There are a few things that every girl growing up in the 90s loved.
Gel pens, Lisa Frank and Tamagotchis, to name a few.
But there was nothing they loved more than boy bands. Well, at least there was nothing I loved more.
So, when I was asked if I wanted to sit down with Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees, I of course said ‘I Do!’
Timmons is best known for his band 98 Degrees, which came into popularity in the late 90s.
The group, comprised of Timmons, Nick Lachey, Drew Lachey and Justin Jeffre, performed from 1996 through 2003, and recently had a reunion tour with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men.
During the band’s hiatus Timmons expanded into different projects. Most notably, Men of the Strip.
For those of you unfamiliar with Men of the Strip, it’s a male revue not unlike Chippendales. Timmons calls it a “newer, younger, hipper, cooler,” version of the well-known Vegas show.
Men of the Strip differs in that the focus is more on singing and performing. Although, the men do still take their shirts off.
Essentially, it’s every woman’s grown up ideal of a boy band.
So, before his revue took the stage at Treasure Island Resort and Casino, Timmons sat down with me to talk about the dancers, his music, and, of course, 98 Degrees.
And as for not gushing over how much I loved him, Nick, Drew and Justin? Well, it was one of the hardest thing I ever had to do.
So, you’re in town for the ‘Men Of The Strip’ performance that is taking place at Treasure Island Resort and Casino Saturday night. Can you tell me a little bit about the show?
I know a lot of people are wondering what my association with [Men of the Strip] is. So, a few years back I was offered an opportunity to host the Chippendales in Las Vegas. It’s a male revue. And of course I said no. There’s no way I’m going to do that. People are going to think I’m a stripper, and of course they did. Right? (Timmons did go on to host the show).
So, when I was part of that it was such a success, and all I did was sing and host the show. I sang new songs and old 98 Degrees songs. All the fans that we had that were young kids are now in their 20s and 30s. They came to see the show and they loved it. So the formula was pretty crazy. It was a huge success. It broke box office records in Vegas. So, what I wanted to do was create a newer, younger, hipper, cooler version of it. A sexier one that’s more about singing and vocals, and obviously mix in with the guys ripping their shirts off, or whatever they do. And so, we created Men of the Strip.
There was a ‘Men of the Strip’ reality show on to E! How did the idea of that come about?
While I was in the Chippendales I thought ‘Man, people need to see a reality show of this. The behind the scenes things.’ Not just the guys and how big of rock stars these guys are. But they have to see how the women act when they see these shows. Which when I was watching it, even being in a boy band and seeing incredibly crazy things throughout that tenure, when I was in this show I was really shocked about what girls would do.
Chippendales didn’t really want to do it. So I went and created a new one. Then we went to E! And we didn’t quite capture what I was hoping to with that movie. So now, we ended up taking it to a different market.
Will the show continue?
We are going to do a series like that. We had filmed on the road before we did the deal with E! So, we have all this footage of the rock-and-roll lifestyle that these guys lead. And at the same time they are all great guys. They are all cool. They all have great back stories. So, hopefully we are going to be able to display that.
Is there a channel that it will be on?
We have a couple channels that are interested. We have a couple networks interested. We might even go so far as what everyone else is doing and do an online show. Whether it’s with someone like Netflix, which does scripted original series, Hulu, Amazon. We’ve been talking to all of them. YouTube, too. So we’re looking at that too and we have those options. Fortunately, we got enough ratings (opening night garnered roughly a half a million viewers on E!).
This isn’t the first time Men of the Strip has come to the Twin Cities. Previous shows have seen really great success here. What do you think it is about the Twin Cities that makes them love the show so much?
I think it’s a combination of things. One, it’s Midwest. Right? So, I’m from the Midwest and I understand the culture. 98 Degrees’ biggest fan base was in the Midwest. We had fans all over the place. We were a popular group and we’re blessed to have that, but our bread and butter was always the Midwest. We thrive on new and entertaining things here, so I knew it was going to be good. Couple that with the local media. A lot of people wouldn’t take risks when I first put the guys on a promotional tour. It was a real risk to put us on local TV. But here in Minneapolis, the local media embraced us; local radio was behind us. So, when you have mainstream drivers behind it, then your set. Word-of-mouth gets out and people come see the show. We’ve sold 1,100 tickets [for Saturday.] And the people here are great.
So, what is your involvement in the show? Do you still perform?
I still perform, but ultimately I want to go behind the scenes. I just wanted to launch it, put my name on it and get it out there. Utilize whatever relationships and friendships I’ve had over the years to get it a little bit of attention. I am in the show. I sing in the show a little bit. I host the show. But now, my role is getting smaller. And now I’m going back towards music and TV production; what I love.
Would any of the other members of 98 Degrees perform in the show with you?
I don’t know! I’ve asked them a couple of times. We’re all supportive of each other in whatever we do. I’m the craziest one out of everybody. So they were like, ‘Yeah, sure enough. You would put a male revue out there.’ So, I don’t think they know what it is. They haven’t seen it. But I think if they saw it they’d come out.
Justin actually came to Cincinnati! He got up on the stage and sang. So he was a good sport about it. I don’t know if Nick or Drew would ever be a part of it. (laughs).
You mentioned you were getting back into music. You just released a single three weeks ago, ‘That Girl.’ It’s a different sound than people are used to hearing from you.
It’s something that I’m just dabbling it. It’s not like I’m releasing a full album with a label. It’s just a song called ‘That Girl,’ and it’s an EDM base song. It’s not true EDM.
I just wanted to try something different. I actually got approached by an independent label that Universal distributes about doing a dance song. So, I was like alright. It’d be cool to hear one of my own songs in a club. See people dancing.
It’s nice at my age having music on the radio. You know what I mean? Not to mention stuff that my 15-year-old daughter and her friends kind of like!
Do they listen to any 98 Degrees?
They do! My family was on tour with me last tour. So they got to experience it. My oldest daughter was just a baby when we got off the road last time and now she’s 15. So, she had heard about 98 Degrees. And of course, occasionally if a song would come on the radio I’d say, ‘Well, you know who this is.’ And she’d be like ‘Meh, whatever.’ So, it wasn’t cool.
So, when we were on that big tour and her friends and her cousins are coming on the road, and it’s a huge show like that, then she’s like ‘Wow, that’s my dad?’ And that’s all I want to be cool for, is my kids.
Definitely. So, what else is in store for you?
Well, I have a whole record that’s going to be done, which I’m really proud of. That’s going to come out probably end of first quarter of this year. And then also TV. I have some opportunities to produce. I’m not necessarily the focal point of those other things, nor do I want to be. And then have one opportunity, a big production company wants to follow my family around with these kids and watch how we act like rock stars but at the same time juggle life. And Men on the Strip is going to come out. And then I have a multi-media company that I started that’s got an investment.
Wow, sounds like a lot. Before we wrap up, I have to ask, what is your favorite 98 degrees song?
Invisible Man. The first one we had as a single was my favorite one.
Men of the Strip will perform at Treasure Island Resort and Casino Saturday, Nov. 1. The performance begins at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $20.