After an unhappy childhood, John Lee Bottom dropped out of high school, and worked as a gardener in Fontana California. During his twenties he took to the road in search of a happier future. He would then pick up a hitch hiker.
"We were flower children. We were full of faith, and laved everybody."
John and Heart married with a hippie ceremony during the summer of 1969.Sometime between when they met and when River as born, they became involved in the Children of God, a radical Christian cult. Rain was even born at the main Children of God Commune. In 1975, John became the Archbishop of Venezuela and the Caribbean. Heart and John were now full fledged missionaries.
However, the Phoenix's soon realized the degree of harm the cult was causing the family. He cult didn't provide essentials for the far flung missionaries, and the family realized the truth. The Children of God encouraged sex, along with out vices. River once confessed that he lost his virginity at the age of four. This has not been proved however, for her later said he was joking.
"It was disgusting. It was a shack. It had no toilet, and was rat infested."-River
"The group was being distorted by a leader who was getting very full of power and wealthy. He sought to attract rich disciples through sex. No way."-Heart
The family left the cult, and moved into a dirty beach hut outside the city of Caracas where River would spend his 7th birthday.
"I was never frightened, When you are raised on the road, you don't fear things, you don't question them. We didn't have enough money, we prayed and ate coconuts we found on the beach."-Rive
A local priest arranged for them to be smuggled onto a Tonka toys boat heading to Florida. That is were Joaquin spent him 3h birthday. The crew ended up finding the family, but instead of reporting them, they threw a party for Joaquin. They have him some old damaged Tonka Toys, which was fine for him.
With four kids, and another on the way, the family was very happy to be back in America. That is when they adopted the name Phoenix. Also, Summer was born.
When the family returned to America in 1978, John opened his own landscaping business. "I worked fourteen or fifteen hours a day". "And Riv and the kids would help me out." In the summer of the following year, he had to unfortunately give up work because he re aggravated an old spinal injury from his youth.
The family made their way to California, in search of making their kids into talents. They lived in a large van converted into a mobile home. Some nights they had to stuff diapers into the back window because the glass was broken out.
When river's career took off in the 1980's he distanced himself away from the family because he feared they would get hurt by the business.
By 1993, he could remain silent no longer. "I could see Hollywood was eating him up, bleeding him dry. I told him I wanted him out of the movies. I had been urging him to quit for some time. I have seen too many brilliant kids go down and I realized he couldn't buck the system. I thought it was time for him to stop." By that time, John had "dropped out" and had just opened a vegan restuarant in Costa Rica. He tried to persuade River and his other children to help him run it.
"I had opened my place as a vegan restuarant- thing were buzzing. the idea was for them to spend time there, helping with the cooking, making music, writing, and harvesting the organic fruit and living off the land like we used too."
River had actually agreed. After Dark Blood and Interview with the Vampire, he would retire. "As it turned out that was too many, just before he left, I always remember, he told me, 'I'll see you after this movie Dad'. Well, he did. Only he was in a box."
"We all feel guilt, everyone that knew River. Not a day goes by that I don't think long and hard about River's death and ask myself why."
Quick facts about John:
¦born in 1947 ¦ worked as a fruit picker, gardener, archbishop, & restuarant owner¦John and Heart are divorced ¦