Originally published in Daily Offbeat on July 24, 2014
Sometimes Big Girls Do Cry. Daily Offbeat talks to April Kay, author of Frankie Valli exposé What I Did For Love: Why My Affair with Frankie Valli Matters’
By Tony Sokol
“Jersey Boys,” the story of a group of Italian-American singers who escaped the hard mobbed-up streets of New Jersey through the power of rock and roll, hit the big screen at the start of summer. Clint Eastwood helmed the adaptation of the long-running. Tony Award-winning hit musical about the legendary vocal group, The Four Seasons, propelled by the inimitable falsetto of Frankie Valli.
The phrase “Rock and Roll” was a code name for sex in early R&B, and to some of his fans, Frankie Valli oozed sex. While Eastwood kept “Jersey Boys” clean: no sex, no drugs, just rock and roll, a new book remembers that when The Four Seasons hit towns, fans threw themselves at the stars. Years later famous rock fans like Pamela des Barres and The Plaster Casters made the term “groupies” a household name.
Shortly after “Jersey Boys” hit theaters, April Kay announced that her book, “What I Did For Love: Why My Affair with Frankie Valli Matters,” would be published later this summer. The book details a decade’s romance with Four Seasons lead singer Frankie Valli. April met Valli when she was twelve years old after a childhood spent being groomed to meet him. By her own family.
According to Kay, Valli didn’t notice her when they first met because she was too young to catch his eye. But, by the time she was 16, the persistent fan got herself backstage where, she said, the rock and roll singer seduced her. The author and radio host said she was his lover from that moment on, even after Valli got married. The film “Jersey Girls” shows Valli juggling his time between a wife and a mistress. The film’s trailer also teases at consent laws. When one of the band, not Valli, asks two young women who are flirting with him how old they are, one answers, “together or separately.”
Daily Offbeat is not a magazine to begrudge a rock and roller from getting a little on the road. We reached out to Valli’s media team and will follow up if they reply but we know we’re a small outfit and might go under their radar.
April Kay graduated Youngstown State University with two master’s degrees in education in both school and community counseling. She currently does “workshops and presentations about romantic love and intimacy.” April helps people remove imprinting, which is when things are learned, usually as a form of conditioned response, at young age and imprinted on a person’s choices for the rest of their lives. Such imprinting affects sexual choices and has been called the root cause of most sexual fetishes. April hopes to help people “learn more about healthy love.”
The author spoke exclusively to Daily Offbeat in advance of the book’s release, to explain, to paraphrase the title of her first book “why my affair with Frankie Valli matters to you.”
Daily Offbeat: Your press release says you were brought up by your family to be a Frankie Valli groupie, are we talking more than growing up in a house that listened to a lot of music?
April Kay: As far as being a Frankie Valli groupie, I can’t say it really was that. At least not in my mind. I actually imprinted to him and the rest of my life was in sort of a pursuit to either marry him or someone that was close to the imprint. In fact, I was brought up in what might be considered a highly Pentecostal religious home spending my summers at revivals, Bible school, and working in the garden. We weren’t allowed to really listen to a lot of music. However, my parents divorced when I was young and my father played in a band. Therein explains a part of my little dream.
It seems your mother was trying to get you to catch Valli’s attention from the time you were eight? Did she have any idea what she was starting?
As far as my mom, who adored me and lived for me to be more than she was, let’s just say she was the Gypsy Rose of Ohio. My mom, I believe, was born with mental health issues. As years went by she did like so many others do, self-medicate. She also stated that there was some sexual abuse but that cannot be verified. I do know that my mother was never really happy and only glowed when I exceled. There was, therefore, a lot of pressure on me to do better, be better, and have a better life then a factory worker at Packard Electric.
Did you family have connections in the music industry to get you back stage?
I have no connections in the music business and the fact that a tiny girl on chicken farm from a working class family came to know Frankie and continue to be a presence in his life for three decades is quite remarkable.
In the ads, “Jersey Boys” says there were only two ways to make it out of the neighborhood, music and the mob, did you see any of that?
The part of the mob plays a huge part of my life’s story, the book, “What I Did for Love” and my imprinting. It’s all there in black and white. Bada Bing!
How were you seduced by Frankie Valli? Were there already expectations that go along with being identified as a groupie?
I was seduced by Frankie back stage at the Stambaugh Auditorium as he delicately untangled my seventies chains that hung onto my chest. I was speechless and spell bound to say the least. I was 16 when we were first intimate at The Holiday Inn in Youngstown, Ohio. This was right around the block from my home.
How were you groomed to be a groupie, as opposed to being groomed to just being a fan?
I was groomed to be a star. I wasn’t groomed to be a groupie. That is so different. My mother made me walk with books on my hand daily and sent me to all kinds of modeling and finishing schools. I was in pageants. I was crowned Miss Ohio Teenager and about every other local pageant we could drive to. I was feature twirler, head majorette, teen board queen, etc. etc. Becoming who I am today was part of my training which is now part of my DNA.
You called your mom the Gypsy Rose of Ohio, were there other groupies in your family?
There are no other groupies in my family. They are all church going, hardworking, no nonsense folks. Very Midwest. But as I sit here discussing these questions with my grown up daughter who now lives in Brooklyn. She sites that I groomed her to be a groupie because of Frankie. And so it continues. My daughter is marrying a musician from Manhattan.
Is the music of Frankie Valli triggering to memories or specific emotions beyond what a “normal former girlfriend” would feel?
As I write these questions, the book, and the conversations….so much floods into my mind and my heart. It was so painful as first; now I am doing better with all of it. That is part of the healing that started this project. I wanted to write it down, to get it out, to cry, and then move on.
Would you consider yourself psychologically damaged? Are you angry?
I am not angry. I am hurt. I am healing. Yes, I would love to chat with Frankie alone. But I don’t think it will ever happen. It is a life time process I think. I think we all have areas of pain that need addressed. I do as well.
Is this what drew you into counseling?
I went in to counseling because I really needed it. It was a time when psychological help was considered taboo.
Have you ever run into other people who have gone through similar circumstances?
I would love to have other women share their stories of the effect powerful men have had on their lives as well as the entire imprinting theory.
What would you say to people who question the stories and the timing of your book against the opening of a major motion picture?
I started writing this book two years ago. I was shocked as heck when I heard about the movie. I must say it is a coincidence and I understand how others think it was planned. I don’t have the inside track to Frankie’s career though. Wish I could say I did.
The photographs on your page show someone who could have been a regular life-long fan, has anyone from Frankie Valli’s camp commented on your allegations?
I wrote to Frankie a few months ago and wanted his approval for the book. I never heard from him or his camp. I did get a nasty call from a New York voiced female. I wrote her apologizing for some of the misconceptions the press have printed. I would never hurt Frankie in a million life times.
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