On All Hallows Eve, the streets were filled with the joyous angst of thousands of elder millennials celebrating My Chemical Romance. Yes, MCR, — the pop emocore band that inspired me personally to try and turn a pair of pink-and-green Chuck Taylors black with a single Sharpie in 2004 with the song “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Death Wish” — is reuniting, at least for one concert in Los Angeles.
This is big news, of course. But it was preceded by even bigger MCR news, in my opinion. Which is that Gerard Way, the eyeliner-and-black-bangs-sporting frontman and spiritual heart of My Chemical Romance, is related by red, red, emo blood to … one Joseph Rogan.
It was confirmed on Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, a few days ago, when Clerks director Kevin Smith, a friend of Way’s, asked Rogan if it was true that he and Way are cousins. According to Smith, Way once told him that his Aunt Josie is also Joe Rogan’s grandmother. And Rogan said, “Yeah, I don’t know him, but we’re cousins.”
I’m sure we’re all on the very same page when I say, Excuse me????? True MCR fans will have had only one reaction to this piece of information: Does this mean that the woman who inspired the beloved My Chemical Romance song “Helena” is also Joe Rogan’s grandma? (For the uninitiated: Way has spoken at length about how his late grandmother, Elena, to whom “Helena” was a tribute, nurtured his love for music and art, and is essentially the very person whom we should thank for My Chemical Romance’s existence.) Are the poignant lyrics about life and death from perhaps MCR’s greatest song — the iconic refrain “So looong and good niiight,” the music video in which people with umbrellas dance around a casket in the rain — about Gerard Way’s grandmother but also about the grandmother of Joe Rogan, a man who shoots and grills his own elk?
I had to know.
Neither Gerard Way nor Joe Rogan responded to requests from the Cut for comment. Calling 911 seemed dramatic, and I thought about calling 311, but they don’t have a department to address this type of request. So the investigation was up to me.
Elena’s, a.k.a. Helena’s, full name is public, because her relationship with Gerard Way is foundational MCR fan knowledge. A quick Google and truly affordable obituary purchase told me Elena Lee Rush, née Spadone, was married to Arthur Rush, and that her daughter, Donna Rush, married Donald Way. Donna and Donald are Gerard and his brother Mikey’s parents.
Then we have mysterious “Aunt Josie.” Searches for Josephine Way and Josephine Rush turned up nothing. But what does “Aunt” even mean here? Maybe she’s one of Gerard’s parent’s aunts, so she’s actually more of a great-aunt? That would make more sense, if she is also Rogan’s grandmother. Rogan is 52 and Way is 42.
From the Rogan side, Joe Rogan has given many interviews about his estranged father, Joseph Rogan Sr., but has never publicly identified his mother, so we don’t know her maiden name. There are many Josephine Rogans located in the wrong places, like Ireland. But I discovered that Joe Rogan once talked about a grandmother on his podcast, who had a pet monkey and also went to jail. Is this Aunt Josie? And how is the monkey owner related to Elena from “Helena”?? Is she Elena’s sister? Or sister-in-law? Rogan said this law-breaking matriarch was from the Italian side of his family, so it follows that she was likely a Spadone or married to a Spadone. That would make Elena from “Helena” Joe Rogan’s great-aunt.
The identity of Aunt Josie and her relationship to Elena from “Helena” could probably be confirmed by a professional, or someone with simply more time. But I think I’ve done a pretty good job of chasing this story down: Joe Rogan is probably related to Gerard Way’s grandma, Elena, from “Helena.”
Look at this tweet!!!!