You noticed how my posts are becoming more and more personal? The way i originally wanted to design this blog is to just cover different subjects i hold dear and/or important. I wanted to be detached as a person, but just rather share my thoughts with you, not my private life. But then i figured, its maybe a little unfair not to be just a little bit involved. Well that, and the fact you guys are swamping my inbox all the time, asking me if i could write more about myself (…and Hollywood, that’s always a top request). I thought about it, and even though i don’t want this blog to be my internet memoir, i figured – everything you create has to come from own experience.

A movie, a song, a book, a blog, a column, whatever you share with people – has to come from the experience of its creator, otherwise is just crap. It’s crap and dishonest, and people feel that. Specially writing. All the inner turmoil that happen inside, all the experiences, and i mean mainly bad ones, all the struggles – are what gives the voice to the writer. Without the voice, the writer is just a typist. And then there’s relating. It is impossible to relate to any type of art, if the artist is not sharing its experience. Well, i don’t want to be presumptuous and call myself an artist, but i don’t know what word to use, a thing? That thing i do? So, i’m a thingist?

See how silly it sounds? Its not easy to start sharing your life and its experiences. It is definitely rewarding, but not easy, nonetheless. It’s actually scary before you start doing it for the first time. Putting things down on a paper, that’s not easy either. But to actually share it? Downright frightening. Until you do it. I always had trouble with expressing myself verbally. Talking and how i come off always depended on a situation, the collocutor. Mood, energy, amount of sleep i had, how my planets are interlined that day. Mostly i couldn’t do hundred percent. But writing? There’s just something that happens to me when i write about things, life. It just flows. It just makes sense. I just completely unbar myself.

I was always annoyed my verbal skills can not follow my writing skills. And jealous when i see/meet someone that is equally superior in both areas. I wanted to write about him for the longest time. Once in a blue moon i meet/see/hear of someone that completely blows my mind in every way of form possible. I was sitting on a subject of Russell Brand for a while now. And then i met him & chatted with him at his book signing.

His memoir – it blew my mind. “MY BOOKY WOOK, a Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up”, is one of the best, most entertaining, smartest memoirs i read in a long time. Just who the hell is is Russell Brand? He invaded all the senses in me. The way he looks, sounds, moves, acts and thinks. That infantile but that smart? Sharing that much with the world? Instead of trying to hide all the embarrassing moments that happened to him (well, he mostly solicited them himself), a decision to actually share everything, hold nothing and to actually make a unexpectedly successful career out of it? Brilliance.

He did not just make a career, Russell Brand made a brand out of his fucked up life. Messed up childhood, sexual harassment as a child, alcoholism, heroin, sex addiction? Expelled from every school he attended, fired from every job he held, only to check himself to couple of different rehabs, realizing his ambition and determination to succeed is bigger than any addiction possible. In his words, an:

“Ambition beyond the designs of the Third Reich”.

The construction of sentences?

Ambition eventually won over addictions. That happens when you actually posses an intelligence. Intelligence and lack of ego can overcome just about anything. Becoming one of the most successful award winning Stand-Up comic in England; an actor; a most sought after TV presenter hosting numerous shows, among the most popular – Big Brother Efourum Show, NME Awards in 2006, and Brit Awards in 2007? His BBC Radio 6 show that became a cult phenomenon? His world domination didn’t stop there; deciding he’ll take America next, launched some serious Del Boy type Brand-building here. We’ll get to his Trotterism later… So how does this weird looking dude, with leather leggings, healed boots, snake scarves and weird lookin’ hairdo achieve all that success? How does a dirty heroin addict, an alcoholic, and sex addict obsessed with strip joints, with penchant for prostitutes goes on to becoming one of the most famous and successful people in Britain?

Well, just because all of that. Just because he decided, instead of hiding his fuck ups, he’s going to be honest about it. He withholds nothing, he regrets nothing, he has no remorse. He also did a very smart thing – instead of putting some experiences from his life in his Stand-Up routines, he made his life – his routine. His life became more famous than his performances. His life became his performance. Or, in his own words:

“My life is a series of embarrassing incidents strung together by telling people about those embarrassing incidents.”

And there are plenty of those embarrassing incidents in Russell’s career. But most famously – working as a presenter at MTV Europe and caming to work one day dressed as Osama Bin Laden. It’s not a big deal you say, people dress like Osama for Halloween all the time? The date was: September 12, 2001. And yes, off course he was fired. Russell is not un-sensitive, he is infantile-y blunt. Or is he a genius? I can’t really decide. Because, the next day, all of Britain knew who Russell Brand is.

Next incident? Working on BBC Radio and prank calling Britain’s well know actor Andrew Sachs (the guy’s 70-something year old, by the way), telling him on air – that he had sex with his grand-daughter. You’re guessing, he got fired from BBC, also. But what amazes me most about this guy, apart from his honesty, since nowadays, that is an extinct quality i cherish most in people – is just how many chances he had in his life. Having been living in Hollywood for some time now, and knowing the world of agents and managers, producers and Networks, fuck ups are something nobody will bet on,  no one wants to deal with walking liabilities. Just look at Lindsay Lohan and her constant unemployable-ness. In Show-Biz, second chances don’t come around very often. Yet, this guy has had so many chances given to him, over and over again, despite being addicted to all the sins world’s got to offer, only confirming my theory of his genius-ness. Or is he THAT bankable?

All that mess Russell created in his native land, was nothing concerning the stir he’s making upon coming to America. Just imagine a character like this – blunt and brutally honest in the land of fake-ness and incorrect-ness in its pseudo-correctness?! It is amusing to watch. He is so refreshingly casually alternative, comparing to all the American comics raised on idiotic frat movies… The highlight of Russell-ism in America? Infamously hosting MTV Movie Awards in 2008 – a Brit to host one of the most watched and most prestigious awards shows in America, an unknown to the American pop culture and also someone that was fired from MTV for dressing as Osama Bin Laden? It was a precedent.

Remember that unexplainable second chance thing i told you?! How did he managed that? I don’t care. I was too ‘busy’ enjoying watching him giving the American public, who complained for months about the unknown hosting the show – a mockery of everything they stand for. It is impossible to repeat all the hilarious stuff he said, but the highlights of the night were definitely:

“These books are bloody popular, these `Twilight’ books”

…making fun of Twihard obsessiveness while cutting off Rob Pattinson  from speaking on stage, and standing in front, blocking the sight of him on purpose, while little girls heckled him. Making fun of Jonas Brothers and their abstinence purity rings scenario:

“A bit of sex occasionally never hurt anybody.”

He just wouldn’t drop it, he repeated it so many times, obviously so baffled as to why would someone so young decide to not have sex until marriage, when sex is just a:

“ bit of harmless fun”…

But my personal favorite was, without the doubt, his Bush rant:

“As a representative of the global community, a visitor from abroad, could I ask of you, people of America, to please elect Barack Obama, on behalf of the world. Some people, I think they’re called racists, say America is not ready for a black president. But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be president for eight years. We were very impressed in England. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn’t be trusted with a pair of scissors.”

Most of the republican audience was annoyed, but he kept on pestering them, and torturing them. As he told them obliviously at the end:

“I’m famous in the United Kingdom. My persona don’t really work without fame. Without fame, this haircut could be mistaken for mental illness.”

Maybe he wanted to explain his rock-star hairstyle. Or maybe he was just giving them a blow-by-blow of what is it to come, whether they like it or not. The reviews were divided, expectedly. Some people loved him, but mostly they couldn’t handle him. After all, Russell Brand is too exotic for American minds. But it’s also what America needs, to bring a little stir into its blah society, someone incorrect that’s not afraid telling how it is, and kick inside that box.

But i want to come back to his written word. His memoir. The way he can be gravely serious while being infantile and sarcastic but socially aware, it’s just poetry to me. Do me a favor and read this book. It puts other celebrity memoirs to shame. “MY BOOKY WOOK, a Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up”. You will be entertained and inspired. But mostly you will laugh. Hard. How can you not laugh at lines like:

“This bit of my childhood might be a bit downer to read; it was a bit downer to live an’ all.”

Or when he brought his dealer called “Gritty” in the MTV studios and called it a:

Bring Your Dealer to Work Day

…or when he introduced Gritty to Kylie Minogue, whereas she asked Gritty upon meeting him –

So, what do you do for a livin’ ?”

Or when he had a meeting with his agent, and the owner of a addiction facility to discuss him going to rehab, and where he:

“Broke off from the conversation at that point, to go see his dealer and score some drugs – just to get true the rest of the meeting about how he needs to give up drugs.”

Or when he invented a show where he challenged different social taboos; like for example how would it feel to take a bath with a homeless person?! He ended up doing it, with James – a homeless guy. He was suppose to film James for a week living with him, but after 2 days James left; he preferred to be homeless than living with Russell. But Russell was not upset, after all, like he says :

“It’s obviously difficult to have a genuine friendship when one of you is glamorous TV presenter and another one is a tramp!”

An infantile voice, but with a brilliance of a comic mind, that pulls liners like featuring heroin and Shakespeare in the same sentence. I read a review of his book somewhere before i read the actual book, and one line stayed with me and made me actually go get it:

“He achieves a kind of Dickensian bathos”

At that time i thought maybe it’s a bit over the top comparison, but having read the book – he really does have a bit of Dickens quality to it; he does shift from noble to trivial, back to noble, back to all the ridiculousness of life’s dirtiest and morally lowest escapism people engage in, but rarely admit. But what is, for me, the best quality of existence and success of Russell Brand – is living proof that non-conformists can achieve great things in life, and you don’t have to play by rules of society if you don’t agree with it. You don’t have to look certain way, be politically correct, say or do the right thing in a fear of being sidelined. No society rules can deny you the possibility for success if you own your thoughts, your words and your life. Defy, doubt and always question. Never surrender. And be who you are, no matter how different you look or sound, because maybe, just maybe – instead of sidelining you, your difference is exactly what is going to give you an upper hand in succeeding.

And finally, the quote from the book that caught me the most, a introspective of one’s stand of defiance to otherwise defeatist non-conformity:

“I was flying the Iberia Airlines and i refused to remove my feet from the top of the seat in front of me. Scruffy people like me are not welcomed in any other class than economy, and i was flying business. If you find a way of affording an overpriced travel without dressing like an scientist, it irritates conformists. They’ve been assured that by surrendering freedom and dressing all square they will be rewarded, and if someone turns up claiming privileges for which they’ve refrained good haircuts, they get displeased and look for ways to penalize you.”

This guy.

Miranda Vidak
Miranda Vidak

Founder & Designer of Moodytwin. Disrupting a conversation about identity, career, culture, relationships and self-care.

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