The inaugural Backstreet’s Back at the Beach, Cancun event has officially ended and we are all dealing with that post concert/event depression as we head back to reality. Among the events were several activities with members of the group, usually MCed by someone previously unknown to many of us. JW Hallford commanded the stage from day 1 and wowed the crowd with his charisma, wit, humor, and high energy. Despite being alongside the legendary Backstreet Boys at a Backstreet Fan Event, he shone as the Host and MC for most of the activities.

Of the events, perhaps the most entertaining was Singled Out, the original reality dating show from 90s MTV.  During this event, 50 fans were chosen to participate in the games for each boy. Contestants were asked about their preferences from video game consoles to female pop stars and had to match with the boy in question as they gave their answers to these nearly impossible “this or that” prompts. JW acted as our host, having the audience in tears from laughter right from the beginning. His request to “please stand for the national anthem of the Backstreet Boys” brought the crowd down immediately, even before the boys were introduced. And…do we really need to tell you which song was played as our BSB anthem??

JW’s personal introduction of each boy, with each boy being labeled “one of his favorites”, highlighted his humor and laid the foundation for a fun and entertaining show. His continuous wrangling of the contestants in order to keep the event on track proved to not be an easy task…We all know the BSB Army can be strong-willed. His playful interactions with the boys and banter with the star-struck fans kept the event lighthearted and funny, creating probably the most enjoyable experience of the whole event. JW’s running commentary of the play by play as contestants attempted to design AJ’s newest tattoo, play Mario Kart (as human characters) for Nick, play bartender to fix Howie the best Margarita, take their shot as quarterback for Kevin, and master the art of dribbling for Brian brought joy to onlookers. The audience was rolling with laughter, some even saying they hadn’t laughed that hard in years. Although the Backstreet Boys were the main focus of the game show, JW brought the personality to keep the audience engaged throughout.  Even though some came in sad and disappointed that they had not been called up to compete for the boys’ hearts, most left happy to have just been at the event for the experience. 

We caught up with JW Halliford as we were wrapping up this amazing trip to hear from him about his experience in Cancun with iconic Kevin, Brian, Howie, AJ, and Nick.

  1. Tell us about yourself, your background, and what brought you to this work?

I am from Tulsa Oklahoma, born and raised, and wouldn’t move to another place ever, I love it there.  

I grew up as a kid who was a bit of a lone wolf who mostly played by myself in my room, but years of practice gave me the ability to entertain myself, and eventually, I was able to use this to entertain other people. It has been my dream to create interactive experiences with fans and bring them closer to the cultures they love through interactive celebrations.

I was lucky enough in my early career to link up with CID Entertainment who shared that same dream and I was given the tools to explore this concept further.  Due to technical difficulties, the company took a small hiatus but it is now in a further iteration called Playa Luna and 100x Hospitality which created the BSB at the beach experience! I have had the honor to use this as a vessel to make interactive art for many great existing acts: notably raising One Million dollars for George Strait’s charity the Jenifer Strait Foundation, and creating unique interactive programs for Dead and Co, The Lumineers, Kenny Chesney, Kelly Clarkson, Brantley Gilbert, The Fresh Beat Band, The Frank Zappa Hologram and many more.  

  1. How did you get this gig?

I am just a very lucky person who has dedicated my life to working as hard as possible to get the desired results.

I had a dream of making my mark on the world through creative entertainment and fought an uphill battle for many years.  I learned over time that the best way to achieve your goals is to find others who share the same enthusiasm and work ethic for a common passion and I was lucky to find that home with my brothers and sisters at Playa Luna.

While my career was gaining steam eventually I reached out to my boss at the time and told him that I would like to create a VIP program for my childhood hero “Weird Al” Yankovic, and by some weird force, it manifested.  

We got the business, and I would entertain the fans in the VIP room, in what was the infancy of my act is currently.  I still use some of the same musical bits. One day his manager came in and saw what he liked, and together we developed Weird Al Jeopardy, my first game show experience, which would take place on the main stage before the show in place if the VIP party.  It was a high-energy take on nostalgic entertainment with a focus on the fandom and culture, allowing the fan to become the star for a moment.  This was voted “Best Value” by Rolling Stone Magazine in 2018.  I was blessed to be able to perform this at many legendary theaters, eventually culminating in an epic sold-out standing-room-only performance at Carnegie Hall.  I thought that I had peaked then, but then you guys came along.

  1. How familiar were you with the Backstreet Boys prior to this event?

Very familiar as I grew up in the TRL generation, however hadn’t dug too deep.  I literally met the Backstreet Boys like 10 minutes before the game show for the first time, but as you can see we are old friends already.

Ok, but…Team Backstreet or Team N’Sync?

    EVERYBODDDDDDY! …  Knows I am BSB for life now.

    1. What was it like working with the Backstreet Boys?

    They are some of the nicest and most genuine people that I have had the honor to work with.  They are so considerate and polite, they care about you guys a lot and it shows.  I would 10/10 do it again.

    1. What preparation did you do for this event?

    I had to live a whole life to lead up to this point.  There were a lot of failures and lessons learned.

    When I take on a project I totally immerse myself in the world as to get into the character.  So it was a lot of BSB and Singled Out for 4 months at my place.  

    I basically just jam out with my record player and listen to new music all the time to find inspiration.  My neighbors love me.

    While I have the spotlight here, I would also like to acknowledge that I was blessed with a great team of individuals who helped pull this off and while I can’t name them all as it takes a village, I would like to thank Devon, Taylor, Randi, Audra, Andrew, AJ, Nick, Brian, Kevin and Howie. 

    Were you an avid watcher of Singled Out?

      Oh yes, I LOVED Singled Out, and my first crush was Jenny McCarthy.

      1. What expectations did you have coming in?

      That I would be triumphant in entertaining you guys, and that you would love it.

      1. What impression did the BSB Army/Fandom leave on you?

      The best impression, everyone I had the chance to meet was so genuine and I am glad we are now friends.  Once you are friends with me, we are friends forever.

      1. What was your favorite event of BSB at the beach?

      Singled Out duh!  But I also thought there was some special magic in the Nick Carter Volleyball.

      1. How did you keep the events flowing with such a packed schedule?

      I try and think of inspirational improvisational masters of the craft and think about what they would do.  I assure you that this would have not been possible without the groundwork laid down and learned from artists like the Grateful Dead and Don Rickles.

      1. What’s coming next for you?

      I am trying to do as many game shows with acts that I feel are great as possible, so write your local congressman and bring me to town.  

      I heard they may need a new host for The Price is Right so fingers crossed.

      I am also working with my good friend animator Joe Cappa ( on a television show called Gabba Gooblins:

      It is a follow-up to our Sundance Film Festival-nominated short Ghost Dogs.  (2021)

      1. Where can we find you?

      You can check my Instagram: @jwhallford 

      1. Is there anything else you want to share with us?

      I just wanted to say thank you so much for enjoying the show, and for all, do our part to achieve a sustainable impact on planet Earth for she is our mom! 

      I also wanted to take a second and give many thanks to the Mayan people and the country of Mexico who host us in their land.  They have been SO great to us, so if you get a chance tell them thank you for the hospitality, it is their house we are just staying in it.

      Thanks JW for taking the time to chat with us!!

      Photo Credit to the following instragram accounts: @weirdaljeopardy; @JWHallford; @BackstreetBoys; @BSBAtTheBeach