By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
It's like a wacked-out comedy sketch from an All That episode. The four hot young hunks of R&B boy band sensation B2K are hanging out backstage after their set in London, clowning around in their matching electric-blue tracksuits, exchanging high-fives. Onstage, headliner and special guest Destiny's Child is finishing up a concert-closing encore, strutting those six infamous legs across a garden of air-dropped balloons as the closing chorus of "Happy Face" fades beneath the roar of applause.
In an instant, the girls fly offstage and grab hugs from their young male counterparts, then both groups are shuttled past the crush of ecstatic fans outside into a pair of waiting black limos. They whiz past hundreds of would-be paramours for each photogenic face in the entourage: hype lil' men, all decked-out and iced-up, with pleading arms outstretched for Beyoncé, Kelly or Michelle; teary-eyed girls clutching Teen People pics, feverish with dreams of becoming Mrs. J-Boog, Ms. Lil' Fizz, Raz-B's boo or Lady Omarion.
But tonight, the world's biggest girl group and its hottest new boy band are kickin' it at the hotel together. Upon arrival, a troupe of burly bodyguards parts another sea of wild-eyed fans as the magnificent seven navigate the mobbed hotel lobby to a waiting elevator. A small army of swift-footed stair-climbers arrive at the star's floor just in time to see the drool-worthy squad disappear into the tower's penthouse suite. The bodyguards swing into place on either side of the door, forming an impenetrable force field of well-compensated muscle. As the disappointed fans sulk slowly back to the elevators, we hear shrieks of delight and spirited giggling from behind the closed door.
Listening to 16-year-old Dreux "Lil' Fizz" Frederic of B2K describe what it was like hoteling with the DC3 every night on their tour of Europe last spring, you're compelled to ask him what really went on when he and his boys got alone with those internationally desired beauties, to coax out of him a peek through the keyhole to see how this sexy summit meeting of girl group and boy band chose to get its collective groove on during those rare moments out of the spotlight.
"We were playing Connect Four most of the time," he laughs. "We did a lot of that. Beyoncé is, like, the world champion Connect Four player."
It's an important detail, the comic coda to Lil' Fizz's glamorous tale that saves us from hating B2K.
Somehow just knowing these guys got the real Foxxy Cleopatra all alone to themselves in a London hotel room and the only things that got horizontal were some Milton Bradley checker pieces makes normal life on earth a little easier to bear.
These are, after all, the four high school pinup boys who've already scored enough cash from their debut Epic album to purchase a fleet of first cars that most kids their age own only in Hot Wheels form.
They're the long-awaited black *NSync that every hip-hop fashion label appears anxious to attach its name to. "Different people from clothing companies are always sending us clothes," Lil' Fizz admits (his favorites are his Phat Farm and Roca Wear threads). "We can go into Nike and pick out any shoes we want."
Outrageously buff, dark and handsome ("and available!" insists Fizz), the four also can go into any crowd of females and pretty much pick out dates the same way. "Girls are giving us their phone numbers all the time," Fizz says. "And we'll call 'em up later, just to say hi' and give 'em a surprise, you know. You gotta do it the same day they give you the number, or else they don't believe it's really you."
The four road-tutored seniors (the oldest member is 17) have found they also can make a CD-signing appearance at many of the country's hottest nightclubs and, while not yet old enough to drink, can nonetheless walk out with most of the 20-something ladies in the house following close behind.
"Sometimes, the older guys in a place will look a little jealous," shrugs Fizz. "But we really don't have any kind of haters."
Maybe that's because, while the Boys of the Millennium (the name shorthanded by B2K) truly appear to be living the pop-star dream, they've simply been too busy to really enjoy the pleasures heaped upon them.
An electronic flip-book on MTV's Web site promising an all-access look into a typical B2K day shows lead singer (and girlie favorite) Omarion ironing his own shirts in a hotel room. (Maybe that's why the guys are perpetually shirtless.) A normal tour day's itinerary is jam-packed with guest shots on early-morning radio shows, local TV appearances, store visits, press interviews, rehearsals and, of course, the night's concert -- in addition to the schoolwork they still have to do, which Fizz says he sometimes rises as early as 6 a.m. to tackle.