5 Famous Goons Of The Early 2000s (Whose Fortunes Turned For The Worse)
I know, I know. Typically, when you see articles enticing you to find out what faded stars are up to now, all they serve up are morose gawkings at some unfortunate child star who has gained 12 pounds or the genuine sob story of a singer who knows exactly how long it takes to deliver sushi to their local rehab center. But here at Cracked, we take our schadenfreude seriously and ethically. So here is a collection of "where are they nows" where we visit the genuine dirtbags of celebrity's past to see what bleakness their future has held for them.
Mystery, Of VH1's The Pickup Artist, Is No Longer Allowed To Pick Up His Kids
Ah, the early aughts, a time before the underwhelming bang of the manosphere, when pickup artistry seemed like just some fratty stratagem (fratagem?) to break down harmful female barriers like self-respect and having standards. And the face of that nascent movement was none other than Mystery, whose goateed, bejeweled face was on TV every week evangelizing the subtle art of harassing women.
You'd think that, now that toxic masculinity is slowly burning its way through the bottom of the barrel, that guys like Mystery (real name, Erik von Markovik), who invented the concept of negging, would be on the top of their game. Sadly, the pickup artist formerly on VH1 isn't faring very well, almost as if all his cocky behavior has come home to roost. In a scathing 2018 feature on Buzzfeed News about the old pickup guard, a now much older, much more Kid Rock-looking Mystery comes across as broken and empty, a man who still does close-up magic in bars to impress women too young to know who David Blaine is.
And times indeed have been tough for old Mystery. Currently living in Canada, he's unable to get a visa to return to Los Angeles to rack up far less polite rejections. He's also become very reclusive over the past decade (as if he's finally living up to his name), barely making any noise on social media. One of his last attention-grabbing statements was a very sad Facebook post in 2016 about how he's not able to see his two children anymore, his ex presumably fleeing across the ocean so that they wouldn't fall victim to Mystery's order of the oversized belt buckle.
But not all hope is lost, because Mystery still has one trick up his sleeve to win back his kids: pickup artistry. In a reply to another dad who can't see his kid because of their grandmother's cock-blocking, Mystery fell back on old habits: "Your solution is to use PUA. You have to pickup the granny." Not to get her into bed and then blackmail her with the fact that she was willing to sleep with, I'll assume, a guy who still has a Scarface poster in his bedroom. Instead, Mystery, all alone in Canada, still believes that wearing down a woman's confidence will get a man what he wants, whether it's sex or shared custody. Old habits die hard.
Related: Shocking: Questionable NYC Pickup Artist Arrested After Alleged Involvement in Capitol Siege
The Million Little Pieces Author Started Running A YA Novel Mill
James Frey, author of the drug 'n' jail memoir A Million Little Pieces, became quite infamous when it was revealed (on Oprah) that quite a few of those million pieces were completely made up. But since then, the duplicitous Frey has taken a back seat to quietly hone his craft. No, not writing, but taking credit for things that he didn't do.
Frey has moved on from faking facts and taking credit to faking entire novels and taking credit. In 2010, the author, who had lost millions in reader lawsuits, launched an alternative publishing agency called Fathom Force Five. Inspired by the tradition of art and movie studios, places famous for their respect and generosity towards writers, Frey scoured colleges to find bright-eyed, impressionable young writers to work collaboratively with. His deal is simple: he'll provide the idea for a Young Adult genre novel, they'll handle the fiddly work of actually writing the whole thing, and the accolades and profits go straight into his pocket.
Frey's acolytes quickly found out that they were getting the short end of the literary fame stick at Fathom Force Five, and there was no greater example than Frey's first protege, Jobie Hughes. Hughes was the author behind the now-famous novel turned movie, I Am Number Four. Not that you'd know it from the cover, which only features the name of the main character. That way, Frey claimed, the novel worked as a fictitious memoir.
And you know who loves taking credit for fictitious memoirs? James Frey. As per the draconian clauses in their contracts, FFF authors weren't allowed to claim public ownership of their work under the penalty of a $250,000 fine. And while any starting author will be grateful to not be paid in exposure, the money wasn't great either. A finished draft could get starting authors as little as $250 -- meaning they'd have to write a thousand novels before they could afford to talk about one.
It Took Only Three Movies For Hollywood To Bail On Magic Mike's Alex Pettyfer
Speaking of I Am Number Four, you might remember Alex Pettyfer, the handsome hunk starring in the aforementioned flick and the bodacious bod movies Beastly and Magic Mike. For a little while, Pettyfer was on track to become a teen heartthrob in the vein of Robert Pattinson or Danny DeVito.
Now, it's not uncommon that young actors don't know how to adapt to the collective meat grinder that is the Hollywood studio experience. Less common is that they clash because this twenty-something fresh out of acting school thinks he knows better than veteran filmmakers. This does seemed to have been the case with Pettyfer, who took no more than three movies to secure his position in the Know-It-All-Actor Hall of Fame with the likes of Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, and Anthony Michael Hall.
According to Hollywood insiders, the professionally handsome young man quickly become notorious for being "a nightmare and irrational" despite having "no body of work to remotely justify his behavior." But since Hollywood is "so lacking in leading men," he was given more than enough chances to just shut up and look pretty, with even the studio head of DreamWorks stepping in when tensions on set grew too intense. Yet after several failed attempts at babysitting, Pettyfer was officially branded as too difficult to work with -- and when they say that about a man, it actually means something.
But if anything is to blame for Pettyfer's being barred from Hollywood, it's the bulging biceps of Channing Tatum. During the shooting of Magic Mike, Pettyfer was renting a home from one of Tatum's friend but decided he didn't have to pay months of back rent because he was upset over the death of a family member. Things got so heated between Pettyfer and Tatum that they fought on-set, and The Kid wasn't invited back for the sequel, Magic Mike XXL. To make matters worse for Pettyfer, while attending the premiere of Magic Mike, his new Hollywood house was caught in a blaze of fire. The cause for the freak fire was never found out, nor presumably why Channing Tatum smelled like gasoline and matches during the premiere.
Don Vito, Of Jackass Fame, Is A Sex Offender (Also, Dead)
While a few of the MTV gross-out generation, like Johnny Knoxville, have clung onto fame, many have since fallen to the wayside of obscurity. That usually happens for one of three reasons: they've stopped playing their ridiculous character, they turned out to be a sex offender, or their antics got them killed. It's rare, however, to find one who has managed to score an unholy hat trick. But there is such a man: Vincent "Don Vito" Margera, the only Jackass cast member who got brain damage before the taping ever started.
There's not a lot to say about Don Vito's entertainment career. The uncle of Bam Margera, he served as a sort of gross boomer mascot for the Jackass generation, a cockeyed misogynist who mumbled like he was trying to hold twenty orange slices in his mouth to cure him of his raging scurvy. And for most of his on-screen career, it was looking like Don Vito would only be remembered for being the guy who got raging diarrhea from downing 50 shots of peach schnapps.
But his infamy took a disturbing left turn in 2006 when he was arrested for sexually assaulting three underage girls. At a signing in Colorado, Margera was caught groping two 12-year-olds and a 14-year-old, all while being "so intoxicated that he peed his pants while with these children" according to the case's prosecutor. In his defense, Margera claimed it was not he who molested those children, but Don Vito, a comedic character who is obviously a pedophile alcoholic (also known as the Alex Jones defense).
Since it was impossible to distinguish the phlegmy man from the phlegmy character, the judge still gave Margera 10 years of probation and made him register as a sex offender. But they also punished Don Vito, in a way, ruling that Margera could "no longer be Don Vito" for a decade, effectively killing the character. His ban was lifted after only nine years -- when he died of kidney and liver failure due to excessive drinking. Woof.
Drake And Josh Aren't Invited To Each Other's Weddings (Because One Is A Raging Transphobe)
When ensemble kid actors grow up, they're always easy to tell apart: there are the talented ones and the ones whose life flew off the rails. Like Corey Haim and Corey Feldman in The Lost Boys. Or Wil Wheaton and Corey Feldman in Stand by Me. Or Sean Astin and Corey Feldman in The Goonies. And one of the latest entries into the thick ledger of deadbeat TV bros, is Drake Bell.
Nobody churns out washouts like Nickelodeon Kids, which cuts its tumultuous kid stars loose the moment they grow an armpit hair. And not all of them land on their feet. Take Drake And Josh -- well, not Josh. Josh Peck is doing great. He got to hang out with John Stamos, his Grandfathered co-star, at his wedding. But who didn't have a guest appearance on either, was his fictitious brother (emphasis on the fictitious) who had a right huff about it on social media.
The internet was temporarily set ablaze to see this brotherly feud on the scale of Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, Corey Feldman and Corey Haim('s mom). Of course, the internet was decidedly Team Uncle Jesse, but people wondered what Drake had done (and he hasn't done much since Drake And Josh) to deserve this falling out. That is, until they figured it might have something to do with the fact that the lesser talented Drake-And-Josher has kept himself busy becoming a bit of a rightwing prick, making transphobic comments about deadnaming Caitlyn Jenner.
Yeah, I wouldn't invite that guy to my wedding either.
Girls Gone Wild's Joe Francis Has Escaped The Country
When talking about outdated creeps, no list is complete without the mention of Girls Gone Wild's Joe Francis, the Hugh Hefner of tricking teens into showing their ta-tas in tawdry motel rooms.
So what's the 47-year-old patron saint of swim team date rapists been up to? Not much, just dealing with the inevitable fallout of being a skeevy frat bro. Since the late aughts, Francis has been buried in lawsuits regarding his questionable treatment of young women. In 2007, he was forced to plea no contest to child abuse and prostitution charges after he filmed a minor for one of his videos. The shark-toothed pimp has also served several years in prison on counts of witness tampering, assault and (most on brand of all) falsely imprisoning three female students in his mansion and allegedly slamming them against the ground when they wanted to leave.
Despite these troubles, Francis will still claim he's on easy street, making upwards of $29 million every year thanks to Girls Gone Wild, which -- how? How is anyone still getting rich off monetizing Mardi Gras mistakes now that Pornhub exists? But legal records show that he's as intentionally bad at keeping financial records as his models were at keeping on their shirts, Francis has also been dragged in front of judges for crimes ranging from racketeering to tax evasion. In 2012, because he couldn't keep his massive mouth shut, he was sued several times for defamation, with a jury awarding a single plaintiff a total of $47.5 million in punitive damages -- which a judge then dialed back to $19 million reasoning that the rest was deemed a gleeful asshole tax from a jury Francis had called "mentally fucking retarded."
During these proceedings, Francis filed for bankruptcy trying to wiggle out of the payments. That caused him to once again face arrest after he failed to surrender his luxury cars as part of his bankruptcy, claiming he was unable to do so because they had already been seized by an angry Mexican strip club owner. In the end, Francis wound up owing so much money to so many creditors, he fled to Mexico, which doesn't have a civil extradition treaty with the U.S. There he's set to live out his days while fulfilling his destiny: being a disgraced pornographer from a bygone age of teen exploitation.
Top Image: VH1