One of our nearest neighbors, Supriya Delgato, stopped by on contract-signing day.
“Hi,” she said. “I noticed you have some new people moving in?”
“Yes,” I said. “It’s business.”
“Right. Remember I mentioned I was a producer? Well, I’m producing.”
“OK. See ya! Kinda busy, but be sure to stop by anytime!” I waved to her back as she walked off.
I was more than busy. Each of the guys was arriving that day, and as they did, I had to go over the house rules with them, make sure they knew what they were getting into, and then see if they were ready to sign the contract.
“So, Tony,” I said to the Living Statue. “I take it you’re no stranger to discipline and hard work.”
He thought a moment.
“Not hardly,” he said. “Takes a lot of fortitude and dedication to freeze in a pose for well on an hour or more.”
“That’s what I figured! Great! Then you’ll have no problems with what’s required to be an S-Boy!”
I laid out the expectations. They all got Sunday off. Easy! As for the rest? Six hours a day, six days a week, they would dedicate to singing practice, dancing lessons, some form of body culture (yoga, swimming, basketball, exercise machines), and maintaining their social media presence.
“Sounds awesome!” said Tony.
On top of that, we’d have two to four hours of rehearsal six days a week and time for creative–which involved writing songs, composing music, creating art for liner notes, writing poetry to share with fans, that sort of thing.
“So, basically, we have no life?” Tony said.
“Well, no,” I replied. “You have a life. It’s just that your life is the S-Boys.”
Then there was the three-month clause. The contract lasted for a year, with the plan that we’d begin production on the first album in six months, after the intensive training season. But at three months, we’d revisit the contract. We’d each be given the option to be released from it at that time, if we felt that, for any reason, it wasn’t working out. I knew that everything rested on the chemistry of the group. We’d know in three months if we had it. And if we didn’t, I needed the freedom to juggle members at that time. And as for the guys, they might discover that band-life is not for them. I didn’t want anybody feeling stuck, because if they made it past the three-month mark, they were in. Hopefully for the life of the band. Which, hopefully, would be for a good long time. Six comebacks, at least. Maybe more. After the six-month mark, they really wouldn’t have a life beyond S-Boys.
Tony sat very still. Like a statue. I showed I could out-statue him.
“What do you say?” I asked stoically. “Can you handle it?”
“I can handle it,” he replied, just as stoically, back.
To my surprise, every one of them agreed. Even Joey, the cute bartender. And, even though it was Sunday when we signed contracts, Joey didn’t waste his free day. He got right to work on the wall. Guy’s gotta keep his assets looking good!
I’d explained about the cameras. It was spelled out in the contract, but I wanted to make sure they understood. Every room except the bathrooms was equipped with cameras. The cameras in the bedrooms could be switched on or off at their discretion, so they would always have a private retreat at hand. The cameras in all the other rooms were always on, and any footage from them could be used in live-streams, youtubes, snapchats, or any other social, promotional, or documentary outlet.
Publicity. Promotion. Public exposure. It was all part of being in a boy band.
We got some great footage from the first day.
Tony: Hey, you into this, Joey?
Joey: The ATP’s flowing. I’m feeling pretty high.
Tony: Yeah, great work-out gear, man! Tell you what, you show me around the climbing wall, I’ll show you around the punching bag! Is it a deal?
Joey: Yeah, OK. I guess.
OK, so maybe on its own, the footage isn’t that great. But when you think about the future context, the setting-up of the moment, I had a feeling, even then, that this would be one of those clips shared in every fan mixup. “First meeting between Joey and Tony!” #S-BoysDayOne! #S-BoysFavoriteShip!
Supriya dropped by again later that afternoon, on the pretense of delivering some apples she’d picked from their tree.
“So, let me get this straight,” she said. “The band is living here?”
“And they’re all guys? How many?”
“Five,” said Akira.
“It’s a boy-band,” I said. “I mentioned I was a producer, right?”
Even though it was Sunday, moving-in day, and the day off, Tony found the home gym upstairs. He spent a few hours working out. I knew, even then, that we were going to really appreciate his dedication and intensity.
It provided a good counter-balance for the others, who knew all-too-well the meaning of “easy.”
All right, so Joey had snuck in a bonus work-out on the climbing wall. And moving was exhausting under the best conditions. I’m not one to begrudge a Sunday afternoon nap, especially when I thought of the labor that would start in earnest the next day. But if half of the future-ship was napping, I felt a little relieved that the other half was upstairs working out.