Stefani Giachetta Boccone
With her short stature and petite frame, Stefani carries herself with a youthful bounce that often persists to a lesser degree when stationary as a springy, shifting stance. When seated, she could be described as fidgety. Her features are light and soft, a sharp contrast to her style, which is a brash and often irreverent hodgepodge that sometimes flirts with being risque. Her eyes are usually mistaken for either brown or green but are, in truth, a mottled hazel that vacillates between the two depending on her mood, dress, and the lighting. She tends to play their changes to full effect by liberal application of eyeliner and shadow. Her trademark feature is a silky cascade of thick straight hair dyed in a sunset pattern, transitioning from a burnt orange at the roots to a platinum blond at the tips, which fall a couple inches below her shoulders.
Stefani speaks in quick, lively bursts in an unmistakably New York accent that can, given her tempo, be difficult for non-natives to follow. Though she's been working on it in group, she frequently interrupts others to offer her contribution. Her opinions are blunt and given freely, and though her directness seldom carries harmful intent, feelings are sometimes hurt regardless. That causes her visible distress when it's someone she respects or cares for, and she'll go to great lengths to repair the damage. While open about most aspects of herself, she tends to be more evasive where romantic relationships or family are concerned, though it's clear that neither play a prominent role in her life. Being outgoing and vivacious, friendships have come with relative ease though it's apparent that, despite that fact, she values them above virtually everything else and speaks of her closest friends often. She's quick-witted and carries herself confidently, even when she's clearly beyond her depth. Rarely, she appears agitated and aggressive, though by obvious effort channels her thoughts into increased fidgeting and squirming instead of words.
While her ground state is along the higher range of hypomanic, Stefani has experienced a chronic episode involving substance abuse and a significantly deteriorated mental state, which caused her short-term involuntary committal and subsequent placement in group therapy once stabilized. Her treatment initially included lithium, when her condition was thought to be more severe, but she resisted the dull, disconnected feelings and persistent headaches associated with its use to the point where she simply stopped taking it. After it was discontinued by her primary therapist, she became more receptive to alternatives and now abstains from most stimulants, including those as mundane as regular coffee, and keeps a sleep journal. Acknowledging that her state is not entirely stable, and that some sequences of events can exacerbate her condition, the goal of her therapy has been to identify signs of deterioration so they can be dealt with proactively, starting in her group sessions. Among the less tangible markers, and those Stefani's been more reluctant to discuss in group, are her transient physical relationships and tendency to place herself in unsafe situations, the latter resulting from an overestimate of what she's capable of handling. Both are considered substantial threats to her sustained recovery, but have lessened significantly through the self-monitoring regimen.
Biography: What Others Know
Stefani is a professional singer in a band bearing her name, Boccone Dolce, and frequently mentions her band mates, for whom she obviously cares a great deal. They've been extremely successful, having been approached by more than one label, but her condition, or more correctly her committal, have prevented the group from getting any firm offers. In fact, that's been one of her greatest motivators to continue treatment and keep up with her journal. Of her family, she speaks considerably less, though she's mentioned having two sisters and a brother, with her being the youngest. There's evidently a great deal of friction between her and the others, though she's never mentioned why or how the rest of her family gets along with one another. She has alluded to a particular event that caused her to move out and she hasn't been back since, only having spoken with her mother once in at least a couple years. Currently, she lives in a converted section of dressing rooms in a theater rented by an off-Broadway group, whom she frequently mentions as well. She hates her middle name, which was from "some great-great-grandmother, or something" and "is retarded, because we're about as Italian as Pizza Hut".
Stefani was born on December 18, 1969 in Manhattan, New York. Her parents, barely old enough to drive when they had their first child, were already stretched to make ends meet when she, their fourth, came along. Between low-paying day jobs to make rent on a shabby loft-style apartment upstairs from a deli, and nights devoted to their dreams of rock stardom with their band, Izzy and the MeatBeats, there was virtually nothing left for Stefani and her siblings, who were more or less left to fend for themselves. School proved difficult for the Boccone children, as parties tended to follow their parents home after shows and there was little to no support from them in the way of school clothes or supplies. Nearly everything the children had were hand-me-downs from neighbors or charities, which often led to teasing in class. For Stefani, there was also a more serious attentional aspect that made it difficult to concentrate, much less sit still, through even a single class. While the others toughed it out long enough to graduate high school, Stefani was hit or miss with her attendance after elementary school and finally decided she'd had enough while barely into high school. By then, her incessant talking, fidgeting, and general attentional difficulties were insurmountable and, more often that not, led to disciplinary action.
Not surprisingly, days spent running around the streets of New York with other truants led to several run-ins with law enforcement. On one such occasion, while fleeing the police after a graffiti tagging excursion, Stefani darted through a litter-lined alley and through a door she found ajar midway along its passage. Slamming and locking it behind her, she waited just inside panting furiously, the rush of her heart pounding in her ears. As the throbbing of her pulse subsided, a whimsical melody playing behind lively voices became audible from somewhere beyond the darkness of the storeroom that surrounded her. Following its source carefully among dusty odds and ends, and finally through a dense wall of drapery, she emerged just behind a broad stage, brilliantly illuminated by dozens of colored lights. The floor tremored as lines of performers darted about, singing in unison. Instantly captivated, Stefani slipped around to a shadowed corner at side stage and watched the duration of the rehearsal, which concluded with an emotion-filled solo delivered by an attractive brunette a few years older than her. For those few brief moments, Stefani sat completely motionless. Afterwards she stuck up a conversation with the young soloist and, finding her to be similarly lively, the pair enjoyed a quick-tempoed back and forth that continued well into the evening. She learned that the group was a standing cast of off-Broadway performers who'd been together for a couple of years and seen moderate success, at least enough to manage to rent their own rehearsal space and a full time rehearsal schedule.
Stefani became a regular at the rehearsals, helping out when she could and, as she became more familiar with the songs and choreography, stood in for absent cast members on a few occasions. With encouragement and assistance from various members of the cast, she made an admirable attempt at learning a couple of the lesser parts with the hope that she might swing a spot in one of the off-night shows. However, while she proved adept at dance and vocals, the concentration and study required to learn the scripts was beyond her attentional capacity and, at times, a stretch for her relatively low reading level. Vocally, she was as lively and animated as in regular speech and that, with some training and practice, imbued her singing with uncommon expressiveness and character.
Toward the end of 1986, The Carnalvores, a popular indy-punk foursome and regulars at the Bowery Ballroom lost their vocalist to "artistic differences" and were on the hunt for a replacement. Through mutual acquaintances they connected with Stefani and they hit it off immediately. Within a few months, they were carrying a full schedule and their new front-woman became known for belting out powerful leads and energizing rooms with an explosive presence. Within a year, they stood poised for breakthrough success, being courted by scouts from several minor labels looking for a powerful act to anchor their portfolios. Following one particularly electrified performance at the Bowery, easily one of their best, the band mates celebrated well into the night. On returning to the family's apartment in the early morning hours, Stefani found her brother in the living room, clearly intoxicated and wanting to talk. Though exhausted from that night's performance and feeling the effects of a few drinks of her own, she obliged and took a seat beside him on the couch. The conversation started off benign but soon turned toward her appearance, to the point where it became obvious that he was coming on to her. She started up from the sofa, but was caught midway and slung back down, prevented from a second attempt by his weight on top of her. With a hand over her mouth he attempted to force himself on the girl, easily overpowering the much smaller Stefani. Desperate to break free, she managed to lock her teeth around his pinky with enough force to make him release his grip. In that instant, she let out a scream, waking her oldest sister. By the time she'd made it to the living room and flipped on the lights, Stefani's brother had backed off and feigned shock. She explained what happened only a moment before but, given Stefani's dress, lifestyle, and her brother's insistence to the contrary, her sister was unconvinced and sided with the brother. Within days, the whole house had turned against her. Over the following months, Stefani's behavior became increasingly erratic and her sleep patterns shifted to a mere four hours per night. While some of that time was occupied with producing additional material for the band, the vast majority was less focused. Aside from frequenting after-parties until near dawn, from which she often went home with strangers merely to avoid having to return to her parents' apartment, she also began using milder drugs recreationally. Shortly before her twentieth birthday, Stefani began experimenting with psychoactives, including ecstasy and mescalin, and the effects were devastating.
On November 10th, 1989, Stefani was admitted to the Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan for psychotic behavior marked by visual and auditory hallucinations. With no background as to what preceded her episode, she was subjected to drug screening and a prolonged period of observation. As her body processed and released the chemicals, it became increasingly clear that hers was a temporary state, later attributed to her use of ecstasy and confirmed by the toxicology results. Following an extended period of evaluation and numerous interviews with the her, it was determined that Stefani had experienced a prolonged manic episode, amplified by ecstasy into an acute psychosis. She was initially prescribed lithium to manage her lingering heightened mania but, once her behavior had stabilized, the medication was dropped in favor of behavioral alternatives. In her absence, the Carnalvores had moved on, and she found her reputation had gone from "talented with great potential", to "talented but unstable". The relationship with her family was shattered, with them believing her to be a neurotic, toxic mess and Stefani blaming her brother for providing the catalyst that led to her ultimate committal. She's deeply embarrassed by the event and, since that night, has spoken of it only once to her primary therapist at Bellevue.
Devastated and unwilling to return home she crashed at the theater and, with the support of her theatrical "family" began to reconstruct her former life. Since then, she's managed to form a new band, made up mostly of musicians new to the scene, called Boccone Dolce. They've met with nothing but positive critical reviews in the local press and frequently perform at The Mercury Lounge. Though they've outgrown the relatively low-capacity venue, as indicated by their routinely sold out shows, Stefani prefers it for the closeness of the audience, which gives it a more intimate feel. Again, her group stands on the verge of success and, though her history has posed an additional challenge, she's determined to make it happen.