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Purity1.70

Boy Story Three

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What can you say about a boy band that died out after five years? That it was beau­ti­ful and bril­liant? That it ush­ered a whole gen­er­a­tion of tweens into pre­ma­ture puber­ty? That one of the mem­bers got stabbed in the butt?

In the case of BSD (Blane Shane Duane), no sim­ple sum­ma­ry can ful­ly con­vey the impact of this band — nay, phe­nom­e­non — on our nation­al con­scious­ness. For those unfa­mil­iar with BSD (those deaf to cul­ture, per­haps), I shall engage in a fee­ble attempt to recount BSD’s mete­oric rise to fame, and their sub­se­quent fall from grace, which was also in the fash­ion of a mete­or.

Blane, Shane, and Paul Flem­ing were dis­cov­ered by record pro­duc­er Buzzy Sil­ver­baum at the 2005 Orange Julius Tal­ent Show in one of cen­tral Maine’s larg­er shop­ping malls. Then known as The Flemin­goes, the teenage trio quick­ly won over the hearts of pass­ing shop­pers and were crowned the “Orange Julius Cae­sars” of the event. Mr. Sil­ver­baum signed the broth­ers on the spot, and a week lat­er, they were liv­ing in the house­boat behind his Jack­sonville, Flori­da record­ing stu­dio.

After forc­ing Paul, the eldest and least come­ly of the broth­ers, to offi­cial­ly change his name to Duane, Mr. Sil­ver­baum rebrand­ed the band as Blane, Shane, Duane. Their first sin­gle, “BSD 123,” debuted at a sol­id #40 on the Bill­board Charts. It drew imme­di­ate com­par­isons to the Jack­son Five and a less imme­di­ate law­suit from the Jack­son estate for the unau­tho­rized sam­pling of “ABC.” Con­tro­ver­sy bred pop­u­lar­i­ty. To para­phrase Shake­speare, “Now is the win­ter of our disc con­tent, made glo­ri­ous sum­mer by these sons of York [Maine].”

It wasn’t until the viral video suc­cess of “Love Suds,” filmed in one take entire­ly inside an oper­at­ing car wash, that BSD hit the cov­et­ed #1 on Swedish iTunes, and lat­er, Amer­i­can iTunes. In the video, Blane and Shane tore off each other’s shirts and engaged in a soap fight while singing the cho­rus “Soap me up, baby / With your foamy love suds / Soap me up, baby / We ain’t no Elmer Fud­ds.” Duane remained clothed dur­ing this scene, play­ing the tam­bourine inside a 2004 Pon­ti­ac Aztek.

Imme­di­ate­ly rec­og­niz­ing BSD’s appeal to teenage girls and gay men of all ages, Buzzy Sil­ver­baum exploit­ed Blane and Shane’s sex­u­al­i­ty into a cav­al­cade of hits: “Dim­ples, Dim­ples (We Got ”˜Em),” “Let Them Eat Beef­cake,” and “69 Times A Lady.” BSD was offered their own ani­mat­ed series, B.S.D. (Broth­ers Shar­ing Dis­guis­es), in which they played high school­ers moon­light­ing as under­cov­er gov­ern­ment agents who were often forced to go under­cov­er as a boy band. Mid­way through sea­son one, Duane was down­grad­ed to “recur­ring guest star.”

In the sum­mer of 2010, BSD embarked on a record-break­ing world tour. On tour, the band hired med­ical per­son­nel to tend to the legions of girls who faint­ed each night when Blane and Shane per­formed the duet “I’m Tak­ing Off My Shirt Now.” On a dark night in Alice Springs, Aus­tralia, they were lucky to have hired those med­ical pro­fes­sion­als. Dur­ing his solo verse of “Knife to the Heart,” Duane was stabbed in the butt by an overea­ger fan. The band swore that they would nev­er again vis­it “the stab­bing cap­i­tal of the world.” Lit­tle did they know, they would nev­er again vis­it the stab­bing cap­i­tal of any­where; it was to be their final tour.

While Duane under­went exhaus­tive gluteal recon­struc­tion surgery, BSD went on hia­tus. Dur­ing this brief respite from shriek­ing fans, Shane (“the inno­cent one”) became embroiled in a tabloid scan­dal after being pho­tographed smok­ing a mar­i­jua­na cig­a­rette. BSD imme­di­ate­ly issued a joint state­ment con­demn­ing drug use. But by that time, Blane was already balls-deep in Lady Hero­in. To be clear: Lady Hero­in was the name of a high priced Chi­nese pros­ti­tute that, coin­ci­den­tal­ly got him hooked on sweet black tar hero­in. The same day Duane was released from the hos­pi­tal, Blane checked into the Con­tin­u­al Com­mence­ments Rehab Cen­ter in Quinoa, Ari­zona.

Blane, Shane, and Duane would nev­er per­form togeth­er again. One sin­gle was cob­bled togeth­er from unused house­boat-cam footage, but it’s not con­sid­ered “canon” by Blane­Shane­D­u­a­ni­acs.

* * *

After a brief sev­en­teen-hour flight, cour­tesy of the fine folks at Atlas Air­lines, I arrived in Buenos Aires to meet with Blane. At the air­port, I was greet­ed by a man known only as Skele­ton, who ush­ered me onto a rick­shaw and pulled me sev­en­teen miles to Blane’s com­pound on the out­skirts of the city.

I asked Skele­ton if the rick­shaw was a tra­di­tion­al form of Argen­tinean trans­porta­tion. “Mr. Blane no cult leader,” he said, “Skele­ton no need be res­cued.” I chuck­led a bit at his poor Eng­lish, but then I thought, “Well, how many lan­guages do speak?… Four.”

Blane has nev­er spo­ken to the pub­lic about the demise of BSD. A recluse on his sus­tain­able farm and com­mune, Blane has become known as the J.D. Salinger of Buenos Aires. He is the catch­er on the commune’s soft­ball team and has cor­nered the mar­ket on rye.

“Would you like some rye?” is the first thing Blane asks me when I emerge from the rick­shaw, cov­ered in dust.

“I’d love a whiskey,” I respond.

“We do NOT have alco­hol on this com­mune,” Blane scolds me while putting a feed­bag on Skele­ton. “But you may par­take of the boiled rye berries with my wives.”

“Come feast with us!” sing Blane’s three wives in uni­son. Danc­ing ’round a totem pole con­sist­ing only of Blane’s head, his wives seem to care lit­tle if I respond. In the flick­er­ing fire­light, I catch glimpses of his wives’ name tags: ELAINE, JANE, and LORRAINE.

“That’s a lit­tle coin­ci­den­tal isn’t it?” I ask Blane, point­ing at the wife-dance.

“What is?”

“Elaine, Jane, and Lor­raine? Sort of like you and your broth­ers, don’t you think?”

Blane rubs his jade tal­is­man, this thought nev­er hav­ing occurred to him before. “I sup­pose it’s a lit­tle weird that they’re all from Maine. But there’s a sur­pris­ing com­mu­ni­ty of Main­ers here in Buenos Aires. I like to call it Maine-os Aires.”

I con­firmed with Blane’s wives that they have nev­er heard him use the term “Maine-os Aires.” Blane-os Aires, sure. But not the oth­er one.

As Blane took me on a tour of his com­mune, he seemed to bare­ly resem­ble the “bad boy” of BSD. Hav­ing dis­cov­ered tran­scen­den­tal med­i­ta­tion in rehab, Blane now begins each morn­ing with three hours of repeat­ing his mantra: “No Pain, No Blane.”

“I real­ly hit rock bot­tom dur­ing our hia­tus. Night after night, I was per­form­ing for sold-out are­nas, impreg­nat­ing the world’s most beau­ti­ful women, and main­lin­ing the finest hero­in this side of Guangzhou. But when the crowds were gone, what did I have? Just a house­boat sit­ting low in the water from the weight of all that sweet black tar hero­in.”

Blane guides my hand to rub the bel­ly of his Bud­dha stat­ue, a stat­ue whose face looks a lot like Blane’s. “Have you ever tried hero­in?”

“No,” I respond.

“Come on, not even once?”

“Not even once.” I chew on a rye berry to break the ten­sion.

“I’m not a cop, man. You can tell me. It’s great, right?”

“I’ve nev­er tried hero­in. I promise.”

Blane mouths “los­er” at his wives and they gig­gle. I pre­tend not to care.

“Fame is a trap. The blind devo­tion of your fans will real­ly mess with your head,” Blane tells me, while his wives paint the word BLANIAC all over his naked body. “I’ve moved on to a much health­i­er lifestyle here in Argenti­na. You couldn’t pay me to go back to the world of pop music.”

He pulls out the sitar and plays me his newest song, “Blane in the Sky with Dia­monds.” It’s okay. I promise it isn’t bad.

As I set­tle into the rick­shaw for Skele­ton to take me back to the air­port, Blane slips me a demo tape. “Please get this to Buzzy,” he implores, wide-eyed. “I need this.”

Before he can fin­ish, his wives have sum­moned him back into the dance cir­cle. It looks exhaust­ing.

* * *

I find Shane sit­ting court­side at a Lady Fire bas­ket­ball game in upstate New York. He cheers on his wife, Sheryl Strong, a star play­er on the team and a one-time Olympic bronze medal­ist (snow­board­ing).

“It’s her real name,” Shane assures me. “I mean, I’ve nev­er seen her birth cer­tifi­cate. But love means nev­er hav­ing to say ”˜Are you a felon liv­ing under an assumed name?’”

Known as “the inno­cent one,” Shane has per­haps suf­fered the most from BSD’s demise, his bub­ble of naïveté shat­tered like a Christ­mas orna­ment at one of the orna­ment-smash­ing fac­to­ries in athe­ist safe haven Berke­ley, Cal­i­for­nia.

While Blane recov­ered from addic­tion and Duane recov­ered from his gluteal stab­bing, Shane recov­ered his iden­ti­ty in the record­ing stu­dio. After a mirac­u­lous eight days in the stu­dio, Shane released a solo album, A Man With Emo­tions. The lead sin­gle from the album, “All I Want For Christ­mas is A New Butt for My Bro,” failed to chart. “Boy Tears” an auto-tuned bonus track record­ing of Shane cry­ing, became a viral hit in Bangladesh, but Shane saw no prof­its, as he had for­got­ten to mon­e­tize his YouTube chan­nel.

“A fail­ure like that could send a man into deep depres­sion,” Shane tells me, hes­i­tat­ing on the word “man” as he retrieves a bag of orange slices from his snack pack. “But I fig­ured, hey, when at first you don’t suc­ceed, dou­ble down on fail­ure.”

Shane’s sec­ond solo effort Duck Duck Noose was an odd­ly mourn­ful attempt to rap the works of Moth­er Goose. It reached #666 on the Bill­board charts.

“Creeeeeepy, right?” says Shane. “But the impor­tant thing is, it caught the eye of some ani­ma­tors in Hol­ly­wood. Before I knew it, I was voic­ing Felo­nious Flatbed in Auto­mo­biles 3: Wide Load.”

Awwww shit hon­ey, you know you got cut from that damn movie pic­ture,” Sheryl Strong chimes in at half­time. Her team holds an insur­mount­able lead at 10–2. “He didn’t need to be in no baby car­toon any­way. That’s why I made him release that sex tape.”

Shane’s “sex tape,” if one is to call it that, is a shock­ing­ly-well-lit ama­teur video of the 21 year-old reveal­ing the top of his pubic hair. In the back­ground, the voice of Ms. Strong cheers on, “Show ”˜em those butt cheeks, boy! Take ”˜em out one at a time!”

“The butt thing remind­ed me of Duane… and how he got stabbed… in the butt,” Shane tells me, his eyes dis­tract­ed by the per­son­i­fied torch-fire mas­cot of the Lady Fire. “That’s why I start­ed cry­ing.” The Wikipedia page for Shane’s “sex tape” was delet­ed for lack­ing rel­e­vance and prop­er cita­tions.

As Shane tries to flag down the Jum­botron Kiss Cam, I make an excuse to leave because frankly, I’m bored. “My girlfriend’s call­ing me,” I say, “I got­ta leave. It’s an emer­gency.”

“This is an emer­gency” he protests, but I’m already gone. The YouTube video of Shane accost­ing an unknown fan on the Jum­botron Kiss Cam lat­er that night still only has 29 views.

* * *

I spoke to Duane on the phone before our sched­uled meet­ing in Oma­ha. He offered me free tick­ets to his per­for­mance in a region­al the­atre pro­duc­tion of Hen­ry V.

“They only cast me to fill seats,” he says, “I’m new to this whole act­ing thing, so please don’t be too harsh. I’m try­ing.”

I assured him I’m not a the­atre crit­ic.

“I know I look like more of a Richard III than a Hen­ry V, but if you could not men­tion how my back­brace pokes out of my cos­tume, I’d real­ly appre­ci­ate it.” Duane has been try­ing to mend his sco­l­i­ot­ic spine since BSD’s demise. Buzzy Sil­ver­baum nev­er allowed him to wear a back­brace dur­ing BSD’s sal­ad days.

“I’m not going to men­tion your back­brace, Duane,” I assure him, strik­ing out “Back­brace to the Future?” from my notes.

Duane was hurt the least by the breakup of BSD, per­haps because he had the small­est dis­tance to fall. But stud­ies show that cats that fall from the low­er lev­els of sky­scrap­ers get hurt the most, so why should any of us believe in any­thing?

Even at BSD’s height, Duane nev­er even had a ded­i­cat­ed Twit­ter account.

“His num­bers would have been embar­rass­ing in com­par­i­son to Blane’s and Shane’s,” wrote Buzzy Sil­ver­baum in an e-mail. “Would you be inter­est­ed in doing a piece on my oth­er act, Rasc@lz?”

Duane has been receiv­ing rave reviews for his region­al the­atre work. Start­ing off in a stunt-cast­ing role as Con­rad Birdie in “Bye Bye Birdie,” he lat­er achieved crit­i­cal atten­tion for his role as LBJ in the new musi­cal “Bye Bye Lady Birdie.”

“Every­one loved the song where I ordered the hit on JFK,” he said, “But the lyrics could have used some work. Noth­ing real­ly rhymes with Oswald unless you force it.”

At the height of his region­al the­atre suc­cess, Duane was approached by a real­i­ty tele­vi­sion pro­duc­er to star in a new unscript­ed series, “Don’t Duane on My Parade.”

He turned it down.

“What’s the point of hav­ing all those peo­ple look­ing at you on TV if they don’t care about you as a per­son? All the view­ers in the world can’t fill the hole in your heart.”

Duane took a deep breath on the phone. “I just… I don’t want to end up like my friend Knut.”

Knut was an orphaned polar bear at the Berlin Zoo who became an inter­na­tion­al sen­sa­tion in infan­cy after appear­ing in a BSD music video, only to be large­ly for­got­ten once he grew to full size. He suf­fered a stroke at age four and drowned in his exhib­it in front of a crowd of onlook­ers.

* * *

“I watch the video of his drown­ing every day and I think back to those three days I spent with Knut on set,” Duane says grave­ly, going silent for two min­utes before adding, “see you at the show!”

Duane wasn’t spec­tac­u­lar as Hen­ry V. But he was good. Com­pe­tent enough to slow­ly wear away my cyn­i­cism. By the time, he uttered the cli­mac­tic mono­logue of Act IV, goose­bumps raised them­selves on my arm against my will.

Down­stage left, Duane looked me square­ly in the eye as he spoke:

This sto­ry shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispi­an shall né’er go by,
From this day to the end­ing of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we hap­py few, we band of broth­ers.

He couldn’t see the crazed fan rush­ing the stage try­ing to stab his butt. For­tu­nate­ly, the assailant was tack­led by a surly cast mem­ber and nev­er made it to Duane. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Duane died of car­diac arrest after see­ing the scuf­fle. He per­ished onstage while the audi­ence silent­ly filmed it on their mobile devices.

“All that fame couldn’t fill the hole in his heart,” Dr. Quint at Oma­ha-Pres­by­ter­ian told me. “Duane had a con­gen­i­tal dis­or­der that left a hole in his aor­ta. It’s amaz­ing he lived this long.”

Duane’s funer­al will take place onstage at Radio City Music Hall, short­ly before a con­cert by the reunit­ed mem­bers of BSD, now known as BS. In lieu of flow­ers, they ask that you donate to their Kick­starter-fund­ed album/­movie/in­ter­ac­tive-por­tal-expe­ri­ence.

Pre­sales for “And Then There Were Two” ensure that BS will chart in the Top 10 next week. Fill­ing this album with entire­ly orig­i­nal mate­r­i­al, Blane and Shane have ensured that this album will be pure BS.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…

That was a quote from Shake­speare. ♦