I had three options when the young woman working at the hotel front desk asked me what had brought me to Las Vegas — lie, mumble a vague explanation that I was in town for work, or truthfully tell her that I was here to cover the opening night of the Backstreet Boys’ residency at Planet Hollywood and was fully prepared for a possibly religious musical experience.
I went with the latter, without the last part.
She smiled broadly.
“I knew their lyrics even before I knew English,” she said. “I really didn’t know what they were saying, but I loved them.”
My own appreciation for the Backstreet Boys started 18 years ago — when I was 11.
Compared to some other fans, I was a little late to the party. By the time I watched their performance at the 1998 VMAs, they’d already broken out in the United States.
After that night, they added one more mega fan to their ranks.
I wallpapered my bedroom with their faces, revolved my life around watching and recording (on VHS!) their TV performances, scoured eBay for memorabilia from all corners of the globe, and volunteered my services at my parents’ restaurant so I could earn tips to fund my obsession.