But unlike the King, Joey, 37, is still subject to earthly laws. And so last week a Long Island grand jury indicted him on 19 counts of statutory rape, sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child, stemming from his alleged affair with an underage Fisher, who is now 18 and serving a five-to-15-year sentence for the attempted murder last year of Mary Jo, 37. The indictment came as no surprise to Buttafuoco. While denying that he ever had a sexual relationship with Fisher, he haplessly acknowledged earlier this year that he had come to feel like "the most hated man in America."
If nothing else, a trial is sure to provide more grist for the cottage industry that has grown out of the saga of Amy and Joey and Mary Jo. To date they have been the subject of three television movies, two books and enough newspaper and magazine stories to keep the trio busy filling scrapbooks for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, Amy Fisher: The Musical has become a cult hit in New York City, selling out each Friday night at a theater in Greenwich Village. Two weeks ago, an Amy Fisher-Joey Buttafuoco comic book, complete with a pinup drawing of Amy packing a pistol, made it to market. Fans snapped up the entire first run—60,000 copies—within a week. Publisher Joe Mauro makes no apologies for his enterprise. "I wouldn't have exploited this if the Buttafuocos hadn't already," says Mauro. "It's fair game."
Certainly, Fisher herself, who is serving her sentence at Albion Correctional Facility near Rochester, N.Y., hasn't been bashful about seeking publicity. In her recent tell-all autobiography, Amy Fisher: My Story, she provides lurid details about her alleged affair with Joey, which she says stalled when she was 16. Highlights include everything from her disclosure that he wears no underwear to the claim that he knew of her plot to murder Mary Jo and egged her on. Sales have so far been disappointing, though Sheila Weller, who coauthored the book, expects that Joey's latest tribulations will stimulate interest.
The irony is that Joey may very well have provoked his own indictment. Last October, Nassau County district attorney Denis Dillon announced that he would not seek formal charges against Buttafuoco because of insufficient evidence and because Amy wasn't a credible witness. But in the months that followed, Buttafuoco mounted a media blitz to proclaim his innocence in the court of public opinion. It backfired. On Donahue the studio audience excoriated Joey even as he wrapped himself in husbandly virtues. On Saturday Night Live Madonna ripped up his photo, declaring, "Fight the real enemy!" Buttafuoco has become David Letterman's favorite mantra of ridicule. This continuing notoriety, and Joey's repeated denials of wrongdoing, may have finally goaded prosecutors to reopen the case. "It's not nice to thumb your nose at Mother Nature," says Fisher's lawyer, Eric Naiburg. "Joey could have gone home, kept his mouth shut and tried to change his ways."
For her part, Mary Jo continues to support her husband. "If I really believed Joey Buttafuoco had an affair with Amy Fisher, I'd cut his testicles off," she told New York Daily News columnist Mike McAlary. "But even if I am in denial, it's still my business." Of course whether he did it or not is now also the state's business.
According to Mary Jo's lawyer, Michael Rindenow, Joey's main goal is to spare his wife and two children—Paul 13, and Jessica, 10—any further anguish. That may be hard. Says Rindenow: "They are the most recognized couple in America." That's debatable, but no one can say they haven't tried.
MARIA EFTIMIADES on Long Island