Kids can be deprived of their childhood in any number of ways. But the ones we often hear about are the child actors who are cut off from their peers, pushed into pre-adolescent stardom by single-minded stage parents, and ultimately filed under “Where are they now?” until something goes wrong: an addiction here, a reality show there, maybe a tell-all biography along the way.
Corey Feldman knows the feeling, having transitioned from child actor to post-adolescent train wreck and now — thanks in large part to last September’s still-infamous “Today” show performance — an unlikely middle-aged pop singer embarking on a 40-date national tour. Corey Feldman & the Angels will be at the RecordBar on Friday, July 7.
Feldman cites lyrics from John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” — “They’ve tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years / Then they expect you to pick a career” — to summarize a predicament he has faced since childhood. The song, he says, speaks to him, which is why he covered it on his most recent album, “Angelic 2 the Core.”
“When I heard those lyrics the first time, I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s me,’ ” recalled the 45-year-old performer in a recent phone interview. “You come out of being a child actor and, all of a sudden, you’re in your 20s, and you’ve worked for 20 years, and they say, ‘Oh well, you can’t work anymore, because you’re not cute enough, you’re not this, you’re not that. So that’s over, now go find something else to do.’ ”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
It wasn’t Feldman’s idea to get into show business. That, he says, was the choice of his overzealous stage mother.
Feldman made his acting debut at the age of 3 in a McDonald’s Christmas commercial. By the age of 16, he’d earned Hollywood celebrity through leading roles in blockbuster films like “Gremlins,” “The Goonies,” “Stand by Me” and “The Lost Boys.” He even appeared in a music video by his childhood hero and mentor Michael Jackson.
All of which made the transition from teen magazines to tabloid headlines that much more difficult. Feldman also fueled the fire with his own tell-all tome, “Coreyography,” in which he recounted his bouts with heroin and maintained that pedophilia is the entertainment industry’s No. 1 problem. He also urged parents of kids in the industry to get them out of Hollywood and allow them to live normal lives.
He may have survived such issues, but Feldman’s interactions with the outside world can still be confusing. And that may be more true than ever with his return to the media spotlight, this time in the unlikely role of a touring pop musician.
For that, Feldman credits “God’s architecture” and, more specifically, the aforementioned “Today” show performance. What began as a routine daytime-show booking instantly turned into something else entirely.
Feldman and his band’s quirky performance of an electronic dance music number called “Go 4 It” quickly went viral, while inspiring YouTube comments that ranged from curiosity to ridicule.
If you’ve yet to see it, the video is definitely worth watching. It opens with a dub-step vamp laid down by Corey’s Angels, an all-female backing band that includes Feldman’s wife, Courtney Anne Mitchell, DJing. Although dressed in slinky white angel-wear — complete with furry halos and wings — they turn out to be no match for the spectacle of Feldman, hunched over in a black hoodie, side-stepping his way to the mic in a manner that’s equal parts “Nutcracker Suite” and King of Pop.
With breathy, raspy and apparently Auto-tune-free vocals, he comes across as a voice-over actor grasping for drama at all costs. If there was a tongue-in-cheek element to the performance, Feldman’s wide-eyed countenance kept it well concealed.
Later that week Feldman and his wife uploaded a more composed video.
“We love you, and we’re gonna keep going no matter what,” Feldman said. “So therefore, for all the people who really love us, if you really want to show your love and your support, please continue buying the album and continue buying the single, because there’s no better way to show the haters that they’re wrong.”
Feldman is pushing ahead, having started a tour that numbers some 40 shows. He’s also producing a film about his life story for Lifetime that he expects to air this fall.
Feldman’s other big project is a return to the vampire roots he explored 30 years ago in “The Lost Boys.” His appetite already whetted by a blood-sucking cameo in the short film “Saturday Night Slaughter,” he’s currently filming a new feature-length movie called “Corbin Nash,” which he’s hoping will be out by October.
“I actually play the lead vampire, who happens to be a tranny,” Feldman said. “So I have to completely become this character, which is about as far removed as I could get from my real person. So that was a challenge and fun.”
Then there is the music. Feldman, it turns out, has music in his blood; his father, Bob Feldman, was a member of The Strangeloves, a mid-1960s songwriting and production team best remembered for their hit “I Want Candy.”
Fewer still may realize that Feldman has five albums under his belt.
Most of the material on Feldman’s current tour, though, will come from his overly generous “Angelic 2 the Core,” a two-CD set that suggests Corey is being kept awake at night by the ghosts of Michael Jackson and Marilyn Manson. (He’ll also trade on his film success by performing non-album songs from “The Lost Boys,” “Stand by Me,” “The Goonies” and “Dream a Little Dream” on this tour.)
Feldman is hoping the current tour will lay to rest the assumption that Corey’s Angels were miming their “Today” show performance, much like the glamorous models who pretended to be Robert Palmer’s backing band in ’80s videos like “Addicted to Love.”
“One of the harshest critiques that we got on the first appearance was everybody trying to say that the girls weren’t really playing,” Feldman said. “And yes, of course I like the visuals in the Robert Palmer videos and the idea of them all obviously faking it. So I thought, what if we did it for real? What if we had a band of smoking hot gorgeous girls that are actually talented, as opposed to just being kind of mimes and dummies?
“They really trained and studied and learned this stuff,” he said. “It is not easy, let me tell you, to perform an EDM song totally live on morning television. And I think what we did was a huge achievement.”
As for his own strengths, Feldman feels he has learned from the troubles he has had — as well as the mistakes he has made — over the course of his lifelong career.
“If you never are obstructed, and you never have any challenges, then how are you going to grow?” he asked. “I am quite proud of the person that I’ve become. I think I’m a pretty good father, I’m a decent husband, and I’m a good business man as well as a fairly decent entertainer.
“So I feel that I’ve earned what I have. I have never gotten things handed to me, it’s never been easy, and I’ve worked for everything that I’ve ever attained. And I think that, in due time, things will go the way they’re supposed to.”
Corey Feldman & the Angels. RecordBar, 1520 Grand Blvd. 8 p.m. $18-$20. therecordbar.com.