Russell Brand: From escorts to Katy Perry

Russell Brand and Katy Perry will be celebrating their one-year anniversary in October, and it’s most likely been one of the most unique years of Brand’s life.

Possibly more so than any celebrity to date, Brand is known for a former addiction to sex and drugs, a lifestyle that was highlighted and made him famous internationally in 2008′s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. His (former?) behavior was once again highlighted in 2010′s Get Him to the Greek, his first leading role in a major film. He has written a beautiful eulogy for friend and fellow addict Amy Winehouse and professed his love for escort-playboy Charlie Sheen.

But years before these two breakout comedies and a life of grand celebrity, Brand had put himself on a road that naturally led to rehab.

He recalls being sexually charged as a young boy. He would look at his father’s pornographic magazines and videos before he could even read and sneak to watch a friend of his mother, endearingly called his “Aunt Josie”, wash her “glorious breasts” in the bath.

And then there was his 16th birthday present from his father: a trip to Hong Kong and his first time with a prostitute. Evidently his father selected one for the young Brand and two for himself. That initiation would officially being Brand’s obsessive interest with escorts: “It was actually one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me. I can still recall everything about that night… I’ve had a strange attraction to prostitutes ever since. I just liked hanging out with them and talking to them. Prostitutes are some of the most fascinating women I’ve met in the world.”

Since that evening and until his 2009 engagement to Katy Perry, Brand led an incredibly wild life fueled by sex, drugs and art. He got accepted to and then kicked out of two leading drama schools (the Italia Conti Academy and London’s Drama Center) for drug and violence-related incidents. It was then that Brand turned to comedy.

For the next decade he would play small clubs, premiere some of his work at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and eventually work his way up to his first national tour in 2006. A weekly sports column in The Guardian and a radio segment on BBC 6Music and then BBC Radio 2 also helped further his unique sense of comedy and sexually charged prose. Oh, he also got kicked off of his first radio show on one of London’s indie rock stations for reading pornographic material on the air. Ironic how the BBC and The Guardian had kept him on but an independent rock station dropped him, right?

During his rise to fame and time in the public spotlight, it was well known that Brand had a taste for women of all kinds. He could often be seen with beautiful escorts on his arms at public appearances, and told graphic stories of his time with an escort (or more than one at a time) in his 2007 memoir, My Booky Wook. Apparently, before rehab he had a “harem” of about 10 women that he would rotate within a week, and would often forget the identity of women he’d slept with, asking them to text him pictures of themselves to jog his memory.

Now, it’s not uncommon for celebrities—especially those whose comedic chops insist that they’re always witty and affable in the spotlight—to dabble in drugs and the escort service world, right? With that much money and a lifestyle that puts you in direct contact with beautiful people, incredible food, expensive clothes and cars and accessibility to drugs… well, it sorta makes sense in a glamorous way.

Which is maybe how Brand ended up in rehab—not only for drugs, but for sex addiction.

He claims it was his agent pointing out how those two addictions were getting in the way of his work that made him shift mentally and realize he needed to get out. In 2002, Brand was caught shooting heroin in his bathroom during a holiday party he was hosting. Evidently, enough was enough.

It is said that since that year Brand has been drug-free, and in 2005 he went through sex addiction in rehab as well. He had found that he was sleeping with women as if it were a job—always looking for the next conquest and ever hungry for more.

It would be easy to assume that his father’s introducing him to prostitutes followed by years of struggling as an artist and then succeeding to an incredible degree is what fueled his addiction. But a more likely conclusion could maybe be tied even further back and more fully to Brand’s childhood: his parents separated when he was six, he rarely saw his father, and his mother suffered from several forms of cancer year after year. He suffered from bulimia when he was in his teens. He moved out when he was sixteen due to disagreements with his mother’s partner. Could this be a story about a man just looking for love he could trust?


But maybe Brand’s also just a man who likes sex. A man who likes to take out escorts and get it for free from the thousands of women who have helped him continually be voted one of the sexiest celebrities around. He says he highly admires those sexually charged women, those who flaunt conformity and relish in their natural sexual desires. Who, like he, just really like to get off.

Brand’s career has flourished both while suffering under his addiction and since clean. He seems to idolize his artistically eccentric wife and, for the most part, the media buzz is that their relationship is exciting and monogamous.

So we can only continue to speculate on the source of Brand’s addiction and the role his past will take as he moves into an active, married, expectedly clean future. And while you ponder the how’s and why’s, we’ll leave you with an interesting quote from Brand in one of his many fascinating articles in The Guardian:

So why would a fella who plainly enjoys how’s yer father as much as I do go to a so-called “sex camp”? Many people are sceptical about the idea of what I like to call “sexy addiction”, thinking it a spurious notion, invented primarily to help Hollywood film stars evade responsibility for their priapic excesses. But I reckon there is such a thing. Addiction, by definition, is a compulsive behaviour that you cannot control or relinquish, in spite of its destructive consequences. And if my life proves nothing else, it demonstrates that this formula can be applied to sex just as easily as it can be to drugs or alcohol, both of which I know more than a bit about.