Sunday, October 26, 2008

Article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Here is an article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Shorewood woman will be loving the New Kids (forever)
Posted: Oct. 21, 2008

Jim Stingl

When she was 17, Courtney Chavez had NK — for New Kids on the Block — inked on her lower back. By then, the band had already broken up.

No, she doesn’t regret it. In fact, the final three letters — OTB — were added to her tattoo this week in honor of the New Kids reunion.

Bands come and go, especially boy bands. Their fans age and change and jump off the bandwagon. Not Courtney. She is driving the NKOTB bandwagon. The 30-year-old Shorewood woman started loving the group and its upbeat music when she was 10, and never stopped.

The former Kids, now middle-agers with kids of their own, perform tonight at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Tickets are still available. Courtney will be there with two longtime friends who shared her crush and still kinda do, Alexis Camacho and Katrina Bielinski.

“We were going to marry the New Kids, live next door to each other, and have a tunnel between the two houses,” said Alexis, whose last name was Blair back when the girls were plotting that glorious future. She’s now 29 and married with children.

Katrina (then Katrina Vega; she’s also married and has a baby and one on the way) was holding Courtney’s hand when she got that first tattoo.

“It was at this guy’s house. He was trying to be a tattooer,” Katrina said. Coincidentally, Katrina, 32, is now a tattoo artist, and she finished the job on Courtney’s back Tuesday at Atomic Tattoos on the east side.

Mania was widespread when New Kids on the Block caught fire in the late 1980s. The clean-cut boys from Boston — Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight and Jon Knight — were raking in more dough than Oprah Winfrey and Madonna.

In 1990, they performed twice at the Bradley Center and two shows at Alpine Valley to huge crowds. Demand was so high that one Wisconsin woman shaved her head and wore a diaper to win four concert tickets from a radio station.

On the North Shore, Courtney and her friends couldn’t get enough of the craze. Their shared passion was a strong bond at an age when girls are discovering boys. The singing and synchronized dancing made them shriek and sob, even as their moms sat nearby at the live shows.

“It was every concert. It was every T-shirt, button, sleeping bag, posters on our walls and Cabbage Patch dolls that we named after the New Kids,” Courtney said.

“Every song was how they love you and would be there for you forever. Every girl wants to hear that,” said Alexis, who would coo goodnight to the posters on her bedroom walls.

Then the backlash hit. Rumors began spreading that the dreamy boys were lip-synching. Some kids said they were gay, or that Nirvana was cooler. The money machine that was New Kids on the Block began to sputter.

But Courtney remained faithful, despite peer pressure to reject the band. She remembers someone finding a New Kids disc in her backpack in school and fellow students mocking her by singing the hit, “You Got It (The Right Stuff).”

“She couldn’t care less what people think. That’s what I love about her,” Alexis said.

“It sounds cheesy,” Courtney said, “but they’ve brought so much joy to my life.”

Courtney, who now has a full-time job and is in graduate school for social work, continues to follow the solo careers of the New Kids members, often dragging friends to their shows.

In 1999, she lined up at Champps Americana in Greenfield to meet Joey McIntyre at an autograph signing. He was surprised when she placed a Wisconsin license plate in front of him. It read: NKDZLVR — “New Kids lover,” and not “nakeds lover” as people sometimes guess when they pull up next to Courtney in traffic.

“I took it off the car at the restaurant, cleaned it up in the bathroom, and gave it to him. I’ve been driving around without a front license plate ever since,” she said. Joey asked her to sign it for him, which she did, and he took it with him.

Courtney also met Jordan Knight backstage at The Rave after the band’s last concert here in 1994.

But Jordan’s brother, Jon, was her favorite and her imagined husband someday. He was the shy one. At one point he left the band, but he’s back for the reunion tour and new album.

“I’m single and so is he,” Courtney said, “so it could still happen.”

Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or e-mail at

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