The Boozy, Bloody Downfall of Nick Carter, America’s Sexiest Backstreet Boy
The youngest, most fresh-faced member of the best-selling boy band was recently arrested in Florida for drunken brawling. For Carter, it’s the latest in a long line of trouble.
The hottest of the Backstreet Boys is now also the one most likely to try to choke a bouncer during a night of drunken bar-hopping.
On Wednesday, Nick Carter (long known by fans and observers as “the cute Backstreet Boy”) was arrested at Hog’s Breath Saloon, a popular open-air bar in Key West, Florida. According to the Key West Police incident report, Carter, along with his drinking buddy Michael Rae Papayans, stopped by Hog’s Breath in the early evening—visibly intoxicated, slurring his speech, and belligerent. The bar’s staff refused to serve them and repeatedly tried to get both men to leave.
Things escalated when the two men started getting physically violent with the bouncers and restaurant employees, resulting in at least one of them bloodied and disoriented on the sidewalk when the cops arrived on the scene.
Apparently, the Backstreet Boy and his friend tried to start a fight, were subdued by multiple bouncers…and then attempted to start fighting all over again to see if they could win this time.
“I observed one of the two Arrestees throw a punch towards one of the bouncers,” the responding officer, who was shown video of the bar fight, wrote in his report. “Bouncers restrained both individuals, and released them after both agreed to calm down. I observed Papayans and Carter block the entrance to the establishment, approach the security and management multiple times in an aggressive and argumentative manner. I observed Carter throw, what appeared to be a punch, towards a bouncer.”
(It is unclear if any of the Hog’s Breath staff knew they were getting attacked by a Backstreet Boy as the situation was unfolding. Carter’s publicist did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.)
Once the alleged assailants were successfully escorted outside, multiple witnesses said, Papayans proceeded to rip off his shirt and head-butt one of the bar managers in the face. Carter, for his part, began shouting at a bouncer (“within inches from his face”) before grabbing the bouncer by the throat.
This was when several bouncers “took Carter to the ground,” in a move that seemed to neutralize the situation. The cops showed up to find both men detained and wasted on the sidewalk. Papayans had blood on his hands, legs, and face. Carter was described in the police report as continuing to slur his words, wearing his blue shirt, black shorts, and sandals, with his blond hair tragically “UNCOMBED.”
When reached by phone, a Hog’s Breath employee simply told The Daily Beast, “Uh, we have no comment, no comment” before hanging up. The Key West Police Department would not elaborate beyond the report because “it’s a misdemeanor battery charge, nothing anyone here is going to comment on,” according to the department spokeswoman.
“I did not do anything. I was trying to get my friend to stop and they tackled me like they were fucking Navy SEALs or something,” the 27-year-old Papayans said in a police bodycam video. “You guys are not cool the way you did that. I’m trying to get my friend to stop, and you tackle me to the ground? Who are you? Are you a cop?”
The 35-year-old Carter (who recently wrapped filming on a post-apocalyptic zombie Western that he wrote and starred in) has found himself in trouble with the law several times in recent years. During his boy band heyday, while his group was becoming one of history’s best-selling musical acts, he was depicted as the youngest, more bashful of the Boys.
“Nick Carter, proud new homeowner at the age of nineteen, bustles around his Tampa house, tidying up,” Rolling Stone described him in May 1999, in a long story covering the “high life and high price” of teenage mega-stardom. “He Windexes the counters and shoves a box of Cookie Crisp cereal in the pantry. Nick is tall (six feet one inch) and, surprisingly for the group heartthrob, pretty shy.”
But he’d apparently got one over on the magazine. According to his 2013 memoir Facing the Music and Living to Talk About It, Carter imbibed his first drink at the age of 2, when his family lived above a bar/strip club called Yankee Rebel in Jamestown, New York.
“Family legend has it that when I was two years old, I crawled into one of the Yankee Rebel’s liquor storage rooms where I was caught drinking for the first time,” he wrote. “My parents always laughed at that. I laughed too, for a while, and then I didn’t laugh at it any more.”
Things got worse when he entered his teens and became an international superstar with the Backstreet Boys.
“I began drinking heavily in my teens,” Carter wrote, “and then moved on to drugs at eighteen or nineteen, starting with marijuana and moving up to cocaine, Ecstasy, and prescription painkillers among other substances.”
“Kevin [Richardson] and the other BSB members saw me drinking and getting into trouble and all they could do was shake their heads,” he continued. “…They told me that I had the potential to be a better person and make more of my talents. They knew I had a good heart and soul and wasn’t using my head. The guys warned me many times that my partying was out of control and that I was headed for serious trouble.”
That trouble came in January 2002, when Carter was arrested at a nightclub (again, in Florida) after refusing to obey police officers ordering him to leave the club after a fistfight had just broken out. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of resisting and opposing an officer.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t learn from it,” Carter wrote in his memoir of the arrest. “I just kept compounding my problems by continuing the same unacceptable behavior and messing up. No internal alarms went off for me, despite what the other guys in Backstreet said. I rolled on, repeating the same self-destructive pattern for quite a while longer.”
In July 2004, tabloid reports emerged showing photos of a bloodied and bruised Paris Hilton, and insinuating that she was abused at the hands of her boyfriend Nick Carter. The Backstreet Boy vehemently denied the reports, blaming the bruises on an S&M-themed photo shoot that Hilton had recently completed for Rolling Stone (a claim that Hilton’s rep denied).
Then, in March 2005, Carter was arrested for drunk driving in Southern California. “My life plummeted to an all-time low,” he wrote. “We’d chug beers and pound down shot after shot until we reached the semi-comatose state where the alcohol made us sleepy and lethargic. Then we’d do a bump of cocaine for an energy boost.”
The judge in his drunk-driving case sentenced him to 13 AA meetings, but those didn’t take. Carter said he continued to party day and night, putting on upwards of 50 pounds due to his unhealthy lifestyle.
Carter’s first big wake-up call came in June 2008. “The years of abusing his body had left a buildup of toxins in his heart, weakening the muscle so that it had difficulty pumping blood,” wrote People. “This condition, known as cardiomyopathy, is the same one that led to the death of singer Andy Gibb and killed actor Chris Penn—and Carter learned it could kill him as well if he didn’t get clean and sober. ‘My doctor said, You need to change your lifestyle. I don’t want you to end up like that,’ Carter says. ‘I was like, I don’t want to end up like that either.’”
He got sober and in shape in 2009, dropping nearly 40 pounds. But that no longer appears to be the case in 2016.
“My goal in life is to be the best person that I can be and try as hard as I can,” he told Ellen DeGeneres seven years ago. “I make mistakes, but...I realize that I’m human and...I don’t punish myself for those mistakes.”
“[I] continuously try to be that better person,” he added.