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New Camp Promises to Breed POP-ularity
 
 
 
 
 

New Camp Promises to Breed POP-ularity
 
 
By Jamie Gadette and Luciano Marzulli Vargas
 
 

n a remote section of Long Island sits an unassuming stretch of small, red-brick buildings. A sign on the road declares it to be Camp Susquanah. It is typical of landmark retreats littering East Coast inlets, places where rich kids go when their parents want to party. However, this is no ordinary camp. Susquanah, which loosely translates into “embarrassingly mediocre,” is a site where youngsters can appropriate the necessary skills to become the next-best overrated band—or how to at least appear as such.

“My daughter isn’t really talented, but she’s got such a great look,” said Judy Minnelli. “Besides, I always wanted to be a rock star.”

Founded in 1999 by Lou Pearlman, the mastermind responsible for N*Sync and the Backstreet Boys, the camp aims to teach aspiring fame whores how to dress, dance, eat (or not), while instructing them on the most basic and nonsensical aspects of music theory.

Classes are taught by counselors who have already amassed significant success in the pseudo entertainment industry. Notable figures involved include Sum 41’s Derek Whibley (who gets paid with beer), and LaTavia Roberson (formerly of Destiny’s Child) who teaches kids how to survive—a bitter breakup.

 
Despite a successful graduation from Camp Susquanah,SClub7 are stuck on the playground. They sure taught 'em how to look tought, ha, ha, ha.

Former counselor Gene Simmons was asked to leave following the discovery of some rather incriminating photos of the former Kiss bad-boy in a questionable pose with Russian “lesbian” duo t.A.t.U.

Upon arrival, campers are assigned to specific cabins according to information given on their initial applications. Examples of available lodgings include Hardcore Hellhole, Mom’s Garage, Quit Playing Games With My Heartbreak Hotel and Top Dolla’ Chevy Impala (which isn’t actually a building at all).

“When I first started working here, we only catered to the teeny bopper crowd,” said Susquanah counselor Fabrizio Moretti. “But now we’ve managed to co-opt a larger number of musical genres, thereby bringing woe into the lives of those who actually care about talent and innovation.”

Certain stipulations for graduation include completion of the pop-star finishing school, a basic No. 1 hit in the come-back song format, as well as excelling in the successful instigation of meaningless band rivalries for increased publicity.

“The hit come-back song is something that all started with the Backstreet Boys’ ‘Backstreet’s Back, Alright!,’ we tricked listeners into thinking that the Backstreet Boys had already been around, but just went on hiatus, and then bam—they’re back—but they’re really still just breaking onto the scene. It’s pretty clever,” said Pearlman.

Instead of having a typical end of camp dance, these campers go through a rigorous red carpet ceremony complete with hostile paparazzi and ear-splitting screams emitted by “fans” who are dressed exactly like their favorite idols.

The red-carpet event is a hotbed for label scouts in search of fresh meat. Interscope Records talent hound Earl Scheister said, “This camp makes my job cake, because instead of going to club after club in search of a unique sound, I can just come here and know that no matter what I choose, their shit will play on the radio. Besides, since parents aren’t allowed at the event, I can really fuck these kids over on a contract. Bling-bling.”

The finishing school is modeled after producer Barry Gordy’s legendary Motown training grounds, but takes the visual manipulation component to a whole new level.

Depending on what house the campers inhabit, different finishing-school experts have specific looks to bestow upon the eager stars-to-be.

“For the wannabe punks, we suggest wearing more black and any tattered thrift-store clothing. Visible tatoos and spiked belts are also encouraged. However, for a teen idol we push both boys and girls into a more suggestive direction. So girls need to wear as little as possible to ensure complete visibility of their mandatory naval piercings,” said camp fashion consultant Rudi Valentino. “Guys need to tone down, bulk up and wear nothing but muscle tees, khakis and athletic gear.”

When the six-week camp comes to a close, a battle of the bands takes place. The winner of this intense competition gets signed to one of the record labels that also sponsors Susquanah (which we all know has slowly turned into one corporate behemoth). Last year’s victors, “SClub7,” a seven piece co-ed dance-music troupe, is having a hard time reaping the benefits of its deal with Interscope.

“My 21st birthday isn’t until July 2005, so it’s kind of hard to actually play club shows,” said Tina Minnelli, daughter of Judy Minnelli. “We can’t even buy our way into the hottest clubs, which makes it hard for us to develop any career-threatening addictions.”

Despite the relative anonymity of last year’s winners, Pearlman remains optimistic regarding the camp’s viability.

“American kids aren’t really into the dance-music scene, so we’re looking into other options,” said Pearlman. “I’ve got my eyes on a garage rock group from Alaska called The Prix-Fix 100012. They already know three chords. ”
jamie@red-mag.com
lou@red-mag.com