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Josh Shapiro lived the high life during the 1990s and drove a red Porsche.
When most people his age were still figuring out what they wanted to do for a living, Josh Shapiro had a clear-cut plan - make as much money as possible. So he did.

In his early 20s, he was pulling down tens of thousands of dollars a month, working hard and partying harder at Stratton Oakmont, the notorious Long Island boiler room that sold investors the moon but delivered sawdust.

Shapiro idolized scheme masterminds Jordan Belfort and Danny Porush, who will be immortalized by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill in Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, out on Christmas.

"The lie becomes the truth," said Shapiro, 41, who eventually became disillusioned, traded in his Porsche for a Buick, and left finance entirely for a life devoted to helping people.

Here's his story, as told to The Post's Gary Buiso.

After high school, I joined the Marines. I was the only Jew in the Marines at the time - or one of the few, for sure. It wasn't a Long Island Jewish kid thing to do.

I was 22 and came back to New York in 1993, when my father, who's a doctor, said, "Danny" - the son of Jerry Porush, a nephrologist my father was partners with - "is making a lot of money at this stock-broker place. Maybe you should go and check it out."

I was a little hesitant at first. I had no interest in stock brokerage. I didn't know anything about it. So I walked into this office park in Lake Success, and there was no sign that says Stratton Oakmont or anything but there's a line of cars - Rolls-Royces, Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Porsches, Mercedes.

And I'm like ''Whoa!" It looked like a car show. I've never seen cars like this. I didn't have a driver's license yet.

Ripping up $100 bills

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© Paramount PicturesJordan Belfort, here played by Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” created a cult of money making at Stratton Oakmont.
So then I walked into the board room, a humongous room with 300 people in it. Everyone on the phone, people standing up, people screaming into the phones, and Porush had a big old office in the corner, with golden golf clubs and souvenirs and signed baseballs - just a really lavish office.

He said: "Sit down, Josh. Do you want to make a million dollars a year? Do you want to make $100,000 a month? This is how you do it."

I was blown away by the intensity - you could feel the pulse when you walked into the place. It was like walking into a nightclub without the music. The music was the phones and the people talking. The energy was just unbounding and unstoppable, and you wanted to be a part of it. It was almost cultish, and you were hooked in from Day 1.

The office was basically separated into two parts: the cold callers in the back, and the brokers in the front. The cold callers were dressed in Van Heusen shirts and ties - nothing too expensive. The guys in the front were sporting Armani, Boss, slicked back hair.

They'd give meetings in the back to the cold callers where they'd rip up $100 bills, throw them on the floor and tell them, "Do you want to be a loser all your life, or do you want to make something out of your life? Do you want to be rich?" The motivational meetings in the morning were incredible.

Porush gave meetings where he'd insult people, based on their performance. He would say: "Doug, you sold 1,000 shares of stock in the last three weeks. You know, you should have slit your throat when you were shaving this morning."

He would come out at other times, completely stewed out of his mind on Quaaludes. Stand on the desk, then fall onto the floor. Or he would come out angry, pick up a computer - and these are the old CRT monitors - and smash it on the floor as hard as he possibly could. And be like, "You're all a bunch of f- -king losers unless you push this f- -king stock!"

'I'll buy you a car'

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© Paramount PicturesAs Stratton Oakmont grew, masterminds Jordan Belfort (DiCaprio) and Danny Porush had to find new ways to transport their cash.
For me, it was Van Heusen at first. Worked my tail off. There was a script with all these rebuttals, pages passed around the office constantly, with better rebuttals. If somebody says, "I need to talk to my wife first," you said, "Does your wife talk to you before she buys a fur coat? No."

I showed a lot of initiative, and I stayed late. I was now in Armani suits, Ferragamo shoes, Valentino ties. I would stay all night. I would adjust my hours to call potential customers at home. All you had to do was get past the wife. The guys were more relaxed to talk at home. They were willing to listen a little more.

Danny offered to buy a car if I opened up 30 accounts in a month. I ate dozens of Quaaludes, pounded my clients, and got the 30 accounts - but two wound up not paying. So Danny said, "I'll lease you whatever sports car you want."

I picked a red Porsche 911 - I still didn't have a driver's license.

Belfort was behind the scenes, but a god, because it was all his idea. He was revered like nothing else. He wasn't an imposing figure in terms of size of height or weight, but you knew that everything you were doing, the car you were driving, the women you were sleeping with, the drugs you were taking, the fun you were having - was all because of him.

Bait and switch

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© youtubeStock pushers at Stratton Oakmont celebrated making huge piles of money, but they were often selling clients bogus stocks.
You got on the phone and pushed a stock that people know, say, Dr. Pepper. But then you said, "Really, it's my IPOs - that's where I'm going to make you the most money." You got the account, and then you started selling them on our IPOs - very enticing initially, but if you bought, you lost. There was no way to win.

We used to joke that they used to get a couple of bums off the street, throw them in the shower, put a suit and tie on them, and say, "Listen, buddy, for the next couple of hours, you're the president of Czech Industries."

When a stock collapsed, the mentality was that even if you lost thousands of dollars you'd buy more - instead of relating to a client that it crashed, you'd say it's trading at a discount. And it worked because everyone wanted to make money.

You wanted to call people that were not in the state; you didn't want them knocking at your door.

But these were not grandmothers we were calling on the phone. These were qualified investors, who had, basically, a gambling habit. In my mind, I just can't imagine how some guy in Texas that's never seen me, that's never met me can send me $50,000. I just don't understand how.

The Gina girls

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© PacificCoastNews.comThere were always women around for the men in the boiler room.
The drug use was rampant. I took Quaaludes as much as possible, maybe three or four a day. They were called Lemmon 714s. That's what was printed on the pill. I loved them. If you didn't drink alcohol on them, they made you cocky, arrogant - you thought you were the funniest person in the world, but the next day, people would be like, "You know, you were a real d- -k yesterday."

They made you super aggressive on the phone, so any sort of inhibitions you would have would be lost. Asking a guy to send you a million dollars - you can't waver in your voice in any way, shape or form. Because if he detected any type of weakness, the guy's not sending you a frickin' dime. So the Quaaludes would take away those inhibitions.

There were other perks - the Gina girls. That's what everyone called them. Don't know if that was the agency name.

They were the top of the crop, $500-an-hour hookers - gorgeous girls, hot former cheerleaders, like for professional football teams. The bosses would offer them up based on our performance. "Hey, I got this for you. Enjoy, have fun."

And the Gina girls also knew how to take care of you, too. We went to Atlantic City, me and six other guys on a private jet for somebody's birthday. We took some Mexican Quaaludes, some things called Mandrax. I just remember vomiting in the room when I was with the Gina girl, and she went and she got a warm washcloth and she wiped the vomit off my lips, and said, "Oh, honey, I hope you feel better." It kind of sobered me up. And I just remember thinking, "Wow, she's an incredible girl."

They had this other girl who liked to go to all the parties in Atlantic City, and they rented a bus for 40 people, and she had oral sex with everybody on the bus, all 40 people. She wasn't a Gina girl, she was just known by everyone in the office because she basically f- -ked everyone in the office. I met her, and gave her $50 in Atlantic City for a b- - - - - - and stuff, and asked her for her number. I wound up taking her out of the business, and I dated her for a year and half.

My penance

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© J.C. RIceThe guilt still lingers for Josh Shapiro.
I went from a cold caller to an account opener to a broker, but I didn't save any money - I spent it as fast as it came. I never bought any property - I didn't think it was ever going to end. Property? The future? No. The future was right here and now. I'm driving a $70,000 car.

But eventually, the blindness from the drugs, the girls and the cars, the clothes and the money, wore off. These people were some of the worst people that I have ever met in my life - they would sell their own grandmother in a second.

I left a couple of months before the FBI came and shut down the place.

Madoff got years in prison, and these guys have gotten off easy - 22 months for Belfort, 39 months for Porush - for ripping off $200 million. I'm still going to see the movie. My parents want to go with me. I would hope people would try to keep some morality while still trying to achieve success - but I'm not sure the movie is going to show that. Just the wild ride.

I got to the point where I realized there was no way you could win. To this day, I still remember two clients' names who lost all their money because of me. I think they're dead now, but I did think about making amends. Now it's too late.

It's probably why I'm in the medical business now and I'm a physician's assistant - to try to make up for that s- -t.

When I am giving back, I get a good feeling - I feel like I am absolving myself. But the guilt follows you a little bit, still.