Jen Kling loves New Kids on the Block. Jen takes me through her teenage crush on Joey and becoming a fan all over again when the band reunited in 2008. Concerts, meet & greets, and cruises - Jen loves all of it and hopes that one of these days she can sit down with Joey for coffee.
Jen 0:00 Hi, I'm Jennifer Klang. And I love New Kids on the Block (NKOTB).
Announcer 0:05 Welcome to the Finding Favorites podcast, where we explore your favorite things without using an algorithm. Here's your host, Leah Jones.
Leah Jones 0:16 Hello, and welcome to Finding Favorites -- it is actually still Saturday, but you'll be hearing this on Sunday. I recorded this episode today, and we'll get it posted before I go to bed because Sunday is vaccine number two day for me. I'll be driving back down to Springfield, Illinois, for my second Pfizer shot. I'd originally thought when I went down to state for the shot, that I would be one and done with Johnson and Johnson. That wasn't the case, and so I am heading back down state for shot number two. I'm very excited, because then everyone in my generation in my family and above will be vaccinated. I feel like it'll be a little bit safer to spend some time together this summer. And I'm very excited for that.
Leah Jones 1:10 Today's episode is one that I *thought* was just going to be about '80s and '90s nostalgia, but learned quickly that New Kids on the Block have a really vibrant career. And so I talk with Jen Kling all about New Kids on the Block. She is someone that I got to know when I was freelancing. And I was working for SAP for their CX [customer experience] group -- worked on a couple events in Barcelona and Orlando, and met Jen at those, and when I put the call out for people ready to come and talk about their favorite things or things they love, and she was volunteered by our mutual friend Amy, who you'll remember from the Disney episode.
Leah Jones 1:52 So, this is just really fun. And after talking to Jen, I'm ready to go on a cruise. Can't believe we're at the point in the pandemic where I am thinking cruises sound like a good idea again. I think anything with a lot of people just having fun and loving the same thing, just sounds really good to me right now. So I'll keep this short -- I need to go to bed and rest up for my long drive tomorrow. So wear your mask, wash your hands, stay safe.
Leah Jones 2:37 Hello, and welcome to Finding Favorites. I'm your host, Leah Jones. And this is the podcast where we get recommendations and find out about people's favorite things without using an algorithm. Today, I am joined by Jen Kling. Jen and I met each other for the first time in Barcelona, when I was working on events for SAP. It was called CX Live, and it was one of the nicest convention centers I've ever traveled to. So Jen, how are you doing today?
Jen 3:08 I'm doing good. And Wow, it's so funny to talk about doing live, in-person events ... "In the old days ... "
Leah Jones 3:18 "In the before time ..."
Jen 3:19 "... in the before times when we would travel and see people in person."
Leah Jones 3:24 When we would wear like our business clothes with tennis shoes to walk miles and miles across that convention center. Remember the day when we all got up and the rain was coming *through* the convention center? It was like a day before?
Jen 3:41 Yes. Oh my goodness, that was crazy -- that was also like we had to -- there was no way -- I think you and I were at the same hotel. There was no way to get to the convention center without walking for a long time outside. Like there wasn't-- even if you did get an Uber for a minute and a half drive, you still had to walk five minutes outside. And so when it was raining, it was not a wonderful experience. But then, you went inside and it was raining. Yeah. Yeah, that was crazy. It was quite a week.
Leah Jones 4:20 That was one where I looked at that. And I was like, "Oh, I'm glad I'm just in charge of the speakers and the presentations. That is not a problem I have to solve. But that was so stressful.
Jen 4:33 Yeah. It was good times though. I miss that.
Leah Jones 4:38 I miss in-person events. One of the things I loved about being on the CX team for those two events because I did Barcelona and then the first CX Live and well, probably the last one because it was actually like October 2019, right? And we were in Orlando, and that was just a few short months before COVID started.
Leah Jones 5:02 But, I loved being on a big team working towards a singular goal, getting together in person, making it happen. It was so stressful. But the feeling of pulling that off and getting to do that twice with your team -- I loved. I loved it.
Jen 5:20 Yeah, it's the best. I've been in marketing for a lot of years -- for many, many years. And, I've always been attached to events in one way or another. I was an event planner for a long time, so it was on the logistic side. And now, I mostly just kind of participate from like a speaker and doing sessions and things like that. But, I just absolutely love it. There is something about that very last stretch, when you look around and everything is still a mess. And you've got workers everywhere, and things are still being constructed, and you're looking at the clock and you're going "There's no way this is going to come together."and then it does. And it's the most amazing, most satisfying feeling. I love it.
Leah Jones 6:12 Yeah. And so you have obviously moved online this year.
Jen 6:18 Yes. Yes.
Leah Jones 6:20 How has that been?
Jen 6:24 You know, it's a different experience. Right? It's, you know, in fact, the group I'm with now, SAP Litmos, has their virtual events coming up now ,SAP Litmos. We're doing this virtual five track, 25 sessions, one day event? It's just a different type of experience. You do cameras on with Zoom, and the technology is great now, but it doesn't really replace that in-person interaction and the networking, right? We'll have like a virtual networking lounge and stuff like that, but it's not the same. It works, and thank goodness, we have the technology we have now. I mean, if we were doing this in the 80s, or the 90, you know, I don't know how we would have done it. I mean, we just wouldn't have, right? It's it's just a different experience. But it works, it works. Thank goodness for technology.
Leah Jones 7:21 Having a product where you can quickly call people, you're not looking for their phone number, you're not having to get people -- you know, just having a link to click on. And the chat has made a huge difference. Because even if we just, I don't know, like a month before, we just each had our, our dial-in numbers, even a year and a half ago, how we could have accomplished what we've accomplished.
Jen 7:45 You know, it's funny, because I mean, you know, how SAP is -- we're a global organization, we have people everywhere, and teams are made up from people that are spread across the world. And even that even small team, I'm on -- I have people in, I'm in California, half the team's in California, I have people in Birmingham, Arizona, and Australia. And so we were kind of used to always being on a Zoom call or a Teams call, with people and you know, doing camera on a lot, just because it's nice to be able to see those people.
Jen 8:19 But I will say that now that *all* of us have been working from home, and there isn't half of us that are together in the office, and the other half of the team, not, I feel like it's in a weird way, brought the whole team closer together.
Leah Jones 8:32 Absolutely.
Jen 8:34 And, you know, we're all in on something together. And, I have mixed feelings about the office now. I want to go back because I miss the people, and our office is nice, and we have free lunch and I miss the Impossible Burgers. But I don't miss the -- my commute wasn't bad, it was a 35 minute commute. And as Bay Area commute goes, it's pretty amazing. But it's kind of nice to *not* have to have that commute, and *not* have to put makeup on, and be able to work in my sweatsm or whatever. But, I do miss people. So it's gonna be interesting for us. They're saying, you know, they'll support whatever works for any individual through the end of the year. And they're starting to work on a controlled reopening of the offices, but it'll still be very limited. And for me, since I only have a few members of the team in the office, if we all can't be there on the same day because our desks are too close proximity or whatever. It's kind of like well, then what will the point be in going in? So, so we'll see how it goes. We'll see how it goes.
Leah Jones 9:37 Yeah, I want to go back if we have -- my perfect vision is Tuesdays and Wednesdays are all-in days. We all go on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So we've got in-person, but we're all there to really mix with each other. And then, if if you want to come in more days than that, great, but I want like a couple days where we where we all try but right, but then that breaks the safety protocols, possibly.
Jen 10:13 Yeah. It'll be interesting. Yeah. We'll see how it goes.
Leah Jones 10:16 Yeah. For us, it's been -- we used to only have one member of our team who was in New York. And we'd get into a meeting, I was like, "Oh, man did somebody call Shannon?" Like, we forgot about her all the time. And, now we've never been closer to her, because we were like, all on the same page. And so we'll have to be really mindful that we don't forget about Shannon when we go back in person, you know?
Jen 10:47 Well, and I don't think you will. Because, you know, it's it's brought this whole new awareness of what it feels like to be remote, because now we've all lived it. And so people who were already remote, we have a more, empathy, if you will, for them. So I think -- you won't forget Shannon, *I'm* not even going to forget Shannon, you're not gonna forget Shannon. [laughter]
Leah Jones 11:11 Have you in this year at home picked up any hobbies, or any new habits that are exciting, I don't know? Or are boring> Or TV shows.
Jen 11:23 You know, we did a lot of the same thing that everyone was doing. We went through several puzzles, made several loaves of banana bread. Never got into the sourdough starter thing. But I did purchase a Peloton. Yeah, in fact, when at the end of 2019, when there was that whole scuttlebutt about that commercial they had, and then Ryan Reynolds did like his amazing clapback to it, which was, he's like a marketing genius. But, I at the time was telling my husband like, "I want one ... hey, *I* won't complain if you get me one for Christmas ..." So I was talking about it then.
Jen 12:06 And I wished I really wish I'd done it then, right? Because then by the time I did it, so did everyone else in the country and the delivery times were very long. Yeah, it took two months to get here. But once it got here, I haven't -- almost every day, not every day -- but I love riding. If we were going to do a second podcast of things that I love, Peloton would be that my next topic, but I absolutely love it. All the classes. So I would say that's the biggest habit I picked up.
Leah Jones 12:42 Because I also got one and I got it in November. And I I would say I ride it right now about five days a month. I did a challenge last month, and I after like, five or six days fell off the wagon, because I'm trying to figure out like, how do I make the rides less precious, so I do them? That I don't psych myself out from them. That a five minute ride is okay, getting on the bike is better than not getting on the bike. And I don't know if I've got it in the wrong room, like maybe I *do* need it in my living room or closer to my desk or like more in my life than in my guest bedroom. What was the thing about Peloton that made you fall in love with it? Was there a teacher? Like, were you a spinner before?
Jen 13:36 Years ago, I used to love doing spin classes. And over like the last couple years, this trend popped up of where it was just cycling classes that were opening up like the Soulcycle. And there was a Flywheel near me, and I loved doing that. So I always liked spinning. And my problem has always been, in general, is finding the time to work out. And I like the idea of having something in my home, so that I can do it whenever. Especially like since I've been working from home, if I have an hour between calls, and I need to sort of clear my mind? I will hop on the bike for 20 minutes and do a ride. So, if I get to the end of the day, my preference is to workout in the morning, but that happens maybe twice a month. But, if I get to the end of the day, and it's 8:30 at night, yeah, I'll hop on the bike because I can -- it's there. And instead of -- I you know, I would never go to the gym at 8:30 at night.
Leah Jones 14:42 No, never.
Jen 14:43 That's not gonna happen. No, it's like the time it takes to get there and everything. So I think for me, it was just a matter of just setting a commitment. I'm also very, you know, there's all the badges that you can get -- and the streak, and that drives me .For example, today, I just finally hit my 60 day streak and got that. It was the longest day streak I think that you can get. Literally I've been -- there was a day this week that I wasn't going to work out. And I said, "Well, I have to, I'm four days away from getting my 60 day streak. I can't start all over again, like I've done so many times." So that drives me, too. I think starting off, short and small. Because when I first got started, I mean, I was at the heaviest I've been in my whole life, and it was hard to move. I jstarted off with like, short 20-minute low-impact classes, just worked my way up. In July, -- so my bike arrived the first week of June. And I think it was mid-to-late July, I discovered the power zone training --
Leah Jones 15:47 Yeah, I see that in my Facebook group.
Jen 15:52 I cannot recommend it enough. So there's a program, there's a collection of power zone training, I only did like the first two or three weeks of it until I got the hang of it. But what's great about it is, it's all about training at your fitness level. And gradually working just above that and each zone has its purpose. So whether it's training at your fitness level, just above, your VO2 max, your blah blah, blah. What I think is so great about that is many of the classes on Peloton, when you're looking at them, you can't tell what the focus is of the class. And so many of them are almost like an all-out every time, and that isn't necessary. For fitness, for whatever, you know, whatever your fitness goals are. So I can't speak highly enough of the power zone training.
Leah Jones 16:50 For the power zone training? Do you need a heart monitor?
Jen 16:54 No, in fact, people often get confused between heart rate zone and the power zone. So, they're completely unrelated. So what you do is you start by taking what they call an FTP test, and fitness threshold profile. You take a 20 minute -- you first do a warm up, you do like a 10 or 15 minute warmup class. And then, you take a 20 minute all-out class.
Jen 17:29 And what's great about it is -- Matt Wilper, he's one of the coaches -- his all-out and my all-out, don't look anything the same, right? So it's all about whatever your all-out means. And that comes back with what your average threshold is, and then gives you this power zone bar at the bottom of your screen that has seven zones. Then what you do, is you go through, you take the classes, and there's actually a website called a group -- it's called power zone pack. Powerzonepack.com. And they have challenges and different things that you could go through. But you take these classes and maybe like, in the beginning, after like eight weeks of consistently doing at least three power zone classes in a week, take your FTP test again, and then you can see your improvement.
Jen 18:19 So I love looking at the stats and the numbers and the data and you know how I've improved and it's great, because you'll start off, you'll just do some short endurance rides. Which -- I've had a friend who tried it, she's like, "It's too easy," but it's you know, it's about training, it's about time and intensity. And so, it's not supposed to be breathtaking every time. So, it's great. For me, it helped me kick off my weight loss. And anytime I start to hit a plateau, I go back and I say I'm drifting off into these fun rides too much, I need to come back into power zone training and focus on that, cause it's a total plateau-buster.
Leah Jones 19:07 Now have you done -- I see a lot of people talk about getting like a fitting from Matt Wilper's team. Have you ever done that?
Jen 19:13 I have! Game changer. I could not believe the adjustments that they made weren't the adjustments that I thought were needed. They even look at how the clips on your shoes are positioned. It's practically a workout, but they'll have you do like some movements beforehand. Like a plank and like, I can't remember the stuff that they'll have you do just to kind of get a sense. So, I have scoliosis, so I'm a little uneven. And so I've got one hip that's higher than the other, all this stuff going on. And so they can see all of that and then they and then they watch you pedal.
Jen 20:00 Like the first 10 minutes, was of him just watching me move, and then have you pedal and they watch your pedaling. And then he just starts with the adjustments. There were so many things -- like he had me move the seat back. And I'm super short, so I thought -- the first thing I did when I set it up, was have the seat all the way forward, cause my legs are short. Nope. He had me move the seat back, all sorts of things. The tilt of the seat was wrong. I mean, just things that I never would have thought of.
Jen 20:30 He had my cleats set differently for each shoe. In my head. I'm thinking, you know, this should be symmetry. But no, because my legs aren't. It was so worth it. I mean, we make this investment already in the bike, might as well make a little bit more investment in making sure you're fit properly. It's totally worth it.
Leah Jones 20:55 Okay. I'll do it.
Leah Jones 20:56 So as a segue, has there been a NKOTB? We're here today to talk about New Kids on the Block. Aka NKOTB. Yes. Has there been is there has there been an artist series of New Kids? There has not, however, one of my absolute favorite coaches, Cody Rigsby, he has a class that he did. It's a 45 minute ride. And the second half of the class he did half New Kids on the Block, half Backstreet Boys. So he would just he went New Kids/Backstreet. And that was amazing. You can search for by artists, and so I one of the very first things I did when I got my bike was searched and bookmarked every class where there was a New Kids on the Block song.
Leah Jones 22:04 I love it.
Jen 22:06 So yeah, but no New Kids artists series yet, but I'm hoping, I'm hoping.
Leah Jones 22:12 Fantastic. So we're here to talk about New Kids on the Block. Let's time travel. How did you discover them?
Jen 22:22 We're gonna go back. We're getting into the DeLorean, is that what the car was?
Leah Jones 22:27 Yes.
Jen 22:27 Yes. We're gonna get in the DeLorean. We're going back to 1989-88? And I was 13-14. And they were the biggest thing since the Beatles. And yeah, I was buying the magazines, and I was buying the cassette tapes, and I was listening to them nonstop, and begging my mom to let me put the posters up in my room.
Leah Jones 22:56 Did she let you?
Jen 22:57 She did only a little bit. She didn't like the like, tape on the wall, because it was a rental, and she was worried that she'd have to paint, that kind of stuff.
Leah Jones 23:08 Right, fair.
Jen 23:10 And so, I was a huge fan. And I had my group of girlfriends -- we were a group of six. And we were all fans.
Leah Jones 23:23 Does that mean you each picked a --?
Jen 23:26 Yep.
Leah Jones 23:27 So two of you had to do double duty.
Jen 23:29 Two of us had double duty -- and it worked out really well because everybody liked a different guy, except for me and my friend Ellen. We were the Joe girls. Okay. And, you know, we fought over him like you wouldn't believe, but it was our life for a little while. And then I remember we went it was December of 1989. I'm in the Bay Area -- grew up in Concord, and they were in Sacramento at the Arco arena, and we got tickets. And you have to keep in mind too, that like, I was 14, I didn't have a job. And my mom was a single mom raising three kids, and money was tight. And so to get tickets to go to a concert was a really big deal.
Jen 24:22 And I think even my friend's parents might have actually got my ticket. And then like, we paid it back or something. But, it was a really big deal.
Leah Jones 24:30 And someone had to go and go to the mall and stand in line at the Ticketmaster booth to get the tickets all together, right? You're not on the phone, "Okay, click now, get this ..."
Jen 24:43 Yeah, it didn't work that way.
Leah Jones 24:45 Somebody had to go get in line. So would make sense that one of the parents would take the hit for that group. [laughter]
Jen 24:51 Yes, absolutely. So, it was so different then, right Oh, my goodness, kids today have no idea. So we all piled into my friend's car. So there was there were two of us that were like 14, two that were 16, or maybe three were 16. And then the oldest sister of my best friend, she was 18. Okay, so we all piled all six of us into a Honda Civic.
Leah Jones 25:19 Yeah, absolutely. It's the 80s.
Jen 25:21 I certainly wasn't in a seatbelt. And we drove through the Sacramento -- totally fogged. And I swear it took us two hours to get there because the fog was so thick she could barely see. But for the New Kids, it was worth it. And we got into the Arco arena. And you know, the seats weren't great. We were like on the very top deck, maybe fifth row from the top, but off to the side of the stage, and screamed and loved every second of it. And I know, like I absolutely know, that when Joey came out and was singing "Please Don't Go, Girl" to our section ... I mean, Elena say it was her, but it was me -- he was looking straight at me.
Leah Jones 26:06 Absolutely, it was.
Jen 26:09 Yeah, it was amazing. It was uch an amazing experience. And then, you know, that was '89. And then I think in '90, maybe late '90-'91, grunge started coming on to the scene. And the music scene was changing. We were growing older, they were growing older, they wanted to do new music, different things. They came out with an album that I think we just weren't ready for. What was I starting to listen to then? . Maybe I was starting to listen to like Depeche Mode by then, or something like that. So, just everything changed. And then they broke up, and they went away. And it was such a short time really, that they were so huge.
Jen 26:52 And then, you know, through the '90s, they all did their own solo stuff. I didn't really think about them much. I think when the first thing --- I'm trying to remember from a timeline standpoint -- Donnie Wahlberg was in Sixth Sense. And I remember going to see that movie in the theater, watching the movie, and then seeing the credits and seeing his name in the credits and like, "What? Who was Donnie Wahlberg in the movie?" Do you know who he was in the movie? No. So have you've seen Sixth Sense, right?
Leah Jones 27:24 No, but I know the twist, because I use the internet.
Jen 27:28 Okay. So spoiler alert, if you haven't seen it --
Leah Jones 27:34 You are allowed to talk about a movie that was spoiled by Jay Leno. You know, billions of years ago.
Jen 27:42 So, Donnie Wahlberg played the patient who shoots Bruce Willis in the beginning of the movie, and then shoots himself. But he lost something like 60 pounds, so he was unrecognizable, he was super skinny -- a really amazing performance for a short time on screen. You know, I can't say it's a small role, because it's pivotal to the premise of the movie, but was really amazing. So that was incredible. Like, "Wait, Donnie is an actor now?"
Jen 28:12 And Jordan was doing solo music. And was on MTV TRL [Total Request Live] all the time and Joey was doing solo music. And he was on MTV TRL all the time. But you didn't have the internet, so it was hard. It wasn't like today, where you just follow them on social media. So it was hard to keep up with what they were doing, and then I'm growing up and trying to live on my own and to get a job and all that stuff. So it was hard to keep track.
Jen 28:42 I remember once I found out, after the fact, that Joey had done a concert at the Concord Pavilion and I literally lived down the street from the Pavilion, and I didn't know he was going to be there. And I when found out after I was **devastated, devastated.** Because of course, it was before either one of us were married, I could have met him and then we could have gotten married and had millions of children together. I missed my chance.
Leah Jones 29:10 Yeah, but at least Ellen also didn't know.
Jen 29:13 Right, exactly. Well, and when Ellen got married, she got married before I did, so at that point. I said to her at her wedding, "This means that Joe is mine."
Leah Jones 29:23 So, you tricked her, you outlasted.
Jen 29:29 So time went on. And then Joey was on Dancing with the Stars. The premiere season of Dancing with the Stars.
Leah Jones 29:38 WHEN the stars were *bigger,* right? Were people who you were so excited to see back, who you hadn't followed. And so that is a really exciting announcement -- that a teenage celebrity crush and someone who meant so much to you when your brain was forming, was going to be back on TV.
Jen 30:07 And I should say he had done some TV stuff as well, he was on a TV show called Boston Common, it was about a school or something, he was a teacher for a season and a half, or something. To be on Dancing with the Stars, and then for me to be able to support him, and vote for him, and he made it into the top three. He was so amazing, I remember talking to one of my girlfriends, I was like, "He's so great, he's perfect, he should win!" And she's like, "I don't know, he seems kind of stiff." "Bite your tongue!" It was amazing -- that was the 2000s, mid-2000s, 2006, maybe?
Leah Jones 30:53 Yeah. 2006. He was in Dancing with the Stars. Yeah. And then they did a tour. Did you go to the tour?
Jen 30:59 I did not. And I don't know that Joey participated in that, I'm not sure. But I did not do that. But then, in 2008, there was this teaser on their website, that something was going to come. And then it was announced that they were going to be on the Today Show. And I can't remember the exact sequence of events. But, they released an album, there was a new song that they premiered on the Today Show, they announced they were doing this album, they were gonna do a tour. They performed on the Today Show. And it was like, "Whoa, what's, what's going on here? This is amazing." And you've got like these feelings of like, my favorite band from when I was 14! And so, I wasn't as close to the girls that I grew up with, anymore. They're, you know, everybody scattered, you know, that happens, right?
Leah Jones 32:01 Yeah, yeah.
Jen 32:02 But I had, you know, my new besties. And they were all fans, as well, back in the day, we just didn't know each other. So I was like, "Well, I mean, we gotta to go, right? We gotta go at least like show and see if they still have the Right Stuff." Yeah, sorry. I can't help that. [laughter]
Jen 32:22 And so we did -- we got tickets. And a group of us got together, we had dinner, we talked and we joked a little bit -- like, think they could still do it? Like, can they still do a whole tour? I mean, we're all kind of old now. We *weren't,* but ... and so you know, it was just kind of a nostalgia thing. We loved the album, we loved the songs. And we went, and again, didn't have amazing seats, we were in the second deck. This is in San Jose at the thing was called the HP Pavilion at the time, now it's a SAP center, ironically. And we were on the second deck, still the same side of the stage that I was on with my one show that I went to when I was a kid. And when Joey came out, and started singing, and it was like, "Oh, my God, I'm 14 all over again." This feeling just came over me -- this rush of adrenaline -- and I was screaming, and I'm screaming, "I love you, Joey!!" We had such an amazing time, and it was such an amazing show. And then afterwards, we were like, -- we need another show.
Jen 33:51 And we'd screwed up because they'd been in Sacramento the night before. So it was like we could have gone to Sacramento last night, there wasn't much left to tour ...
Leah Jones 34:02 But when you bought the tickets, you're like, we're gonna go see these people who are a little bit older than us try and sing and dance. And it might be embarrassing. We might be embarrassed. So we should only go once.
Jen 34:17 I didn't even tell my co-workers what I was doing. This was like a secret. I was at the office and I had to leave the office early. And I remember I changed my clothes -- Iwas more professionally dressed, literally suited up -- and I had to change the jeans and whatnot. And I'm like, "I'm leaving early today. " People were like, "What do you got going on?"
Jen 34:39 "Oh, yeah, I just -- go hang out with some friends just you know, going out for dinner, meeting in San Jose ... bye!!" And I didn't tell anyone, I kept it a secret. It was like, "I can't can't tell anybody. This is embarrassing." And so then yeah, we went to the show, and we were like, "Well, we got to go to another show." So we're looking at what's left of the tour, and we're like, "But we could go to Seattle, it's three days before Thanksgiving. Can we do that? We can do that." So we did, we took a quick road trip to Seattle. And because it was last minute, we didn't have amazing tickets, but it was still that same rush of feeling. And I don't know why I thought that was gonna be it, but it was not it. It was --
Leah Jones 35:23 Okay.
Jen 35:23 --- not it.
Leah Jones 35:24 It was the start of it.
Jen 35:27 It was just the start. of. it.
Leah Jones 35:30 Well, right. It could have been that it was only your group that were like, this was fun. So, you go to Seattle, and then the tour ends a couple weeks later?
Jen 35:43 Tour ended a couple weeks later. I would imagine for them, but group, that they were even like, "Huh, that went probably a little better than we thought it would." And there was so much demand, the fans were loving it.
Leah Jones 36:01 Because now the fans are grown up, have jobs, have budgets, the internet exists, so you can better coordinate going.
Jen 36:10 Yep. Well, and then you also have to think about 2008 -- that was when the economy was in the tank.The finance market had tanked, people's mortgages --
Leah Jones 36:29 -- everybody's underwater.
Jen 36:30 Everybody was underwater. And so it was a stressful time. But, it was also a hopeful time. I think it was just the right timing, because when you talk with different fans, you'll hear people say "They saved my life, because they gave me something to enjoy at some of the most miserable time of times of my life." And you had sort of some people who were maybe going through divorces, maybe they were unemployed. They were taking care of parents now, like so many things going on, that the timing really was perfect. It just kind of happened. I think. I don't think they did it intentionally. I don't think they said "The economy's in the tank, let's make a comeback."
Leah Jones 37:10 You don't think any of their houses were underwater and their first round of NKOTB money was maybe ...
Jen 37:16 I don't think so, actually. Donnie had a great career going. I think Blue Bloods was just getting started at that time, he had just starred in a movie with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Leah Jones 37:28 Okay, fine, not slacking.
Jen 37:30 Yeah, but I think the all the guys were doing fine. But just the timing happened to work. Actually, there's a lot of interviews about it-- but Donnie will talk about part of what the timing was because he was going through a divorce. And so he started pouring himself into music and writing music. And so I think that kind of spawned the timing. So he needed it, he will actually say he needed it, just differently. Different reasons why others did.
Jen 37:55 So then they were like, let's throw together another tour. And so then they started another tour. I remember they did a performance on the Jimmy Kimmel show, and it was gonna be in like that little outdoor theater that he has. And it was like in April, and one of my friends and I were like, "Let's road trip. Why not?" And so we took a few days off of work, drove down to L.A., I had a friend who knew someone who worked on the Jimmy Kimmel show, so she helped us get a better spot, not front row, but like third or fourth, and so that was amazing. And then yeah, then the tour kicked off. I think I did, like three shows back-to-back. But what we have discovered with this second tour, was that the New Kids do these meet and greets before the concert. So you buy a ticket, and you have to be quick because they sell out.
Leah Jones 38:55 So fast.
Jen 38:56 Yeah. And we were like, well, we gotta do that -- and so we did.
Leah Jones 39:08 Did you do meet and greets for just one show? You're like, or did you do multiple meet and greets on that tour?
Jen 39:14 So yeah.
Leah Jones 39:17 So I don't publish the video of these interviews. But the face you just made -- I wish I could have a GIF of it. It was tremendous. And suggests to me, maybe you went to more than one meet and greet.
Jen 39:36 Yeah. If you were to ask me --so the New Kids tour, in the beginning it was for a few years every year and then it's been every other year -- so if you were to ask me how many meet and greets I've done, I don't know. I can't count that high.
Leah Jones 39:56 What you're saying is, you are a fast clicker.
Jen 40:02 I am a fast clicker. There are some people who are faster at clicking than I am, but I have a fast clicker. And I have done many meet and greets. Each tour I do at least a few. The meet and greet experience is -- it takes this whole "relationship" with the New Kids to a new level. You get to see them and talk to them, for a fraction of a second it feels like, I mean, it's longer, but you're talking 30 seconds to two minutes -- you're not hanging out with them for an hour. You get a hug from each guy --
Leah Jones 40:45 -- and you pass your phone to someone, right? To get photos of it or --
Jen 40:51 It's highly, it's super organized. So you actually go through and there's a company, there's a photographer, who does the photos. So they can move through, because they probably meet 1,000 to 2,000 fans a night. I mean, it's like super fast. I can't even imagine what the experience is like *for them.*
Jen 41:13 Because we go in and the fans organize ahead of time. "Okay, we're looking for two Joe girls and a Danny girl," and you get in, and you line up, you find out the order that they're, and then you line up in that order. Okay, you know, Jo, girls, Jordan girls, Donnie girls, and you go that way.
Leah Jones 41:34 So you line up with your competition --
Jen 41:36 -- you line up with your competition, and you walk in and you hug each guy, you say a word, and then you get to the end of the line, and you stop at your guy. And each girl goes on for each person -- there are man fans -- and each person stands on either side of the New Kid. And then they take two pictures super quick, and then you turn and say maybe one or two other words, and then you move on. And then, you you hug the New Kids that you hadn't gotten to in line yet, and then you head out. And so that whole thing is like, two minutes. So I've done several -- usually what people will ask me that I haven't given you an opportunity to ask, but you're probably wondering is, "Well, do they know you by now?"
Leah Jones 42:25 Yeah. How are your chances with Joey, now that you've been that you've paid many times to meet him? Do you like wear the same outfit, so he can start to like, piece it together in his head? Have you slid into his DMs?
Jen 42:43 I can't even tell you like, the funny thing is, and I actually have a girlfriend who jokes because anytime I post, like on Instagram or something, pictures from the past of meet and greets between my hair changes, my weight fluctuation, you know, with sometimes a year or even two years going by before they see you again, I've made it impossible for him to recognize me. I'll go from like, pixie haircut, super-long hair, shoulder-length bob, and having weight fluctuate, you know, 70 pounds or whatever. And so it made it impossible for him to be able to recognize me.
Jen 43:26 But there are people that have, there are some fans who have like a schtick to get recognized, and that has worked for them. And then there are some people that for whatever reason have clicked and have genuinely become friends with the guys. I have not -- I am not smart. I go into these meet and greets, and for a while after I had already done a few, I think in my head I was like, "Oh, Joey and I are best friends now." And so then we would go through, and without fail, the other Joe girl in my meet and greet would be like, "Oh my god, I'm so nervous. This is the first time I'm meeting him." And I'd be like, "Oh, it's no problem. I gotcha." And so we go through and I'd be like, "Hey, Joe. I'm Jen, we've met before, but this is so and so this is her first time ..." and I'd be like, "Okay, you two talk," and I just stand there.
Leah Jones 44:24 You are an outstanding wing-woman. And, that's a terrible way to make him fall in love with you.
Jen 44:31 It really is. So there was that, and then a couple years ago, Joe did like this little -- they always do when they're off tour -- they'll do like some side, solo project. So Joe did these shows that the Hotel Cafe in L.A., and super small venue, very intimate, amazing shows. And he did these meet and greets that were either before or after the show, depending on the time of the show. And maybe, maybe there were 50 people that were doing these meet and greets. Maybe. So, much smaller group, super relaxed, it was with your phone, like you get up there. So, we're standing in line waiting, and one of my friends is with me, and I'm like, "Record it. I want to see -- you know, these things always go so fast, and I want to be able to remember it." So, she records it for me.
Jen 45:30 I get up there, I hand his assistant, or whoever it was, my phone to take the picture. I say something to him, he says something back. I even see in the video -- I see like his face of like, "Oh, I recognize her." And he's like, "Hey, how you doing?" I'm like, oh, whatever I said, and he said something back, and we hug and we take the picture. I take my phone and I look back, I say, "See you next month!" and walk away. And you literally see this look on his face where he's like, "That was it?" The video was like, 13 seconds -- there was there was no rush -- I had one of my best friends, next. She wasn't gonna be all, "Come on, now.' There was no reason for me to rush through. But I did. Yeah. I am not very smart.
Leah Jones 46:20 That is, but what I think is happening in your head is you that is your event marketer brain taking over -- you're thinking through the logistics, you are organizing on behalf of his manager, how this night has to run smoothly, and how he has to behave for everyone to have an optimal experience. And you are modeling the behavior that you wanted to see from the people in front of you.
Jen 46:47 Exactly. And me? Sorry, I don't know if this is that --
Leah Jones 46:53 -- you are allowed to cuss.
Jen 46:57 So yeah, it's, it's amazing. So I would say so this last tour, so right, so they came out in 2008, and they're still touring. Like I said, for the first like, maybe four years, three years. I think they toured every year, and then they started doing every other year. And what I've been trying to do is in the off year that they're not touring, is to make sure that I go on to the New Kids cruise.
Leah Jones 47:33 Please, tell me more.
Jen 47:36 There's a cruise. Yeah.
Leah Jones 47:38 Just so you know, I had a guest on Jen Usellis, who performs as the Klingon Pop Warrior. So, she goes on the Star Trek cruise every year, and performs in Klingon, so you are not the first person to come on who has gone on a fan cruise.
Jen 47:56 I can guarantee that the Star Trek cruise is nothing like the New Kids cruise.
Leah Jones 48:00 Okay -- do the New Kids go on the cruise?
Jen 48:05 Yes. That is the number one question everyone always asks when you bring up the New Kids cruise. Yes. They are on the cruise. And yes, you do see them. Basically, what happens is there are activities during the day and then every night they have something. The first night, usually they do like a game show in the theater and they have to split the they have to split the ship up into two, because the theaters aren't big enough for the whole ship, because no one does that. And so they they do that and then one night's a concert, and some cruises they've done solo things -- like Joe would do a little solo show, Jordan would do a solo show, things like that, Danny, and then every night there's a party on the Lido Deck.
Leah Jones 48:51 Okay ...
Jen 48:52 The party doesn't start until like midnight. Now I'm not old, but I'm in my mid 40s -- I start things at midnight, but for some reason, you find the energy on these cruises to do it. And the party goes until like three in the morning, four in the morning, and the guys come out and there's a different theme every night. Some people get dressed up -- I'm not one of the ones that gets -- I'm all about kind of like simplicity when it comes to abiding by the theme. If I can abide by the theme in just a T-shirt, I will do that, but some people will go all out.
Jen 49:36 On year, they had like your favorite TV character -- so if I was a Star Trek fan like maybe I would actually dress as a Klingon, for example. So, some people will go all out. but I'm like more of a -- if it's something I can get with a T-shirt, I'm good. Because I'm also a very practical person, and pack light.
Leah Jones 49:59 Is this a Caribbean cruise or like a Yucatan?
Jen 50:02 It's usually the Bahamas. There were two years where they did Mexico out of New Orleans. One year, they did out of New York and it went to -- the destination's not even -- it doesn't matter. Like they can go out -- just the middle of the ocean and we'll all be like, "Whatever!" There are some people when you when you when we get to the port, some people don't even get off the ship. They just sleep all day.
Leah Jones 50:32 Yeah, I think if you were dancing on the Lido Deck until three in the morning with the New Kids on the Block ...
Jen 50:40 So it's amazing. And then they do like they do have a meet and greet -- the meet and greet on the ship goes even faster than it does during the tours. And I feel so bad for the guys, because it's such a long day for them. But it's an amazing experience. It's so much fun. You go with your girlfriends, and you just have a blast. You're not like literally having breakfast with Jordan or anything, but you see them wandering about the ship.
Jen 51:06 Yeah. And you know, kind of the code is be cool when you see them. Like, don't rush them. If a crowd starts to form, don't start pushing. And as long as the fans are cool, then the security will be cool. And yeah, they'll take selfies all day long. And, you know, you know, when you get 2,500 women on a ship, it doesn't always stay cool. But yeah, but for the most part it does, especially as we get older.
Leah Jones 51:32 Have you gotten any Joey selfies and in those -- like casual at the breakfast buffet?
Jen 51:39 Oh, yeah. I think for the longest time -- again, based on the other stories I've shared, this won't be surprising -- it was almost as if I was like, "I'm just gonna wait for them to come to me." I wouldn't push my way through. The first few cruises I went on -- zero photos with the New Kids, zero hugs from the New Kids.
Jen 52:09 Because a crowd forms around a New Kid, and I hang out in the back -- as if Joey or Donnie are going to work their way through this crowd to come to me. Which oddly enough, never happened. No. So, I would say over the last few cruises, I got better at not being pushy, but being patient and working my way through and yeah, you know, trying to get pictures. There was one cruise where I managed to get a selfie with each one of the guys, which felt like this amazing accomplishment. And I was able to do so without, you know, having to like, push anybody out of the side or anything crazy like that.
Jen 52:51 But yeah, so it was amazing. I will say the last cruise we went on, 2018, I wouldn't say I came off the ship totally unscathed. I did have a incident coming down the waterslide. I come off the waterslide -- the ship's water, like in the pools and stuf, it's very salty -- but I wasn't prepared for that. When I came down the water slide, I was kind of disoriented. And stepping out of the waterslide, I slipped coming down the steps.
Jen 53:33 All I could imagine was that I was gonna hit my head on --vthere was like this ledge ahead of me. And I thought for sure I was going to hit my head on it, so I had put my arms out in front of me to break my fall, which is a never do. I fractured my elbow, and somehow in the fall, when I fell forward, my legs kicked up behind me and my shins slammed against the edge of the step. So, that hurt. I'm like, "Oh, my elbow, my elbow," and I turn over and I look at my my right leg and my shin. I have a big ol' hole.
Jen 54:13 I'm like,"Oh, my God!" So I put my leg out, and one of the ship workers came over, "Are you okay?" And I'm like, "No, my arm, my arm." And then he sees my leg, and goes, "Oh, my God!" And then my friend comes off the slide and she's like, "Oh, that was fun, that was great. Oh, are you okay?" I'm like, "Oh, my arm!" She's like, oh, and then she looks at my leg and she's like, "Oh, my God!"
Leah Jones 54:42 Oh, no! And then, Joey came out of the crowd and lifted you in his arms --
Jen 54:50 and he saved me! No, that didn't happen. But the worst part about this was -- there's if you've ever been on the cruise, there's a camera that is off the Lido Deck the whole time. So, I later hear from people -- "Oh, are you the one that fell? I was watching that on camera in my cabin." So I'm thinking at first, I fell -- there was like four people in a hot tub nearby -- I'm like, "Not a lot of people saw this." No, like a lot of people saw this.
Jen 55:27 It was such a crazy experience. So then I ended up having to go down to the ship's hospital, which at the very bottom of the of the ship. And which is really a kind of cool experience, cause it's not something you see. And they clean out the wound, they X-ray my elbow, they wrap up my leg. They put my arm in like a splint and a brace or whatever, and fortunately it was the last day of the cruise. And I'm like, "I mean, I can still go to the Lido Deck party tonight, right?"
Leah Jones 56:04 [laughter]
Jen 56:04 The doctor looks at me, he's like, well, "I, don't think you should be standing, you know, you've got a hole in your leg, I don't think you should be standing for like four hours until four in the morning." It's not even standing for four hours, because the party starts at midnight, but we all go out there at like 10 o'clock, because you want to have a decent spot because the guys come out in the crowd and stuff and want to hopefully, see them. So he's like, I don't think you should be -- so I get a pass to sit in the ADA section.
Leah Jones 56:35 Okay, good plan.
Jen 56:37 So, I get to sit the whole time and I'm feeling kind of bad because I don't really feel like it's fair, because I'm generally able bodied, and there are people who have -- lifelong, you know, people who are -- wheelchairs and you know, I feel bad. But I was kind of towards the back. I didn't bring a chair and sit myself right in front of the ADA section -- I'm not that awful. But they happened to move at a section that night to be right in front of like the stage where the guys hang out.
Jen 57:09 So, the previous nights they kind of had them in a not so great spot -- I was looking at the guys' back the whole night. And so I double lucked out that they had happened to move it. But which was good, but they should have had it there the whole time, so it was great. So then Jordan came through, and Jordan, we had the meet and greet that day -and Jordan sees me. I literally put my clothes back on from the meet and greet event, but he sees me and he's like, wait a second, and he looks at my arm, and he's like, "Did that just happen?"
Jen 57:44 And I go, "Yeah, stay off the waterslide." So the question I haven't had the guts to ask them when I went through on all my meet and greets from the tour that followed, was whether or not they happened to see on the Lido Deck camera the girl who fell. Cause that was me! You know, if I ever get my opportunity to have like a 15 minute coffee chat with one of them, I'm totally gonna ask.
Leah Jones 58:11 That's amazing. Yeah, I thought you were gonna say -- so, I've only done one cruise and it was a Disney Cruise. And I don't remember looking to see if there was like a closed caption -- I don't think I ever like bothered turning the TV on. I thought you were gonna say that, like at the end -- cause they take pictures through a cruise and you can buy your book of pictures. I thought you were gonna say that they had like, offered you the photograph of you like falling or bleeding on the deck that the photographer would have like, tagged you in that.
Jen 58:46 How amazing would that have been?
Leah Jones 58:48 It would have been really good, but I also think finding out that you were that everyone saw it as they were sitting in their room hungover, is also pretty wild.
Jen 58:59 Yeah. And and I I think probably on a New Kids cruise more people watch that "channel," because they're waiting to see when the crowd's starting to form, so they know they need to hurry and get out there. It was amazing how many people were walking up to me, "Were you the one? I saw that." I couldn't believe it. The New Kids were supposed to cruise in April of last year.
Leah Jones 59:21 Oh, yeah. Gotta cancel that one.
Jen 59:23 Yeah. And when things first started, I had friends who were like "Cruise ain't happening." and I was like, "It could happen -- hold out hope! This is gonna blow over in a few weeks!" And then when we had the shelter in place. It's like, "Yeah, we're gonna we're gonna stay home for three weeks and then we're gonna go on the cruise!"
Leah Jones 59:44 Yeah. Then we'll be ready. We'll be good. They'll test us all....
Jen 59:51 ... nooooooo. So who knows when when it'll happen again. And then they were supposed to do a show at Fenway last year and they were supposed to tour this yearl So right now, Fenway is on the books for July.
Leah Jones 1:00:10 July of 2021?
Jen 1:00:14 Yeah. And Massachusetts is doing outdoor concerts. But what's unclear is if it will be at full capacity. The problem is, the tickets are already sold. It's a sold-out show. So if they're gonna do 50% capacity gets cancelled. But then you factor in like, there's a lot of people who travel from Europe and like, no one from Europe is getting out of Europe. You know, who knows what they're going to do, but I don't have a very, I'm extremely hopeful, but I don't know.
Leah Jones 1:00:45 So yeah, you have tickets to that Fenway show?
Jen 1:00:47 Of course. And who knows what's gonna happen with the tour, but hopefully 2022? And who knows what meet and greets will look like, when that starts back up. Will that will that be a thing? Will they still hug fans? Will I still do a meet and greet if I can't hug them? I probably will.
Jen 1:01:12 Because now that I'm able to, you know, there's the meet and greet, but it usually comes along with a really good seat as well, and I'd like to be right up front, because my vision's not so good anymore. [laughter] So I'll still do those packages, but we'll see what happens with with that experience.
Leah Jones 1:01:36 One last question. I know we're getting close to time. What's your favorite song?
Jen 1:01:43 Oooh. If I can only pick one ...
Leah Jones 1:01:51 Well, I'll let you go top three.
Jen 1:01:53 Okay, I'm gonna say my favorite old song is, "Please Don't Go, Girl." I have a lot of favorites from their new stuff. There's a song called "Defying Gravity," which they never play on tour. I wish they would. I love that song. It's on one of their newer albums. And I also love "Click, Click, Click," which was on their first album back. It might be because there's so much like sentiment and feeling attached to it from what they were doing when they were performing that song on the tours, and how that was the song that kind of made Donnie want to do the reunion and everything. So there might be you know, something to that. Really that whole first album is amazing.
Leah Jones 1:02:44 What's that new album called?
Jen 1:02:47 Yeah, it's called "The Block."
Leah Jones 1:02:48 "The Block." Oh, New Kids on the Block? Yep, got it.
Jen 1:02:56 Tdhat whole album, I absolutely love. They've done multiple albums since then. I mean, they've they've been back longer --
Leah Jones 1:03:07 -- than they were together.
Jen 1:03:10 Yeah, than they were the first time around. And they've made more music this time around, than they did the first time around. I would say those are my favorites.
Leah Jones 1:03:20 That's so good. I was aware that they had toured again, I don't think I was aware that they were touring as more than a nostalgia band.
Jen 1:03:32 They do they do such a good job with the tours, because they set the setlists, so that it's a mix of the old stuff and the new stuff. We joke, this last tour in 2000 -- was it '18? '19. We would still meet people, they were like, "Oh, this is my first show." And we're like, "Where have you been for the last 11 years?"
Jen 1:04:00 And so there are still people who are rediscovering them for the first time, which is amazing -- , amazing, like how? But also just like yes! I love that people are still continuing to rediscover them. The setlist is always a mix of the new and the old stuff just to make sure that you know the casual fan recognizes ...
Leah Jones 1:04:22 ... feels taken care of. Well, Jen, is there anything about NKOTB that I haven't asked you about, that if we hang up, you'll be sad that you didn't tell me.
Jen 1:04:36 Um, you know, I think what is so awesome about them is the relationship that they have with the fans. You know, they're active on social media, they're active in like side projects and connecting with the fans. Danny Wood does has an organization called Remember Betty, and it's in honor of his mother, who passed away from breast cancer. And he does a ton of fundraising, and the fans have basically organized these different chapters to raise money for breast cancer.
Jen 1:05:15 And they do so much for people who are going through that to just provide things that they can't get elsewhere -- whether it's financial support or other means of support, and it's amazing work that he does and the fan support. But then just everything that they do through social media and the connection they have with the fans -- you know, people talk about, like Taylor Swift and Swifties. And like, Justin Bieber and Beliebers, but it's a much more genuine connection.
Jen 1:05:48 I mean, like I said, there have literally been fans who have become friends with members of the New Kids, and fans who have started working for the New Kids. They truly have a connection. Donnie is like, truly the captain and he will, he remembers people. And he reaches out to people, and he's done things that other artists won't -- don't, necessarily do. You know, somebody needs financial support, or if somebody needs to get to a show and can't afford it, and he hears about it, he'll buy them tickets -- like front row tickets. They just have this amazing relationship with the fans -- that they consider us family and if they hear about a Blockhead -- that's what we're called. I didn't come up with it. But you know, if they hear about a Blockhead, who's passed away or is going through something, they're there for them. And they reach out and they send their best wishes and they mourn. And you don't often see that with with artists and fans.
Jen 1:05:48 Yeah. I think there's something really special too, because they were people's number one band as teenagers -- they were teenage heartthrobs. And, then they got to go away and have their 20s and dcome back, and everybody has gone away, grown up and come back together. That I think there's a level of appreciation and relationship possible with that like sabbatical. Yeah, that is maybe not possible when a band never goes away.
Jen 1:07:33 Yeah, and I would say that the the stages of the fandom -- When I was 14, it was about "Oh, my God, I love Joey McIntyre. I want to be Jennifer McIntyre, when I grow up". And when they reunited, it was "Oh, my God, I'm 14 again. I want to be Jennifer McIntyre, even though I'm married and he's married." And then, it went to the "My goodness, he was my first celebrity crush" and you know, kind of getting nervous in meet and greets to now it's like, "Hey, Joe, what's up?" and joking. And it's not about like, "Oh, I love you, Joey. I want to be Jennifer McIntyre."
Jen 1:08:14 It's not about that anymore. It's just about a connection and an outlet, and having something that's *for me,* and being able to put everything else aside for a time and enjoy my "me time," my time with my friends, with these guys that provide this great outlet. And that's really what it's about. To me, I think everyone should have that thing.
Leah Jones 1:08:46 Yes.
Jen 1:08:47 That's what I think is so great about your podcast.
Leah Jones 1:08:48 Thank you.
Jen 1:08:49 Everyone should have that thing that they love and are passionate about, and is an outlet that has nothing to do with working with their career or with family or anything that's just about enjoyment and having that release. And so to me, that's what it's all about.
Leah Jones 1:09:11 Fantastic. Well, Jen, this has been a blast. It's so nice to catch up with you.
Jen 1:09:17 Me, too.
Leah Jones 1:09:18 I do wish we were in Barcelona having this conversation,
Jen 1:09:22 Me, too.
Leah Jones 1:09:23 One day. One day, we'll return. So, thank you, and have a wonderful rest of your weekend.
Jen 1:09:31 Thank you, you, too.
Announcer 1:09:33 Thank you for listening to Finding Favorites with Leah Jones. Please make sure to subscribe and drop us a five star review on iTunes. Now go out and enjoy your favorite things.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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