AJ McLean's Trouble With The Russian Mob On 'Pretty Messed Up'


In this episode of Pretty Messed Up, AJ McLean, Cheryl Burke, and Rene Elizondo reflect that their 2020s weren’t so bad after all. None of them made New Year’s resolutions, exactly, but AJ does want to “embrace the world of the TikTok” in 2021, Cheryl is launching a dance app she’s been working on for years, and Rene just wants to “stay out of my own way.” Cheryl asks if they think she’s an addict or just has an addictive personality; Rene has some thoughts about that. Then they swap stories about when they felt the loneliest, the times they got in the most trouble (which for AJ included a scary encounter with the Russian mob), and what they had to hear from their loved ones before they realized they needed help with their addiction.

Alcoholism is a self-diagnosed disease, Rene says, and it can be tough to recognize it in yourself. His own friends and family would tell him he wasn’t “that bad” because his drinking wasn’t really ruining his life; he wasn’t homeless in the streets “drinking out of a paper bag.” But Rene felt like it was still ruining his life because he was “acting like an idiot and disconnecting from the world.” When Cheryl asks about the time they felt the loneliest, they all remember a time when they were at the peak of their addictions, and marvel at how differently they would feel now that they’re sober. Getting sober means “getting rid of all that baggage that used to create a mythology that ‘I’m not good enough,’” Rene says. “Since I’ve been able to flush all that crap, I’m no longer lonely….I don’t feel the way I used to.” 

The fun really starts when they share stories about the times they got in the most trouble. AJ says that as a kid he never got into trouble except for one time when he called his mother a witch – but once, on tour with the Backstreet Boys in Eastern Europe, he decided to go out to a strip club. He got “annihilated” and passed out “face-first into the toilet.” His security woke him up to leave, but “none of my credit cards are working for the $10,000 bill I’ve racked up….And this is, like, the Russian mob!” he says. His security guard had to go “probably at gunpoint” to 13 different ATMs with AJ’s cards to get enough cash together to get AJ back to the hotel; the next day, the guys were “parked in front of the hotel in their car waiting” for the rest of the money, and “I’m s**ting bricks!” Find out the full story and so much more on this episode of Pretty Messed Up.

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