Sexual energy, it has been said, is a key ingredient in the creative process. On this chill December evening in New York City, 'N Sync's JC Chasez seems hell-bent on convincing the crowd at Irving Plaza that he's as horny as he is talented. Or is it the other way around?
''All day long I dream about sex!'' he sings repeatedly, hammering home his message with single-minded intensity as six female dancers, built like high-end strippers and done up like dominatrices, bump and grind around his madly gyrating figure in a performance that's just a pelvis pump shy of an R rating. ''Y'all are makin' me feel like a stud tonight,'' a grinning Chasez pants. As if to underline the point, the singer and his band launch into a bludgeoning hard-rock take on Prince's ''Let's Go Crazy.''
One suspects it's not a totally random cover. With his bandmate Justin Timberlake being hailed as the Michael Jackson of the new millennium, Chasez (pronounced sha-ZAY, as in par-TAY) seems to be positioning himself as this era's answer to Prince, the '80s' most erotically minded pop genius and Jacko's erstwhile rival. After all, Chasez's eclectic first solo CD, ''Schizophrenic'' (due Jan. 27), showcases an unexpectedly risky -- and risqué -- musical adventurousness that Prince would likely admire. And ''Schizophrenic'''s first single, ''Some Girls (Dance With Women),'' is just the type of ''hey, wouldn't a threesome be a gas?'' meditation that used to be the Purple One's specialty.
The afternoon prior to the show, Chasez is getting his hair ironed straight for a photo shoot and talking about his new incarnation. Sure, he admits, in the wake of Timberlake's breakout success it seemed all but inevitable that Chasez -- 'N Sync's other hottie, according to sources -- would bust a solo move. Yet by Chasez's account, the decision came about almost by accident. '''N Sync was on hold, and I was on vacation,'' he says. ''I just wanted to get back to a normal life, going grocery shopping and being with my family and friends.'' Chasez, 23, was thus ''chillin''' at home in L.A. last year when he got a call from Atlanta-based producer Dallas Austin, inviting him to ''hang out in his studio and goof off and have some fun,'' maybe even record a song if the mood was right. The result was the propulsive ''Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love),'' which wound up on the soundtrack to the movie ''Drumline'' and became a modest hit. That, says Chasez, started the creative wheels turning. ''After that experience with Dallas, I was like, 'I don't have a problem making a record if I'm doing it on my terms.'''