Posts Tagged ‘Joey’

We had just sat down in the studio, and Uncle Richard was talking excitedly about a book.

Uncle Richard: Have you ever heard of the Bermuda Triangle?

I shook my head.

Uncle Richard: It’s interesting. Amelia Erhart’s plane got lost there. Countless ships go through there and never return. Sometimes they see old ships that have sunk hundreds of years ago. Sometimes they see ghosts.

Goosebumps prickled on my arms, and I was instantly intrigued.

Me: What do you think it is?

Uncle Richard: Some say it’s a natural phenomenon – like gigantic magnet. Some say it’s a doorway to another dimension.

He was so excited about this book he was reading, and so impressed with this author that he actually went to hear her lecture on the subject. The thought of a place that sucked ships in – a place where people saw ghosts – stuck in my head. In many ways it never left. I asked Russ about it the following week, and a funny look came over his face.

Russ: There’s something to it, man. I went through there once. I was doing a gig on a cruise ship and we went really close to the Triangle.  Anyway, during the night my Dad walked into my room – we had this huge conversation while I was laying in bed. I’d fall asleep for a while, I’d wake up and he’d be there. This happened a few times. Then, one time I woke up and he was gone. My Dad had been dead for like, 10 years, though. Swear to God.

I imagined being on a ship and seeing people who weren’t really there – and maybe being stuck in that place forever. I got goosebumps again. Thinking about such things was a nice diversion from the other things going on.

By this point in my life, I had begun to have severe headaches – migraines, really. They’d come on suddenly, and I’d clutch my head and just scream. My stomach, too, was in knots all the time – it felt like I was digesting balls of icy glass. We went to several doctors, but nothing ever showed up on the tests. As a kid, I didn’t understand what was going on, which only added to the phenomenon. As an adult, I see that I was under severe stress – the Mafia was watching us, and Joey Lawrence was plotting to ruin my career (I say this with tongue planted firmly in cheek, of course). Mom’s delusions about people being out to get me got more and more elaborate. Every day, she’d issue new warnings.

Mom: I don’t care where you are, if you put a glass down and walk away from it, you never drink from it again. Understand?

Me: Because it could be poisoned?

Mom: Or drugs. Someone could be trying to get you high so you get addicted to drugs and arrested.

I took the advice to heart, and to this day I never drink out of a glass if it’s been out of my sight for even a second. While as a kid this was fueled by pure paranoia, as an adult it is simply an empty habit which annoys and confounds people (though maybe there’s a little paranoia peeking out every now and then).

One day, Mom appeared particularly happy. I asked her why.

Mom: Because I made a deal.

Me: Oh, did The Answer come back?

Mom: I wish! No, it’s nothing like that. But I think I found a way to get Joey off our backs.

Me: Okay, good.

Mom: I told Russ that if they’d let you have music, Joey could have acting. You guys can split it, that way you won’t compete with each other.

Again, looking back, I was no competition whatsoever to Joey – he had a totally different look. He played the teenage heart throb, and any acting roles I got would be the egghead. Besides the age gap, we wouldn’t have been going up for the same roles in anyone’s wildest imagination. Regardless, Mom was in no position to make deals of any kind – let alone the kind she thought she was making. The whole premise is ridiculous, and I see that now. I imagine that it’s a lot like a cult, though. From the inside, everything makes perfect sense. You hear it every day and you live with it, you breathe it, you eat it. From the outside, it’s utter nonsense. Thank God I’m on the outside now.

Anyway, she had absolute blue convulsions when Joey came out with an album. She literally threw fits – she felt that “they” had gone back on the deal and now we would get nothing. She stormed into Russ’s studio to confront him about the whole thing. As usual, her anger completely melted when she saw him – she kind of went into a trance and got that far off, glassy look. She did ask repeatedly things like “Is The Answer coming back?” and “Did Joey take our spot for real?” Russ gave his typical assurances (which were somehow both positive and vague at the same time) and Mom was mollified temporarily. The Joey thing flared up repeatedly, though, and still does to this day. Not always with him specifically but every once in a while she’ll latch onto other people (usually celebrities or semi-celebrities) and insist they are plotting against us. Most recently, she’s been telling me with a straight face that The Jonas Brothers took my spot and I have lost another shot at superstardom. What the hell do the Jonas Brothers have to do with whether or not I’m a successful musician? Still, she insists they plotted against us and sidetracked my career. It would be funny if she wasn’t completely serious. It is kind of funny, though.

I remember sitting in a makeup chair, on a commercial set. The hair and makeup lady was fooling with my hair – combing, spraying, styling. Suddenly she paused.

Makeup Lady: Oh, hey.

I raised my eyebrows.

Makeup Lady: You’ve got gray hairs.

Me: I do?

Makeup Lady: Yeah, you totally do. A couple, actually.

Me: Huh.

She called over a colleague who also marveled over this.

Makeup Lady: I wonder how a kid your age gets gray hair? Must be a sign of high intelligence.

Or stress. When you spend enough of your childhood in the Bermuda Triangle, gray hairs happen.



Posted: March 19, 2013 in Acting, Life, Mom, Russ
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

With Nancy in the mix, Mom started getting concerned that Russ’s other students were vying to take my place. She was concerned with stuff like that in general – she’d be at auditions, checking out the “Competition”. She’d get worried if some kid came along that looked similar to me but gave a great read, or was more handsome or had a cooler look. She had these little rivalries that went on in her head with people – they rarely ever even came to the surface, beyond private conversations with me. She would decide (based mostly on whether or not they were “Competition” and whether or not they were any good) that the mother was nasty, or the kid was ugly, or they were out to get us. I remember one kid, who was always at auditions with us, and his mother would sit there and talk to my Mom. Now, I grant you, this lady was a little creepy. She was always talking about how hot her son was or how if she were a girl she’d be into him. This went on for, oh…maybe a couple of months. One day – for no reason anyone was aware of – Mom blew her top. If there was a conversation that preceded this, it was simply the average banter of stage mothers sitting in a casting office.

Mom: Tommy has had his day in the sun! He’s finished! It’s our turn.

Tommy’s Mom: …what?

Mom: And…and…if you think he’s so hot why don’t you just sleep with him, then!

The kid’s mom was flabbergasted. Her jaw was open and she was just stunned into silence. She never talked to Mom again, which was just fine as far as she was concerned. I thought it was kind of funny, though a little uncalled for.

Occasionally – and this happened maybe a dozen times over my career – Mom would latch onto someone and consider them a real threat. Usually this was someone we had zero contact with (or maybe, at best, saw them once or twice) – yet somehow she got it into her head they were behind the scenes scheming against us. One such person was Joey Lawrence. You guys might remember him from the 90’s sitcom Blossom – he was famous for saying “Woah.” a lot.  He was one of Russ’s students – hence, we had a tenuous (at best) connection with him. To my knowledge, though, we never met him in person so I really don’t know how he popped into her head like he did. I remember Mom insisting Joey and/or his family were tapping our phones (they weren’t), or that Joey would try to set me up to go to jail for drugs. This is literally the conversation we had, at least a couple times.

Mom: Danny, I want you to keep your backpack zipped up all the time.

Me: …okay? There’s nothing anyone would want to steal. Just books…

Mom: No, I think Joey might want to put something in it.

I knew exactly who she was talking about – she had been fussing about him nonstop. She had even called and asked my agent if she knew and worked with Joey. I guess she was trying to find out information or something.

Me: Mom, nobody is going to plant drugs on my backpack.

Mom: Well, they might! And if they do, your career is over! You will be in jail!

There was no point in arguing – she was really wound up. I have only ever seen fervent defense attorneys and earnest TV Preachers speak with as much passion and emphasis as she did.

Mom: You. Will be. A DITCH DIGGER.

I laughed – I couldn’t help it. The word struck me funny.

Mom: I AM SERIOUS! If you don’t zip up your backpack and keep it with you AT ALL TIMES, you will rot in jail and be a ditch digger.

Me: Okay, Mom.

I had to look out the car window – I could no longer suppress the big smirk that was coming and I didn’t want her to see it. This whole conversation – especially how grave she was being – struck me as amusing for some reason. Besides – I was about 80-90% sure she was confused, at best. But there was that little part of me that wondered if she wasn’t right – I was a kid after all. As far as I knew, my Mom knew more than I did (at least, she claimed to have a lot of important knowledge about things I “couldn’t know yet”). Even today, with years of therapy under my belt I question my own perceptions often. I am sure – fairly sure, anyway – that I perceive something a certain way. But maybe I’m wrong. And then the self doubt sets in. As a result, I’m probably the most thorough person I know (besides my brother) – I research things to the end of the earth, just to be conclusively sure. Still, doubt sometimes lingers. I think it’s habit formed from growing up in a household where questioning perceptions was a daily (even hourly) activity.

She’d harass Russ about Joey too – asking Russ if Joey was conspiring against us (Russ told her he was not). Asking Russ if we had anything to “worry about” in regards to Joey. Russ would usually tell her no or give her one of his ambiguous answers. Regardless of what he said, she would analyze the hell out of it. If he was straightforward and told her “No, Joey Lawrence isn’t plotting against you” she would inevitably decide it was not the “right Russ” that told us this – it was possibly a Russ who was in league with Joey and the shadowy powers aligned against us.

I asked Mom a few times why all these people I didn’t even know were out to get me. I assumed these people had lives and families – surely they couldn’t have time to just come after me 24/7. I don’t remember her exact wording, but the upshot was that i was so talented that I was a serious threat to the “system”. And they either needed to “make” me (i.e. the Mafia backing me) or they needed to get rid of me – get me thrown in jail, or assassinated. I don’t care how old you are – if hearing that doesn’t give you one hell of a complex, I don’t know what will.