'90s supermodel, Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Edition star, and former face of Calvin Klein Carré Otis — who had a hell of a time with cocaine and heroin addiction, an abusive marriage to Mickey Rourke, and decades of anorexia during the time she was posing for all of those pretty pictures — says that normalizing her view of food and eating is the hardest thing she's ever done. Harder than stopping taking cocaine. Harder than kicking heroin.
Otis spoke to the addiction and recovery site the Fix about, well, addiction and recovery. She admits it's been "unbelievably frustrating" that the news outlets that have covered her new memoir, Beauty Disrupted (which she co-wrote with Jezebel contributor Hugo Schwyzer) have shown such tremendous interest in the passages that relate her relationship with Mickey Rourke — to the exclusion of anything else she writes about, such as her experiences modeling, battle with anorexia, and the fact that in the book Otis chose to at last name the man she says raped her repeatedly when she was 17, former Elite Models boss Gerald Marie. "I went to New York for press and it was three days of nothing but questions about the marriage," says the former supermodel. "But there were some things I just couldn't leave out. The marriage was part of the journey and shaped who I am today." She hopes that the book-buying public, if not reporters, will at least "read the whole fucking book!"
She says she's honestly not sure if drugs are still as prevalent in the modeling industry now as they were when she was starting out, in the late 1980s.
I'd love to say that's not going on now, but I'm not a great barometer for what's happening now in the industry. I do think that in the 80s and 90s, there was sort of this sort of unprecedented fast decadence. Cocaine was just what people were doing. You're getting ready for hair and make-up and people are doing blow off the table. On top of that, you're exposed to this grueling pace where your life is given up. You're working until 2 AM and then going on go-sees all day. People used cocaine for weight maintenance, but also as a way of adapting to that lifestyle.
In the book, she calls cocaine "the secret to model weight management" in the 1980s and '90s.
Otis hit rock-bottom with her drug use when she tried heroin, and became addicted within months. With the anorexia, bottom came at age 30, when she had to have heart surgery. (Heart damage is one of anorexia's most serious effects, and heart disease is the most common medical cause of death among anorexics.) "The doctor asked what my diet was like," she says, "and I had to sit down and realize it's not normal, and hadn't been normal for about 20 years. I had to start eating. I didn't know what to do with calories. I put on a lot of weight and had to just sit with it between me and my therapist."
Anorexia was definitely the harder problem to conquer.
With drug addiction, you just can't do that anymore. The one time I took pain medication after having surgery, I was so violently ill between nausea and constipation that I was like, "This sucks! I can't believe this was such a big part of my life at one point." My eating disorder was so woven into my everyday life, though. With eating, you have to find a way to gain that freedom and eat with the emotions of feeling fat, of feeling out of control for having that cake and not saying, "I'm not gonna eat for three days because I had that cake." It took a while, but I have a great relationship with food now.
Interestingly, Otis says she's "writing a book on sexual healing. The orgasm is a discussion few people have and it's so woven into sexuality. There's a fear of intimacy for people who were addicted, that feeling of, 'I can't have intimacy unless I get fucked up.' I maintained celibacy for five years and learned a lot from that." And: "I'm also working with a nutritionist and want to do a nutrition diet/cookbook for the recovered."
When Cocaine Met Carré [The Fix]