Published on January 31st, 2021

by Abel Folgar

Joey Maya by Robin Maya

Generational necessities dictate the order of rites of passage. Long removed from shorter lifespans, humanity has continued to push back on the start of adulthood. Finishing high school and going to college, even seeking a post-grad degree, can push that start well into a person’s 20’s. For punk rock drummer Joey Wrecked, his passage into adulthood proper would be further skewed by his personal environment and the almost fantastical bizarreness of the 80’s.

So how low can a punk get? Famously asked by the Bad Brains in their 1983 album Rock for Light, it would be a question Joey would ponder at his adult crossroad in 1987 as he found himself: Marginally employed, attending college, involved in a serious relationship and on the verge of possibly taking a step into rock and roll stardom with his band, Circus of Power.

Turns out, a punk can get really low – or high – really depends on how it’s looked at, and for Joey Wrecked, heading into Wall Street was the right and punk rock thing to do.

But before he found himself tangled in New York City’s financial jungle, Joey Maya had been a heartthrob teenager with legendary Miami punks, The Reactions. Described in the liner notes of the 2011 compilation record, Saturdays Gone Wild, as a 16-year-old with huge Cuban eyes, a crushingly shy smile and polite, it’s a little hard to imagine the wild ride he’d embark on.

On the cover of the comp, Maya is flanked by singer Tony Suppa, bassist Johnny Salton and guitarist Isaac Baruch, Maya’s the odd one out. Looking too young to be there out of his own free will even. But anchoring the rhythm section would help propel the Reactions to local fame and notoriety. When the band disbanded, he was immediately scooped up to tour with San Diego’s hardcore punk legends Battalion of Saints.

Joey Wrecked by Barry Stock

That gig would spark within Maya, now christened Joey Wrecked, feelings of rock and roll stardom. The logical thing for a sweet kid from Miami Beach looking to bank on his musical chops, would be moving to New York City. His first book, The Drummer of Miami Beach (2018, Jitney Books), follows his sex and drugs-laden ascent against the backdrop of two wildly different scenes.

After South Florida’s isolation, the dog-eat-dog New York City scene would bring new challenges. Hooking up with Circus of Power in 1986 would prove the perfect blend between hard rocking punk and southern-fried blues, and a ticket to a juicy record contract.

But with nothing set in stone, Joey also found himself making $8 an hour working odd jobs for a sketchy art gallery owner, credits away from graduating from CUNY-Baruch College and in a serious relationship. Drumming in a band – popular or not – wasn’t going to cut it if he didn’t want his life to fall apart, or worse yet, be replaced by any of the yuppie fucks clogging up the city.

A Punk on Wall Street was the story I wanted to tell from the start,” he says. “I want punks to know it’s okay to think about the financial markets and money. I also want to call out the assholes that give the entire finance industry a bad name. When I began to write, I felt it made more sense to start at the beginning. So Drummer had to come first.”

Joey Maya by Jill Kahn

His voice borrows from the picaresque tradition and the tales are wild. Maybe a little embellished, maybe not. His recall for time and place further the narrative. Even when things feel like they can go bad, and sometimes they do, he establishes himself as a trustworthy narrator. Joey Maya is a memoirist; and a damn good one.

“I don’t think that highly of myself or think I’m so special that people would want to read about me,” he argues. “Everybody has their own story, their own struggles, and their own idiosyncrasies.” Viewing his past as Joey Wrecked, Maya takes an objective look in how he turned from combat boots-wearing, torn clothing, studded leather jacket-clad punk to suited-up and fragrant Wall Street broker.

A Punk on Wall Street, completed but not yet published, is 200-plus page bildungsroman set to the wild and greedy underbelly of finance. Along the way, Maya sheds aspects of Joey Wrecked and becomes the adult he needed to be. Would potential fame and fortune with Circus of Power, who went on to release albums for RCA and Columbia Records, nag at him? Sure, but not really.

His genuine enthusiasm propels the story. His vignette approach to chaptering slowly reveal an evolution, not a transformation. He might be back to Joey Maya, finance professional, but he still is every bit Joey Wrecked, punk rocker.

And in the spirit of punk rock community, he wants everyone to benefit. “I’m not allowed to dispense any direct financial advice without the approval of my compliance department,” he jokes. “But an easy observation to make is that more and more people are involved with the financial markets now than ever before, and in the long-term, that has to be good thing.”

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