’s show. It was decided that I shouldn’t miss it. Two minutes, $45 and one Craigslist Ad later, I had an amazing seat and plans for the evening. Just like that.
That’s how Vegas works, it seems. One minute you’re trying to prevent falling into a chest-chasm of cleavage and the next you’re meeting a random dude at Coffee Bean to procure your evening’s entertainment.