The Stern Spectacle: A Crowd's Eye View

Feb. 27 [21:00 EST] -- When it comes to filmland hype, George Lucas could learn a thing or two from Howard Stern.

The King of All Media's "Private Parts" premiere gala at New York City's Madison Square Garden on Thursday generated quite a buzz among his faithful, drawing thousands of fans who flooded Manhattan's 31st St. between 7th and 8th Ave. who were simply hoping to catch a glimpse of the notorious radio icon.

22-year-old Conor Lynch and his pals were crammed behind a police barricade, craning their necks in vain, trying to catch sight of any of the noteworthy celebs who rolled past in a procession of black limos. Lynch made the trek from central New Jersey to the Garden, and arrived three hours before the festivities began. Unfortunately, hundreds of others had the same idea, and Lynch found himself staring at a sea of backs for most of the day.

Lynch is used to waiting for Stern. He camped out for 14 hours in sub-zero temperatures to buy a ticket for the

premiere screening, but he didn't seem to mind. Lynch confided that nothing short of a natural disaster or a death in the family could have kept him from the premiere.

"People die all the time, but this is a once in a lifetime thing," Lynch said.

So what is it about Stern that builds such a rabid sense of devotion in his fans? For Lynch and his traveling partner, Damien LoNigro, the fascination began in high school.

"People told us to avoid him, so that's when we started listening to him," LoNigro said. The friends said that they used to cut high school to listen to Stern's morning show, and admitted that even now they duck out of their college classes to sit in the parking lot and listen to the gospel according to Howard.

"That's where I get all my news," LoNigro joked.

They said that they own all the requisite Howard merchandise, including his books and home videos.

"I've only read three books in my life. 'The Outsiders,' 'Private Parts,'

and (Stern's) 'Miss America,'" LoNigro noted. "For the record, I did enjoy 'The Outsiders' too."

"I was at the parade when the Yankees won the World Series," Lynch said, "and this is better. It's more fun."

But with a wall of fans blocking his view of any of the goings on, it didn't seem like fun.

Finally, a swell of violent cheers and the surge of the crowd against the barricades gave the only clues that Sir Stern was about to make his grand entrance. Sure enough, a tank escort rolled past followed by Stern, who was greeting the crowd from inside a glass enclosed limo that the crowd affectionately called "the Pope-mobile." Stern, always a man of the people, was perched high above the ground as he rode past, and proved to be the first thing that Lynch and LoNigro had actually seen all day. Stern (escorted by our very own Kurt Loder) pounded on the glass, greeting the masses like the caged beast he's often accused of being. And soon, he was further along his route,

making another batch of fans scream.

"It was great. I actually saw him," Lynch said after Howard had passed. "I gave him the finger a couple of times."

By the time Porno For Pyros had hit the stage to perform "Hard Charger" and the Jane's Addiction nugget "Mountain Song," Lynch and LoNigro were long gone, presumably inside the Garden settling into their seats for the screening. They never saw Porno play, they never heard Rob Zombie perform, and they missed the odd mix of celebrities who streamed past (including David Lee Roth, Flavor Flav, and porno star Ron Jeremy). They got what they came for, and that was enough.