[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Whoa. HBO Max’s new four-part docuseries Menudo: Forever Young just dropped on Thursday, and it revealed some shocking new claims about the boy band Menudo.
If you don’t know, Menudo was one of the biggest Latin boy bands in history, featuring 32 different boys throughout its initial 20-year run. That’s because “manager, producer, and father surrogate” Edgardo Díaz, as he’s described in the doc, preferred a “fountain of youth strategy” to the group. Members were kicked out and replaced when they turned 16. They often also came from poor families who signed over most of the boy’s parental authority to the manager.
Former member Ray Acevedo, who was in the group from 1985-88, said the working conditions were not ideal, adding of Menudo’s creator:
“We were pawns of his business.”
It would have been bad enough if it was just to take their money… but it gets worse.
First there was the usual boy band drama…
One star was supposedly treated better than the rest: Ricky Martin. Obviously the Livin’ La Vida Loca star went on to international superstardom in his solo career. But according to Ray, from the start Ricky was put on a pedestal — and they all saw it:
“Ricky, from the beginning, was like the golden kid.”
Sergio Blass, who was in Menudo from 1986 to 1990, had more to say on that, stating:
“To be with Ricky was brutal because he had seniority over me. So if someone knocked on the door, I had to open it. If the phone rang, I had to pick it up. I was like his housewife.”
Ricky joined the musical group in 1984 and quickly became one of its most famous members. He left in 1989. He was not interviewed in the documentary and his representatives did not respond to a request for comment by The New York Post on Thursday.
It wasn’t just that the boys were being treated differently based on their level of fame, but they were also allegedly facing lots of hazing and mistreatment from one another. Ray recalled being held over a balcony by another member as just one (very terrifying) example of hazing. Yikes.
Despite profiting off the squeaky-clean persona of the band, when cameras weren’t watching, the teenagers were also exposed to lots of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. This occurred as a result of no proper supervision and a lack of security. Sergio explained:
“One time we were in Colombia. I’m with [fellow Menudo member] Rubén [Gómez], and we’re getting to the hotel. We enter our room. All of a sudden, this random guy comes in … And he pulls out what must have been about a kilo of cocaine … So we freaked out, because we didn’t know this person … But the guy was actually one of the producers and promoters.”
Blass and Gómez eventually got kicked out of Menudo after they were caught in possession of marijuana in 1990, but it didn’t slow down the success of the group as they were quickly replaced. Andy Blázquez joined in 1991 and stayed until 1997. He had his own grievances with the way they were treated, saying:
“[The] extreme sexualization that happened from the very beginning — like overly sexualized jokes that you shouldn’t say in front of children. I remember Edgardo saying, ‘You know the pleasure that you get when you’re pooping? That’s what anal sex feels like.’”
Others members have accused Díaz himself of sexual abuse, including Roy Rosselló in a televised interview that was shown in the doc. Elsewhere in the documentary, it is alleged that the manager had a group of unsavory men around him who would prey on the boys.
Angelo Garcia (upper inset), who joined the group when he was 11 and stayed from 1988-90, alleges that he was raped several times during his time in the band. The first instance of sexual assault he experienced took place in a hotel room after he’d been given alcohol by an undisclosed man, he shared:
“All I remember was that I, like, passed out. When I woke up, I was naked and I was bleeding, so I knew that I had been penetrated. I had, like, these burn marks on my face from the rug … I was very confused and I didn’t understand.”
Sadly, he was sexually assaulted many more times during his short time in the group:
“During my time in Menudo, I was raped a series of times, and that was the way that predators would take advantage of me.”
Just so awful. Edgardo did not make a statement in the documentary, but he has denied allegations of abuse and wrongdoing in the past.
You can see the trailer for the very exposing docuseries (below):