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Menudo

Source: Lester Cohen / Getty

“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,” recounted Angelo Garcia in the new four-part HBO Max documentary, Menudo: Forever Young. Now 46 years old, the Puerto Rican Brooklynite shares one of his earliest experiences as an 11-year-old member of the world-famous quintet. “I had, like, these burn marks on my face from the rug… I was very confused and I didn’t understand,” he said.

Debuting Thursday, June 23, Menudo: Forever Young explores how “the glitz and glamour was a web of abuse and exploitation at the hands of the band’s manager, Edgardo Diaz,” according to its synopsis. The project was first screened at the 2022 Tribeca Festival, and it was directed by the duo of Angel Manuel Soto and Kristofer Rios.

Menudo was once one of the most popular boy bands in the world. Created in 1977 by music producer Edgardo Díaz, the young Latin quintet made many teenage girls worldwide and their mothers swoon with hits like “Si Tú No Estás,” “Claridad,” and “Hold Me.” And the group launched the career of one of entertainment’s biggest heartthrobs, Ricky Martin.

But in 1991, some former members of the group appeared on El Show De Cristina and shook up the Latin music world. They openly accused Díaz and his cohorts of rape, sexual assault, and engaging in multiple age-inappropriate activities with the band members.

The group went through multiple iterations over the course of its 22-year existence. In fact, the band has had over 30 different members. Díaz reportedly kept Menudo fresh by employing a strategy that reporter Geraldo Rivera called “fountain of youth.” Díaz would recruit young boys into the band, around 10 or 11 years old, and then send them on their way once they turned 16. (Martin became a part of Menudo when he 9.)

Díaz has always maintained his innocence. However, in 1991, he did say the following about the band: “These are kids who had serious emotional problems. All the problems that are found in our society were also found in Menudo.” (Díaz reportedly declined any involvement with the HBO Max documentary, as was said of Martin.)

The boys usually came from poor backgrounds, and so the boys’ parents usually saw no issue signing over guardianship to Díaz. “There were a lot of good things that came out of Menudo,” admitted Ralphy Rodriguez, who joined Menudo as a 13-year-old in 1987 and (with his father by his side) confronted Díaz on El Show De Cristina four years later. “But there was a price to pay for that magic.”