Dark secrets of Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync uncovered in new documentary

A telling documentary has revealed the deception that the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync endured from their manager during their height of fame.

A YouTube Originals documentary called entitled The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story seeks accuses their late ex-manager of deception and betrayal.

Lou Pearlman, who managed the Backstreet Boys and Justin Timberlake's former group, 'N Sync, died in prison in 2016.

His former band members have since come forward in a telling documentary about the dirty world of boy-bands.

'N Sync member, Lance Bass, takes the helm in telling of the rivalry between both groups as well as the intense legal battles they both had to endure, after Pearlman was found to be cheating them out of millions of dollars.

Backstreet Boys were originally very close to Pearlman, fondly calling him "Big Poppa" until the first of many scandals came in 1998, when Pearlman launched rival boy-band, 'N Sync behind their backs.

The film reveals that within the first four years as a band, Pearlman's company made around $10 million in revenue of which Backstreet Boys only received a cumulative $300,000, with band member, AJ revealing that some of them could barely afford their rent.

Lead singer, Brian Littrell, was the first to file a lawsuit with other members eventually following suit.

Pearlman was sentenced to 25 years in 2008 after being accused of running one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, leaving more than $300 million in debts. He died of a heart attack in prison in August 2016.

Backstreet Boys took their former manager back to court in 2014, claiming they were still owed almost $3.5 million to receive $99,000 cash in a court settlement along with 34 audio tape reels, 26 CDs, seven studio mastering audio tapes, three audio cassettes, six sealed posters and one VHS tape. These recordings included some unreleased material.

Despite being one of the biggest boy-bands in the world at the time, they were all falling apart.

"Instead of us coming closer and closer and tighter together, we almost retreated from one another to get that space" admitted band member, Kevin Richardson. "Our bond wasn't as tight in those moments as it could have been."

Brian Littrell was also dealing with major health issues at the time and needed open-heart surgery in 1998 for a cardiac defect he'd had since birth.

Brian says of the ordeal: "Eight weeks to the day of my surgery, I was on stage performing. I was sixty-five percent, really. My mind-set wasn't there. But the show must go on."

The work Brian endured was so relentless that they even kept oxygen tanks at the side of the stage for him.

The youngest member of the group, Nick Carter, struggled with alcohol problems and while this was kept hidden from fans, fellow member AJ McLean's drug abuse was not.

McLean entered rehab in 2001 causing the band to reschedule their tour dates.

He has been open about his addictions to this day, recently stating:
"Look, I have no shame in saying, I've relapsed over the past year" he told US Magazine, People, last year. "It's no secret that this is a disease, and that it's a daily struggle."

It later emerged that rival group, 'N Sync were going through similar troubles and found it hard being in the shadows of their rivals.

"With the success of the Backstreet Boys, as 'N Sync, we always felt like the red-headed step child" said Lance Bass.

"We couldn't even go into the record label because the employees there didn't know we existed. Lou did not want them to know about us because he didn't want to upset the Backstreet Boys" he tells.

Lance recounts identical problems they encountered like the Backstreet Boys, with Pearlman presenting each member of 'N Sync with a cheque for $10,000 at a dinner party. It was the first time any member has received a large amount of cash.

After leaving the label, Pearlman sued the group, for taking the name 'N Sync in a $150 million lawsuit in 1999, of which the boys counter-sued – ultimately getting to keep the name and settling outside of court.

Lance Bass came our as gay in 2006 and opened up about how he had struggled to reveal his sexuality due to the pressure of being in the group.

"So many nights on stage, I'd see so many young, gay fans singing their hearts out and I wanted so badly to let you know, I was you," he said.

"I just didn't have the strength then. But I do today, and so let me say loud and proud to all my LGBT brothers and sisters, who embrace me and show me the way to be who I am, thank you so much," he proudly says.

"The 90s were a different time. If you came out, if anyone knew you were gay, it was a disaster and people really flipped out" he said.

"So, I just trained myself into being a certain person and became that person."

In 2002, 'N Sync permanently split with member, Justin Timberlake going on to be the most famous with a solo career.

BSB and 'N Sync are not the only boy-bands, however, to experience problems, with One Direction famously going through  their own drama when member Zayn Malik left the group in 2015.

While all the other members of One D remained fairly quiet over the years about Zayn's departure, Zayn has been pretty open.

"I never really wanted to be there" he told Beats 1.
 "I instantly realised it wasn't for me."

Zayn later admitted to having an eating disorder and anxiety during his time in the group and after.

"I didn't feel like I had control over anything in my life, but food was something I could control" he bravely confessed.

Fellow member, Liam Payne also told the Scottish Sun that he had also suffered with mental-health issues during his time on One Direction.

"Going out and putting that happy smile on my face and singing, honestly, sometimes it was like putting on one of those costumes, and underneath the costume, people don't really see what's going on," he confessed.

Eighties boy-band phenomenon, New Kids On The Block, were another group that faced scandal and legal battles.

NKOTB were accused of lip-syncing by one of their former producers, later filing a lawsuit against him. They eventually settled out of court.

Again, Mental Health issues was also a factor with certain members.
In 1994, member, Jonathan Knight, announced he was leaving the group, saying: "I was the first to jump ship. The others were angry at first but they understood." Knight, suffered massively from anxiety and panic attacks.

Knight revealed all to Oprah Winfrey on her show in 2001, during which he was visibly shaking and struggling to remain calm.

Being in a boy band may look fun but it appears it's not all it's cracked up to be.

The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story can be seen on YouTube Originals

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