“The boy band craze, to me, was this amazing time in history that changed everything,” N*SYNC’s Lance Bass tells the camera in The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story. The new documentary—which premiered Wednesday at South by Southwest—examines manager Lou Pearlman and the boy band empire he built, but more notably, his infamous criminal activities.
In the early 2000s, Pearlman launched the careers of the Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC. He was also responsible for a Ponzi scheme that swindled 1,700 people out of $500 million. In 2008, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison, where he died in 2016.
“Lou was head of our family. We would have dinners. We would tell him everything,” Bass says in the trailer below, which shows boy band members recalling negative experiences with Pearlman. “If Lou didn’t feel bad, then he’s a monster,” says N*SYNC’s Chris Kirkpatrick.
Boy Band Con also features interviews with Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean and Aaron Carter, who makes a tearful appearance.
Pearlman’s story has been well-documented. In 2008, journalist Tyler Gray published The Hit Charade: Lou Pearlman, Boy Bands, and the Biggest Ponzi Scheme in U.S. History, an in-depth look at his crimes. In the 2015 documentary, Backstreet Boys: Show ’Em What You’re Made Of, Backstreet Boys members discussed their relationship with Pearlman, saying he made their careers and then stole most of their wealth.
One thing Boy Band Con needs to interrogate are the sexual misconduct allegations that have surrounded Pearlman for decades. The documentary will be available to YouTube Premium subscribers on April 3.