"The strings were just attached to our wrists, but then we had harnesses hooked on us, so a couple hours of that hurt your crotch a lot," former *NSYNC member Joey Fatone joked to The Huffington Post about the struggle of posing for a certain album cover that'd become synonymous with the year 2000 and the age demographic that'd get its name from this turn of millennium.
Fatone wanted to set a misunderstood record straight, saying that, in a way, "There were a lot of strings attached, and it hurt. I wont be able to have any more kids, but you know, it happens."
A few years before this moment, across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom, *NSYNC was an unknown entity still trying to follow the Backstreet Boys' model to stardom -- building a European fan base in the hopes it'd transfer to the United States. On this star-making path, they had a serendipitous encounter with Israeli illusionist Uri Geller in London's Covent Garden. In this meeting, arguably the biggest mystary of the 21st century would be born.
Why is there a star in the name *NSYNC?
"The funny thing is, Uri Geller, who bends spoons ..." Fatone told HuffPost, "We saw him in the U.K., and this is when we were obviously establishing *NSYNC, and he goes, 'I see something. It has to do with suns or stars or something with astronomy in your career.' And it's funny, a year later when we did the first album, for America, they had a star in it."
Fatone didn't remember too many details of the encounter, but it was a lead. He wasn't sure if Geller had come up with the idea or it was somehow "predicted [like] Nostradamus, holy cow!" as Fatone exclaimed with realization. But it was a start.
A version of this rumor used to appear in the hastily written fan books for *NSYNC admirers back in the late '90s and early '00s, but whether the interaction truly happened was as hazy as a psychic prediction made with an of-the-period Magic 8 Ball. So, HuffPost got Geller on the phone.
"Of course I bent spoons for them and they were very impressed," Geller said about the time he met the still fledgling *NSYNC. But more pertinent, Geller claimed, "We sat down and I wrote, on a napkin, NSYNC, and I drew a star in the cafe [in Covent Garden]." Geller continued, "And I told them, if they place that star on their first CD, they're going to shoot up to No. 1." The album ended up reaching No. 2 on the Billboard chart, but who'd argue that prediction wasn't close enough?
Geller, who believes in the power of symbolism and used to paint with Salvador Dalí, said he "thought that a star would bring them that connection to see the synchronicities of the universe of success," continuing, "I think drawing and writing down their name and creating that star gave them that subliminal push to go for it."
He remembers Justin Timberlake pocketing the napkin, but whether Geller's influence was direct or subliminal, the band could now thank their lucky star.
With the mystery of the heavens now settled, Fatone gave the backstory to another memorable *NSYNC moment -- when Chili's killed him off in a commercial.
"That was my idea," Fatone said, clarifying that Chili's came up with the deserted island theme, but then, "I said it'd be funny if one of the boxes fell on us and then [Chili's] go, 'Great, you came up with that idea, we'll have it fall on you.'"
Fatone was game because he likes to "make fun of myself," as he said. Perhaps most recently evidenced by his decision to take on the upcoming role as Whiskey Joe in the bloody sci-fi western, "Dead 7," created by Backstreet Boy singer Nick Carter and starring boy-banders ... Fatone is nothing if not honest in his continuing pursuit of life.
"I don't take myself too seriously."
That is the heart of his new campaign with the American Diabetes Association and Colgate Total, which set up the interview. Having Type 2 Diabetes, Fatone's father taught him the little known fact that the disease is linked with gingivitis and other gum ailments.
To raise awareness, Fatone is debuting a campaign called “30 Days of Laughter” on Nov. 9, which will feature videos and other social media posts under the hashtag #30DaysofLOL.
Fatone said with a grin, "If you listen to any pop song, they're usually two to three minutes, so that's the length you want to brush your teeth. So if you want to listen to an *NSYNC song, you can listen to 'Bye Bye Bye' and say bye, bye, bye to gingivitis."
These days, the string attached is dental floss.
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