STANDING OUTSIDE of Max's on Broadway in Fells Point, waiting to get in to see former teen idol and heartthrob David Cassidy, 30-year-old Jessica Masten said, "This is a major nostalgia trip. I'm not just going to stand there, I'm going to act like I'm 12 again."
And most of the women, mostly in their late 20s or early 30s, did: the scene resembled a slumber party as they swapped stories, giggled and told of their teen-age devotion to Keith Partridge, the oldest boy of television's "The Partridge Family." Original episodes were aired from 1970 to 1974.
"My walls were covered with posters of him," gushed Martha McCalley, a 34-year-old secretary. With her was a friend, Paige Dunn, who proudly carried a photo of Cassidy she's had for 15 years. Martha pointed to her friend and said, "She had all the posters too."
"And every night she'd kiss each poster good-night," she added, making wet, kissy sounds.
But women outgrow these things. The posters eventually come down. Old Tiger Beat magazines were thrown away. Teen idols grow up (he's now 41, has a noticeable but slight bald spot, is trim in black spandex pants and resplendent in a fringed leather jacket trimmed with beads, stones, and small mirrors). So do their fans (who had husbands and baby sitters to go home to).
Roberta Stuckey, 32, dug out all her old albums before the show. "And I still know all the words to the songs," she said. "When I was getting ready to come here I was so nervous in my stomach. But why? I kept telling myself, 'Roberta, you're over him.' I guess I'm not. You just don't think your childhood heartthrob will ever come back to you. It's good to reminisce."
There was plenty of reminiscing going on. Jan Bogart remembers seeing Cassidy at Merriweather Post Pavilion about 18 years ago. "I had front row seats, and I caught his sweat rag," she said. "It was brown, and I remember that it smelled like makeup." She didn't have the sweat rag with her, but she didn't throw it away. "It's in a box somewhere," she said.
Pam Jordan, 30, didn't have anything that once contained David Cassidy's sweat, but she did bring two of his albums with her.
The crowd was warmed up by 25 minutes of often raunchy humor from redhead Danny Bonaduce, the once-mischievous middle Partridge who seems to revel now in his much-reported scrape with the law. (He was arrested for allegedly beating up a transvestite.) One fan actually swooned, and Bonaduce built it right into his act.
"Aw, come on, I'm not Stallone!," he said. "I'm the kid from the Partridge Family. No big deal, really."
Cassidy said Max's is the smallest club he's played in ever. Before the show, when asked whether he thought it was a come-down after the Partridge Family heyday, when he could fill an arena, he said no.
"I'm proud to be one of the acts that can go out now and make a musical presence with new songs. I'm one of the few who can play shows who was successful 20 years ago.
"I think you need to keep going and writing and working. Whether or not you become successful or come back into public eye. I'd never stop singing, never stop playing."
Bea Papai, 21 and possibly the youngest fan in the club, brought a teddy-bear holding a rose and wearing a T-shirt that said "I think I love you." Throughout the concert she waved it as an offering. She tried her best to inch her way closer to the stage. She even offered people in the front row $10 for their prized spot. No one took her up on the offer. But Cassidy did get the bear. Holding it up he said, "I think I love you. This is as good an intro as any."
With that, he performed the song that almost all had come to hear. Women jumped up and down, screamed. One woman managed to find a ladder to stand on and was shimmying along. Another stood on top of a bar stool, bopping along.
They screamed, "I think I love you."