You know the Jonas Brothers: the award-winning band consisting of siblings Kevin Jonas, Joe Jonas, and Nick Jonas, who formed in 2005 and rose to fame starring in several Disney Channel movies and TV shows.
Well, you might be aware that throughout the 2000s, all eyes were on the brothers not just for their child stardom, but because of their purity rings.
In case you didn't know, Kevin, Joe, and Nick each wore purity rings for years as a promise to abstain from sex until they were married. As Kevin told the Huffington Post in 2008, “My ring represents a promise to myself and to God that I’ll stay pure until marriage.”
When the band came together in 2005, Kevin was 17, Joe was 15, and Nick was 12. New to the spotlight and gaining tons of attention as three of Disney’s newest faces, the brothers and their rings became an endless topic of public scrutiny and media conversation.
And along with the limelight came the running jokes. Aside from the ongoing jabs made at the rings by magazines and news outlets, the brothers were ridiculed in an episode of South Park in 2009 and referenced by rapper Jay-Z, who mocked them for still being virgins in his song “On to the Next One” that same year.
Well, although plenty of time has passed, the jokes about the infamous purity rings have once again been reignited — only this time by Joe’s wife, Sophie Turner, and in front of a mass audience.
And Sophie certainly doesn't shy away from referencing the decadelong conversation around the rings — even joking that Joe in particular had, perhaps unnecessarily, worn his while hooking up with costars throughout his teenage years.
“Let’s talk about the purity rings,” she begins. “For those of you who don’t know, purity rings are worn to demonstrate that you’re abstaining from sex before marriage. And the Jonas Brothers, they all had them.”
“Like, I know this is a roast and you all think I should be going after them, but I think we need to set the record straight here,” she continues. “No, the rings weren’t a good idea. Yes, as a gesture they’re laughably, toe-curlingly lame. But remember — this was about more than a gesture. This was about faith, this was about principle, this was about taking a stand and setting an example.”
“Look, Joe Jonas wasn’t just sticking his fingers in some dumb metal rings. He was sticking his fingers in costars, actresses, and even a supermodel or two,” she quips.
Making one final jab, Sophie likens her husband and his ring to “a modern-day Cinderella.” She jokes, “Joe tried to find a match for his purity rings a few times, but finally, the finger fit me. It was also like Cinderella because most of the girls he tried it with were under contract to Disney.”
Sophie’s jokes incited laughter from each of the brothers, the audience, and at-home viewers of the Netflix special — many of whom chimed in on Twitter about the jokes.
However, while Kevin, Nick, and Joe may have grown more comfortable with the jokes about their purity rings over the years, it wasn't always that way. In fact, they previously faced a ton of awkward questions around their sex lives due to the ongoing mockery.
In 2013, shortly after the band announced their split, Joe opened up about his and his brothers’ decision to wear the rings in view of their Christian upbringing.
Speaking to Vulture as their December cover star, Joe got incredibly candid about the inappropriate questions around sex and virginity that he and his brothers received for wearing the rings, all while they navigated newfound fame.
“The topic that dominated news coverage of us for a long time was the whole promise-ring thing,” he said. “We couldn’t escape it. It started when I was really young — I must have been 10 or 11.”
“There’s a program people do in some churches called True Love Waits, where you wait for marriage to have sex,” he explained. “Kevin and I decided to join — Nick tried it later. Fast-forward a few years, we’ve started playing music and we’re working with Disney and we have these rings.”
Joe revealed that he and his brothers were repeatedly questioned about the rings in one of their first interviews, despite having made it clear that they weren’t comfortable talking about the topic.
“[The interviewer] kept pushing the subject, and when we insisted that we didn’t want to talk about it, he told us, ‘I can write whatever I want,’ which terrified us. That’s the thing: We didn’t know any better, and we just wanted to make people happy… Like, why do you even care about my 15-year-old brother’s sex life?” Joe said.
“But back then, we explained that we had made these promises to ourselves when we were younger. A few months later, it comes out that we’re in some cult and that we’re these little staged Mickey Mouse kids. People were coming up to us, saying, “Thank you so much, I’m waiting because you guys are, too!” And we just thought, ‘No! That’s not what we’re about.’”
Joe explained that the conversation around the rings ultimately impacted them as a band, revealing that they had to sugarcoat their image and lyrics, which limited their creativity with songwriting and exploring themselves as artists.
“We decided to take the rings off a few years ago,” he said. “I lost my virginity when I was 20. I did other stuff before then, but I was sexually active at 20. I’m glad I waited for the right person.”
Years later, namely over the summer of 2019, Joe, along with Nick and Kevin — who had just announced their reunion and return to music — collectively spoke out about the inappropriate commentary they’d faced for wearing the rings in a series of interviews.
On an episode of Carpool Karaoke with James Corden, the three explained that they’d never even planned on talking about the rings publicly, and certainly hadn’t anticipated that the jokes would have escalated to such an extent.
“Of course, you have three young boys wearing rings on their fingers, everyone’s like, ‘Are they married already? What's going on here?’” Joe said. “We were in an interview one day, and the guy asked about them, and we said, ‘We don't want to talk about them.’ He was like, ‘I’m just going to say you're in a cult.’ We were scared to death. It was one of our first interviews.
“The next thing you know it’s the Jonas Brothers... and their purity rings,” he continued. “That was what people ran with forever, that was the running joke.”
Months later, the brothers opened up further about how the media obsession around their purity rings came to impact their views of sex growing up.
In conversation with the Guardian in June 2019, Nick spoke about how his understanding of sex was hindered as a teenager, given that his and his brothers’ sex lives and virginity had remained a topic of conversation in the media for years.
“What’s discouraging about that chapter of our life is that at 13 or 14 my sex life was being discussed,” he said. “It was very tough to digest it in real time, trying to understand what it was going to mean to me, and what I wanted my choices to be, while having the media speaking about a 13-year-old’s sex life. I don’t know if it would fly in this day and age. Very strange.”
“The very simple answer is that it was incredibly annoying,” Nick said of media obsession with the purity rings, in an interview with Harper's Bazaar that same month. “And then it became a defining factor of who we were as a band, which was disappointing. I was just trying to navigate love, and romance, and what sex even meant to me, at a sensitive age.”
Nick went on to share that as he got older, he came to understand the humor behind the jokes about the rings, noting that it no longer defines him or his brothers.
“Once I got older, and I experienced love, and had sex, and defined my view of the world, and what faith and religion actually meant to me, I accepted that [the rings] were probably a fascinating story to people,” he said. “In the same way, the South Park episode [which ridiculed the rings] is incredibly entertaining. I accept that it made some people curious and laugh. It doesn’t define us now. That’s what matters.”