Last Friday, actor/musician and former child star Corey Feldman and his backing band, Corey’s Angels, delivered an outlandish, Internet-breaking performance on The Today Show, playing “Go 4 It,” a track off Feldman’s fifth album, Angelic 2 the Core. The public reaction was anything but angelic. Journalists and social media trolls alike were vicious, and by Sunday afternoon, a distraught, tearful Feldman had posted a (since-deleted) Facebook video, saying the entire experience had been “really painful.”
But now Feldman, 45, is having the last laugh. He couldn’t have bought this sort of publicity for Angelic 2 the Core (which features guest spots by Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and Fred Durst, and a cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero”). Pop stars likePink and Kesha have tweeted their support. The Today Show has even invited him back for an encore performance. As Feldman tells Yahoo Music, “Sometimes you have to get through the darkness to see the light.”
Feldman may have cheered up since the weekend, but in this exclusive Yahoo Music interview, however, Feldman still gets serious. He addresses the hurtful bullying resulting from his Today Show performance; the pedophilia, about which he’s been very outspoken, that has run rampant in Hollywood for years; the influence Michael Jackson (whom he insists was not one of his boyhood molesters) had on his music and life; his feelings about Donald Trump; and how there really are two Coreys — the Corey Feldman we see in the media, and the real guy who’s a father of a 12-year-old boy, a “Mr. Cleaver”-style homebody, and an abuse survivor.
YAHOO MUSIC: Were you surprised by the public reaction to your Today Show performance? It was truly crazy.
COREY FELDMAN: Well, I was definitely upset about the initial press reaction. Every single news outlet was reporting the same exact story: “Corey Feldman’s Bizarre Performance!” “What Was That?” “What Was He Thinking?” The media ganged up on me from every single outlet. I know it’s just to sell papers and get attention, but I found it very offensive. Nobody was critiquing what I did. It wasn’t like somebody said, “I didn’t like the song,” or “His voice was off,” or “I didn’t like the lyrics.” If there had been some constructive criticism in there, I would have been very happy to receive it, because every good performer deserves a review. And a well-trained journalist has the right to express their opinion. But when the opinions don’t amount to anything other than a personal slam, by calling me names or talking about the fact that I had problems in my past, I take it personally after a while.
I feel social media was crueler than traditional media, actually.
Yes, there’s also been a “movement” — I don’t know if there’s some organization in charge of all this or somebody who’s actually paying for an autobot-type service to do a thousand nasty tweets to me, but it seems like every single time I release anything, there’s this wave of negative tweeters that comes after me. It’s a wave of hate… the initial wave [after The Today Show] lasted for about 12 hours, of just people bashing and bashing and bashing. The next wave was all support and love and fans, but then, once I released the Facebook video, everyone was very quick to jump on that and bash that, too.
So why did you respond on Facebook that way? Why not just ignore the haters?
Because I think that enough is enough when it comes to bashing and bullying. I don’t think one person should have to endure that just because they’re a public figure. Like, why is that OK? I mean, people were saying things like “The wrong Corey died,” or “You haven’t done anything since those drugs,” or “This all happened because you were probably raped as a kid.” Just terrible, terrible things that I should never have to see, and that my son should never have to see. The fact that my son comes home to me and says, “Yeah, Dad, I read everything” — that’s awful. I don’t want my child to have to look at his dad that way.
Come on, people. I’m a human being. I have flesh and blood and I have tears and sweat, just like anyone else. I think that’s the message I was trying to convey. I think too many celebrities have gotten too comfortable hiding behind their publicists and their official statements and press releases, without actually showing their emotions. And I think that’s what needed and necessary to get the message out to the public that this sort of bullying is affecting people. I wanted people to see how this really affects my emotions.
So why did you take the Facebook video down, then? You deleted it the same day.
Because after it had been up for about six hours and had gotten about 25,000 views, I saw that, even though we had gotten a tremendous amount of love and support from the fans, then all the little hackers and bloggers and haters started coming on. And I thought, “Man, if you’re that low on the moralistic food chain that you have nothing better to do than go on the video of someone who’s already in pain and try to add more salt to the wound and fuel to the fire, then you’re really such a disgusting person. You don’t even deserve to see my tears!” So at that point I figured, I’m done. The message got out to the people that it needed to.
Social media can be awful, even for those who aren’t famous.
It’s ridiculous. It’s just unnecessary and cruel. I would never take time out of my day to go on somebody’s website or Twitter page and be like, “You’re ugly and dumb and you smell and you’re fat!” How would that make me a better person? No one should have to deal with this. We’ve seen, multiple times, kids committing suicide because of this stuff. Even with the Trenchcoat Mafia and all that stuff, going back [Columbine] Colorado, it’s the same mentality. The mentality of beating people up and beating people up until they finally snap. Luckily, I am a very resolved and grounded person, so yes, it hits me on an emotional level, and yes, it affects to me to my core sometimes, but it’s also something I’ve dealt with before and I know how to get through it.
Talking to you, I have to say, you do seemed grounded and sane. You don’t sound like the crazy person the media portrays.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
What are some common misconceptions about you?
You know, a lot of times when people meet me and I’m cowering in the corner with my sunglasses on, with my hood covering my head, people think, “Oh, he must be stuck-up.” No, actually, I’m incredibly shy. I grew up with a lot of abuse, and if you know anything about psychology, people who are abused and beaten down their whole lives tend to cower. That was, unfortunately, the way that I was built. That was how I was designed: to keep my mouth shut and keep a smile on my face. I was trained that way for many years. It took a lot for me to develop my personality and say to the world, “OK, here’s who I really am. Now you can see me.” It took a long time to get there. But I think now people are starting to realize I’m not some egotistical, crazy kid. I’m a shy, respectable, honest man. But people have to get to know me before they discover that. The top comment I get from people I meet all around the world is “Wow! You’re nothing like I expected you to be. I expected you to be an a–hole.”
I still live a very normal life. I don’t really go out much, and I have my child 50 percent of the time. I always say there’s two versions of me. There’s the normal Mr. Cleaver type that stays home and makes my kid lunch every day and picks him up from school and does his homework with him. And then there’s the rock-star me, who goes and does the big events and the concerts — and of course, that’s the one everyone thinks is the crazy one. But that’s all right. I can deal with that.
You seem like you now have a good platform to speak out against bullying. But you have been just as outspoken about the sexual abuse of child actors in Hollywood. Is that a spokesperson role you want to take on?
At some level, yes, because that’s why I wrote my book [the memoir Coreyography] and have mentioned it in certain interviews. But I think I have done what I need to do for now. I’ve started the conversation. I know there’s a least 100 people out there that have the same information that I do. So my pledge to them is: “I’ve done my part, now let’s see about yours.” So far I have not seen any follow-up on that. I’m still the only guy that’s been talking about it.
You never mention the names of any of these abusers in the industry. Why protect people who’ve committed such horrible acts?
I’ve answered that question in the past. Me putting any names out there would just open a wild goose chase. It would not resolve anything. All it would do is put a target on my head, and it wouldn’t save anybody. Any time anyone who’s powerful is [accused of a crime] in the media, the first thing they do is attack the accuser and discredit them. You wanna see change? Stop asking Corey Feldman where the change should come from, and start talking to your local lawmakers and senators and people who can actually do something about it. Tell California to change the statute of limitations. They need to stop protecting the criminals, period.
I think it’s good you have started the conversation, and I hope it doesn’t end with you.
Well, from what I hear, there’s going to be some announcements later this week, or something like that. I’m always hopeful that something will break through. You never know. Regarding “platforms,” my platform is my album and to talk about peace and love and spirituality — because those are the things that are the most important, and what the world needs more of is positive messages and positive energy. We need to learn to become more appreciative and respectful of our brothers and sisters on this earth. We need to become more and engaged with one another. I think if a lot of people could be more connected and more positive and more appreciative of our time here on this earth, if people could see that big picture instead of being so selfish, we could serve each other a lot better. That’s my platform.
There’s an old adage that any publicity is good publicity. People are talking about you more than ever after The Today Show. I know you were upset about the reaction, but, being positive, maybe there’s a silver lining to all this.
Oh, absolutely! I did a second post, that’s still up now, where I say thank you to all the haters! Because at the end of the day, you’re talking about us, and you’ve made us the #1 trending topic on Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, all across the world, for four days straight. So yes, we thank you, because all of your hate has been enough to get even more people’s attention… On Sunday, I was low when I made that [Facebook] video, but as the day went on, as I started seeing a half a million views, a million views, 2 million views, 5 million, 7 million, I was like, “OK, now I’m just counting the change,” because every time you watch [The Today Show performance], it’s racking up my publishing for me as a songwriter. Eventually, I am going to get a check.
I heard you and your Angels were working on a reality show. Is that true?
We did kind of tinker with the idea of doing something like that about a year ago, but I decided not to pursue it because I thought it was going in the wrong direction. I took a step back and decided to focus on the album. At this point, I have no interest in doing that.
Some conspiracy theorists think this whole Today Show thing was a stunt, to get publicity. If so, it seemed to work…
Oh, I wish I was that smart! Unfortunately, I didn’t think that far in advance. Yes, our Twitter followers and record sales are going up, but that is a fluke. I couldn’t have called that in a million years. I certainly didn’t think that was going to happen on Sunday. If I had, I wouldn’t have been crying!
Do you think The Today Show used you, maybe, because they knew your appearance would go viral?
No, I don’t think so, because as a matter of fact, I don’t think they did much promotion of the event at all! The only thing they were hyping up that day was Miley Cyrus. They were basically acting like we weren’t even going to be on. I don’t think they were using us as any kind of hook at all. I think it was just the opposite, and they were very trepidatious that people would even care. They figured they’d throw this guy a bone and see if anybody notices. And then it took everybody by surprise.
You have gotten some high-profile support after the backlash.
Yeah, Pink, Kesha – who I’ve never even met, but I thought it was really sweet that she came forward and put out such a beautiful public statement for me – my dear friend Sean Astin, Jerry O’Connell, even people like Ryan Phillippe. There’s definitely been a support base from the industry itself, which is really nice to see… I’m very grateful that people still care and are still paying attention. I’m like, “Wow, if we were able to get this much of a reaction from one silly song, imagine what we could do with a world tour!” We could really shake things up. There’s a lot of messages with this album, and I think once people are open to receive something new, they’re going to really get it and digest it and fall in love with it.
Some people who saw your performance noted the Michael Jackson influence. Do you agree?
Sure, if you want to look for that, you’ll see it. Yes, there’s definitely an MJ influence in my music and in my dance and persona, because we were very, very close friends and he was always an influence of mine musically. But if you listen to the album, you’ll know that there are many different sides and many different shades to the music. Some of it is EDM, some of it’s hip-hop, some is hard rock, some is pop/R&B. You’ll hear all sort of influences on there: McCartney, Billy Joel, some Aerosmith. It’s pretty spread across the map.
I know you have made it clear that Michael Jackson was not one of the people in Hollywood who abused you. But your name and his are forever linked in the media and in pop culture. Does that ever bother you?
No, it doesn’t bother me. It was a time in my life, and that’s not something I’m ashamed of at all. I’m certainly proud to have known him. He was a great man and a great artist. Sure, he had his eccentricities and his weirdness – but hey, so do I, apparently! We’reall a bunch of weirdos!
After what happened on The Today Show, and how much the reaction hurt you, will you be more guarded when it comes to putting yourself and your music out there?
Absolutely not. I’m very proud of what we did and especially of what the Angels did. And by the way, to address the rumors: We were playing live. There was no lip-synching, and the girls were really playing their instruments.
OK. Any last thoughts?
Outside of what’s going on with me, I just want to say that we’re in a really dark and scary time, and I really hope people are wise when they go to the polls in November. For God’s sake, don’t vote for Donald Trump. That’s about as subliminally as I can put that. We’ve got to survive – what’s going to happen if this madman is in charge of us? He’s so irresponsible, and so unknowledgeable about what’s going on in politics and the world. It’s a very, very scary idea that he’d be put in a position to control all of our futures.
It is interesting that with everything going on in the world and politics right now, you have been a top trending topic…
Right? We have a presidential election going on, thank you. Let’s get back to the election now, shall we?
This article originally ran on Yahoo Music.