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It was December, 1991, I was an eighth grader and I had just received my winter grades. My parents had promised to buy me a CD for every A I earned, so I was especially thrilled to see four of them on my report card.
Four A’s. Four CDs. The first CDs I'd ever own. Read ’em and weep: Jesus Jones’ "Doubt," Nirvana’s "Nevermind," Boyz II Men’s, "Cooleyhighharmony" and Bell Biv Devoe’s "Poison."
I can't explain away the Jesus Jones decision. I wish I could blame it on the pot or the drinking, but the only pot that chubby 13-year-old me dabbled in was pies, and the only unhealthy drinking I was doing was that of strawberry milkshakes.
Nirvana and Boyz II Men would soon become two of the biggest groups of the '90s. "Nevermind" is one of the greatest albums of all time, and "End of the Road" is still played at eighth grade graduations every spring. (I like to keep track of that sort of thing).
That brings us to Bell Biv Devoe (now. . . you know). Of the albums I bought that day, I may have been most excited about "Poison." The title track, along with "Do Me," fully captured my 13-year-old imagination.
Even though I had little idea what it meant, I was fairly certain that I too wanted to "smack it up, flip it and rub it down" one day.
Lest you think they were simply glorifying sex to impressionable adolescents, "Poison" made it clear that the theme park of love also had a seedy underbelly. It was practically a PSA. Without BBD, I might be walking around today, trusting a big butt and a smile.
Bell Biv Devoe was the headliner at Friday night at "One Scary Night II," presented by Deon Taylor and 102.5 KSFM, at the California Auto Museum.
The event was billed as "Sacramento's Hottest Halloween Dance Party," and I think that it lived up to the billing, for the most part.
There were some unfortunate, but ultimately forgivable, missteps, however:
–The event flier prominently featured Flavor Flav. I, and many other partygoers, expected the original hype man to be in attendance. He was not – he had attended the 2009 edition. (This was more of a misdirection than a misstep).
–Partygoers were promised a "HUGE celebrity guest list including Denise Richards, Stacey Dash, Bobby Jackson, Mitch Richmond, Michael Berryman and MANY more." Denise, Stacey and Mitch were all no-shows. If you’re gonna list celebrities who aren't gonna be there, you could have at least gone with some bigger names.
–The two front bars ran out of change at 9:45 p.m. The party didn't even officially start until 10 p.m. (Luckily I had $20 in ones).
–The bars started running out of booze by 10:30. The front bar had only beers and tequila by 11 p.m. They were out of beers at one of the bars next to the dance floor before Bell Biv Devoe took the stage.
–There was only one bathroom for the whole event, and the line for the women’s room was worse than the lines for the booze. The men's room soon became unisex.
Thankfully, the party was able to overcome the myriad issues, thanks in large part to a really great crowd. A few other saving graces:
–The celebrities who did attend were gracious and convivial:
–Mark S. Allen was the MC (seemingly in accordance with Sacramento law) and was his usual gregarious self. He came dressed as a Chilean miner, complete with his own rescue pod. "Are you the mistress or the wife?" was his stock line. (There were a few miners about, but he knocked his out of the park. Maybe he had the Good Day interns help him with it).
–Michael Berryman, of "The Hills Have Eyes" fame, was a delight. The first celebrity to arrive, he signed every autograph, posed for every picture and was exceedingly upbeat and positive. When asked about one of his upcoming roles, he offered simply, "I just love the craft." (I was talking to him about a movie he did, “Dirtmaster,” when he offered some sage words of advice: "Don't do steroids. That shit will kill you." I'm not sure what inspired the comment, but pretty sure it was not my chiseled physique.)
–Larenz Tate and Tyrin Turner were in attendance and "together for the first time since ‘Menace to Society.’ " Regardless if that’s true, they too were imminently approachable and spent a good portion of the evening posing for photos and talking to fans.
–The "Staff Monsters" were fantastic. They were more than 100 zombies, ghouls, monsters and crazies who wandered the party and stayed in character at all times. They really set a spooky, surrealistic mood for the evening.
–Obsidian Butterfly and Jack Sparksprovided fire and electricity-based entertainment in front of the venue, keeping those waiting in line to get in entertained and upbeat.
–Claude the Dragon. A 10-foot-tall, 20-foot-long fire-breathing animatronic dragon made from found materials? Yes please.
–The music. There were a bunch of DJs, and the dance floor was hopping all night.
–The costumes. The partygoers went all-out, and there were some outrageous getups. A few of my favorites were a "the paparazzi," Gilly, The Predator and, of course, countless sexy nurses, sexy police officers, sexy schoolgirls, sexy pumpkins, sexy orthodontists, sexy podiatrists, etc.
–Maino. Apparently he's a famous rapper, but I'd never heard of him before he walked up the red carpet. I had heard his track "All the Above" before, however, and he killed it on stage. Some rap acts struggle in live performances to measure up to the heavily produced studio sound of their albums. Maino had no such problem. I was very impressed. (I was kinda hoping that he was from Maine, and that was how he got his name, because that would be awesome. Alas, a cursory Wikipedia perusal tells me he's from Brooklyn. Maino is short for Jermaine. Sort of. The Pine Tree State is still waiting for its first rap superstar.)
–Bell, Biv Devoe. The boys didn't hit the stage till after 1 a.m., and they only played a three-song set, but the three songs they did, they did well. "B.B.D. (I thought it was me)" into "Do Me," into "Poison." They have been playing these three songs (only these three songs?) for the last 20 years, and they have them down pat. The sound could have been a little better, but their dance moves were surgical in their precision and oh-so-1991. 13-year-old me was so ecstatic he spilled his milkshake.
All of the images are the work of the supremely talented Steven Chea. With a "v".