Music Manager More Interested in Boys Than Bands

Awaiting trial on bank fraud charges and accused of scamming thousands of senior citizens out of millions of dollars, Lou Pearlman, the pop-music impresario who founded the Backstreet Boys, now faces the prospect of life in a big house very different from the 15,000-square-foot mansion he once occupied outside Orlando, Fla.

Just what took place in that house -- complete with movie theater, video games, pool table, swimming pool and a planned bowling alley -- has become the focus of a series of very different allegations by young men who claim Pearlman acted inappropriately, molested them or sought to exchange sex for help with their careers.

In the November issue of Vanity Fair, Pearlman, for the first time publicly, is described by several former singers, aspiring singers and their parents as a lecher, who used the same deceptive charms to cop cheap feels off teenage boys as he did to allegedly bilk 1,400 investors out of more than $300 million.

Pearlman has since denied the allegations from prison.

In the late '90s, just as the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync, Pearlman's biggest boy bands, hit it big in the United States, Pearlman was grooming a stable of youngsters to take their place. After auditioning, these kids, some as young as 13, were relocated to Orlando where they would regularly rehearse and spend their free time at Pearlman's home.

Another group of young men regularly at the house were a staff of personal assistants, some of whom told Vanity Fair they were promised jobs in bands in exchange for providing sexual favors to Pearlman.

While some boys and young men heard only rumors, others told Vanity Fair and that Pearlman exposed himself to them, showed them pornography, took them to strip clubs, gave them sensual massages and openly propositioned them. They also said they saw other young people leaving Pearlman's bedroom late at night.

"Some guys joked about it. I remember [one singer] asking me, 'Have you let Lou b*** you yet?'" Steve Mooney told Vanity Fair. In his early 20s Mooney worked as Pearlman's personal assistant and lived in his home for two years in the hopes that he would be put into one of Pearlman's bands.

"I'll never forget this as long as I live," Mooney told the magazine one evening in 2000, when the members of the group O-Town were being selected. "He 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.'"

While Mooney and some of the older band members accuse Pearlman of outwardly looking for sexual favors in lieu of advancing their careers, the younger boys remember Pearlman more as a "sleazy uncle."

"Lou's house was a fun place to hang out," Tim Christofore, 24, told "There was a pool table and slot machines." Christofore moved to Florida from Minnesota at 13 as part of the band Take 5. Christofore recalls two incidents in which Pearlman exposed himself in front of him.

"There was one time where he answered the door naked," he said.

Another time Christofore and band mate Jeff "Clay" Goodell, then also 13, had fallen asleep at Pearlman's house. They woke up to Pearlman jumping into bed with them.

"He jumped into the bed in his towel," said Goodell, now 23 and a senior in college. "He rolled all over us and the towel fell off."

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