There are Two Sides to Donnie W. - The Tough AND The Tender. Which is His Real Personality?
Look at him up there on stage. Swaggering, sneering, spouting street-savvy slang like he invented it. Doin' what he does best, Donnie Wahlberg is all guts 'n glory - gliding above the stage in a flimsy flying contraption during his rasta song, "Stay With Me Baby"; jumping down hard from the highest possible point he can find; tempting the fates by leaning over into the frenzied audience just a little farther each time. Up on stage, Donnie Wahlberg plays King of the Mountain - he usually wins.
This is the Donnie you've come to know. And though, since his accident, we're all a little fearful for him, we know he'd never slow down, or take it easy. We just hold a collective breath as we witness his acts of derring-do - and love him a little more each day.
But if he campaigns for - and usually wins - the title of toughest New Kid, there's another side of Donnie altogether. And that side puts him square in the running for the Kid with the tenderest heart! Is that really possible? Could someone so tough also be incredibly tender? We'll break it down for you - see whatcha think.
Donnie's Tough Side...
He grew up in a rough neighborhood; crime and drugs ran rampant on the streets. To protect himself, Donnie learned to talk tough; he learned to back up his mouth with his fists, if he had to.
The language of the streets is his own. He doesn't speak slang to be cool - that's the way he really talks.
He lives 'on the edge' and thrives on it. Donnie's the New Kid who goes up on the 10' riser on stage - and as we all know, wouldn't think twice about his own safety before crashing down hard! Physically, he's a risk-taker, big time!
Donnie co-wrote the song "Games" on New Kids' new LP - it's the toughest come-back to their critics that the group has ever voiced. And it's Donnie's voice up-front 'n center.
Donnie's been known to get physical with brutes who insult him, New Kids, or anyone he loves.
Like the macho man of his rep, Donnie's gone onstage sick; he's gone onstage hurt; he's gone onstage heartsick, such as the day his grandma passed away.
Donnie's Tender Side...
But he always felt deeply for the kids in the neighborhood who were less fortunate than he. He gave out extra school lunches to those who were hungry; he shoveled the walks of the elderly people who couldn't do that for themselves.
The language of his heart is just as clear. Donnie says "I love you" more than anyone we know!! No lip service - he means it.
Look closely at Donnie onstage during the quieter moments, however, and you just may see something really amazing. Donnie cries. Uh-huh, if he feels deeply emotional about a song (like "This One's For The Children"), he can't stop those tears from welling up and rolling on down.
He also takes the lead on one of the album's tenderest songs, "Time is on Our Side," about young love and the deep, tender and romantic feelings that stirs in his heart.
There's no one more physical in a loving way, either. Donnie dispenses hugs the way some politicians shake hands.
But if he hides his pain behind a shield of macho, he also wears his heart on his sleeve when it comes to kids; especially little kids and most especially children who are disabled. When he meets a needy child, there is no one on the face of the earth who takes more time or is kinder than Donnie Wahlberg. And that's the name of THAT tune!
So which is it? Is "Mr. Tough Stuff?" just a cover-up for "Mr. Soft Stuff?" No cover-ups here, for the real Donnie is a wondrous combination of both - and THAT is certainly The Right Stuff!!
Teen magazine Circa '90-91