Meet BrianFanatic - a Backstreet Boys superfan
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Date: Oct 29, 2099
by Sharon Pian Chan
Seattle Times staff reporter
By day she's Eileen Cahill, 13, a soccer-playing Catholic school eighth grader with French braids who dreams of being a teacher. By night, she's BrianFanatic, the perfect fan who scours America Online for other Backstreet Boys fans and dreams of someday meeting Blond Spice, er, Brian.
Eileen, who lives in Seattle, is just one of the millions of Backstreet Boys fans responsible for the boy band's screaming success. All 750,000 tickets for the 39-city national tour sold out in just under an hour. Their latest album, "Millennium," has sold 7 million copies in the U.S. alone, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard's charts and breaking Garth Brook's record for single-week sales. The Backstreet Boys Fan Club headquarters in Orlando - run by the mother of band member A.J. McLean - receives 14,000 letters a day, including stuffed animals, clothes and invitations to proms. (President Clinton averages about 5,000 letters a day.) Most of those are written by the preteen girl set, like Eileen.
Eileen has wallpapered her room with posters and photos of the Backstreet Boys. "They're really good singers and they're really cute, too," she says. "What they say isn't just words. It means stuff, you know?"
Take, for example, their new single "Larger than Life." "It's, like, to the fans. Like they say, `Every time we're down / You can make it right.' That's like every time they make a mistake, we can lift them back to their place." Eileen's a Backstreet poet, and she didn't even know it.
Since school started last month, the time Eileen spends on the Backstreet Boys has been eaten up by classes and soccer practice. During the summer she would get on the Internet and vote for their videos on MTV's Total Request Live. Now she listens to their CD while she showers, and in the evenings she pops in the CD again, logs on to the Net and chats with BSB fans all over the country. Sometimes she goes into BSB fan chat rooms, but they frequently get overrun by BSB haters, who bomb the chat rooms with messages like "BSB suck" and "BSB are momma's boys."
Her favorite Backstreet Boy is Brian Littrell (thus her screen name BrianFanatic), the 23-year-old square-jawed golden boy from South Lexington, Ky. She considers him the ideal boyfriend. Of all five members, Brian has a high swoon factor because he's undergone open-heart surgery several times due to a small hole in his heart. He started a foundation called the Healthy Heart Club for Kids. "He's really, like, funny and goofy and he's not afraid to be himself," Eileen says. He's just himself and that's really cool. Like he'll just make funny faces."
Eileen and seven of her friends planned a sleepover before going to the upcoming Tacoma Dome concert. They planned to watch her three BSB videos - "Backstreet Boys All Access" and stuff she's videotaped off TV. Earlier this year her friends put together a dance to "Everybody" for their talent show, using moves from all the videos.
Once when she was trying to tape one of their videos, Eileen says she started hyperventilating. And when she found out they had gotten concert tickets, "The first few minutes I was in shock, then my heart started beating really fast, and then I just started going, `Ohmygod, ohmygod.'
Usually Eileen thinks about them daydream I'm on stage and all the people are screaming. I wonder what that would be like, when everyone's screaming for you. That would be amazing that people are inspired by your music."
Her mother, Nancy, isn't too worried about it. "They seem like clean-cut kids and the lyrics are pretty positive. . . . Eileen is pretty well-grounded," she says. "She's an A-B student and she knows she can't go to the concert until she's done all her homework."
Besides, Mom can relate. When she was Eileen's age, she was crazy about the Monkees. She put photos of Davey Jones all over her wall. And the Backstreet Boys' music is pretty catchy. "I know all the words . . . but I personally think the dark-haired one (Kevin) is the cutest."
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