Category: Introduction

Hi! My Name is John

… in which we discover who this “orchid thief” is

Like Adaptation features Charlie and a fictitious brother Donald Kaufman, my story involves two Johns. John Laroche, my given name and John Stafford, a new name selected for a new life.

John Laroche

John Laroche
John Laroche at 32 from The New Yorker Magazine.

The information given about the adventures outlined in both The Orchid Thief and Adaptation was carefully curated by me, as you will see throughout this digital account. I have done so many things in my life that had I disclosed everything, well I couldn’t.

Now it all will be told. I’ve been shot and stabbed, died and met God, had my penis caught in a crane, have hung out with rock stars, models, the homeless, and that was before I was 25.

Chris Cooper as John Laroche
Chris Cooper as John Laroche

As John Laroche, I had six months of infamy in 1994 when I was the “Antichrist of the Florida Everglades.” Another 15 minutes when Orchid Fever appeared in the New Yorker magazine, more when the Susan Orlean novel The Orchid Thief hit the stands and yet more in 2002 when Adaptation came out. I have been a carpenter, a gangster, a photographer, an ornamental fish collector, a pet shop owner, a fossil collector, a nurseryman.

John Stafford

57 years and still kicking

During the “Orchid Thief/Adaptation Period,” I was hated. Threatening phone calls, death threats, people calling or knocking on my door demanding how to make dope from Ghost Orchids. There was lots of bullshit, and, this got old quick. When I met Kerry, we decided to change the last name so that our kids would be protected, and the bullshit would stop. John Stafford was born. A mild-mannered computer programmer, a project manager, a father, and husband to the best family a man could hope to have, and now a blog posting and mentally challenged house elf.

I’ve seen and done things that would fill several “normal” lives. I’ve led a life of adventure, sorrow, love, joy, and hell on earth. I’ve not only come out on the other side but thrived.

I share my life story with you as entertainment, a morality play, and as a memoir of sorts. I also intend to editorialize on life and teach what I can about late-century life and our natural world.

Not all the material here is flattering to myself; some might be embarrassing to my friends and family who thought they knew me. I completely understand if you disavow any knowledge of knowing me. (Except for my lovely wife, you’re stuck with me)!

I am what I am, and that is all I am

Popeye the Sailor Man

Let the fun begin!

Pink Floyd – Free Four

“The memories of a man in his old age, are the deeds of a man in his prime”

Cast of Characters

… in which Mr. John introduces a motley crew that have passed through his life

It’s been somewhat of a challenge to find a way to get started with my life story. I don’t like the idea of “I was born, stuff happened, funny stories, married, things happened, some events occurred, married, more funny stories, the orchid thief stuff, other things happened, the internet, married and here I am today.”

Mommy Dearest

The first crazy woman in my life. On the one hand, she was terrible, cruel, and did horrific things. She could be enjoyable, engaging, and nurturing. She mellowed out after I got married to my first wife. She died tragically after the accident.

My Father

Thanks to good ole Mum, I have no idea from whose loins I sprung. None of her stories made any sense, and she was crazy, and I mean that in the literal sense. While not knowing who it was would eat at some people, I’m sure, and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

My Adopted Father

He was a hard-working man. He tempered some of the craziness of my mother. He fell off a building and broke back in five places. He miraculously survived the fall above, however rather than taking pain killers, he selected beer. This was when our family changed and grew dark. He lived to see my eldest son born, and for that, I am thankful. He never did acknowledge all the bad stuff and ultimately died as an old man of small cell lung cancer.


My sister, who tragically died three years before I was born in my mother’s arms. She was three years old. I lived in her room as a kid. Everyone that goes into that room has the creeps. Legit.


The brother I never wanted, but my parents adopted him anyway. Although he was a sociopath, they kept him around for a few years until he tried to kill me. It seems he was still under warranty, and they promptly returned to the agency.

Antoinette (AKA Annette or Suzy)

“We were two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl year after year.” We saved each other from hell. We might have lived happily ever after had I not been a selfish, blind idiot.


Partner in Crime during my “Rough Patch.” He was a giant mountain of a man. Quiet and polite even though he could rip your spine out and beat you with it.

Cindy Ann Smith

My first wife. She was an incredible woman before the accident. A honest to God Hippy. She will play a massive part in our stories. Her mother, Jo Laura, was some hell-spawn sent to earth to torment me. She did everything in her power to ruin my life and marriage. She even tried to destroy the movie.


Number two. We were together long enough to be considered Common Law married. She was addicted to drugs and never grew up. God knows I tried to save her. In the end, I had to walk away. She was my penance. She eventually quit the drugs, only to die several years later from narcolepsy, which she inherited from the years of abuse. Incredibly sad.

Mr. W

Son of Ms. D. He was such an excellent kid and now a grown man that I am so proud of. I love him and consider him as a son. He got a raw deal in life, and I hope that in some way, I made it better. Appears now to be thriving and successful, although I don’t see him enough. Yes, that’s a hint!

Miss A

The girlfriend of Mr. W (during the period if much of my stories). She was a nice girl who lived with us for a while. Today she isn’t with Mr. W has an excellent family, and a beautiful daughter. I am so proud of her, even if she did block my wife on Facebook because of differing religious views.


My brother from another mother. We met at the dawn of the Internet and built some crazy stuff together. We have floated into and out of each other’s lives over the past some 25 years.


My wife and mother to my children. The absolute best thing that has ever happened to me. I love her and my kids more than anything. She deserves so much better.

Mr. John – The Orchid Thief

That’s me. When my oldest was young, I was a Cub Scout Den Leader. The kids called me Mr. John, and the name stuck. I like it because it reminds me that the person I was before Kerry is long dead and buried. An alligator did not eat me.

There are many other bit players in my drama, and we will meet some of them along the way. For now, this should give some perspective to my ramblings.

The B-52’s: Tell It Like It T-I-IS

From the album ‘Good Stuff’. Kate is AWESOME!

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