Here’s a classic for the “Before They Were Stars” file.
Back on New Year’s 1998, a pack of show business kids on the cusp of the big time were celebrating New Year’s Eve on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Limping along on a foot cast was Stacy Ann Ferguson, now better known as Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas. At 24, she was the oldest of the group. Members of the teen boy band ‘N Sync was in the group as well. So was Britney Spears, who had just turned 17.
Her debut single “Baby One More Time” would peak at No. 1 a few weeks later. For now she was the opening act for ‘N Sync at a New Year’s Day concert at Thomas & Mack Arena.
“I was friends with ‘N Sync,” Ferguson recalled in an interview with the Review-Journal’s Doug Elfman.
“This is after Justin and I dated,” said Ferguson, who was with the girl band Wild Orchid at the time.
“This is right when Britney and he were starting to date. We were also friends. We had common friends. We went to a lot of things. We went to the Pro Bowl. I have a friend, Pantera Sarah, she’s the one I introduced ‘N Sync to because she knew all the hot clubs in L.A., the club promoters, so she kind of introduced the Orlando boys into the club scene.
“So we used to all go on these vacations. That time, I had a cast on my (left)leg. It was actually from me practicing gymnastics flips. But I still went to Vegas,” said Ferguson, who is in Las Vegas for a New Year’s Eve concert at The Venetian and to perform the midnight countdown as host at Lavo in The Palazzo.
“They were performing, and I just thought, you know what, screw it, I’m gonna go anyways with my one legged-dance. It was funny, ‘N Sync actually – part of one of their songs – they started doing this dance with one leg, because they were making fun of me, it was quite funny. Britney was adorable and young. They were all young.”
‘N Sync and Britney “were coming into their fame,” she said. ”It was starting to really get big for them. Nobody cared about me, walking down the strip with a cast on my leg. I was just a friend. We were all just having fun. I just felt normal.
“I was a normal partygoer, walking down the strip, screaming ‘Woo!’ For them, that was their time, and now I can’t imagine, after I do the countdown at the club, that I’ll be walking down the Strip. I don’t know if it would be quite the same this time.”
She recalls that Lance Bass was there that magical night as well.
“It’s so funny because Lance and I used to talk about musicals all the time.
“This is before he came out of the closet,” she said. “Lance is now, like, ‘You always knew!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but you had to come out in your own time, because I didn’t care. I love my gays.”
–NORM CLARKE, Vegas Confidential