He co-starred in one of the most notorious scandals in the history of music. During their two years as members of the duo Milli Vanillihe and the German Rob Pilatus They reached the sky. Their songs reached the top of the charts in Europe and the United States, and in 1990 they won the Grammy for Best New Artist. Shortly after, however, it was discovered that they were not actually the ones singing the songs on their album, 'All or Nothing' (1988); producer Frank Farian, their discoverer, had hired them only to move their bodies and lips. They had to return the prize, and the world turned its back on them. They tried to redeem themselves by publishing an album titled 'Rob & Fab' in which they did use their real voices, which only sold two thousand copies; Eight years later Pilatus was found dead of a drug and alcohol overdose. The 'biopic'Milli Vanilli: Girl You Know It's True', starting this Wednesday in theaters, recreates its story.

Almost 35 years have passed since Milli Vanilli's secret came to light, and in that time it has never ceased to be the object of collective fascination. What do you attribute it to?

Partly because, in all of pop history, no one else has fallen as brutally from grace as Rob and I did. He turned us into demons, and a walking joke. People gathered in the streets to burn our records, and some lawyers smelled the business and began recruiting people who wanted to join a class action lawsuit against us, convincing them to say into microphones that their lives had been destroyed because the Milli Vanilli didn't really sing. It was quite a spectacle.

After all this time, how do you explain your involvement in that deception?

I was very young, I had neither a representative nor a lawyer. The contract that Frank Farian put on the table for us was written in German and it was impossible for me to read it; Rob looked over the first two pages and then we decided to sign it, tempted by the promise of success. We were given an advance of money which, although very modest, for two kids who had nothing like us was a lot, and then we were given other advances. And it was after that that Frank told us that we weren't going to sing. We tried to refuse, but we were already trapped by the contract. And from then on we were exploited by the vultures of the music industry, and then made scapegoats.

Do you feel like a victim?

No. We were not innocent, but we were two very small pieces in a huge money-making machine. We dreamed of making it in the music world, and we were seduced by the lifestyle and attention that Milli Vanilli provided us. When we went on stage, tens of thousands of fans were screaming our names, and all that love was like a drug. And the rest of the time we rode around in limousines and stayed in the most luxurious hotels, it was a dream life.

They made a lot of money…

Yes, but we lost it during our legal dispute with Farian, who immediately stopped paying us anything even though he and the record companies continued to make a lot of money from us. Over the years, every so often a new compilation would come out called 'The Best of Milli Vanilli', or something like that, and I never received a single cent for it even though my face was on the cover. I had to start from scratch again, as a French teacher.

You are aware that if it had happened today, the Milli Vanilli scandal wouldn't actually have been a scandal, right?

Of course, and that's why young people keep asking me: “And what really was the problem?” Three decades ago we were crucified for doing the same thing, lip syncing, thanks to which thousands of 'influencers' are celebrated today on Instagram and TikTok. And many of today's musical stars sing terribly and resort to Autotune to hide their vocal deficiencies, and no one thinks it's bad. In pop concerts, moreover, the focus is on the visual spectacle rather than the voices. And although the music wasn't ours, Rob and I brought an incredible personality to Milli Vanilli. I don't want to say that we were pioneers, but, if it had happened today, everything would have been different, also because we would have had the possibility of using social networks to tell our side. It would have been much less traumatic.

How did you deal with the death of Rob Pilatus?

Rob was like a brother to me, and when he died, a part of myself did too. He was an adopted son, and he grew up with a hole in his heart because he felt that his adoptive parents didn't really love him. The success of Milli Vanilli gave him the love he longed for, but after the fans' rejection, the hole in his heart opened again and grew bigger. He felt destroyed and had no hope for the future. For me, talking about all that now is a way of paying tribute to him.

How did you manage to move forward after what happened?

I can say that I feel lucky to be alive. At first I barely left the house, and when I did he camouflaged me with a hat and glasses; As soon as I heard laughter, I thought they were making fun of me. I had also taken refuge in drugs and alcohol, but I gathered the necessary strength to leave all that and change my life, thanks to music. For many years it was almost impossible for me to watch the old Milli Vanilli video clips and listen to the songs, but, about 15 years ago, they asked me to perform them live. At first I declined the offer, but then I decided to adapt them to my own vocal style and make them my own. This is how I regained my self-respect, and today I continue to sing them along with those that I have composed myself.

Before his death last January, did Farian ask for forgiveness?

No, he left my life a long time ago, and I never expected an apology from him, despite how much he benefited at our expense. I am sure that, until the day he died, at no time did he feel that he had done anything wrong to us. And that, when the scandal happened, both he and other music executives thought that we were going to disappear from the map forever. But I'm still here. And I don't hold a grudge against anyone.