After much teasing in the media, Vanity Fair has posted online their investigation into the pedophilic predilections of sausage-fingered svengali Lou Pearlman, the mastermind behind the Backstreet Boys, ‘NSync, and a host of other boy bands; young talent harvested like citrus fruit from fecund ground that is Orlando.
In addition to the legal woes for which he’s currently incarcerated, it seems “Big Poppa” Pearlman may have also been a little too close to the young songsters he was shaping for chart-topping glory. Worse, the interview seems to allege that some of the parents and or guardians of said talent had an inkling of what was going on, but were hesitant to pull the emergency stop on the gravy train that was the boy band phenomenon.
As one who lived in Orlando during the whole boy band hoopla, and is a few degrees separated from the madness — Hey Joey! — it was with sick curiosity and ultimately revulsion that I read the article. Ah, Florida! Anyway, some highlights:
- Pearlman is Art Garfunkel’s cousin.
- He totally stole his childhood friend’s interest in aviation, particularly blimps, and made it his backstory. Later, Pearlman ended up looking like a blimp.
- Dude scammed a lot of money from investors with fake accounts and whatnot.
- He was inspired to get into the boy band racket when his planes were chartered by New Kids On the Block
Yeah, yeah, context. What about the salacious tidbits. Oh, they appear. Sort of!
- From the very beginning, people remarked how odd it was for a blimp-industry executive to be diversifying into boy bands. “Basically this was an excuse for Lou to hang around with five good-looking boys,” says [Phoenix] Stone, who now runs a record label with Hall in Los Angeles. “He was along for the ride. What he liked to do was take boys out to dinner.”
- After Backstreet hit it big, rumors surfaced that Pearlman diddled youngest (and arguably cutest) band member Nick Carter. Neither Nick Carter nor his divorced parents, Robert and Jane Carter, will address what, if anything, happened. But at least two other mothers of Pearlman band members assert Jane termed Pearlman a “sexual predator.”
The reason Momma Carter refuses to say anything further is because, like, she doesn’t want to piss of Nick or hurt his “career.”
- Pearlman once jumped on a bed to wrestle with two teenage members of Take 5 and his towel fell off. Another time, when they came over to his house to play pool, he answered the door nekkid.
- Meerily Goodell, a mom who had two sons in Take 5, goes on record: “Did Lou rape my boys? No, he didn’t,” she says. “But he put them, and a lot of others, in inappropriate situations. I know that. To me, the man is just a sexual predator.”
- An attorney says none of the boys want to fess up to what happened, for the sake of their careers. Or, you know, people will think they were gay with a gross old dude.
- Some of the boy banders were totally okay with letting Lou touch them, if it meant a million dollar payout.
- Pearlman’s assistant Steve Mooney, a wannabe singer, totally knew the score. More than once, he says, he encountered young male singers slipping out of those doors late at night, tucking in their shirts, a sheepish look on their faces. “There was one guy in every band—one sacrifice—one guy in every band who takes it for Lou,” says Mooney, echoing a sentiment I heard from several people. “That’s just the way it was.”
- When Mooney confronted Pearlman as to what he had to do to get into a band, Pearlman apparently smiled, “leaned back in his chair, in his white terry-cloth robe and white underwear, and spread his legs. And then he said, and these were his exact words, ‘You’re a smart boy. Figure it out.'”
- Blah blah lawsuits, boy bands get wise to Pearlman bilking them out of their earnings, blah blah.
- Pearlman’s investors get wise, some sue, and his phony accounting is exposed.
- He totally fled the country and was busted by some German dude on vacation, who happened to recognize him.
- Best closing line ever! Like something out of a Southern Gothic novel: In fact, the only time [the neighbors] ever wondered about [Pearlman] was several years ago, when a gardener motioned toward Pearlman’s mansion and made what seemed like a strange comment. “If you have a little son,” the gardener said, “don’t let him go to that house. Bad things happen there.”
Your takeaway, if you really need one: Lou Pearlman is not only a scheming con but a perv, who may have concocted his entire music empire just to molest teenage boys.
Mad About the Boys [VF]