'The Long Island Lolita'

So who says life's simpler in the suburbs? Mary Jo Buttafuoco thought she and her husband, Joey, had it all: the Biltmore Shores house on Long Island, the membership in the beach club, the speedboat down at the marina in Massapequa, N.Y. But the idyll had a flaw. Joey looked like a simple weight lifter, but, actually, he was a very complicated guy. He fell for Amy Fisher, a schoolgirl whose beeper meant a lot more to her than her binder, and suddenly their passion made "Fatal Attraction" look like horseplay. Last week Amy was in jail charged with attempted murder. From Manhattan to Montauk, the tabloids were running headlines like LONG ISLAND LOLITA and AMY'S HORNY HITMAN. And Joey, with a lot of explaining to do, was out on the stoop telling reporters that Mary Jo was "not OK." "She's got a bullet in her head," he said. "She feels lousy."

Once in love with Amy, Joey was never quite the same. For years he had worked quietly enough at the Complete Auto Body Repair Shop in Baldwin. He was a big guy with curly hair, a steamfitter's biceps and a boxer's flattened nose. He liked to work out at the Future Physique gym. Amy had a walk-on-the-wild-side allure. She rinsed a cunning violet into her auburn hair and wore cutoff jeans that fit her like white on rice. Her parents, Elliot and Rose Fisher, who ran the Stitch and Sew Upholstery Shop in Freeport, brought their car into the shop for some work one day, bringing Amy and Joey together. She was only 16. But before long, according to the tabs, they were meeting on Joey's speed boat, the Double Trouble, and schoolmates say Amy began telling them about her boyfriend the mechanic. Once they took Joey's children to the carnival. The kids called Dad's date "Aunt Amy."

But wait. Amy might have been even busier. She wore a beeper to school that friends said she used to keep in touch with Joey. But others reportedly claim she used it to reach clients of the Abba Escort Service to make a little abba dabba doo. At least, that's how it looked last week when "A Current Affair" broadcast part of a sex video showing someone schoolmates said looked a lot like Amy stripping off her jeans before a customer who said he paid $150 an hour. "Let's take care of business, then we'll take care of pleasure," the woman says on tape. On a segment not broadcast, the john, a seven-minute man, gambols forward and snaps off the lights ("That's great, lover," she reportedly tells him). She also tells him that she has a 38-year-old boyfriend with two kids. "I'm wild," she says. "I don't care. I like sex." Abba (listed in the Yellow Pages) denies any connection with Amy.

With the story developing an "Arabian Nights" momentum, "A Current Affair" covered it more closely than CNN covered Baghdad. The show's vice squad next spoke to Stephen Sleeman, 21, a suburban chef who met Amy last summer. In his televised account, Sleeman offered dialogue that sounded like something out of "The Postman Always Rings Twice":

AMY: I'd do anything to see Mrs. Buttafuoco die, because I want Joey--he's the one I love ... Would you kill Mrs. Buttafuoco for me?"

STEPHEN: Yeah.

"I thought it was all a joke," Sleeman (who was granted partial immunity) hastily said last week. "Everybody says yes to get what they want and I was just looking to get laid."

But that was his little secret. The would be hit man did have rifle, and a white Plymouth Horizon. According to Sleeman, he and Amy staked out the Buttafuoco house for more than two months (engaging in oral sex between patrols). Then, he says, on the day after Halloween, Amy, posing as a candy peddler, knocked on Mary Jo's front door. Her rival appeared. "He freaked," Sleeman's lawyer said last week. "He ran back to the car. She just teed off on him, yelling and screaming "You're a chicken!'"

Parts of the story Amy gave in a statement to the police leaked to the press. At one point she reportedly told the cops that Joey had provided her with a .25-caliber handgun and egged her on. Then she said Joey had nothing to do with it. Then, police reportedly said, she wangled a gun and a ride from an unnamed friend, went to Biltmore Shores and poked the doorbell at the Buttafuocos'. Mary Jo answered. According to authorities, Amy said she only meant to use the gun to pistol-whip her-but somehow the gun went off.

The victim fell on the doorstep; Amy disappeared. This put Joey in a tight corner. For nine hours his wife was in surgery; for two days she was on a respirator. Then, when she miraculously survived to videotape a statement identifying her assailant, he told the police he had known Amy, though he denied any role in the shooting. Amy's lawyer accused him of being a pimp who had lured her into a life of prostitution. (Joey denies it.) At a bail hearing, her lawyer called Amy "a typical teenager who needs to be home with her family preparing for her high-school graduation." In reply, the prosecutor said, "To call her a 17-year-old girl who's living at home is as accurate as calling John Gotti a businessman who lives in New York." The judge apparently agreed. He set bail at $2 million.

The police haven't charged Joey. When Mary Jo returned home to sort things out with her husband, she had a bullet at the base of her skull, headaches, double vision and one deaf ear. "Naturally he feels bad," Joey's pop told the New York Daily News. "It's a stinking mess." Even for suburbia.