The most striking thing about the new tell-all from former Jonas Brothers frontman Joe Jonas in New York magazine is how candid it is.
As it turns out, the kid who used to rock shaggy hair and a chastity ring in front of a screaming crowd of tweens is surprisingly normal and well-adjusted.
Jonas is now 24, and his confessional offers insight into what it was like growing up under the watchful eye of Disney.
He and his brothers Nick and Kevin struggled on their own to find an audience, but Disney knew they could shape them into preteen idols on the Disney Channel, like they had done for other stars who came before them. First they had the band as guest stars on Miley Cyrus' show 'Hannah Montana,' and then they gave them their own show, where they played pseudo-versions of themselves:"But the thing about the show was that some of the writing on it was terrible. It just ended up being some weird slapstick humor that only a 10-year-old would laugh at. They took out the kissing scene that Nick had. I had to shave every day because they wanted me to pretend like I was 16 when I was 20 (when the show was done, I cut my hair off and grew as much of a beard as I could). We went along with it at the time, because we thought Disney was our own real shot, and we were terrified that it could all be taken away from us at any moment."
He described himself and his brothers as "frightened little kids" who did their best to abide by Disney's rules, especially after fellow Disney star Vanessa Hudgen's nude photo scandal in 2007. They were trained to act dumb when asked difficult questions, deferring to a silly subject like their dog. Joe talked about having to sneak hook-up sessions with girls while pretending to be wholesome and non-sexual in public.
Jonas also explained why stars like Miley Cyrus (who introduced him to weed!) feel the need to completely recast themselves post-Disney:"Being a part of the Disney thing for so long will make you not want to be this perfect little puppet forever. Eventually, I hit a limit and thought, Screw all this, I'm just going to show people who I am. I think that happened to a lot of us. Disney kids are spunky in some way, and I think that's why Disney hires them. 'Look, he jumped up on the table!' Five, six, ten years later, they're like, 'Oh, what do we do?' Come on, guys. You did this to yourselves."
And part of that desire to escape from Disney as these stars grow older is the feeling of entrenchment within the Disney community. When Jonas teamed up with the frontman of indie band Rooney and made an album of demos a few years ago, the record label rejected it, saying that he should instead try linking up with some Disney hit-makers that eventually worked with Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens. "But it felt so fake to me," he said.
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