Former boy and girl band members accuse Pearlman of sexual misconduct and open up about how their ex-manager took advantage of them.
Behind NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and O-Town was a con man who screwed most of them over, royally: Lou Pearlman. While the manager launched more than a few massive careers during the '90s boy band era, he did it while partaking in some shady business practices behind the scenes and at the expense of those under his guidance.
Watching producer Lance Bass and director Aaron Kunkel's new YouTube Originals documentary, "The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story," it's clear many of Pearlman's subjects have complicated thoughts about the man they consider either a mentor or monster ... or, in some cases, both.
The doc chronicles Pearlman's unique backstory, the massive success of those he managed and how all of that was ultimately undone through some illegal activity. Sharing their own experiences with Lou in the project are Backstreet Boy AJ McLean, NSYNC's JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick, O-Town's Ashley Parker Angel, Aaron Carter, Innosense's Nikki Deloach and the moms of both Lance and Justin Timberlake.
Both NSYNC and Backstreet cut ties with Pearlman when they discovered the highway robbery he was getting away with thanks to their contracts. Others -- like O-Town, LFO and Innosense -- continued to work with him, but made other allegations about the manager, accusing him of sexual misconduct.
In the end, it was a massive Ponzi scheme, defrauding investors out of over $300 million, that got him locked up for 25 years in prison, where he ultimately died at the age 62 in 2016.
Watch the documentary in full above -- we've highlighted some of its most shocking allegations below.
Lou Created the NSYNC vs. BSB Feud
Back in the boy band heyday, fans had to decide whether they were an NSYNC fan or a Backstreet Boys supporter, a rivalry Pearlman himself purposefully encouraged.
He managed both bands, with Bass saying NSYNC felt like the "red headed stepchild" to the other group. According to Lance, Lou even kept their band a secret from Backstreet in the early days -- and Backstreet wasn't too thrilled when they realized what he was up to.
McLean said it was a "conflict of interest," calling the situation "the biggest don't shit where you eat scenario and it really started to bother us."
"If I saw them in a room, I wouldn't even want to talk to them, I was scared of them, I didn't know if they were going to yell at me or not," said Bass, as Kirkpatrick added that Lou would talk smack about the other group with each of them.
While a little competition is healthy, the guys would later claim there was a more sinister reason behind Pearlman's behavior.
Getting Screwed Over and Fighting Back
When NSYNC first began, Bass said they were getting a $35 a day per diem. "I remember thinking that was such a lot of money," he said, with JC saying they all expected "magical big check" down the road when their record sales really took off. "I'm thinking I'm king of the castle at this point," said Kirkpatrick.
But when their first check was presented to them -- after selling over $10 million in record sales -- they were hugely disappointed. "I open up the envelope, I see the check and my heart sunk and I couldn't believe the number I was looking at," Bass explained. "The check was $10,000 and not to sound ungrateful, because $10,000 is a lot of money, but when you compare it to how much money we had put in to this group for years, it didn't even touch minimum wage at all."
The numbers weren't adding up for Backstreet either, as McClean said "some of the guys couldn't pay for their car payments."
NSYNC first realized their contracts with Pearlman amounted to "highway robbery," and Backstreet Boys found out about the shady dealings from their "rivals" during a charity basketball game. They claimed Lou kept them apart so they'd never talk to each other about money and was effectively paying himself to be the sixth member of their bands.
Both bands wound up suing Pearlman, the lawsuits were settled and the boys won their freedom.
Alleged Sexual Misconduct with Young Men
There's no way to talk about Lou Pearlman without addressing some of the sexual misconduct allegations levied against him by some of the young men he managed. Bass recalled him being "very touchy feely" and always giving out massages, while Ashley Parker Angel said he would often come into O-Town's rehearsals and tell all the boys to take off their shirts.
"You gotta be able to sell ten magazines, be in good shape, take off your shirts, show me your abs," he said Pearlman would tell them.
"We had people around us saying, 'Hey, watch out for this behavior,'" said Angel. "I'll never forget the one time I was alone with Lou. I go up to his room, the whole time he was playing on your desire to be successful. He'd say, you're the Justin Timberlake, you're the Nick Carter, but you gotta stay in shape man."
"He takes it another step further and says I minored in physical therapy in college, I can give your muscles a pump without you even working out," alleged Ashley. "Then it turns into this weird massage and then all the red flags start popping up. I got the hell out of there."
Angel also retold a story from LFO's Rick Cronin, who isn't alive to share it again himself. Cronin once claimed Pearlman told them about a mogul in Germany who could make them stars if they let him touch their genitals. Pearlman allegedly said they could "practice" with him first.
"My opinion of Lou being a sexual predator is that that is not true," Aaron Carter adamantly said in the doc. "That is so foul. He's a pedophile? Shut up about that guys."
Secret Cameras and Death Threats
The misconduct wasn't limited to the men he managed, claimed Nikki Deloach.
"He had a tanning bed in his house. I didn't know this at the time, but you take your clothes off to get into the tanning bed ... he was recording the whole thing," said the Innosense member. She also claimed he would show the boys he managed the footage of the young women.
"That felt pretty darn violating," she said. "100% that was a way for him to be one of the cool kids and to also, in a way, earn their trust."
Again, Carter was adamant that didn't happen. "Where's that footage? Why didn't she sue him? It's all lies," he said in a confessional. "I went in that tanning bed all the time, my mom did too. She searched through it before she would let me go through it for cameras, so did my dad."
Deloach also said she refused to sign a release agreement, because it contained a confidentiality clause. "When I refused to sign the release agreement, Lou had reminded me had had taken insurance out on me," she said. "He's like, 'I just wanted to remind you, if you're ever flying or whatever, I have insurance.' Would he have ever gone so far as to something really bad happening to me? I don't know. I don't know that he was capable of that, but it sure felt that way."
Reactions to His Death
Unsurprisingly, Deloach wasn't exactly sad when she heard Pearlman had died behind bars in 2016. "I felt a lot of relief," she said, "I felt like he terrorized me for a while."
Carter was especially emotional reflecting on Pearlman and what others have accused him of. "It just hurts man, it hurts to see people continuously attack him, I go though the same thing," he said, tearing up. "I'm going through it right now. He was a Gummi Bear. I gotta take a break for a second guys," before taking off his mic.
"It was the most mixed emotions ever, you don't know whether to cry, to laugh, there was so much wrong with everything about him and what happened that you don't know even how to take death," recalled Kirkpatrick.
Speaking with TooFab about the doc, Bass said he had "forgiven" Pearlman. "I feel my conscience is clear," he added, "and, you know, I have no hard feelings about it."
Watch the documentary in full above.