I came across my old Backstreet Boys “Official Sticker Album” the other day and I was delighted. It was one of those cheap, quick to market sticker books with pictures and info of the band interspersed with spaces to put specifically numbered, square stickers, which you could buy in packages of 10 or so, at convenience stores. When I was actively buying stickers for this album I was about 12 or 13, and everyone at my school loved the Backstreet Boys and a lot of other girls had this album. Because it was an all girls school we were afforded more opportunity to obsess over teen heart-throbs, because there were no boys to be embarrassed in front of about it, and there were no boys to be…anything…in front…of.
And while we’re on the topic of embarrassment, have you ever seen someone or of photo of someone doing something that is so embarrassing and cringe-inducing that it makes you feel embarrassed yourself, like by witnessing that awful scene you are now covered in what should be that person’s shame? These stickers have that type of quality to them, they just…these stickers are dignity destroyers.
When I was looking through the book I thought “Has enough time passed that this album is now ironically cool and I can show it to people? Or has it not yet passed into “good” territory, as in, “so bad it’s…,” especially considering I had pretty much all the stickers and had taped one of the card wrappers on to the last page as an envelope to put in duplicate stickers to trade with others?”
Well I will let you, my dear readers decide. I was shocked at just how ugly these guys really were, and you will be too. All of the pictures are horrifyingly cheesy in their own way, but they do provide more than 50 ideas on what to do with your arms and hands while posing for photos.
Apparently, at the time the sticker album came out, (1997) the Backstreet Boys had just come off a “huge tour as DJ Bobo’s supporting act.” Wow, can you imagine getting to open for the DJ Bobo?! Never heard of him.
Each member got his own 2 page spread with a “Bio.” For example, on the Brian Littrel page one of the lines reads: “Hobbies: Sports, reading, music, movies.” And from the Howie Dorough page: “Hobbies: Music, movies, television, reading.” Fascinating, no? You couldn’t make that stuff up, even if you had to rush some merchandise of a flash-in-the-pan band to market, as quickly and cheaply as possible.
First up in the 2 page spreads was Brian Littrel, who was my favorite at the time, though now I’m not really sure why exactly, but, the heart wants what it wants, I guess.
The second spread was of Kevin Richardson, the oldest member of the group. He pretty much had the least personality of all of them and it shows in his photos:
After Kevin came Nick Carter’s profile, the favorite of most of the girls at my school, who is now most well known for dating Paris Hilton, his DUI’s and rehab stints, and for being such a loser that Paris Hilton decided that his younger brother Aaron was a more suitable man to date (his brother was like, 10 years younger than Nick and Paris at the time.) He wins the prize for the most smouldering picture in the album, but in most of his pictures, he just looks…pretty.
But I must say, Nick must have being doing something right, because I think Kevin took a few cues from him on how to look attractive in that non-sexual teeny-bopper way:
Howie Dorough’s 2 page spread came after Nick’s. Most people liked Brian and Nick, but there were a few girls that liked Howie, and I thought they were masochists. But looking at this album now, I think we pretty much all were. Which Backstreet Boy you liked was a big part of your identity at my school at the time, and I always thought that the girls who liked Howie, many of whom were secret Howie lovers who publicly professed love to another Boy, were somehow “off” in some way. I thought the only way they could possibly like Howie was if they had let their pity of him as being the grossest, ugliest and biggest loser member of the group, overtake them in some way, like a kind of Florence Nightingale syndrome type thing.
Have a look at Howie’s stickers. It may actually be a close call between him and AJ (the 5th member of BSB, of which you will see many pictures of soon) as to who is the most off-putting.
And then lastly there was AJ, who started off being sort of clownish, as evidenced by the following photos, but who later went on to find his identity within the group as the tattooed bad boy who wears a lot of heavy jewelry. This guy did the same god-damned “looking over my sunglasses” pose in every picture. Please also note that he had both his ears pierced, and for some reason her wore matching giant, thick hoop earrings all the time, like some sort of pirate.
AJ would sometimes change it up by doing a few “sunglasses on the forehead” poses:
Here’s a few of those “dignity destroying” stickers I was talking about earlier.
Pretty much any matching outfits will do, when you’re looking to diminish the dignity of grown men:
I was also a little bit sickened by some of the photos, which were aimed at a very young fan base, in which the “Boys” were shirtless and all greased up:
But I guess the above photos were nothing compared to the “Quit playing Games With My Heart,”music video, a hit for the BSB that this sticker album miss-identifies as “Quit Playing Games With My Heat.” In the video, the boys stand around in a park singing, and when it starts to pour rain, they passionately rip their shirts off in lovelorn anger, then writhe around in the rain sensually touching their chests and hair while pouting at the camera and waggling their hips around.
And now, as promised, here are some ideas, courtesy of the Backstreet Boys, on how to avoid looking awkward in photos by finding something natural and comfortable to do with one’s hands:
Those are just a few ideas to get you started, but there were many more. If you get stuck, contact me and I’ll email you some more Backstreet Boys approved ideas for hand and arm gestures in photos.
I would love to know what you guys think. Did any of you out there have this sticker book, or one of the many others like it? I know that they had sticker books of this type for all sorts of things, animals, cars, Barbie.
Were any of you BSB fans who are still willing to admit it? If so, who was your favorite? I’d especially like to hear from you Howie or AJ fans out there. What allowed you to see past their many obvious flaws, to find them a place in your heart? Is this sticker album finally so bad it’s good or should I lock it away somewhere for another 15 years?
P.S, does anyone out there have doubles of sticker numbers, 77, 93, or 135? A friend of mine needs them to complete her album.