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Backstreet Boys: Frenzied Over Your Frenzy

After extensive touring throughout Europe and Canada, the Backstreet Boys have finally returned home to the United States, where their single "Quit Playin' Games (With My Heart)" from their forthcoming US debut CD, has just been released. It's no secret the beauteous band's popularity aroun the globe is stronger than ever, and group members Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin RIchardson are finding out that with stardom come fan reactions that are both warm and wild. In some cases, the Backstreet Boys' fans travel across the world just to see the group members, like the time two girls, one from Germany one from Switzerland, visited Brian at home in Orlando, Flordia. "I drove into my apartment complex, and they know my car because a picture of it had been in a magazine," the 22-year-old has said. "These two girls were sitting right in front of my apartment with their pens and paper, and they jumped when they saw me." At least those global guys had enough respect for Brian not to try and sneak into his house. At times, others have tried this with the Boys' tour bus. "We've had stowaways--girls sneaking on our bus while we're loading luggage. We;ll find them i nthe [bus'] bathroom," Kevin, 24, has said. That's not all. In an effort to meet the band, devoted fans have camped outside airports, hotels ad venues where the Backstreet Boys were expected to be. Some even go so far as to climb barbed-wire fences to get them! "One girl got caught up in a fence and hung there by her pants," Nick has explained. "She ripped her bottoms off, climbed in a window in the venue and knocked on our dressing room door." Nick, 17, has said that usually two things happen when fans eventually hunt them down: "Wither they don't know what to do and they just stand there, or they attack us, pretty much." Though the attacks are out of love and adoration, fans don't relize how out of control they can get, which is a great concern for AJ. "It's scary being pulled at and tugged at and grabbed in places you don't want to be grabbed in," he tells BOP In their eagerness to have a piece of the band, fans have also been known to take personal items belonging to the group. The Boys have had their hats stolen, sunglasses taken and AJ even had an earing ripped out of his ear. "I leaned over to give [a fan] a kiss, and she put her finger through my hoop and yanked it out," he says incredulously. The band's devotees must relize that incidents like that don't serve the Boys well--it makes them think twice about approaching a group of fans if they fear for their safety. Unfortunately, because of the earing incident, AJ says, "I don't get that close anymore." And being close to fans is of utmost importance to the band. In fact Howie says he considers "meeting people, getting a chance to perform for them and seeing them enjoy your music" one of the better parts of his job. "One of the most gratifying things is seeing people sing your songs out in the audience along with you," the 23-year-old enthuses Kevin couldn't agree more. He admits that during performances when he gazes out into the audience, he realizes that without them, there would be no show. Their enthusiasm takes his breath away every time. "I just kind of step back and take in everything around me," Kev tells BOP. "I see all the people smiling and laughing and crying and having a good time. [What I do] is for them, and it's something positive." What's also positive is seeing not only girls at the shows, but guys as well. Although in the past the Backstreet Boys have had items thrown at them in the streets by teenage guys who react out of jealousy, to have one of their own male peers acknowledge them in a positive way makes the band feel really good. AJ recalls how at one of their shows, a male concert-goer singled out the 19-year-old singer from a poster of the Backstreet Boys and said: "I like him, he can groove and he is funky; he's a funky white boy." AJ tells BOP. "When a guy shows that much respect, that goes to my heart. That to me is something special when the guys can respect you as much as the girls do. It feels like an accomplishment."