Popular performer Lance Bass wears many hats these days. After rising to fame in the boy band NSYNC, he moved into working in movies and television. Along the way, the Mississippi native even became certified to fly in space and planned to visit a space station.
He came out of the closet in 2006 and wrote an autobiography called Out of Sync. Bass is married to Michael Turchin and they are currently seeking their first child together through surrogacy.
Recent projects include a newly opened sports bar in West Hollywood called Rocco's and a documentary called The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story, depicting Pearlman's discovery of the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, along with a $300-million Ponzi scheme.
Backstage at Joe's Live in Rosemont, Illinois, he took a break from hosting the Pop 2000 Tour to talk about his life.
Windy City Times: I was raised Southern Baptist like you. How was your relationship with your family after coming out?
Lance Bass: As we both know, Southern Baptists are ignorant in a lot of things, but my family was very open minded, especially when I came out. They were confused by it and didn't understand what it was, but they never abandoned me at all, which is a win in the South!
WCT: How was it being in a boy band when the girls are all throwing themselves at you?
LB: It was God's little joke for me to be in a boy band because it was 99 percent girls. It kept me out of trouble, though!
It was hard and lonely. I knew since I was 5 years old that I was gay. Going into the band, I knew I was gay, but at that point I had never been in any relationship. I was just coming of age where I was hitting puberty. I hadn't started dating yet. I missed that in joining the group.
For a few years I could get away with it because I was so busy, but then I got to the age where I should be dating someone. That's when it got scary and lonely.
I would go to have Christmas with my family. I remember having dates with guys when I was still in the closet and being sad that I couldn't spend Christmas with my loved one. I still had to pretend in front of my family. I would wake up every Christmas morning feeling depressed because I didn't have the person I wanted to be with around me to be with my family.
WCT: Most of the boy bands had a gay member, whether they knew it or not.
LB: Odds are there is going to be one. We are up to what percentage of that now that we know of? [Laughs]
WCT: I asked the Backstreet Boys on a red carpet once who was their gay member.
LB: AJ McLean is very LGBT[-supportive]. He's your ally…
WCT: He did chase after me and assured me he has lots of gay friends and is supportive.
LB: He wore a dress at his wedding! He's been such a vocal ally for us. I've really grown to love AJ.
WCT: He is in The Boy Band Con documentary that you produced. How hard was it getting subjects to participate?
LB: It was difficult. I was going to do the scripted version of Lou Pearlman's life first, but then YouTube decided to jump in. When I started casting it, it was difficult. No one wanted to do it because they didn't want to go down that path. They didn't know what the tone was because at that point everything written on Lou was salacious. Eventually everyone just had to trust me to tell the story the way I was going to tell it.
Once I started filming, I had footage to show others and that's when everyone jumped on board.
WCT: Are you happy how it turned out?
LB: I was so happy with the way it turned out. I am so proud of that doc. Not only the subject and the interview, but the way it was shot. The director I found was brilliant. Now are we are going to do severals docs together.
WCT: Did you ever get the vibe that Lou was gay?
LB: I did. You don't want to assume on someone, but I remember even at 16 years old when I joined the group one of the first thoughts I had about Lou was that he was gay.
I felt sorry for him because I knew what it felt like. I thought he was like me and couldn't talk about what he felt. I just assumed he was because he never had a girlfriend.
WCT: I thought about that while watching the film. He had a lot of money so you would think he would have women all around…
LB: Yes, and he surrounded himself with boys all the time.
WCT: How did Coachella happen with NSYNC. Did Ariana Grande call you up?
LB: Yeah. I have known Ariana for years. Her dream was to do "Tearin' Up My Heart" with NSYNC one day. When she was little she learned the choreography. We all wanted to do the appearance with her, even Justin, but his tour didn't allow him to get there.
When the biggest star in the world and tells you to do Coachella you have to say yes. I was so happy that she wanted to do that song because we hadn't done it in a long time. I hadn't done the choreography since 1998! We thought we were going to have to relearn it, but in two hours we were ready to go.
WCT: Just like riding a bike…
LB: It really was.
WCT: The documentary really showed how hard the group works at dancing.
LB: I compare it to an Olympic athlete. You train so much and have no life. You have to be on top of your game and competitive.
WCT: Are you trying to work on more things with NSYNC?
LB: Maybe, but I don't see anything really happening. Because of Coachella, we are having lots of great offers coming through. At some point this year we have to sit down and say yes or no to these things.
WCT: Do you have a crazy fan moment from the band?
LB: Oh, too many. It depends on what country you go to. The fans are different everywhere you go. Spain has the most vocal and independent fans, to the point where you can't wear jewelry because it will be ripped off of you. They get really hyper.
I've had people sneak into hotel rooms on service carts and jump onto the luggage conveyor belts passing TSA. They are very crafty!
WCT: Is it time for an all-gay boy band?
LB: Wouldn't that be amazing?
WCT: You could host the show.
LB: Trust me, I have been wanting to put a show together making a new great American boy band, kind of like what Making the Band did. I was definitely going to put in some gay guys. An all gay both band was be even more fascinating to me, so we will see if that ever happens!
WCT: Would you host a gay dating show, like you did for Finding Prince Charming, again?
LB: Yes. It was such a great show and such a success for Logo. I guess they don't make original content like that anymore so we were cancelled. I wish they had kept going with that show because I think the community needed to see guys dating other guys. Most people watching that show had never really seen other gay people that they could date, such as people from towns like mine where it's impossible to find anyone. It was a good representation with big visibility for usa normal dating show just with gay guys.
WCT: How is the new restaurant going?
LB: It's really fun. We didn't expect it to be accepted so quickly. It's the hot spot of WeHo right now. It's funny how the neighborhood changed it.
It's a sports bar at its bones, but I made more into an entertainment complex. We have lots of great live performances. I wanted it to be for the locals and not have go-go dancers. Two days in, the community said we needed go-go dancers. It turns into a club at nine o'clock and goes crazy!
WCT: Talk about your appearance on ABC's Single Parents.
LB: The writing on that show is so good. They make it easy for an actor. Basically, if you have great writing you always sound good. I love over the top stuff and that was just brilliant. I love that they put me in Lance Bass Space Cump. I want that to be a real thing.
WCT: Do you still have a Dr. Seuss room?
LB: No, not anymore. That was in my house in Mississippi, but we building a nursery right now and it will be very Dr. Suess-y. We are working on the family now and should be pregnant very soon. So hopefully we will have some babies next year.
WCT: What do you recommend for LGBT people who want to have kids?
LB: They should find a really great embryologist. Our surrogacy company was incredible. They are called Dwell. They found us our egg donor. We went through seven, but our last one just fell in our lap. They found a girl that was perfect for us.
People need to know it takes time. We were supposed to be pregnant last August. It takes a long time. So many of my friends had to do it like three times to even get a success.
Try not to get your hopes up. Fate will bring you what it's supposed to.
WCT: What else is coming up?
LB: The next immediate thing I'm releasing is Just Add X, a mixers line, with Jax Taylor. That comes out in about a month. We are very excited about that and have worked on that for about a year now. It's really tasty cocktail mixers. We made it for people that hate to bartend. Basically, you just add ice, shake and serve. For people that don't like alcohol it tastes good just for them.
Then, I start my next movie. It's a Sony TriStar film that I'm producing and writing. We don't have a name yet. It's an untitled RV movie right now. It's a true, crazy story.
I was talking about in Variety and the chairman of Sony called me afterwards. He said the girl it was about has been his nanny for 10 years.
It's about two girls that quit college and hatched a plan to go on The Price Is Right. They want to win a Winnebago and enough money to follow us on our PopOdyssey Tour for three months. It happened just like that. It's a really fun, road trip, coming-of-age story.
WCT: Would you ever do Broadway again, like you did in Hairspray?
LB: Yes. I would love to do Broadway again, but it's going to be an original. I don't have time to join one anymore.
With this RV movie, we would like to turn it into a musical. This will be something I will work on after we film it, so years from now. My dream is to take it to the stage and that will be my first Tony!