Joybubbles is the true story of Joe Engressia Jr. (1949-2007), a blind telephone hacker, who legally changed his name to Joybubbles, after declaring himself "the age of five forever."

At an early age, Joe developed an interest in the communicative power of the telephone. Gifted with perfect pitch, he realized that if he whistled the exact tone of 2600Hz into the telephone receiver, he could make free phone calls and explore the inner workings of the telephone network. His incredible skill for hacking the network eventually awarded him the nickname "The Whistler," and he became famous among a group of underground telephone hackers who called themselves phone phreaks. The phone phreaks were mainly active in the 1960s and 1970s, when the telephone network was based on a system of tones.

In 1988, at the biological age of thirty-nine, Engressia declared himself "the age of five forever." His decision was largely based on a childhood incident where he was sexually abused by a nun at a school for the blind. Three years after "turning five" he legally changed his name to Joybubbles, created The Church of Eternal Childhood and surrounded himself with toys and stuffed animals in his Minneapolis apartment. Joybubbles loved reading children's books and listening to episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.

Joybubbles is a story about overcoming loneliness and disability. The telephone provided Joybubbles' with a means of escape and a way to travel around the world without having to leave the safety of his home. Friends, and audience to which he could broadcast his thoughts, was always just a phone call away.

Filmmaker Bio(s)

Rachael Morrison (director/producer) is a documentary filmmaker living in Los Angeles.

Film Details
  • Country(ies): USA
  • Language(s): English
  • Director(s): Rachael Morrison
  • Producer(s): Rachael Morrison
  • Cinematographer(s): Michael Belcher, Hiroshi Hara, Ashley Connor
  • Website:

FSP 1489