Joey Fatone and I were backstage at Bally's, talking about coke-toting Paris Hilton, because she pleads guilty to drug possession in Las Vegas today.
Since so many stars go the Paris Hilton route, I asked Fatone: How did he avoid jail and hospitals, in all his years of performing in *NSYNC, and after?
"I don't do drugs -- never have, never will. I've never, ever, ever, ever done anything. No bull," says Fatone (this week's guest host of "The Price is Right" at Bally's).
Oh, he's had access. Fatone has witnessed friends and acquaintances ingest "everything and anything you can possibly imagine."
"You just gotta go, 'I don't condone it. Get this (crap) out of here. I don't want to get in trouble with it. If you do it in your room, knock yourself out. I could care less. But I don't want to be around it.' "
I asked if his anti-drug stance came from his upbringing.
"No!" he says. "I just see how people react on it! Have you ever (heard) anybody go, 'You know what? Ever since I shot up, my life is amazing!' "
Fatone, 33, admits other weaknesses. He's "flirtatious." He's a gambler with an addictive personality. And he drinks.
"I'm not an alcoholic, but I love to drink. I don't go overboard. I don't go TOO crazy," he says.
He tries not to gamble now. But he used to lose up to $20,000 a night in *NSYNC days.
"I did drop 10 or 20 grand (a night). I was only here a couple nights," he says. "Not every night.
"When I was young, I could have dropped a lot more, but I didn't grasp the concept" of how much money I had, he says.
While Fatone and I talk, we stop to admire a woman performer who walks by (she is ridiculously attractive, even by Vegas standards). I give him grief, since he's married.
"I'm allowed to look," he says and laughs.
His wife, Kelly, knows he's flirtatious, and he abides boundaries, he says.
One time, he was in Vegas at the same time as the Adult Video News Awards and porn convention. He called Kelly at their home in Orlando, where they raise two daughters.
"I told her, 'I'm going to the convention. You MIGHT see a picture somewhere, where I'm standing next to a porn star,' " Fatone recalls.
"She goes, 'Two things: You're not going to the (awards show) but I don't care if you go to the convention; knock yourself out. And you're somebody's husband, and somebody's father -- just remember that.' "
Fatone went to the convention but not the awards show.
"I've been with her 16 years. She's been with me through thick and thin," he says.
Meanwhile, Fatone has begun to tame his shopping trait. He bought a "full-on R2-D2 unit." They generally range from $30,000 to $50,000. But he sold it back to the guy who crafted it, and that made his wife "ecstatic," he says.
He also bought and restored a KITT car used in the "Knight Rider" show. He still owns it. But he sold his Viper, Prowler and two 1955 convertible Thunderbirds, since he's rarely home to drive, anyway.
"Sometimes," he says, "I wish I was a lot smarter on certain things" regarding finances.
About three years ago, he tried to co-create an ongoing Joey show in Vegas, co-starring Joey McIntyre, Joey Lawrence and Drew Lachey. That idea had promise as a mix of "Rat Pack" tunes plus songs by the stars, but it fell apart during planning.
"It kind of worked well together," Fatone says, "but some stuff kind of happened between some of the guys -- thank God, not me -- and everybody went their own way."
He's talked with Alfonso Ribeiro (he was Carlton on "Fresh Prince of Bel-Air") and others about staging an ongoing show here.
For the rest of this week (Tuesday-Saturday), he hosts Bally's "Price Is Right" for Freemantle Media, which then sends him to a three-week hosting gig of "Let's Make A Deal" at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut.
Later this year, Fatone plays a good guy in the horror film "Inkubus," co-starring Robert Englund, William Forsythe and Jonathan Silverman.
Fatone, always looking for the next thing, is fortunate to be known for hits, not misses.
"A girl can come up and go, 'Oh you were really great on "Hannah Montana." ' And her mom's like, 'You were great in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." ' Or the grandparents will say, ' "Dancing with the Stars." '
"No one's told me I sucked, yet, which is good," he says with a big smile. "That's very nice."