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Thembi Keeps It Real: I Love Donnie!

10 March 2009 12 Comments

I know it seems like I always keep it real but there are too many little secrets about myself that people aren’t aware of just because they prove that I’m not “cool.”  The blackgirl acceptance theme of this blog’s title has made me realize that I need to live my Lady Law #2 – “Go where no black girl has gone before” – a little more publicly. Therefore,  I’m starting a new feature called “Thembi Keeps It Real.”

So let me keep it real with you all…I LOVE New Kids On The Block, especially Donald Edmond Wahlberg Jr., otherwise known as Donnie, the bad-boy of the group.


In fourth and fifth grade you couldn’t tell me NOTHIN’ about Donnie Wahlberg. I had an NKOTB lunch kit, NKTOB concert videos, a scrapbook made from magazine articles and photos of Donnie, I had a New Kid’s pillowcase, I had a slew of official posters and would also plaster my wall with tear-outs from Bop and Teen Beat. My best friend Acacia and I used to watch the Hangin’ Tough concert video, pause it at the exact moment where we thought Donnie looked the cutest, and kiss the television screen. The girls in our fifth grade class were each defined by whether they liked Donnie, Jordan, or Joey, and we would come to near fisticuffs if anyone were to dare say anything negative about our respective man. At the age of ten I saw a 60 Minutes report on the NKOTB phenomenon that explained how the average preteen girl obsesses over unattainable boys as a way of exploring her budding sexuality without getting hurt. In spite of that overwhelming scientific evidence, I knew this was no silly crush and Donnie would someday be mine.

Now here we are in 2009 and sure NKOTB has kind of made a comeback, but there’s definitely no returning to the good old days. Donnie is still so fiiiiiiine to me, and in spite of a short and shallow summer fascination I had with his brother Marky Mark back in 2000, I genuinely continue to prefer Donnie. In fact, there are plenty of applicable analogies:

  1. Donnie : Mark :: Grover : Elmo
  2. Donnie : Mark  ::  Dark-skinned Aunt Viv : Light-Skinned Aunt Viv
  3. Donnie : Mark  ::  House Party :: House Party 3 or 4

Marky Mark is all well and good, but there’s just no replacing a Boston bad-boy original.

And you know the best part of the whole thing? My dad thought it was totally ridiculous that I was so infatuated with these white boys who were in essence doing the Jackson 5/New Edition routine to a tee, and I only understand his disdain for them now that I’m an adult. Anyone with eyes and ears could easily see the deal, and their producer Maurrice Star went right ahead and put them on Apollo’s Amateur night to capitalize on it all to sing, dance, be white and STILL not get booed. Check it out:

And for another throwback, yes this is Pebbles introducing them in 1989 as a full-fledged musical guest. Donnie puts on quite the performance and really gets it at 1:45.


Donnie is actually recently divorced and since he’s only 39 our age difference is just on that acceptable cusp of men I should date. He still does some acting and singing so he’s not a wash-out or anything, and I know for a fact that Dorchester boys like black girls. Donnie, if you’re out there holla at a sister! Ladies, sound off in the comments if you too were NKOTB obsessed and if not, who had you sprung as a tween?

h/t to Dee Phunk for bringing all of this to mind!


  • [fung'ke] [blak] [chik] said:

    Donnie >Bobby Brown

    I’ve always said it..lol!

    Now in his receding hairline days, I don’t find him that attractive any more.

  • Thembi (author) said:

    I still dont feel comfortable with that comparison between Bobby and Donnie, maybe just because, oh I dunno, Bobby Brown SMOKES CRACK.

  • illestmami said:

    Donnie was the Bobby Brown of NKOTB. Speaking of New Edition, “Please Don’t Go Girl” was their “Is This The End?” SMDH @ Maurice Starr’s ineffectiveness at coming up with new material. But I too felt like the crowd did when “Please Don’t Go Girl” started playing: ripping off my clothes and screaming.

    Jordan can still get it, however.

    And speaking of crushes when I was a tween & teen, Mr. Dalvin, MC Brains, Shaun Stockman of Boyz II Men, Bobby Brown circa “Tender Roni,” Dwayne Wiggins from Tony! Toni! Tone! (I now have no idea why), Special Ed, D-Nice (especially in “Self Destruction” video), and the lead singer from Portrait *nudge nudge wink wink*


  • Thembi (author) said:

    @illmami that is not a bad list, especially since I too had a crush on Dwayne WIggins. I dont know why either, but I bet he’s “handsome” now. As for Boyz II Men I was partial to Mike and especially that Wanya. MMMMM Wanya.

  • Stacy said:

    OMG thembi you really brought it back with these videos!! i LOVED me some NKOTB back in the day! Jordan was the love of my life! i always thought he was the cutest one but i don’t know what’s happened to him, he was much cuter back then. but Donnie… whoo! i agree with you– SO FINE at 39!! i was tempted to go see them in concert when they came to NYC but i was too lazy… now i kinda regret it :o(

  • GypsyEyes said:

    *squeals* You took it there. In retrospect I’ve always had a soft spot for the “vocal harmony groups”. It began for me with New Edition moved on to NKOTB and bounced from group to group; after I hit my teens I let it go. I was over it for years and then a series of events and I fell in love with the Backstreet Boys and here I am 30 and right back where I started.

    I have to say, Donnie is hot, smoking, and on fire but it’s always the quiet ones that do it for me. So it’s been all about Jon for God knows how many years now, yeah. I’ve actually addressed this in therapy and we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more about what potentially lies beneath all of that quiet sugary sweetness…. Yeah, I’m probably disturbed.
    Anywho thank you for taking me back to that place.

  • Monica said:

    I shall not front. I used to like Jonathan. I was the only one. I thought the group itself was super lame though. My sister and I used to watch the “Tonight, Tonight” video just to make Jordan dancing in his hypercolor t-shirt and biking shorts. And the “Step By Step” video had so many laugh out loud moments. Good times.

  • Monica said:

    that shuld say “make FUN of Jordan dancing…” oops

  • Tami said:


    THANK YOU for this post. To this day I am ashamed to admit that I had a thing for NKOTB. Posters, dolls, tapes, sheets, bookbags…and my parents both wanted to know what it was about these white boys that made me swoon. Like you, I finally understand what they (my parents) meant. However, I thought I would take this secret to my grave. Thank you for letting me come out of the shadows.

    Stacy: I will FIGHT you over Jordan. Don’t start none, won’t be none.

  • Sincerely Ty said:


    I can totally feel you on this one. Although Marky-Mark is my “little white secret,” I’m there with you. NKOTB was so embedded in my heart that I had not shame in wearing a tie-dyed NKOTB shirt with hot pink slouch socks. Thanks for the flashback.

    Sincerely, Ty

  • Bonnie said:

    I absolutely ADORED NKOTB. Had the geat and posters in my room. Went to an all black school and they were not that popular with most of the people but the people that loved them found each other!

  • ☆ Lola A♏ ★ said:

    I use to NKOTB fan as well, and Donnie was my fave….back then

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