The untold truth of Howard Stern's Wack Pack

The Wack Pack, that crazy group of outsiders, oddballs, and downright deranged Howard Stern listeners, has been up and running for nearly three decades now. Three long decades of high-pitched voices, unwanted nudity, and all around utterly un-PC hijinks. These are the folks who've crossed over the threshold from fan to frequent guest and turned their issues into entertainment. Whether that's a good thing or not is for you to decide.

If you have a problem with flatulence, a physical malady mixed with a drinking problem, or just seem to be on your last legs as a human being, there's one place to go where fame and a nasty nickname await you. That would be the Howard Stern Show.

The radio provocateur has always attracted these lunatic fans and is a master at incorporating them into the world of his show. What's resulted is something of a modern-day freak show. The group is not without its critics, but regardless, it's one of the defining aspects of Stern's decades-long run at the top. Let's take a look at a few Wack Pack secrets you may have never heard (and may never want to hear again).

One Wack Packer found another dead

Sadly, being a member of the Wack Pack doesn't mean your problems just up and disappear. For Joseph "Joey Boots" Bassolino, a fan favorite thanks to his frequent use of the catchphrase "baba booey" in the background of local news shots, there was no outrunning his demons. While Bassolino may be best known for going to court to defend his right to scream about Howard Stern's mini Howie on live TV, he was in fact a military veteran with a distinguished past. Unfortunately, his decorated career left him with PTSD, which he struggled with for the rest of his life.

In December 2016, another Wack Packer, High Pitch Erik, found Boots dead in his apartment, after the "baba booey" enthusiast failed to show up for a podcast taping. Erik got the building manager to let him into Bassolino's apartment, only to find his friend had died of an accidental heroin overdose. Stern honored the super fan shortly after his death, saying, "Joey had a hard life but he told us a lot of things brought him joy and one of them was our show. … I liked Joey very, very much and I'm going to miss him very much. He was a great friend to the show."

Crackhead Bob took Wack Pack break to avoid drugs and alcohol

Crackhead Bob, as he was known to legions of Stern fans, had a love/hate relationship with his fame. While he appeared regularly on the show for two decades, it came with a cost. Bob was, unsurprisingly, a recovering drug addict, who had suffered several strokes due to his crack addiction. It helped contribute to his persona on the show, giving him the speech impediment he was best known for, but it also haunted him as he became something of a minor celebrity.

In fact, Bob had to take a step back in 2001, avoiding the show and any other event connected to it for four years because he said his newfound fame brought a lot of old temptations with it. As he explained to Stern on the show, "I had to do what I had to do for me, for a while," explaining that his paid appearances in particular were rife with people offering him drugs and alcohol. Sadly, he died of natural causes in 2016, just 56 years old.

Being in Wack Pack kiss of death

People joined the Wack Pack for a long list of reasons. Money. Sex. Fame. Fun. But by and large, these are damaged people who found a way to exploit their maladies and miseries for a national audience. More power to them — they found a niche and rode it as far as it would go, but the Wack Pack overall has a dark subtext that is hard to ignore. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that many of these fan favorites have succumbed to hard living in the end, though not all of their causes of death are known. From Joey Boots to Hank the Angry Dwarf, Nicole Bass to Dave "Evil Dave Letterman" Van Dam, over a dozen Wack Packers have passed away since the group was formed in the early '90s. It maybe isn't too shocking, but it's still sobering to think about.

Beetlejuice grew up with Jerry O'Connell

They say there are six degrees of separation for any of us, but sometimes that number shrinks in surprising ways. For instance, Hollywood heartthrob Jerry O'Connell, the likable star of Sliders and Stand By Me, revealed on the show in 2007 that he grew up with none other than Wack Pack All-star and all-around Stern show legend Beetlejuice.

O'Connell dropped the unlikely connection in between the typical sex stories a Stern show guest is forced to divulge. It turns out O'Connell's mother was a special ed teacher in New Jersey when he was a kid, and Beetle was one of her most prized students. As he told Stern, Beetle was such a good kid, he actually was given special work as Jerry's mom's "assistant." He said he recognized Beetle by his voice instantly the first time he appeared. Now the two just need to find a movie to make together and complete the circle.

Anarchy on Kimmel

When Wack Packing, sometimes what happens behind the scenes is the most entertaining part. Take, for instance, when Jimmy Kimmel brought his show to Brooklyn in 2017 and had Howard on as a guest. Unsurprisingly, fans flocked to the taping, along with a healthy contingent of Wack Packers. Well, maybe not healthy, but still breathing. Mariann from Brooklyn was there, along with High Pitch Erik and Fred the Elephant Boy. Howard even described them as family at one point.

And while they got plenty of camera time, including a comedy segment Stern happily mocked as going "nowhere," it was behind the scenes that things really got popping. You can thank Jeff the Drunk for that, or possibly the marijuana edibles he ate before arriving at the show.

While the rest of the crew took part in some light-hearted hijinks, Jeff could barely stand and was recorded falling down an escalator by fans. Softball jokes and celebrity cameras (Chuck Schumer showed up as an unofficial Wack Packer) are fine, but for real Stern-heads, you want to see someone make a real dope of themselves. Mission accomplished, Jeff.

Living with Bigfoot 'like the gateway to hell'

Winner of the "Next Wack Packer Contest" back in 2006, Mark "Bigfoot" Shaw Jr. has made his name in the Pack by living a truly singular life. A "mentally disabled version of Barry White," as one former Stern employee described him, nothing could have prepared fans for the stories Stern correspondent Wolfie brought back after embedding in Bigfoot's decrepit Vermont apartment.

From the offers of oral favors for money to the squatters that would rob you blind if you turned your back on them, this was not a normal place to live. Shaw, in fact, rarely even entered his own bedroom for fear of being attacked by the spiders that had claimed it as their own.

While there, Wolfie conducted an interview with Bigfoot on the toilet, a place he spent much of this time. He got the Wack Packer to admit he showers once and week and hasn't brushed his teeth in years. And he described the stains, smears and all around toxic filth of the place so vividly that Howard declared it sounded "like the gateway to hell."

Trump was an unofficial member of the Pack

The Wack Pack members, for better or worse, often believe they're in on the joke. They couldn't go on being made fun of, asked to do bizarre stunts and humiliating segments, for years on end without believing they were their own puppet masters. As Politico pointed out in 2016, Hank the Angry Dwarf managed to parlay his radio fame into paying gigs.

Well, there's one almost-member of the Wack Pack that most certainly wasn't in on the joke, and somehow he's become the president of the United States of America. Yes, that guy. He even had an unofficial moniker that ranks right up there with Crackhead Bob, High Pitch Erik, and Medicated Pete. His was "Donald the Douchebag," and boy did he live up to it.

As Politico wrote, "Listening now to the old Stern-Trump scenes, Trump clearly has none of Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf's integrity." From walking in on beauty contests to trying to get with Princess Diana, from complaining that 9/11 ruined his penthouse view to ogling his own daughter, Stern was a master at getting Trump to make a fool of himself by playing to his preening ego and guiding him right into his absurd role as delusional Don.

Howard renamed Wack Packers to be less offensive

To a certain sect of fans, Stern has gone soft since his move to Sirius. According to the Chicago Tribune, they've taken to calling him "Hollywood Howard" or "Hamptons Howard" or even "James Lipton with a radio mic." One such example of this is the renaming of some beloved Wack Packers.

For years Gary Loudermilk was known as "Gary the Retard." Fortunately, that word has since fallen out of favor, being rebranded "the R word." Eric Lynch, long known as "Eric the Midget," had his name changed to "Eric the Actor." Wendy the, well, "R-word," is now known as "Wendy the Slow Adult." Okay, not the most PC rebrand, but a step in the right direction. Still, for some longtime fans, this evolution represents a larger issue, once in which Stern vacations with celebrities and gets write-ups in Hamptons magazine. In the end, is the Wack Pack still the Wack Pack without the offensive terms? That's for fans to decide.

Maria Menonous was almost married by the Wack Pack

The Wack Pack may be beloved, but they aren't exactly the type of folks you bring home to meet the family. So you can imagine what would have happened if they'd been given free rein to run a wedding, something that nearly happened. The bride, entertainment reporter and Stern super fan Maria Menounos, was open to the idea at first. She, in fact, was proposed to on the Stern show, leading to his offer to have their wedding on the program. And because Howard is nothing if not a flamethrower, he wanted the Wack Pack to preside over the ceremony, with Beetlejuice serving as ring bearer and the entire contingent dressed in Star Trek uniforms.

Thankfully, Menounos thought better of it, and the two love birds got married … during Fox's New Year's Eve special with Steve Harvey serving as officiant. Okay, maybe they should have just gone with the Wack Pack. Still, it's probably for the best because even Stern came out later and said the whole thing would have been a disaster.

Tan Mom was once trapped down a well

Every Wack Pack member has a colorful life. It's kind of a requirement to join the esteemed organization. Tan Mom is no different, having gained fame for being, well, tan, and a mom. But that's just the beginning of her exciting story because as super Stern fans are aware, Patricia Krentcil almost didn't live to get her tan. As a teenager she once got trapped in a well. Seriously. A freakin' well.

Seven long nights she spent down there, having been thrown in by some guy, before her family found her. With no food, she survived by slurping well water. In perhaps the understatement of the century, she told Howard, "I had to go to the hospital and everything."

Howard was clearly suspicious of this insane story, considering there's no evidence it ever happened, and Krentcil admittedly has a little trouble tracking with reality. Still, maybe we should overlook all that and just be grateful that Tan Mom got out and finally got that tan. The rest is Wack Pack history.

Hank the Angry Dwarf named one of People's Most Beautiful

They say beauty's in the eye of the beholder, and Hank the Angry Dwarf may just have proved it. In 1998, People Magazine ran its annual "Most Beautiful" issue. Leonardo DiCaprio, perhaps unsurprisingly, took home the award that year.

As the New York Times described it in a quote that will make you feel old, "Less immediately explicable is the ascendancy of Hank, the Angry Drunken Dwarf, in the magazine's online reader poll on the same subject, conducted via its World Wide Web site at www.pathfinder.com." Wow. The angry alcoholic, known for his profanity, garnered over 200,000 votes. Susan Toepfer, People's executive editor, said at the time, 'Frankly, I think it's stupid." Yep, pretty sure that was exactly the point.

At one point People's servers were so flooded with votes, the whole system crashed. Magazine staffers even claimed they were being hacked because they had never seen something like it before. Hank would go on to be the official Most Beautiful Man Alive the following year. Just kidding, he never made the list again.

High Pitch Erik was arrested for grand larceny

Wack Pack member High Pitch Erik is famous for many things. Having a high voice. Duh. Having crushes on male celebrities, even though he's steadfastly refused being gay. Groping a New Kid On The Block's buttocks.

But one notable things that often gets left off the list is when he was arrested for grand larceny. Oops. Back in 2008, when many people were obsessing over hope and change, Erik Bleaman was stealing change from his friends. He was, in fact, arrested for stealing more than $3,000 by putting unauthorized charges on a friend's credit card. One of the charges was an Amtrak ticket, which makes you wonder where was he going to run to. Jersey City?

There doesn't seem to be much of a record on how he sorted out the charges, but considering he's still showing up on the Stern show, flirting with celebrities and generally creeping everyone out, chances are he found a way to make good.