Remember back in 2009 when people across the nation were glued to their TV screens because they thought a little boy (named Falcon) had flown away in a tin foil balloon and everybody just had to see whether or not he fell out of it? Of course, it turned out that the whole thing was a hoax set up by the boy's father and the kid was actually tucked away safely while the state of Colorado shut down its airports and devoted practically all of its resources to his unnecessary rescue. Well, now Balloon Boy and his family are back following their interesting and unsettling profile in Florida's New Times.
The boy's father Richard Heene, who now works as handy man between Wife Swap appearances, is still working to keep his family — which includes Falcon, his other sons Bradford and Ryo and his wife Mayumi — in the spotlight anyway that he can. Right now that means managing his sons' metal band the Heene Boyz, getting them gigs around Tampa (where they now live) and trying to get them a record deal. The boys range in age from 9 to 13 — Richard touts them as "the world's youngest metal band" — and sing songs about childish topics such as World of Warcraft and their tween girl peers. Despite the fact that Richard and Mayumi have A.) begun home schooling their kids so that they can spend half the day rehearsing and B.) have a history of using their kids to get attention, they balk at accusations of exploitation.
"Exploitation? Nobody has said anything about that...No, because our kids own [their music]. I wanted Bradford to own the ability to play guitar. I wanted Ryo to own the ability to play the drums. I wanted Falcon to own the ability to sing and play bass."
You know, for something the boys supposedly want (and I'm sure they do — what 9-year-old kid wouldn't want to stop going to school if it meant that they could read comic books and bang around on instruments all day), Richard sure talks a lot about what he wants.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the entire profile is how Richard is so clearly trying to control his public perception and how terribly he's failing at it. Not only does he deny exploiting his kids while clearly admitting to exploiting his kids, but he also continues to deny that he set up the balloon hoax even though he long ago pled guilty and served time.
From the New Times:
On January 7, 2010, Richard went on CNN's Larry King Live and said the only reason he pleaded guilty was that he was afraid Mayumi would be deported. Falcon's comment, he added, came because "a Japanese cameraman holding a giant camera asked him to show him how he got into the attic for his TV show. That's why Falcon answered that."
When Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden heard that Heene was maintaining his innocence, he told CNN: "Quite honestly, I'm shocked that he would make such statements. The evidence against Mr. Heene and Mayumi at this point is very overwhelming."
The Heenes are prohibited by law from profitting off of the balloon incident, meaning that they will never be able to write a book or appear on television for profit if it involves discussing the hoax. Maybe music will be their golden ticket.