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Tour Report

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Dur­ing a recent trip to New Jer­sey on his “Be My Girl” tour, 15 year-old teen heart­throb, and Warn­er Bros. Records prop­er­ty, John Fran­co appeared as if he was going to be swal­lowed by the crowd of scream­ing tween girls.

He had just fin­ished the encore as he was being ush­ered back­stage. It was almost ten o’clock and Fran­co had to be get­ting back to his tour bus. This was by con­trac­tu­al order of Warn­er Bros. Records, the boy’s legal guardian.

The sto­ry goes that Fran­co had been left in a 7–11 in Van Nuys, Cal­i­for­nia when he was only weeks born. The secu­ri­ty tape shows a per­son of unknown gen­der wear­ing a No Fear baja-style hood putting the infant down to add condi­ments to three All Beef Big Bites, pay, and leave. With­out any birth cer­tifi­cate or any oth­er sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, he was named after the two 7–11 work­ers on duty, and placed in an orphan­age some­where.

Four years ago, record pro­duc­er Buzzy Sil­ver­baum, amidst gam­bling woes, decid­ed to host a singing com­pe­ti­tion for the nation’s orphans called “Unwant­ed Voic­es.” Along with Fran­co, four oth­er young boys were picked from the youth dump­ing grounds and the pre-teen pop group Rasc@lz was cre­at­ed. While they enjoyed mod­er­ate suc­cess, the real gem was Fran­co, done up with a black shin­er around his right eye. Teen Beat wrote of him that, “Despite his rough exte­ri­or, we’re sure once we get one on one with John­ny, his sweet voice will make us fall in love with him all over again.”

Last year, Sil­ver­baum was in finan­cial trou­ble again and sold the Rasc@lz con­tract to Warn­er Bros. Records. Warn­er quick­ly dis­man­tled the group and start­ed a media blitz to make Fran­co the num­ber one con­cert sell­er in three months time. The state of Cal­i­for­nia keeps close eyes on Franco’s well being, and Warn­er Bros. does the same to pro­tect their invest­ment. In the past few years, he’s gone from being one of the most unwant­ed chil­dren to one of the most prof­itable youths in Amer­i­ca.

Fran­co could not be hap­pi­er with his cur­rent parental sit­u­a­tion. In the exec­u­tive bath­room in Bur­bank, a draw­ing by Fran­co of he and the twelve board mem­bers is taped on the wall. On Christ­mas morn­ing last year, Fran­co was brought to the Warn­er Bros. Records board­room where each board mem­ber gave him a present, near­ly all pur­chased from the com­pa­ny store. The young star began to sob, at which point board mem­ber Edgar Bronf­man Jr. offered him his hand­ker­chief, which Fran­co now car­ries with him at all times. “After hav­ing no par­ents for so long, I’m so glad to have my ten dad­dies and two mom­mies to love me.”

While on the tour bus the next morn­ing, Fran­co is pol­ish­ing his dance moves. Being orphan­i­cal­ly jit­tery, none of the back­up dancers are allowed to actu­al­ly touch him. He also has false teeth to make up for years of unpar­ent­ed den­tal care. And aside from the hec­tic tour, Fran­co has also been try­ing his hand at pen­ning lyrics. He shows me notes for songs such as “I Don’t Have Par­ents (Can I Share Yours?),” “Shh­hh (I’ll Be Qui­et, I Promise)” and “Sum­mer Nights (Dump­ster Liv­ing)” It’s then, look­ing at his inco­her­ent, une­d­u­cat­ed cray­on marks, that I final­ly see why every young girl in the nation has a crush on him: adorable pity. ♦