The man who went around at last week’s Riverhead Cardboard Boat Race claiming to be The Beach Boys’ Mike Love said he’s sorry and that he’s going to try his best to stop pretending he’s someone else.
“It was a stupid thing to do,” Walter Klapatosk said of the incident, which culminated with a young woman’s announcing to the crowd that she was going to be on the next season of the popular television show “American Idol.”
Mr. Klapatosk, who lives in Aquebogue, said the deception started after he requested the event disc jockey play a song “for Mike Love,” The Beach Boys’ hit “Help Me Rhonda.”
Someone who overheard Mr. Klapatosk, 61, speak with the DJ then asked him if he was Mike Love.
“I said, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But not really meaning I’m Mike Love,” he said.
Word of the famous Beach Boy’s attending the downtown event ultimately spread to 24-year-old Riverhead resident Amy Wesolowski, who then struck up a conversation with the man she now knows as Mr. Klapatosk.
He admits to telling her he was Mike Love of The Beach Boys and that he could help get her on “American Idol.”
“The girl asked me, ‘Oh, you can get me on American Idol?’ ” he said. “She said, ‘How do you get me on? I said, ‘I can get you on.’
“But anyone can get themselves on,” he later said, “You just go onto the computer, onto Fremantle or American Idol and there’s an application to go in for the audition. That’s how you get them on.”
Ms. Wesolowski made her announcement to hundreds of spectators at the race.
“I’m gonna win this thing,” she told the crowd, a smile on her face. “I’m hoping you all watch it, listen to me sing and call in and vote as much as you can.”
Mr. Klapatosk said he now regrets misleading Ms. Wesolowski and that he plans to no longer identify himself as Mike Love, though he says an injury he suffered in a traffic accident when he lived in North Carolina more than 20 years ago often prevents him from filtering what he says.
“Because of my brain injury, I sometimes go along with things,” he said. “Someone says, ‘Oh, you’re Mike Love?’ I say, ‘Sure.’ That’s my problem.”
Mr. Klapatosk said he’s received counseling for his behavior and that since last week’s incident he’s reached out to therapists for help. He said he has written the manuscript for a book about his brain injury and the stories he has told as a result. He showed a News-Review reporter a portion of a proposal from a subsidy publishing company that indicates he sent them a manuscript of his book.
He said the injury and his subsequent behavior led to a divorce in the mid 1990s and that he is currently estranged from his wife and daughters, who still live in North Carolina.
Since the injury, Mr. Klapatosk said he’s also told people he’s Three Dog Night keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon and former New York Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles.
Most people in the community who spoke to the News-Review said they know Mr. Klapatosk as a man who says he’s former “Leave it to Beaver” actor Rusty Stevens.
When asked by a News-Review reporter if he would stop telling people his name is Rusty Stevens, Mr. Klapatosk said “no,” because that was a name he used while working as a DJ in North Carolina in the 80s.
“I am Rusty Stevens,” he said.
Diane Reeve, owner of the former EastEnders Coffee House in downtown Riverhead, said “Rusty Stevens” would frequent her business, telling tales of his time in television.
He also promised her young female employees that he would use his show business connections to help them get recording contracts, she said.
“He only approached young females, never the males,” Ms. Reeve said. “We were proactive in warning the girls not to give him any information and definitely do not go anywhere with him.”
Mr. Klapatosk’s sister, Charlene Sequen and her daughter, April Velasquez, say he has a long history of using false identities and making lofty promises to attractive young women.
Ms. Velasquez says when he’s not approaching young women at major East End events, her uncle frequents the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center, the Long Island Game Farm, Riverhead Free Library and Walmart on Route 58. She said he often gets into paid events free by identifying himself using one of his celebrity personas.
“He goes wherever he can find young girls,” Ms. Velasquez said.
In his interview with the News-Review Friday. Mr. Klapatosk spoke of some of the relationships he’s forged with several women in their early 20s.
He said he met one woman, a 20-year-old from Riverhead, at the Riverhead Free Library when he approached her about recording a song he had written about the end of his relationship with his former wife.
“I wound up buying everything for [the woman],” he said. “Her cell phone, clothing, food.
“We were going to record a song together,” he said. “But when I took her to record, things just didn’t work out well. I told her she couldn’t really record well enough.”
He also spoke fondly during the interview of a local singer in her late 20s, whom he said he had met while she was performing at an area vineyard.
He said he introduces himself to young performers as Rusty Stevens, and he shared with the News-Review a business card that reads “Rusty Stevens: performer, producer, director, talent agent. For info or audition call ( ) _________.” [The phone number was left blank, to be filled in by hand.]
When asked if the bonds he forms under the name Rusty Stevens and others ever morph into sexual relationships, Mr. Klapatosk at first said no.
His story later changed when he was presented with letters and photographs he admits he sent his ex-wife and daughter, in which he claims in graphic detail to have had a sexual relationship with the two singers mentioned above.
“Here I am trying my best to be your friend again and I am sending you pictures of girls I had sex with,” he wrote in one letter to his ex-wife. “That’s dumb, dumb, dumb!”
His ex-wife did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
In an email to the New-Review this week, his daughter, Carrie Klapatosk, said her father “cyberstalks” her and emails her and her friends.
Ms. Klapatosk said her father “was crazy before his head injury and is even worse now.”
“I am glad he was finally caught at his games he plays and people know what kind of creep he is,” she wrote.
When asked why he sends letters to his ex-wife and daughter, Mr. Klapatosk said, “Ninety percent of it was to piss off my wife.”
Asked what the other 10 percent was for, Mr. Klapatosk replied “because it really happened.”
Mr. Klapatosk said he had been cooperative when questioned by Riverhead detectives in the days following last Sunday’s boat race incident and that he had even showed them an album of photographs he’s taken of young women around Riverhead Town. When later asked by a reporter if any of the photographs were sexual in nature, like photos and videos he describes in his letters, Mr. Klapatosk said one photograph shows a Riverhead department store employee opening her blouse and flashing her breasts.
Mr. Klapatosk said he approaches young women because he likes the attention they give him.
“It’s like I have my children back again,” he said. “I haven’t seen my daughter or granddaughter [since 1997].
“It makes you feel young.”