Boosty Collins was at the Soul Shack yesterday afternoon, and getting inside was like putting toothpaste back in the tube.
The rock singer was signing his new album, "This Boot Is Made for Fonkin," and working up to his concert tonight at the Capital Centre. The word had got out.
At least 200 mostly teen-agers swarmed on both sides of G Street and even spread onto 13th Street, stopping traffic in all four directions when Bootsy appeared.
You know it was Bootsy because of the star-shaped shades with the oneway class and the cowboy hat covered with rhinestones and the silvery scarf with foot-long black fringes and the black leather jumpsuit with fancy green oriental brocade work on the vest. And the grin with the gold tooth in it.
His people pressed to the glass front of the Soul Shack. They weren't yelling. They weren't jumping up and down. They just squashed up against the door, round-eyed, vibrating with some sort of electric current. One of his loud but danceable songs blared out.
"i want to ask him to give me a ticket," said Algen McRae, 17. "i'm an artist and I did some pictures of him from his album covers and sent 'em to him." His white straw hat with Bootsy written on it flopped up and down.
Many of Bootsy's people are in the early teens, which is almost how young he was himself when he came on as the prodigy base guitarist with James Brown's group 10 years ago. Today Bootsy's Rubber Band is probably the best know of five separate funkadelic bands he runs under the title of Thang Inc.
He writes his own stuff mostly, he and his partner George Clinton.
"i'm on the road to maybe October," Bootsy said quietly. "Three, four nights a stand Oh, I gotta keep moving."
This spring he collapsed from exaustion. He was afraid his group would break up, but they didn't, they're together again, a half dozen of them, back on the road.
'my fans come from age 5 on up. That's the boot camp." He likes to work his name into things. Sometimes he calls himself Bootzilla. The young fans he calls Geepies.
Now he is getting ready to leave the store. His two guards, cool and unsmiling in suit and Peter Lorre panama hats, crack the door and start easing people back. A kid gets his head in and shouts, "Please Please give me a poster! I spend all my money on records . . ." He disappears and the wedge of men squeezes out the door and drives across the sidewalk to the two limousines. Bootsy seems to be carried along, floating. People wave hands, arms. "Hey Bootsy! Hey shake my hand, baby! Hey this way!"
You see the rhinestone hat slip neatly into the car and the door slams and they're moving, with a hundred hands touching, caressing, Pushing on the shiny black steel. They would probably push him clear to the Beltway if he asked them. CAPTION: Picture; Boosty Collins, By Lucian Perkins The Washington Post; Picture 2, Singer Boosty Collins and admirer, by Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post