Some musicians pregame their concerts with a bottle of Hennessy or shots of Jägermeister, but backstage at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge, hours before a headlining show in February, Aaron Carter is looking for some Ensure -- yes, the chalky nutrition drink you’re more likely to find in your grandmother’s fridge than on an artist’s rider.
If you have read any headlines about Aaron Carter in the past few years, they have probably been about his health. There was his weight, which fluctuated to the point that his fans expressed concern and the less sympathetic made unkind comments about AIDS and meth. (Carter says he suffers from a hiatal hernia that can make eating uncomfortable, hence the Ensure.) There was his 2017 DUI arrest, which prompted big brother Nick Carter to offer support on social media. There was his appearance that year on the Dr. Phil spinoff The Doctors, which Carter says he went on to “shut everyone the fuck up,” though it did him little favors: In the episode, a gaunt, antsy Carter admits to occasionally buying drugs like Oxycontin and Xanax off the street and seeing multiple psychiatrists to get various prescriptions, but he also shows photos of himself -- dancing with his niece, playing the keyboard, doing backflips on the beach -- and asks the audience: Does the person in these photos look like a meth user to you? Shortly after, he went to rehab for two months. When he was out, he posted a triumphant photo celebrating his weight gain.
Carter, 31, is aware you’ve probably read this kind of thing about him, too, so it’s perhaps not surprising when, right after explaining his current drink of choice, he asks an assistant for one. When she says they don’t have any Ensure in the green room, he asks her to go make a run for some right then. It doesn’t seem like it’s enough for Carter just to tell you he is taking care of himself and turning things around -- he wants to show you, he wants you to believe him.