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Joy Villa’s ex talks about her domestic violence arrest and the child she put up for adoption

Cory Duncan first contacted us several months ago when he saw our articles about his ex-girlfriend Joy Villa, and how the Scientology “celebrity” was skyrocketing to fame because she’d worn a “Trump” dress at the Grammy Awards last February.

He had some pretty interesting things to say about his relationship with Villa, which took place about ten years ago, and which resulted in the birth of a baby girl.

It was only recently, however, that Duncan got back in touch with us and gave us more solid information, which we were able to confirm through public records. And so, for the first time, we’re getting a much more complete picture about Joy Villa and her past before she became a major Scientology donor and the poster woman for the “Make America Great Again” movement.

It’s actually a fascinating journey.

We’ve emailed Joy several times, hoping that she would help us complete that picture as well, but she hasn’t responded to messages we’ve sent over several months.

Duncan’s account, however, is backed up by multiple public records, including Joy’s 2007 arrest in Van Nuys on a domestic violence charge, when she attacked Duncan on a public street and right in front of a policeman.

She was 21 at the time.

Duncan himself was 27, and had only recently moved to Los Angeles from his native Arkansas, where, by his own admission, he’d had a very difficult time growing up, got involved in drugs, and as a result was the victim of violence. He moved to LA to get away from that environment, and by then he had already been diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression, and was getting treatment for it. And at first, he says, LA’s streets were a nightmare for him as he tried to find his way.

Not long after he arrived, however, he made friends with some people who showed him how he could make minimum wage by simply sitting in the audience at television shows. And he was making $8.50 an hour sitting in the crowd watching the taping of America’s Got Talent when he first met Joy Angela Villa, who was also getting paid to be an audience member.

“She had dreadlocks, and lip piercings. She was wearing a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt over a mariachi dress, and snakeskin boots — and she pulled it off. She was so rock and roll,” he says, still enjoying the memory.

And then, a few weeks later, as unlikely as it might be in a city like Los Angeles, the two randomly ran into each other again, and again they hit it off. This time, though, Joy took him home, Duncan says. And he stayed for about a month.

“It was a scene. I was sleeping on the couch. Joy was in her room, her younger sister Veronica had a room. Her dad, Joseph, had a friend, a black guy, who lived there too, and a German woman was living in the garage.”

Joseph Mario Villa was 72 when he died in 2012. A US Army vet who served in Vietnam, he’s buried at the Riverside National Cemetery in Southern California, and Duncan tells us Joseph was of Italian extraction and definitely pronounced his last name as “vill-uh,” and not the Spanish pronunciation “vee-ya.” Joy’s African-American mother, Mildred Pierce, who went by her middle name, Angela, was a troubled woman who suffered from severe schizophrenia and who died in 2009 at only 52. When Angela Villa came over, which was infrequent, it was incredibly stressful for Joy, Cory says.

“You couldn’t take Angela anywhere, because she’d be telling people that there were demons coming out of the walls. Joy took it very hard,” he says.

Cory and Joy kept looking for audience work and work as extras — “background actors,” in Hollywood parlance — but soon Joseph wanted to know what their plans were. “He wasn’t really happy about us being a couple. And Joy, when she gets upset, watch out. She actually freaked out and kicked his window out — they had a bay window, and she just busted it. Joseph was really angry, so Joy and I decided we’d go stay with some people she knew, a couple in North Hollywood.”

It was while they were in North Hollywood that they had another visit from Joy’s mother, Angela, who once again was nearly out of control.

“We were a couple in our 20s trying to make it in Hollywood while trying to care for Joy’s schizophrenic mother. It wasn’t easy,” he says. “Joy had even written a song about how hard it is to have a schizophrenic mom. Joy was a really big Christian at the time, by the way. We attended a church in Burbank. And one day, we were in Van Nuys, trying to cash an $800 check for Angela that a man had written to her for her car. Angela couldn’t cash it — she didn’t have proper ID.”

It was August 20, 2007, and Joy was extremely stressed out by the situation. And while the three of them were crossing a road in Van Nuys, Joy and her mother got into a physical altercation in the middle of the street.

“I ran over to pull them apart, and Joy grabbed my arm and pulled so hard, she dislocated my shoulder,” Cory says. His shoulder searing in pain, he screamed in agony. “Joy was freaking out, and she just slugged me. And a Van Nuys cop just happened to be sitting right there, watching the whole thing.”

When the police officer responded, Corey says, Joy was still out of control. “She was spitting on the cop and on me and on her mom. When Joy has a fit, it’s epic.”

Court records show that Joy was booked under California penal code 273.5(A), which is domestic violence with injury to a spouse. It can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. She was also charged with a misdemeanor criminal trespass violation, a catchall charge.

“They told me her bond would be $50,000. I called her aunt in Virginia, who said she was getting Joy an attorney. But when I went to the courthouse the next day, there was no attorney,” Cory says. “Joy was there in an orange jumpsuit. I started pleading with the judge, saying I was from Arkansas and that this woman was all I’ve got. She lowered the bond from $50,000 to releasing Joy on her own recognizance. But it scared the crap out of Joy.”

Eventually, the domestic violence charge was dropped as Joy pleaded no contest to the trespass charge and was sentenced to three years probation and a fine of $400, the court record shows.

Despite that brush with the law, Cory and Joy kept looking for their Hollywood break, finding themselves on sets for group scenes, like when they took part in an imagined marijuana political event in a first-season episode of Showtime’s Californication. In the episode, “Fear and Loathing at the Fundraiser,” you can briefly see Joy in her dreadlocks, handing out political pamphlets. They were also in the background for scenes in ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money, UPN’s Girlfriends, and several films. And throughout it, they were hoping, like everyone around them, to break through to something bigger.


[Joy appears for a moment as an extra in a 2007 first-season episode of Californication.]

“No person in Hollywood has a plan for the future other than to be famous. No one there thinks of anything else,” Cory says. The same was true for him and for Joy, he adds.

“We used to joke about infiltrating the Church of Scientology,” he says, acknowledging that for many wannabes in Hollywood, Scientology was always beckoning, always promising a leg up.

“It was supposed to be a way into Hollywood. I even did one of their short films. That was so weird,” Cory says. “It was a shoot at a house in Beverly Hills filled with all of these skinny, spacey people. Mainly there were a lot of women there. They were filming a movie about the ‘reactive mind.’ I actually play a father in that, and I was only 27 at the time.”

When they were between gigs, they tried a number of other ways to bring in money. One thing they turned to repeatedly was canvassing, getting paid to get signatures on various political initiatives and for political parties.

Joy was a “die-hard Democrat,” Cory says — “she said George Bush was scum” — but they both knew that Republican causes paid huge premiums if they could get African-Americans to sign petitions and give over their information. “You would get $4 for a white person, but they’d pay $30 for a black person,” he claims. “And Joy knew it. She considered it a challenge. She didn’t care that it went against her own politics, she just knew if we could get black people to sign up for Republican causes, it made a lot more money. You would sign up three black people and it would be a full day’s pay,” he says.

But most of the time, they were chasing their Hollywood dream.

And then, suddenly, everything stopped.

In November, Hollywood’s writers went on strike, and all production was halted. For small time players like Cory and Joy, there was simply no work to be had.

“We were hearing about a writers’ strike, but we had no idea how much it was going to affect us. We left Hollywood and ended up going to Washington state. Joy knew a woman named Terry up there, in Olympia. We thought it was a good idea to get away from the Hollywood environment for a while.”

But things were no easier there, and they actually broke off their relationship for a few weeks. Joy went to Seattle, and then found some work modeling for a website. “It was like Suicide Girls stuff. Girls getting naked and posing all over each other. There was no actual sex. A lot of the photos you’re seeing people post now come from that period. But she wasn’t a sex worker. She wasn’t actually working as a dominatrix. She was just posing in photos like that,” he says.

He admits that he was uncomfortable with some of the shots which had violent imagery, but as the year ended, they reconciled and moved in together again.

And it was on New Year’s Eve, as 2008 began, that Cory believes he and Joy conceived their child.

“I was pretty sure I had got her pregnant, so we went to the Planned Parenthood in Tumwater, Washington. Yes, she was pregnant. We signed up for state support and I signed on as the father and she as the mother. And I went to all of her doctor’s visits with her.”

While they were living together in Washington, they had been living on his state support for his mental health diagnosis. And he says it was difficult because Joy insisted on buying expensive groceries for her vegan lifestyle. “You would go to the store and we had to buy all of these specialty things, and a single bag of groceries would cost like $160. After she got pregnant, I told her she had to stop being a vegan for the sake of the baby. She started eating chicken,” he says.

Despite the state’s support, Cory says they didn’t like the place where they were living and decided to pick a better spot for raising a child. So then they went to Arkansas and moved in with Cory’s father.

Cory admits that for Joy, it was a demoralizing change. “It really took it out of her. She felt so out of place,” he says. “And I end up getting picked up by the police. I had a previous warrant from 2004.”

Cory had been previously married (he has two children from previous relationships), and his ex-wife had filed charges, claiming that he had threatened her, which he denies. “But I never took care of it, so by the time they picked me up on it, it was pretty serious. I ended up spending nine months in jail.”

Joy didn’t wait around for him to get out. Cory learned that Joy had left when he got a notice after the September 2008 birth of their daughter from an adoption agency in Southern California. “I was still in jail. The notice asked that if I was the father, I needed to contact them right away. And I filled it out right away,” he says.

He wasn’t released from jail until February 2009. He called the adoption agency, and he says he got no information about what had happened with his daughter. When he contacted Joy, she told him that her attempts at a music recording career were beginning to bear fruit — she had achieved some notoriety in Thailand, Cory says — but she didn’t respond to his questions about their daughter.

“I never heard from her again,” Cory says.

He has since learned their daughter’s name, and that Joy entered into an “open” adoption so she can still see the girl from time to time (which she has mentioned in interviews). But Cory has been unable to get any other information about the girl and hasn’t seen her.

It irks him, he says, that in interviews Joy has said that she had a child with an abusive “drug addict,” which he denies. “We argued, but I never abused her,” he says.

“Whenever I try to contact her about it, she never responds. She’s banking on the idea that I’m not a millionaire and can’t sue her,” he says.

Not long after Joy left Cory, she got involved in Scientology around the year 2010. We first began to notice her in 2014, when her antics as a no-name Scientology celebrity just couldn’t be ignored. Over the next few years, we noted that she seemed desperate to get noticed for something — anything — and was using Scientology to make it happen.

At the 2015 Grammy Awards, she showed up wearing a dress made of snowfence that was comical for how little of her it covered. It had been dreamed up by a friend, Andre Soriano, who followed that up the next year with something even more revealing that might have come from the movie Barbarella.


[Joy Villa’s Grammy dresses, by Andre Soriano, from 2015 (left) to 2017 (right)]

She soon became one of the most active, most involved Scientologists we had ever seen, appearing in Scientology publications and in social media put out by Scientology’s various front groups. Meanwhile, she kept trying various gimmicks to get noticed — at one point, in 2015 for example, “training” her waist to be scarily small, and then in 2016 winning an award for vegan bodybuilding.

And increasingly, she showed up at Scientology events with longtime church member Thorsten von Overgaard, a wealthy Danish photographer and fancy dresser who is 21 years her senior. In October 2016, Joy and Thorsten became “Patron Meritorious” donors for having given at least $250,000 to the church, and they were married at Scientology’s holiest site, the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, on Christmas Day 2016.

Joy has reached the state of “Clear” in Scientology, which can take years of work up the “Bridge to Total Freedom” and requires many hours of “auditing” — Scientology’s form of counseling — which involves having a subject “remember” their experiences in past lives going back millions of years and on other planets. Recently, we spoke with Dani Lemberger, a former Scientologist who still ascribes to the tenets of L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings, and he assured us that someone like Joy Villa attaining the state of Clear would require many hours of whole track auditing going back millions or billions of years.

Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder, meanwhile, has asserted that any Scientologist who goes as far as Joy Villa has would have been convinced to give up what are called “other practices” as they absorb Hubbard’s teachings that the world’s other religions are all false, and that Jesus Christ, for example, is an invention, a figment of the imagination. “There was no Christ,” Hubbard can be heard to say on a 1968 recording.

Still, the incompatibility of Joy Villa’s involvement in Scientology with her past as an ardent Christian would never have been of interest to anyone except for what she did at the 2017 Grammy Awards celebration, when for the third time she showed up wearing an Andre Soriano creation. This time it was the infamous “Make America Great Again” pro-Trump dress which instantly launched Joy into stardom.

Joy’s otherwise unknown music suddenly became a hot seller — in a recent interview, she seemed miffed when the host failed to point out that she had even outsold the Red Hot Chili Peppers with her EP, “I Make the Static.”

What a heady trip she was going through — marrying a wealthy man and rocketing to record sales success with the admiration of the “MAGA” movement in the space of just two months. And since then, Joy hasn’t stopped for a moment, pushing her way into the White House itself and even suddenly getting political aspirations, with a few bumps along the way, like having to stop saying she was 26 years old and admit that she was, in fact 31.

But when the president himself is endorsing your ambition to run for Congress, it can go a long way.


Last month, Joy launched an exploratory committee to run for Congress. We are still the only website to point out that if you go to her political website and click on her donate button, it reveals that the congressional district she is eyeing is Florida’s 27th on the south side of Miami, which will be wide open this year because Republican incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has held the seat since 1989, has announced that she won’t seek reelection in November.

Joy faces an uphill battle in the Miami district, which went for Hillary Clinton by 19 points in 2016, and which will likely see a blue wave this year — which is probably why Ros-Lehtinen is getting out while she can.

The more he reads about Joy Villa’s political aspirations, her marriage to a wealthy photographer, and her antics on behalf of Scientology, the more enraged Cory Duncan says he gets.

“I just want to know my child. Joy gets to see our daughter now, who calls her ‘mama-Joy,’ and she says she’s told our daughter about me and I’m sure it’s not good. That’s not fair,” he says.

“I would give my left leg to just hug my daughter. And I would tell her, not one minute have I ever not loved you. I have never forgotten about her.”

Cory is 36 now, living on disability in Arkansas. “I’m on medication that’s really working well for me now. And I want some answers. I don’t know if my daughter is in a family that’s involved in Scientology or not. I’d like to know if that’s the case,” he says. “I don’t even have a current photo of her.

“I just want Joy to understand that my family is really affected by this, and for her to call me a drug addict really upsets them,” he says. “I don’t wish her ill. I just don’t want her telling people such bad things about me. I’m not the guy I was a decade ago. And I just want to have access to my daughter.”


Make your plans now!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,988 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 134 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,197 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,971 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,745 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,091 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,585 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,625 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,337 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 863 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,952 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,092 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,412 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,387 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 743 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,045 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,151 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,554 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,426 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,008 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,513 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,757 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,866 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 8, 2018 at 07:00

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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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