Fans line up to see the Backstreet Boys

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Date: Mar 18, 2001
Source: The Daily News
Submitted By: GJ

By Orith Goldberg

Staff Writer

BURBANK -- Their infatuation with the Backstreet Boys goes beyond mere admiration.

On Thursday, more than 100 devoted fans -- their bedding in hand, unfazed about enduring 45-degree temperatures and a sleepless night -- waited Thursday outside NBC studios for free tickets to see the band play this afternoon during the taping of the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

"I've been a fan for a really long time," said 16-year-old Khierstin Nichole, who drove with her mom from Northern California. "I like them because they've got great voices and they're not stuck on themselves."

Her mom, Kathleen, took time off work to camp out with her daughter.

"These kids suffer, they freeze, go hungry and have to deal with people driving by and heckling them," Kathleen said, "but they seem to be nice girls."

With sleeping bags, comforters and a stockpile of food, fans of the heartthrob teen boy band plunked themselves down on the sidewalk along California Street to claim their places in line.

After the band's concert at Staples Center on Thursday night, NBC security was bracing for a couple hundred more fans who were expected to join the overnight crowd.

At 7:30 a.m. today, about 80 free tickets are expected to be given out in the order of those in line -- over the age of 16.

Diane Concepcion, 19, of Laguna Hills, who said she has been to 15 of the band's concerts in the past two years, missed school to wait in line. She said she has spent close to $1,000 to attend the band's concerts.

"I had two jobs to support my Backstreet Boys habit," she said. "I put $40 away every paycheck."

Concepcion clutched a pillow featuring three 8-by-10 photos of AJ, her favorite musician in the band, and smiled.

"I have a quilt with photos for a queen-sized bed, too, but it was too heavy to bring," she said.

NBC is planning to open up its old "Tonight Show" Studio 1 for those who did not get free tickets to watch the band -- Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrel, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson -- on a screen, said an NBC official.

"We're excited with the interest," the official said. "It's something we had with other popular groups. It's nice to get the attention of the younger audience."

Melissa Pata, an 18-year-old from Burbank who had been camping out since Tuesday night, said she attends the concerts of all her favorite boy bands.

"We're all called groupies, but we're not. We're professional fans," she said. "I'm going to have my kids doing it ... I'm going to be the coolest mom."

The band with its catchy pop and dance hits has drawn fans because of its members' musical talent and their appealing looks.

"I love Kevin, he's just gorgeous," said Sarah Villagran of La Puente. "People don't appreciate Kevin because he's married."

Kevin was also popular with Jesica Fager, 21, of San Clemente who wore a blue University of Kentucky cap on her head -- Kevin is from that state. Fager said she loved the band's music.

"It's fun music," she said. "There's dance music, there are ballads and they have really amazing voices."

Fager explained that a lot of the band's appeal comes from the young female fans who have crushes on the musicians and hope to find a boyfriend like one of the band members.

"I think a lot of girls have that fantasy that these are their guys, their boyfriends," said Fager, adding she has spent about $1,000 attending the band's concerts. "These are good-looking guys singing all of these songs to you."

While some of the campers had a stash of food including chips and Girl Scout cookies, others went to nearby fast-food restaurants or a service station for munchies to see them through the long haul.

Concepcion said her last camping-out effort in front of the studios to see the band was to no avail.

"Now I'm, like, going to get in no matter what," she said.

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