Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Lost Boy

Coreyography by Corey Feldman
Reviewed by Diane K. M.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Once you get past the ridiculous title and intense cover photo, this is a good memoir. I read very few celebrity biographies, but Corey Feldman's appealed to me because I grew up watching his movies. I loved "The Goonies" and "Stand By Me," and even the campiness of "The Lost Boys."

What I didn't know back then was that Corey's personal life was hell. His parents were abusive and neglectful, and for much of his childhood he was the sole breadwinner of the family. He had started acting in commercials when he was 3, and he worked steadily until he was a teenager. Both of his parents did drugs and Corey's paychecks were frittered away. If he lost an acting job, his mother would beat him. Once she beat him so hard that he blacked out. She also tormented him by constantly telling him he was fat and ugly, and that he was klutz.

Corey was so miserable that he tried to kill himself. When he was 12, he swallowed a bottle of aspirin. Later he found one of his grandfather's guns and came close to pulling the trigger, but he couldn't go through with it.

The first time Corey slept over at a friend's house, he was shocked when the boy's parents tucked his friend in at bedtime and said they loved him. Corey realized what he was missing and that his family wasn't normal. He often cried himself to sleep and wished he could escape. Eventually he started experimenting with drugs and alcohol, which set him on a path to addiction and gave him a bad reputation.

As if that wasn't awful enough, Corey wrote about how he was frequently molested by older men, and said pedophilia is a serious problem in the entertainment business. His longtime friend and fellow actor, Corey Haim, was raped on a movie set when he was just 11. In a disturbing description, Feldman looked at a photo from his 15th birthday party and saw that there were five different child molesters in the picture, along with himself and Haim. He said they were surrounded by "monsters." Feldman said he later tried to bring charges against one of his abusers, but the statute of limitations had run out.

One of Corey's childhood idols was Michael Jackson, who became a good friend. Corey's home life was so screwed up that Michael's house was a safe haven for him. The memoir has several sweet stories of hanging out with Michael, going to Disneyland with him while wearing a disguise, and attending Michael's elaborate parties. Years later, when MJ was accused of molesting children, Corey spoke up in his defense. In 2001, Michael broke off their friendship when he heard a rumor that Corey was writing a book about him, which Corey denied.

Hollywood is so far removed from my world that I had never seriously considered the plight of child actors. It's just not fair to put kids under such pressure to earn a living and support a family. When parents ask Corey for advice on how to get their child into the movie industry, he tells them to "get these kids out of Hollywood and let them lead normal lives."

I'm glad I read this memoir, even though I'll never again be able to watch those beloved 80s movies the same way. Corey tells some good behind-the-scenes stories about making "Gremlins," "The Goonies," "Stand By Me," and "The Lost Boys," and fans will probably appreciate this book. But the details of his abuse and neglect are very disturbing and sensitive readers should be warned.

Corey closes the book on an upbeat note, saying he's been sober for years and he's happy to have a son, Zen, who is now 8, and is still focused on his movie and music career. He hopes that talking about his abuse may help prevent other children from the same fate.

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