“Growing up on movie sets has its ups and its downs. I mean, sure, it’s great, you get lots of attention, only three hours a day of school. There’s makeup and wardrobe, movie premieres, limousines. It all sounds like fun, but when you are 12 or 13 years old, you’re very, very impressionable. And I know it’s easy to get off track. Like me, some of you don’t have moms and dads to bring you up. I mean, let’s face it, it’s tough being a kid. So be smart, don’t get messed up, stay in school. Be anybody you wanna be.”
—From Corey Haim: Me, Myself, and I, an intimate video portrait of the actor shot in 1989.
Alphy’s Soda Pop Club, the one and only disco designed for kids “in the industry,” enjoyed a Hollywood lifespan of three years, from 1986 to 1989. With a clientele aged 16 and under, the club guaranteed a dance floor full of the hottest teen stars as well as all the free soda you could drink. It was the ultimate teenage wonderland.
The flip side, however, was that the club was super-exclusive. If you were an everyday kid living in Hollywood, you knew about Alphy’s, but only those lucky enough to have an in could attend. Through luck or divine intervention, I became an Alphy’s regular. A friend of a friend had a mother who was an acting coach, and somehow our names wound up on the list. We went every week for years, and most of my teenage memories were born under the lights of the infamous nightclub.
Throughout my adult life, Alphy’s continued to haunt me, as the evolution of stardom seemed to influence the core of my work as a photographer and a filmmaker. For the past ten years, I’ve been compiling interviews, photographs, and videos, gearing up to tell the tale of the world surrounding showbiz teenagers. I like to think of it as an updated, multimedia version of Hollywood Babylon about the struggle of all the talented young people who have perished under the lights of studio sets.
It took me four years of conducting interviews with various former teen stars before I was able to track down Alphy’s regular Corey Haim. In 1997, at the age of 24, Corey filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. By March 2004, roughly six years before his untimely death, I learned that Corey was living with his mother in Canada. An anonymous source gave me his mother’s phone number. When I called, he answered.
VICE: Why and when did you move back to Toronto?
Corey Haim: I’ve been back for about five and a half years, off and on. But I’ve been back permanently for about a year and a half now. So I’m home. I’m here, man! [in a Dr. Evil voice] It’s freaking weird in Los Angeles! [in a California-dude accent] Lost my freakin’ backbone. Really, people got freaky in Los Angeles, yeah, right.
So let’s do this! Let’s talk about Alphy’s! You and Corey Feldman were the original hosts of the party. How did that happen?
These are very vague memories. I think I got a call from Feldman, and he said, “Listen, I know this person named Alphy, and he’s going to start throwing these parties with Randy Miller, the son and partial owner of New York Seltzer.” He said something like, “How do you feel about going and checking the scene?” and I said, “Let’s go, man!” So we went down and it was cool. I met Alphy and Randy. Then it started happening once a week and went on for years. I was going out with Alyssa [Milano] at the time and also kind of going out with Nicole [Eggert]. We were all seeing one another off and on. We were young. It was the 80s, and it was different times. We were all friends. We were like the Brat Pack, but we had our own people. It was Ricky Schroder, Alfonso Ribeiro, Feldman, me, Nicole, Alyssa, Scott Grimes. We were like our own team.
You knew one another through acting, but you were also all attending Excelsior School at the time, right?
Yeah. I went to Excelsior, Corey went to Excelsior, as well as his ex-girlfriend Katie, and I think Alyssa might have even gone to Excelsior. Scott Grimes too. I went and stayed for not even a year. It just got a little too weird. I wanted more schooling. You started at 8:30 and you were out of there by 12:30, plus you’d break for an hour for lunch. So it was just three hours of school. That’s what you would get on set too, but this was in a classroom so it was a different environment and you’d learn stuff, but not much in three hours. So I told my parents, “In a month or two max, I want you to pull me out of this place. I’m happy being with all my buddies and stuff, but I got four movies coming up and a film this year, and I need schooling before I do any of this because this is not a way a kid should be going to school.” So I got pulled out of Excelsior, which I was real happy about.
It was real hard for the teachers, too, when we were all in there together. Every day it was basically like pulling up to a publicity kind of thing, but we were supposed to be going to school. It was just not right. It was a great school, don’t get me wrong. The teachers were really qualified. Especially when they had to deal with actors all day long. They were cool, but strict enough that if we got out of line a little bit, they knew how to deal with us. I mean, we were not like the average kids who would grow up and become accountants or whatever. We thought we were THE BOMB! or whatever you would have called it back then. We thought we were like the g-force of the g-force. We got out of line a few times and often got shut down by the teachers. I mean, SHUT DOWN! It was a really weird situation. I had four or five movies to do every year. So I just never had time to go to school.
So you were on a quest to get your education?
Don’t get me wrong. I hated school just like everybody else. Hold on, let me get rid of the other line. Just one second… Sorry about that. That was my boy!
Yeah, my boy. Um, last year I had really bad stomach problems so I did this procedure. It’s called colonic irrigation.
Are you serious?
Yeah, it’s really gross. But I got this super-bad infection in my stomach and chest. So I went and saw this guy and he’s like a master, and he put me on a diet and all this stuff.
Ever done the Master Cleanse?
I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never done it. I’ll only go to a certain point. The Master Cleanse is too much, and it’s gross. It’s nuts. People can’t hack it! That’s why it’s called the Master Cleanse. It’s hardcore. So, back to the topic. Yeah, I went to Excelsior, got pulled, I don’t want to go into it too much more, but I passed the grade I wanted to pass. Did it properly and legally. Got my tutors, did my thing. But once it got to stuff like 32 x 100 – 45 = x, I bailed. I said, “This will not help me say, ‘Can I have a receipt?’ when I go shopping.” Math leaves a very bad taste in my mouth in regard to my schooling. You know I’m an actor, right? So back then I wasn’t really thinking about mathematical situations, quantum physics, and all that. I didn’t want to become “Beautiful Minded.” I didn’t even think about another option. I guess I was born to be an actor, and that’s just what I do… I bailed school at 13 and a half. Then we moved to LA, and I went to Excelsior for a little while and eventually quit that too.
Is that how you met Scott Grimes and everyone, through Excelsior?
We all lived like two to five blocks away from one another at the time. Everyone knew everyone. We were all so close… so close. We’d walk to one another’s houses. Sometimes I’d drive three seconds and pull up into Milano’s driveway.
Did you all roll into Alphy’s together, too?
Not really, I’d usually meet up with them there.
Do you remember your favorite party at Alphy’s?
The debut party Corey and I hosted, Randy jumped off what I believe was the 11th floor of the Mondrian. He had a bottle of New York Seltzer in his hand. He landed and then took the lid off the soda and drank it. They turned it into a commercial. It was great and executed beautifully. I was right there looking up at him the whole time, holding one of his tigers. It was pretty trippy.
What was it like to hold one of Randy’s famous tigers?
I’ve held many of his tigers. Back then I used to go to Randy’s house. He had spare bedrooms, and I spent a few nights there. I had my own room, and, well, I fell in love with one of his bobcats, who was tame. Randy knew I was into animals like that, and he had a lot of different ones. For some reason I was the guy who got to hold them.
One time, Randy, myself, and two other people—we were in a limousine with a jaguar, and Randy passed me the leash and said, “Hold it from here, and if he gets out of line, just hit him lightly on the side of his head and say, ‘Down! Down! Down!’ Just give him the commands I’m giving you.” And then suddenly the jaguar woke up in the limo and let out a RAAAAAWWR, so the vet who was in there had to shoot him up with a little bit of a tranquilizer. I mean, you’re talking about a wild animal in a limousine! You know what I mean? Everybody could have been dead! But by the time we got out of the limo, I was holding the jaguar and everything was cool.
Corey had to take a phone call; we resumed our discussion 40 minutes later.
Why did you stop going to Alphy’s?
I got bored of it. This is before I even got into drugs, but a few people were starting to do drugs around me and people started drinking. Not Scott, not Alyssa, not Nicole, not us. This was not my drug time yet. Not Corey’s either. We were never alcoholics. Maybe we were drug addicts, but never alcoholics. But a few people would bail the party room and go downstairs and hang out by the pool, which was real nice at nighttime. But we would walk through and you’d see some of the people who were upstairs, some were actors and some were musicians, but the bartender would be like, “No problem! You guys can have some drinks even though I know you’re underage, but I know who you are and you hang out at this place all the time, so here you go.” Anyway, I got bored of it. I got annoyed with a lot of other shit too. I got really sick and tired of Alphy, to be honest with you. I don’t think he’s a good human being, and you can print that shit too!
What was your personal relationship like with Alphy?
I don’t think he was a good person at all. I think he just got very lucky that he got us to go and do these parties. It became a big fad for a while. It just happened to be called Alphy’s Soda Pop Club. It was like going to Jerry’s Famous Deli. It was the same kind of thing. But as far as Alphy goes, well, I’m not going to say it now, because people do change. I went through my time, too. I lost complete respect for Alphy Hoffman. Alphy sucks! Point-fucking-blank.
I’ve interviewed many people about Alphy’s as well as spoken with Alphy himself—
He’s a piece of shit! A user. He had all of us and thought he was the shit. Randy Miller is one of the coolest people I have ever met. Alphy was always trying to steal Randy’s light and get in the way and take it all over. You don’t do that to someone who is sponsoring your fucking club! But then again, I hung with Randy a lot. He was one of my best friends. I will forever love Randy. We had so many good times together, like being on the back of his Kawasaki Ninja 1500. So many cool times.
Did you feel like you were being used because of your fame?
This guy had nothing better to do than get so-called stars—I hate calling myself that, man. I am a moving actor. I move from here to there, and that’s my job. So if people want to call me a star, God bless them. That’s nice to hear, it’s awesome, but I never call myself that because it’s just disrespectful, I think. Anyway, Alphy was older and he needed to do something with his life, and I think he just met some people in the industry and became very attached to the idea of the entertainment business. From that point on, he said, “You know what? I’m gonna open up some sort of place where all these kids can come and drink New York Seltzer and dance all night long.” That’s what he did, and it worked. He got real lucky.
Did you ever see Alphy offer drugs to kids?
No, no, no. Never. Let me make this clear. I don’t think Alphy started out intentionally using all of us to further his career or his life. I don’t think it started like that. We all just liked being in the same room together. Alyssa, Scott, Corey, and me. Everybody. It just happened to become popular. But no, he never ever offered any of us drugs, liquor, nothing. Never!
The way I see it, he created this club for teenage celebrities, it had his name on it, it was featured in all the teen magazines, and it became very popular. He took it as far as he could, until the end.
Yeah. Then it died out. By the end, it was dying out and everyone was on drugs! I was on drugs, Feldman was on drugs. At the end of it, we were 16 or 17 years old! Lost Boys was done, and we were going to other clubs and doing drugs. So at that time, a lot of people were getting messed up.
Are you still friends with Corey Feldman?
Oh yeah. Corey and I spoke two days ago. We speak all the time. We’re still brothers, best friends, however you wanna say it. We’re always going to be like more than just brothers. We’re closer than family. It’s weird.
When did you first become friends with Feldman?
Two months before The Lost Boys started shooting we became really good friends. We’re talking 17 or 18 years of friendship. That’s a long time to know somebody.
I have one question I wanted to ask about your video Me, Myself, and I.
OK, that was done by a friend of mine named [the other line clicks]. Hold on! Let me just get rid of the other line... Hey! I forgot I had somebody coming over. Hold on a second. [in the background] Shit! God! Motherfucker! Shit! Oh shit! [gets back on the phone] Shit, sorry.
Are you all right?
Now I have to change clothes! Someone is coming over from my agency. I forgot about that shit! I gotta sign some contracts and shit. Read it over and stuff like that. OK, so go ahead.
What is Japanese funk?
What is what? What is Japanese funk?
In Me, Myself, and I, you say your favorite music was Japanese funk. I want to know what that is because I want some.
Oh! I was just messing around. At the time Japanese funk was Japanese funk. It’s whatever! There is no such thing as Japanese funk.
Whose idea was it to make Me, Myself, and I?
A friend of mine. It was his idea, he thought of all the ideas, and I just showed up. We filmed it at my house.
Suddenly, there was dead silence. Corey seemed to have become very distracted. He said again he needed to get off the phone and sign some contracts. We agreed to talk the next day, but when I called he didn’t answer the phone.
Then, at 4:25 AM on April 2, 2004, Corey left a message on my answering machine:
Hey, sorry we keep missing each other. I have been having bad phone problems. One was unplugged when the other should have rung. Anyway, I wanted to say that you should go ahead and run your article, but if you can keep it low-key when you discuss Alphy’s Soda Pop Club—he had a weird personality, but he never, ever, ever, ever offered us drugs, booze, liquor, anything bad at all as far as substance abuse goes. It was for the kids, and that’s just what we were. Just a bunch of kids.
I cried for Corey that day. He contacted me from time to time up until 2007, but after that we lost touch. On March 10, 2010, Corey Haim died of pneumonia at the age of 38 in his mother’s arms.