Friday, November 29, 2013

Corey Feldman's Life with Vampires

by Pa Rock

I have just finished reading Coreyography, the autobiography of former child star Corey Feldman.    The book chronicles nearly four decades of the author’s life in the entertainment industry.  It is an amazing tale, apparently penned without the aid of a ghostwriter, a feat that shows he is as talented at the keyboard as he is in front of a camera.

Coreyography  is a hell of a ride, beginning with the death of the other Corey (Haim), and then veering back to the author’s earliest childhood memory – the day he filmed his first commercial at the tender age of three.  Feldman’s narrative leads readers through victimization by his parents, sexual abuse during his adolescent years by adult men, stardom, love affairs, drug addiction, arrests, multiple stints in rehab, the slow rebuilding of a career, and fatherhood.

The book could have easily been entitled Corey Feldman’s Mother Issues because a significant portion is an angry indictment of his mother’s parenting practices and general behavior.  He describes his mother as a woman who lived off of the salaries of her two oldest children – and sucked most of that up her nose.    According to the author, his mother partied all night, slept all day, and was concerned only with pleasure and taking care of herself.  He tells of his mother ignoring the needs of her children, constantly cursing and berating him, beating him with a dowel rod after he was fired from a movie, and forcing him to take diet pills (speed) when she was concerned that he was becoming fat. 

In one of the most heart-rending tales in the book, Feldman shares a story about a surprise party that the Executive Producer of The Goonies, Steven Spielberg, planned for the movie’s director, Richard Donner.  Donner was making it generally known that he was anxious to finish the movie so he could head out to his retreat in Hawaii and get away from all of the child actors.  Some of the youngsters had talked about how much fun it would be to go to Hawaii and be there waiting for Donner when he arrived.   Spielberg also thought that would be fun.  He arranged to fly each kid and an adult sponsor to Hawaii to surprise Donner at his house.

Feldman felt that his grandmother deserved the trip because she had supervised him in Oregon during the filming of The Goonies, but his mother wasn’t going to miss out on a free vacation.  Sadly, but not necessarily surprisingly, she showed up late for the trip to the airport and they missed the flight.  Spielberg put them on a later flight, but the boy missed the party, the culmination of many months of hard work. He said that he never forgave his mother for that incident.

Toward the end of the book, Feldman appears to try to cut his mother some slack, but his rage toward her still resonates across the pages.

And dad, a musician who lived away from the family, doesn’t fare much better in this memoir.  At one point the teenage Corey moves out of his mother’s home and settles into a one-bedroom apartment with his father.  Dad becomes Corey’s business manager and generally, in the young actor’s opinion, proceeds to damage his career and put him on a track where he will never reach his full potential.   (Dad is also described as being proud that he has reached a point in his relationship with his oldest son where they can smoke pot together.)  When Corey eventually goes to Court seeking emancipation at the age of fifteen, his father declines to agree to the request until Corey reimburses him for the money he supposedly lost while neglecting his own career for the benefit of his son.  He settles his claim in return for the actor’s total savings of forty thousand dollars.

A second title for this memoir could have been Meal Ticket, a term Feldman uses multiple times in the book to describe his primary function within the family.

Corey Feldman was in several memorable films during his childhood and adolescence including Gremlins, Stand by Me, The Goonies, Lost Boys (my personal favorite), and License to Drive.  His memoir relates a wealth of personal anecdotes from those days of fame and shows how those experiences helped to shape the troubled young man that he became.

Death plays a prominent role in this accounting of growing up in the entertainment industry.  The sad deaths of Corey Haim, River Phoenix, Sam Kenison, and Michael Jackson, all friends of Corey Feldman, each impact his life in significant ways.  But it is the death of innocence that forms the overarching theme of this work.  Readers are exposed to the sweet little boy filming a Christmas commercial for McDonald’s and then watch is silent horror as he slowly works his way into a career and lifestyle that ultimately consume him.

One other title for this book could have been Corey Feldman’s Life with Vampires.  In an ironic instance of life imitating art, the young vampire hunter from The Lost Boys  spent years in the real world being sucked dry by those closest to him.   Many of the people he should have been able to love and trust used Feldman, shamelessly and relentlessly, for money, sex, drugs, and access to the industry.    His fame seemed to feed everyone but himself.

This is a sad book, yet one which is extremely riveting.   I will pass my copy along to my favorite screenwriter with the personal plea that he never raise my granddaughter anywhere near Los Angeles.   There’s one thing about Los Angeles I would not be able to stomach - all the damn vampires!

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