When Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen described the members of New Kids on the Block as the first boy band-turned-man band, he wasn’t kidding. Faster than you could say “Mazel!” the Beantown balladeers were talking about Joey McIntyre’s junk, and the adult conversation didn’t stop until the WWHL aftershow cameras clicked off.
Fresh off the release of their album 10, McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, and brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight were eager to take on everything Cohen had on tap. As is custom at the Bravo Clubhouse, this included cheekily named games with titles like “New Kids on the Jock” (yes, that was a bulge-identifying contest — which they nailed) and “Who Kids on the Block” — a kiss-and-tell, Newlywed Game–style lark during which we learned Danny has always done well with the ladies and that Joey is, very proudly, the quintet’s biggest Masshole.
Joey and Donnie, NKOTB’s two Hollywood-approved actors, were most chatty. Jordan was surprisingly serious, Danny enthusiastically tapped his feet to a clip of their latest single “Remix (I Like The)” but also piped in just enough to prove he’s the coolest cat of the five, and Jon was as endearingly quiet as ever, barely uttering a word before admitting during the aftershow that fan tattoos weirded him out. Donnie’s response? “I like the tattoos! Why is it cool to get a Mötley Crüe tattoo and not a New Kids [one]?”
That said, the fans‘ bodies weren’t what kept the WWHL crowd (read: nostalgia-tripping thirtysomethings and at least one tipsy mom) squeeing. Leave that to Donnie and Joey’s well-honed air humping and an after-aftershow dance party to Ginuwine’s “Pony,” a.k.a. the song the guys unanimously named their Magic Mike-style stripper anthem. When Joey promised he and fellow Package Tour mates Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees had made an “intergroup challenge to get in shape” so they could offer up maximum shirtlessness this summer… forget about it.
It seems NKOTB has hit the sweet spot of knowing exactly what the fans want and being delighted to give it to them. As Donnie said of getting pumped for a concert, “There’s nothing like walking on stage to 20,000 screaming women — if that doesn’t get you up, nothing will.” Somewhere between genuine and calculated, this hint of innuendo mixed with a sincere graciousness is exactly what’s given the group its longevity. “Please Don’t Go Girl”? Unlikely.
At the end of the day, though, these five guys have been with each other more than anyone else for the greater part of three decades. Their brotherhood showed in their jokes about Joey’s huge… ummm… Package and their endless razzing of Danny for his choices in an after show round of Marry-Shag-Kill: Boy Band Edition. (Sorry, Lachey brothers!) They had each other’s backs and kept mum when a question about former hook-ups arose, though Joey later admitted he shared a kiss with Jon’s ex-girlfriend Tiffany many years before. Jon, who came out in 2011 and is in a committed relationship, was unfazed.
As the guys prepare for The Package Tour (a name Joey devised, naturally), their unflagging playfulness comes once again in handy. Fielding questions both serious (wives, families, and Jon’s desire to have kids) and silly (fashion disasters, current underwear preferences — boxer briefs for all but Joey, who said simply, “I’m free”), they continue to revel in the strange, decades-long journey of a boys-to-men band. Then again, with thousands of stops behind them and thousands yet to go, it probably didn’t hurt that tonight’s stayover came with a shot of bourbon and a pickle juice chaser.