Corey Feldman Interview: '80s Icon Reflects on Past and Future
Image attributed to Corey Feldman
Famed actor and musician Corey Feldman releases an all new box set titled Love Left 2.1, a celebration of the early years of his music career (1986-1994). Showcased throughout four CDs, two DVDs and more, the box set features unreleased music, a remixed and mastered version of his debut album, Love Left, and Love Left 2: Arm Me With Love, a sequel to his debut album – his first full-length studio album of all new music in six years. Love Left 2.1 is scheduled for release on January 12, 2022.
In addition to his music, Feldman became well known for roles in films such as Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984), Gremlins (1984), The Goonies (1985) and Stand by Me (1986). In 1987, he starred in The Lost Boys with Corey Haim. They became known as “The Two Coreys” and appeared in other films together.
"Where I am today is at a whole different place because I’ve got a beautiful child. I’ve got a beautiful wife. My child is almost an adult himself. So luckily we made it through his childhood without any molestations or weird things happening to him, and I’m so proud of that fact. So it’s a bit of a victory as well."
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Corey, I can’t believe you recently turned 50! That makes me feel really old as I can remember that McDonald’s Christmas commercial you starred in when you were just three years old.
Corey Feldman: (laughs) Oh, my goodness! Fifty is just a rumor. The truth of the matter is that we call it my 5.0 birthday, which kind of takes away the idea of aging altogether, right? So it’s more about celebrating the decade. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around for five decades, and that’s pretty cool. I look at it that way. But I definitely don’t look at it as my personal age because that’s far too realistic for me.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Was it a monumental birthday?
Corey Feldman: Oh, yes, very monumental. That’s why everything we’re doing right now is in honor of the 5.0 celebration. That’s what motivated me to say, “Look. This may well be the halfway point of my life.” I’m trying to live to 122, but there’s no guarantee. Let’s say I get lucky enough to make it to 100. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever make it that far, but I’m saying at the minimum, that’s the goal. I need to really take everything I’ve done up until this point with a grain of salt. At the same time, I need to embrace it, endorse it and then get rid of it because it’s done. It’s in the past. I’m not one of those people who really likes living in the past. I like moving forward.
I decided to dig through these great vaults that I have and say, “What do I have that I know the rest of the world would really relish? What stuff do I have that may not mean anything to me, but to someone else, it might be the greatest treasure in the history of the planet?” So we started digging through the vault, and that’s how we created this archive of music and video. We started updating, refreshing, modernizing and finding a way to give it life again, and it’s become quite vibrant. That, coupled with new technology and the advancements in technology, allowed us to do things we’ve never done before and is a way for us to not only capture this as a pivotal moment in time, but it’s also a way for us to celebrate the technology we have today and the future of where it’s headed. We’re also giving fans a chance to own a piece of history, so they can feel they’re part of it in a big way, especially the younger kids who weren’t alive when this stuff was out.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Are you getting the response you wanted from the fans?
Corey Feldman: Yes. The fans are great. Times are hard, so it’s really hard right now. When you put out a very expensive piece of art, you’re limiting your audience, obviously. It’s hard for everyday folks to come up with several hundred dollars on a whim, so they’d have to save up for it, you know. Unfortunately, we didn’t give out the price ahead of time, so nobody knew what it was going to be until we said, “Okay. It’s available for presale.” So a lot of people said that was more than they could afford right now, and they’d have to save up for it.
So yes, the response has been incredible. The new box set is certainly going to be the perfect gift under the tree. Inside the box is brand new technology like my hologram. We have hologram Corey that pops up on the top of every box. I’m sure you’ve never in your life thought you’d buy a group of records that came with a hologram of the artist in every box (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I can certainly say that I did not (laughs).
Corey Feldman: There you go (laughs). It’s great to have these kinds of toys at our disposal.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Many people out there may recognize you more as an actor. Why did you want to pursue a music career as a teen?
Corey Feldman: See. That’s the great thing about the box set. There’s so many people like yourself that ask that very question or have that question in mind. A lot of people don’t realize this, but I actually started singing before I started acting. So it was never a case of me wanting to be a musician or wanting to become a singer. I was always a singer. I was always a musician.
What happened was my father was a musician, and he was in several bands throughout the 70s. So when I was three or four years old, I would come home every day to a working band in the living room. There would be a drum set in the middle of the living room, and there’d be a PA system, speakers and cords everywhere. I’d have to learn to not play with the cords or get too close to the amp or it would destroy my ears. I watched my sister, who was only seven years old, be on stage with the Mouseketeers, being a part of the Mickey Mouse Club. So I have watched live performing and musical events throughout my childhood, and when I started acting.
A lot of people don’t know this, which is why we’ve made a first of its kind documentary about my music career and about my life in the world of music. So as part of this great box set, we have a documentary, which is called Corey Feldman – Artist: The Man Behind the Love. It was very lovingly created by a lifelong fan named Jake Perry who actually was on my TV show called The Two Coreys, and he was a major fan during the 80s and the 90s. He was a little kid watching this stuff. He’s about 10 or 15 years younger than me. So he represents kind of that grouping of people. I gave him access to the vaults. I gave him access to my archives and said, “Go have fun with it. Dig through there and find everything you think is fascinating and interesting and that you would want to see as a fan."
He created this documentary which really tells the story of how it all started. As a three-year-old, you’re not able to go and memorize a script. So how do you get jobs as an actor when you’re three years old? Obviously, they’re not going to hand you the lines as they would a 10-year old and say, “Go memorize this and come back in five minutes and show us what you’ve got.” That doesn’t work. So instead, all they have to go on is the kid’s personality and their cuteness level, right? So knowing this, my mom would stick me in a room with a record player, tell me to learn the song, tell me come out and sing it for her. I’d come out and sing her these little songs which were probably popular folk songs in the 70s like “Put on a Happy Face” or “Junk Food Junkie” by Larry Groce, stuff like that. Those are actually the very first songs that I sang professionally because I’d go in to my auditions, and I would sing those songs, and on that basis was how I got picked for my very first few commercials.
So the very, very beginning of my career started with me singing, and that led to me doing things like musical numbers. One of my very first TV appearances outside of commercials was on a television special with Dick Van Dyke called How to Eat Like a Child where I’d sing and dance on that show. There were many song and dance numbers that I learned. I had to learn the choreography. I had to learn the vocals. I had to learn all that stuff at about five years old. So moving forward from there, being around it all the time, seeing it all the time, I think it was just a natural progression. I started doing things like playing drums with pots and pans and wooden spoons from my grandmother’s kitchenware.
When I was seven, I’d do concerts for the neighborhood until I was probably about 10, and I was listening to stuff I’d find in my grandmother’s old windup record player because she literally had that stuff from the 50s. I listened to all that classic rock stuff. But then I listened to what was popular at that time which was KISS and pop stars like Shaun Cassidy. That was the beginning of my musical influence. But from there, it was all about the life changing moment when I first saw Michael Jackson perform. I thought, “Oh, there’s more to this than just singing. There’s more to this than just writing a song. It’s about the performance. It’s about what you can bring to life on stage. It’s really your representation of performing your own music." So that’s kind of the Easter egg, I guess, that stuck in my head and inspired me to be more.
When I became friends with Michael Jackson, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn from him, to study from him and learn what it takes to write a great song, to produce a great song, to make a great music video and how to treat a fan. I guess that started it all. I put out my very first single in 1989 for a film soundtrack that I recorded with Michael Damian who had the number one single from that film called “Rock On.” The film, of course, was Dream a Little Dream. So my very first single came out on vinyl in 1989. A lot of people don’t realize that’s how long I’ve been putting out music. In 1986, I wrote and recorded my very first song called “Runaway.” I shot a music video for it, and I now have it on YouTube for the very first time so people can see it for free, or they can own a copy of it by buying the box set.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You said that the previously unseen “Runaway” video features the two men who would become your abusers. Why would you want to give them any fame or recognition?
Corey Feldman: Well, we did put a bit of a disclaimer on there. On the YouTube channel, there’s a bit of a disclaimer which told the story. I had to think long and hard whether this was something I wanted to put out because obviously, you don’t want to give them the unnecessary attention or make them any type of stars or anything that would hold them in high regard. But I think the very fact that we point out who they are and what they did is actually more detrimental than positive because now you can actually put faces to them should anybody run into the men in public.
They’re both still alive. They’re both still out there. One of them, Jon Grissom, has been convicted of being a pedophile and is actually on the state watch list because he’s also a fugitive. He’s been on the lam for many years. In fact, this could help people to locate him, find him and hopefully bring him to justice. So there’s actually a little bit of a hidden purpose behind that.
There’s also the fact that I think it’s about dealing with the wreckage of my past and not being ashamed. It’s not my fault that they abused me. It’s not my fault that they decided to manipulate me and pretend they were my friends. But it really does beg the questions, why was a child left alone with these two individuals? Why would I have had them in my apartment without any adult supervision? Where was my father? Where was my mother? Why was I left alone with these two creepy guys in my apartment to dance around and pretend they were my equals?
They weren’t my equals. They were adults, and they shouldn’t have been there in the first place unless they were getting paid to be there. If they were getting paid to be there, then certainly they should’ve left when the jobs were over instead of staying around and messing with my time. Here’s a kid who is 15 years old, dressed in all black with long hair, singing a song that he wrote about being abused and the fear of running away because he knows if he does, he’ll end up on the street, probably be taken advantage of and force-fed drugs. That’s what that song is about. It literally says, “If you go to the streets, you’ll end up dead from crack.” So it was a kid crying out for help openly and trying to raise awareness about his own situation, which fell on deaf ears, sadly. Nobody noticed. Nobody paid attention. So I guess, that’s just another attempt at saying, “Now, do you get it? Now, do you understand who I am? Now, do you understand where I came from and what I fought through to get where I am today?”
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Where are you today?
Corey Feldman: Where I am today is at a whole different place because I’ve got a beautiful child. I’ve got a beautiful wife. My child is almost an adult himself. So luckily we made it through his childhood without any molestations or weird things happening to him, and I’m so proud of that fact. So it’s a bit of a victory as well.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Corey, were these two men friends of your mother and father?
Corey Feldman: Yeah. My parents literally introduced me. Jon Grissom was a guy that was working for my father’s company, and my father not only introduced me to him but said, “He is going to be your point guy. He’s your assistant from now on. He’s going to stay with you 24/7, and he’ll take you wherever you need to go.” My father said he would be the guy because he was too busy running his business. Essentially, it was a business that was promoted on my name because it was a management company saying, “Hey, I made my kid a star. I can make your kid a star, too.” So why don’t I have this pedophile be the caretaker for my child? I’m not saying my father knew he was a pedophile. But don’t you think you’d do a little background check or investigation before you turn your kid over to some creepy crawler dude? So there’s that.
On the other side of it, Alphy Hoffman, the other guy who molested me, actually was running an entire operation where he had access to tons of kids in the business because his supposed father wasn’t his father at all. He was actually the head of casting for a major studio. So his lover was pretending to be his father. They were a gay couple, and they brought kids in. That’s what was going on there. It was really a messed up situation. Bottom line is that my mother turned me over to Alphy, and my dad turned me over to the other guy. So if it weren’t for my parents, I would’ve never met those two men.
Those two men introduced me to every drug and drink that I ever took. I got drunk one time before that when I was on the set of Stand by Me. I was just hanging with local kids and got into some trouble by drinking, and I smoked pot for the first time. That was it. Then in a similar situation, I did drugs one time on my own on the set of The Lost Boys when I was being supervised by my mother who had a drug problem. But that was it. After that, I said, “I don’t want any drugs. I want to be very straight.” So I started doing anti-drug rallies. I was part of this organization called Hollywood Kids Just Say No. So that was my life. That’s where I was headed. Unfortunately, the people that were introduced to me would say, “You’ve got to try this. You’ll have a great time.” I listened to them, unfortunately. I don’t blame anybody for making the choices because I made the choices to take the drugs. But I was underage. I was a kid. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: How are you doing today with your sobriety?
Corey Feldman: I’m doing great. I’ve been sober off of all hard drugs and alcohol for 30 years. I got sober the first time when I was 18. That’s when I really got off the hard drugs and the alcohol. I had a small relapse a few years later after four years, and that lasted about six months. From there, never again. I never touched hard drugs again. I haven’t been a drinker ever since. I have no interest in it. But it’s great as a dad because at least I know what’s out there. I also know what signs to look for. I’m very proud to say that my kid has never gone down that road. He’s never touched a hard drink in his life. Thank God.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: And he’s 17?
Corey Feldman: Yeah.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: How did you and your wife, Courtney, meet?
Corey Feldman: In the most unconventional of ways, I must say.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing.
Corey Feldman: Well, we met at the Playboy mansion, which is probably the last place in the world where you’d think you’d meet your future wife or future husband. But that’s what happened. I had gotten divorced from my son’s mom and had gone through a few years of depression. I was feeling like, “Oh, man, I thought I had it all together, and now I’ve lost it. I’ve got this separated family, and I’ve got to be a single dad.”
So there was a lot weighing on me at the time. But the last thing I wanted was another relationship. I kind of pegged myself as an eternal bachelor at that point. So I thought I’d hang out at the Playboy mansion. I mean, if I was going to be a bachelor forever, that’s the spot (laughs). Who else should I hang with other than Hugh Hefner who’s the world’s most eligible bachelor, right? So that became my life and my idea of myself. But I started seeing myself as an old man dating lots of girls (laughs). That’s not a very pleasant future. That feels very disjointed, and I was hoping that wasn’t the case. But I also didn’t see myself being able to love or trust indefinitely again.
Quite fortunately, my wife is an incredible woman who taught me that it is possible to trust. It is possible to actually share a relationship with somebody for the rest of your life. So we’ve now been together for a decade, and I’m very pleased with that. I’m very grateful for that. We actually just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Congratulations!
Corey Feldman: Thank you so much.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You were raised Jewish. Are you a religious person now?
Corey Feldman: I’m not a religious person, and I do observe the High Holidays with my family. But I’m a spiritualist. I do believe in God. But Jews are not raised to get on their knees and all that kinds of stuff. They’re taught to get together in the Temple, read Hebrew prayers, light the candles and do the Shabbat. It’s a whole very different operation. For whatever reason, I believe in taking the Christian philosophy of humbling myself before God. I feel the right thing to do is get on my knees, humble myself and pray. I do that every night before I go to bed. To me, it’s whatever connects you to that higher power, and you should also keep yourself on a moral high ground. You know, you’ve got to have good morals. The true identification of what makes a good human is what their moral fabric consists of. That’s how I feel.
One of the reasons I felt comfortable doing the documentaries that I did and putting the truth out there the way I did is because I also knew that no matter what they found in my past, unless they were lying, they would never find anything that I did was so incredibly wrong that it would raise to the level of a child molester. I’ve never done anything in my life that is that terrible. That’s what gave me the courage to move forward in talking.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Let’s talk about future film projects. On your IMDB, it says that The Goonies 2 has been announced. True or false?
Corey Feldman: That’s a lie. Unfortunately, people have taken over my IMDB, and they won’t let me access it or Wikipedia. You’ll find many links to untrue stories, to be honest. There’s a lot of lies on my Wikipedia page and on my IMDB page. It’s just not factual, and I can’t even get in there. My manager can’t get in there. My publicist can’t get in there because there’s so much corruption on the internet these days that hackers can get in there, and they literally control your story.
People are supposed to be able to get in there and edit, so they can make sure they keep the truth out there about themselves. Well, the bottom line is, I have no access. I am blocked from both the Wikipedia page and the IMDB. So as much as I ‘d like to erase that lie that’s out there, I can’t. There is no such thing as Goonies 2. It’s not being made. It’s not probably ever going to be made because we lost our dear director, Richard Donner, this year. If it were ever to be made, it would be made under his supervision. So the fact that he’s no longer with us is a pretty good clue that what I’m saying is true (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Do you have any future acting projects?
Corey Feldman: I’ve been really honestly staying away from the acting side of things right now because I’ve been very focused, obviously, on the music, and I’ve also been exploring the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which is a very time-consuming technology of the future. It’s a new way to bring fans deeper into the entertainment industry without putting them at risk, of course, with things like hologram imagery which is on my new box set. Right now, I’m very caught up in that.
Obviously, I do a lot of charity work. I spend a lot of time doing animal rights and children’s’ rights. I was part of changing the statute of limitations in two states, both New York and California, to create a lookback window for survivors. Of course, I’m busy with this box set and new album. We also have a vinyl EP we put out just a few months ago. So this has been very time consuming and has taken up a great amount of my creative mind.
Beyond that, I’ve done a few cameos. I had a movie that just came a few weeks ago called 13 Fanboy, which I appear in briefly. But there are no movies that I’m starring in right now. I’ve decided to put that side of my career on hold, and I don’t know if I’ll be returning to it. Maybe from now on, I’ll be more on the tech side, the creative side, and I’ll continue making music, albums and touring. Or maybe I will get back to films at some point. But if I do, it’s got to be right right project with the right crew of people who I can trust and know that they’re good people, that we’re making something positive, and there won’t be any type of abuse or negative rhetoric. I’m really trying to lean toward anything that’s going to be spiritually enlightening or positive and uplifting.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Has there been a film over your career that has embodied that message?
Corey Feldman: Dream a Little Dream is probably my favorite adolescent project because it was a time I really got to shine. It’s well represented in the box set that is a collection of my work from 1986 to today. I think Dream a Little Dream captured that kind of idyllic moment for me because it was the first time I did choreography. It was the first time I got to write my own music for a film and release music. It was also the first time I got to collaborate as a choreographer and the first time I got to produce a film.
So I was very heavily involved on the creative side, and it was a great acting challenge for me because I got to act alongside Jason Robards, Harry Dean Stanton and Piper Laurie. I was blessed to work with such talent. But unfortunately, many of them were lost right after that film, so I really caught a great era in cinematic history by being a part of that. I was very proud of that film and role. In this box set, we actually have a never-before-seen interview with Jason Robards from the set of Dream a Little Dream as well as the song I recorded for that soundtrack, which was my very first single released on vinyl in 1989. I co-wrote that with Michael Damian who had the number one song from the soundtrack called “Rock On.”
Then there’s Dream a Little Dream 2, which was the sequel I did with Corey Haim. I did two songs for that film’s soundtrack. So for the first time, we’re releasing those songs. It will give the fans a chance to own another piece of that film’s history. That’s what it’s all about.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Corey, I wish you much success with that project. I’m also very sorry all of that happened to you, especially at such a young age. But you seem to have overcome so many adversities, and you should really be proud of that.
Corey Feldman: Well, thank you, but not without the blessings of the great Lord. Let me tell you that much. If it wasn't for God, I wouldn’t be here today. I promise you that, in all humility. I have done my share of the work, obviously, to stick around. But with that said, if it was not for the blessings of God, I would not be here today.
I am forever humbled and grateful to have a family, to have a healthy life, to have an income and still be able to have fans that appreciate the work I put out there. I’m very grateful to my fans, and I’m very grateful to you for taking the time to explore this with me. So thank you.
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