Angelo Garcia was 10 years old when, while on vacation with his family in Puerto Rico, his mom saw a commercial for Menudo auditions. She took him to the auditionand within a week was offered a recording contract with the band.
Luckily, the first album, Garcia, recorded with Menudo was an English-language album, Sons of Rock … because the youngster didn't know Spanish at the time.
Garcia ultimately spent three years with the popular boy band, and recorded three albums, including his all-time favorite Menudo song, "You Got Potential," which was the first song he ever recorded.
"The positive aspects of being in a boy band are, you have the support of other members and you do not feel alone when you are on stage," Garcia said. "I was able to learn how to be a pop star thanks to Menudo. The negative aspects are that I lost a huge chunk of my childhood and had to become an adult by the time I was 11 years old. That was a lot of responsibility and for someone being that young it sometimes is overwhelming.
"We were so famous and it was definitely a roller-coaster ride. I had a love-hate relationship with fame at that age because I loved the attention, but the problem with fame is that you cannot turn it off when you want your private time. As a child star, it was frustrating because I couldn't go to the movies, or the mall, or even to Disney World without being mobbed. I am a lot more prepared now and with the maturity to understand how to deal with fame, so if it ever happens again I will be ready.
"Menudo polished me as an artist and pop star and it prepared me for my next phases as an entertainer. I know how to work a stage, and I owe it to Menudo."
Now living in San Francisco, Garcia has grown into a 6-foot-1, 225-pound mass of muscle.
He is now rolling in the music scene solo.
"I am really lucky to have had the opportunity to record several solo albums," Garcia said. "Not many former Menudo members have been able to break into the market as a soloist; I am blessed that I have had that opportunity. I am so proud of my work as a solo artist and am excited for my future projects."
So far, it's been on the Spanish side of things; he's still looking to land his first English hit.
"An English hit would be a very special thing because it would be amazing to be able to have the opportunity to share my music with everyone in my country," Garcia said. "English is my first language, as I was born and raised a New Yorker. I feel that sometimes I can express myself better in English, so it would like the icing on a cake for me to be able to hear my music on American radio.
"I now am just a normal guy who has a passion for music and a desire to share it with the world. I feel like everyone is given a gift, and for me that gift is music. I am also a brother, a lover, a person who loves life, and wants to make my community proud and show the world that being gay is not a flaw and that we are just like everybody else."
Yes, Garcia is the other gay former Menudo member ( besides Ricky Martin ) , although he actually came out in Januarybefore Martin confirmed his sexual orientation.
"A lot of the press tried to say I followed in his footsteps, but that was misleading to the public as they were mistaken," Garcia said. "I have publicly never denied being out, but even before the press took hold of the article that made news, I have been open since I was 17. This was mostly to my inner circle of friends and family."
Garcia said Martin "is an amazing artist. I know he is a dad now and I wish him the best with his two beautiful boys."
The two don't talk anymore, thoughand it's not because of a falling-out.
"His life took him to stardom and our friendship has drifted," said Garcia, who added that he knew Martin was gay "for a very long time, but I would have never outed him."
"When he was ready to come out he would. I just didn't expect it to be so close to when I spoke about my sexuality. It's funny how life is."
Garcia said he was not surprised at all about the media onslaught when Martin revealed he was gay.
"Ricky Martin is a huge star and his coming-out was a big deal for the gay community, especially in the Hispanic market," Garcia said.
"I know who I am and I know my talent will make people realize that I have a lot to offer as an entertainer. Gay or not, all that matters is the music."
Garcia said he is now dating a man named John, though he would not reveal much more personal information. "He is my boo; I adore him," Garcia said.
Garcia's musical roots date back to when he was 3, "when my mother started teaching me how to harmonize," he said. "As long as I could talk, I could sing. I learned, 'The sun will come out tomorrow' from the musical Annie by age 5."
Today, he writes all of his songs, does all the vocal arrangements and sings background vocals. "Every harmony that you hear is me and I do not use any tricks or sound effects to enhance my voice or keep me on melody. What you hear is all me with no tricks," Garcia said. "I am actually working with Ahmed King, who has worked with Shakira. I love her music and I would love to record with her one day. We would make a sexy and hot track."
Garcia's hot sound of 2010 can be heard on the CD Scandalous, with 14 fun tracks that he is now working on.
"It is an electropop album that is sexy, edgy, and catchy," Garcia said. "I write from an organic place and I want this album to be fun, silly, and an album you would want to listen to riding in your car with the top down. I am currently shopping my album to major labels, so we will see what the future holds."
Want more Angelo Garcia? Here goes:
On Menudo photos: "I have seen myself my entire life, so I still look the same in my eyes; my body has changed, but my face is pretty much an adult version of who I was as a kid."
What's ahead: "Live life and keep writing music. Love my Boyfriend and hopefully one day get married and have a family of my own. The most predictable thing about life is it's unpredictability and I am on this ride until my journey is over."
It's a fact: Has a three-pound Chihuahua named Trixie
Favorite band: Black Eyed Peas
Favorite musician: Lady Gaga, right now
Favorite pro sport: Baseball
Favorite pro team: New York Yankees
Favorite pro athlete: John Cena
Favorite TV show: "Gee, that is a hard one because it always changes. I love the Housewives of New York City, and [ the Housewives of ] New Jersey is also campy fun."
Favorite movie: Avatar
On Chicago: Has been to the Windy City many times and has many friends who live here: "I even sang [ in Chicago ] as a member of Menudo. Chicago is a beautiful city and I love it! There is great culture, beautiful architecture, and good shopping. I try to avoid it in the winter ,though, as it is called the Windy City for good reason."
Complete the sentence: If I had to do it all over again ... "I wouldn't change a thing!"
For more about Angelo Garcia, go to www.angelopop.com , or on Twitter ( AngeloPOPmusic ) .