Thursday night marked my 15th B-52s show—a proud milestone since I first saw them way back in Cedar Rapids on a frigid winter day in 1990. Mind you, I had been a stalker-y tween fan since I randomly saw “Legal Tender” pop up on MTV one afternoon after middle school. Their kitschy clothes, the synthy, dance-able tunes and the oddly gorgeous harmonies had me instantly smitten.
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to meet the band several times—including my first run in with them at the now defunct Spirit Fest in Kansas City in 2001 (uh, mere days before 9/11). The TV station I worked for was a major sponsor for the event, so scoring backstage passes was a relative breeze. The funny thing is—I was a complete wreck. I had worked myself into such a fevered frenzy before the meet-and-greet that when they walked in my legs stopped working. Literally. I went to stand up to say hi and I was suddenly stricken with polio. I don’t remember much after that—except a flurry of flashbulbs once the synapses in my legs starting firing.
Two things stand out to me about that evening: 1) The band complimented my custom-made Cosmic Thing jean (!!!) jacket and each of them graciously signed it. And 2) I was a total dork. There I was face-to-face with my pop idols and I couldn’t form one-syllable words, let alone complete sentences. I vowed after that night that if I ever met them again, I’d be calm, cool and collected.
Fast-forward to me turning 40. All I wanted was to celebrate with a B’s concert, which conveniently happened to be in Palm Springs—a city I adore with every fiber of my being. As a BDay gift, a friend procured me backstage passes where I promptly hobnobbed with the band. I must have been far more charming and engaging as Fred invited us to tag along to Kate’s wife’s birthday party. That night, I partied with my pop idols and found them to be utterly amazing. At one point Kate broke out champagne and raised a glass to her wife Monica to toast her and then asked, “Are there any other Aries here?” I raised my hand. She asked when my birthday was and I said, “Today.” She brought me up and toasted both of us. I never thought I’d top that night.
Until, that is, 2017—when I won the chance to spend the day with Cindy Wilson in her hometown of Athens. I’ve written endless blogs about that day and traipsing around the city with Cindy. It was one part walking tour (Hey there, Diana Shop!), one part driving tour (“that’s the house where Ricky created the riff to ‘Rock Lobster!’”), one part eating tour (Hello, Taco Tiki Hut!) and one part casual kiki at Cindy’s house.
Highlights include—but aren’t limited to—seeing where The B’s held their first house party, a visit to Athen’s world famous World Famous for happy hour, and a spur-of-the-moment trivia game from Cindy. (“You used to rehearse in a mortuary!”) And, of course, when Cindy gave me a gift at the end of the day—one of her signature scarves that she tied around my neck and said, “This is from me … to you.” (I died. Dead. Resurrected. And died again. Dead.)
This week I got the chance to celebrate my friend Liesl’s 50th BDay and, once again, kibitz with the B’s. We treated ourselves to going backstage to meet Berlin as well. (The band even sang Liesl an impromptu, growly rendition of “Happy Birthday.”) Even though Cindy was MIA at the meet-and-greet, it was still lovely to watch Fred work the room and regale people with his kooky stories.
Kate breezed in with a glass of red wine and greeted people individually. When she walked up to me, she asked, “I know you, don’t I? How do I know you?” I reminded her she toasted me on my 40th birthday. Bless. She said, “No, you were that dork I met in 2001 in Kansas City. You have polio or something, right?” (I’m kidding. But I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.)
The B-52s are the metronome to my entire adolescence and subsequent adulthood. The fact I got to see them during their 40th anniversary tour was icing on the “Cake.” (Which reminds me, I forgot to get Liesl a cake for her BDay. My bad, dear.)