'N Sync was so popular around the turn of the millennium that even I — jaded, posturing music critic — bought the band's second album, No Strings Attached. It sold over a million copies the day it was released in March 2000, and I was swallowing a lot of LSD at the time.
Though my friends thought I was, well, gay, the girls in the junior high after-school program where I taught could relate. They all insisted that Lance Bass was the "cute one." So when Bass came out of the closet last year, perhaps they were disappointed. Surely they would enjoy his new memoir, Out of Sync, as much as I did.
Though ghostwritten, it's a tremendous read, because the dude has a great story. At five, he had a crush on another boy in his kindergarten class, but coming out wasn't in the cards for a young Southern Baptist Mississippian, nor for a teenage boy-band heartthrob. Fifty million records later, he briefly abandoned showbiz to train in Russia to be a space tourist, but because of a lack of funding, the trip fell through.
The media has generally fixated, however, on the passage in the book where Bass disses Justin Timberlake. In 2002, JT told the group he was leaving to work on a solo album.
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"I felt completely betrayed," Bass writes, adding later: "Why couldn't Justin keep the franchise intact while he also did his own thing?"
Over the phone from New York, where he is starring as Corny Collins in Hairspray, Bass says he's not thrilled that coverage is focused on this brief criticism. "I didn't write the book to talk about the breakup of 'N Sync, but the story had to be said," he says, adding that he's not bitter anymore and never doubted that JT's solo stuff would kill (though he thought JC Chasez's would, too).
My only complaint with Out of Sync is that it neglects a hilarious chapter of Bass's life — when he dated Danielle Fishel, the giant-breasted actress who played Topanga on Boy Meets World.
"It's something that, in hindsight, I can't believe I skipped over," he says, adding that even though the two of them never slept together, he has slept with women before. "It would have been so good to put in the book, because so many people in the gay community go through having a girlfriend and then realize, 'I'm gay — why am I with this girl?'"