Balloon Boy Family’s Patriarch Increasingly Seems Misogynistic, Violent


As more details emerge about ‘Balloon Boy’ (or should that be ‘Attic Boy’?) Falcon Heene’s family, two things are becoming abundantly clear. One: the Heenes, led by papa Richard, are indeed very interested in publicity. Two: they’re just plain strange, bordering on unstable. Not only that whole alien thing. The laundry list of evidence:

— A vulgar, homophobic music video the kids — six-year-old Falcon, eight-year-old Ryo, and 10-year-old Bradford — performed that was posted on YouTube;

— The revelations of reality producer Tom Forman to TMZ that Richard had pitched him a reality show and lied to his face;

— The profile Richard created Sept. 28, 2009 on, a site where television producers can browse for more grist for the reality TV mill;

— And, the latest, an interview on the popular Los Angeles drive time radio show, The Jon and Ken Show, with Barbara Slusser, Heene’s one-time business partner and fellow storm chaser.

Slusser told ABC news that she and Scott Stevens, who worked with Richard Heene on a project called the “Science Detective Research Group,” ultimately ended the partnership, “because we felt Heene put his kids in the line of fire a bit too much.”

“The last straw for us was when Hurricane Gustav and Hurricane Ike were heading toward the Texas coastline and Heene wanted to go back there and take the kids,” she said in the same interview.

On Monday, during her interview with Jon and Ken, Slusser revealed, among other things, that Richard Heene once tried to shove a wad of toilet paper down her throat, telling her that he would not put up with her “verbal diarrhea.” This was an appropriate answer, in Heene’s view, for Slusser’s question regarding his general attitude toward 25+ year-old, strong women. Reconcile that attitude with the rap video he likely produced where his children bemoan “pussification,” and we have the beginnings of a pattern of public misogyny.

The more we learn, the less we like — usually when we find some despicable human waste of space, we enjoy seeing them prance around for our amusement. We’re okay with laughing at the Heidis and Spencers of the world and watching K-Fed go to fat camp, even if it lines their pockets and furthers their careers.

But when it’s a family committing crimes and children are at risk, it’s not amusing. It’s sick. If there’s any justice, this is the kind of story that’s going to continue to play out in the tabloids and news squawkers, not scheduled programming.


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