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A B*Witching tale of a teenage cosmetics ritual, now accelerated for the pre-pubescent set

By Steve Enders

CONVENTIONAL WISDOM tells us that girls like shopping malls. It's also no surprise that they like makeup and cute guys who can sing. So what happens when the three parts of this teenage dream merge?

Screaming.

Girls scream so loud that it hurts the ears, especially when it's done in the echo-chamber that is Eastridge Mall.

On Sunday, Jan. 10, only a little more than two-thirds of this equation came together. Still, thousands of teenagers and their parents came in droves from around the Bay Area to bear witness to this epic promotion.

They screamed for free cosmetics and makeovers. They also came to welcome an up-and-coming female Irish pop quartet that's touring with the hunkiest of American guy-groups, 'N Sync.

The stakes were high: the luckiest would go home with free tickets to see 'N Sync that night in Berkeley.

Sunday's event, hosted by San Francisco's Z 95.7 radio station, was also promoting the concert where the Irish band would open for 'N Sync.

Sunday would be the girls' day. B*Witched would be introduced and appreciated by already-screaming fanatics. It would be their chance to win over a new legion of kids, proving that they too could play with America's boys. If B*Witched could also elicit the screams, then they'd know.

The four girls who are B*Witched--Edele, Sinead, Keavy and Lindsay--have also teamed up with Fetish cosmetics, which is in the middle of a promotional tour and the reason for the trip to San Jose.

The agency pushing the promotion brought the Spice Girls and Fetish together last year in another ear-splitting achievement.

So buffed guys and gals caked Fetish makeup on hundreds of girls who waited in huge lines before B*Witched took the stage. And that was after waiting forever in another line to register for the coveted prize: 'N Sync tickets.

The young would say it was a chance alignment of the stars for this momentous opportunity. Parents rolled their eyes, covered their ears and called it a clever marketing scheme.

"We love 'N Sync!" gushed 16-year-old Caitlin Hillier of Fremont. "We already had tickets, but had to give them away. We really want the tickets."

Another group of girls walked by, sporting painted faces and shirts with the names of 'N Sync--Chris, Lance, J.C., Justin and Joey. They really wanted the tickets. So did everyone else.

But what about B*Witched? Wasn't this supposed to be their day in the spotlight?

"We've heard them a little bit. If they're touring with 'N Sync, then they can't be that bad," Hillier conceded.

"I've heard some of their music," 12-year-old Anjanett Amore said, "but I really love 'N Sync."

But B*Witched is absolutely huge in Europe, I explain to the girls.

David Hasselhoff is big in Europe. Being big "over there" doesn't mean squat to American teenagers or record execs, the latter of which have now brought the girls to what's seemingly become the ultimate proving ground: American shopping malls.

Parents took it all in stride, succumbing to every desire of their star-struck, lipsticked kids.

"There's nothing for me to do here," Sultan Sabuktagin of San Jose admitted while watching his daughter in line for a free makeover.

He continued, "Every time we're in the car, it's Z 95. I can't eat anything because I'm fasting for Ramadan and the 49ers lost yesterday. You've got to spend time with the kids, though, you know."

Another deafening scream let loose when Z 95 morning host "Fernando" jumped onstage, tossing T-shirts and Fetish products, hoping to quell the crowd for a few more minutes while the very late B*Witched dallied in the mall.

Fernando speculated to the crowd, "There must've been a good sale at Macy's or something. I dunnooooo, maybe they had a hot date with the 'N Sync guys!"

Jealous screams filled the mall.

When B*Witched finally made it to the stage, a subdued whoop went up.

The group is getting radio attention, and a few hip audience members mouthed the lyrics along with B*Witched over the prerecorded tracks.

They purportedly play guitars and keyboards, but there was none of that Sunday. Whoever thought lip-synching went out with Milli Vanilli is dead wrong.

When B*Witched performed its current European and hopeful American hit, "C'est la Vie," the crowd registered a scream any group could be proud of.

Ladies, welcome to America--land of the free makeover and home of the bravest concert-going parents anywhere.

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From the February 11-17, 1999 issue of Metro.

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