Carré Otis was a top model when she auditioned for 1990's "Wild Orchid." It was on the set of that film that she met Mickey Rourke, her co-star, and the two fell madly in love. They soon embarked on a tempestuous relationship that was marked by abuse, guns and violence.
In her new book "Beauty Disrupted," Otis, 43, candidly writes about her struggle to overcome anorexia, as well as drug and alcohol addictions, and the spiritual quest that eventually led her to Buddhism.
Although her chapters about Rourke have been recently highlighted in the press, what is really interesting is her frank discussion about sexuality and her admittance that she didn't have an orgasm with a man until she met her second husband.
Your book is very intense.
I know, I concur! It's an intense book and I made a decision to put it all down. I feel like it's my responsibility to honestly cover a lot of subjects in part because I have two little girls and I really want them when they grow up to have a voice. I wanted to share my spiritual journey and where I am today.
The Mickey Rourke stuff is certainly generating a lot of interest.
It's crazy. I keep trying to redirect it back to the book. It's so much more than that. I'm pretty diplomatic, I'm humble about him. There was love and there was a lot of insanity and that could be said about a lot of relationships and of course, because he's a celebrity, they're going to pull out all the crap and take it out of context.
You were a successful model and he was physically and mentally abusive yet you couldn't walk away.
No, but that's also very textbook behavior. That's how abusive relationships go down, there's a certain factor of isolation. We were both from really dysfunctional backgrounds and we both had the perfect ground to feed that dysfunction because we didn’t have tools and I was a kid! I was a young person and obviously greatly influenced by one of America’s greatest actors at that moment. It was really hard to maintain perspective with so few tools and also I didn’t have a lot of people close in my life at that time.
When he proposed to you by threatening to kill himself with a sword if you said no, didn't that set off any warning signals?
There was a light in the back of my head, but the problem was, nobody had told me ever that I had the right as a woman to say no about anything. Did I have a gut feeling that this was totally inappropriate? Yeah, but like so many times, I just shoved it aside and I just needed to obey.
Do you find his appearance now disturbing?
I see it reflects suffering. I have a great deal of compassion for that suffering because I think people do that trying to fix the inside.
You suffered from anorexia for a long time.
I got away with it for so long because in the industry I was in, there is an expectation to show up a certain weight, so that was the perfect cover for that disordered eating. It's a very vicious disease that takes a lot of work to change and it's so prevalent in our culture ... That was an interesting journey in that I really found my voice and I realized I was not my body, there was so much more to me and my friends and family were going to love me regardless of what size I was and I was the only person who was really keeping herself imprisoned with this bullshit.
To me, the bravest thing you wrote about was orgasms.
Because everyone knows Mickey Rourke beat you up.
Right, it was highly publicized. The orgasm stuff is an infinitely more interesting discussion for me, too. My gosh, how many women do I know either haven't experienced an orgasm or faked it most of the time and can only get off by getting themselves off? It deserves to have a discussion today. For a woman to make love and have an orgasm, you have to be safe. You've got to let go of your body and that can be terrifying. For me, there was so much disconnect between abuse but then also having to create this persona. That's why for me celibacy was so important. I really needed to get perspective on who I was. I knew how to have an orgasm on my own but I'd never had one with a man.
So you faked it the entire time with Mickey?
Yes. I faked it really well, like most good girls. To make them feel good. There's some sense of fake power in that performance. You don't have to experience vulnerability, but really there is no power -- it's empty.
How long were you celibate for?
Five years. What was amazing to me during my celibacy was how uncomfortable it made people. I kept getting this comment, “But you're in your prime.” I was like, “So what? I need to define myself first or what? Continue my life having meaningless sex with strangers?” Kimora Lee Simmons asked me if I had cobwebs on my coochie … It was so bizarre for people. It was then amazing to walk through the doors of intimacy with my now husband [Matthew Sutton]. It was incredible; it was the most terrifying thing I've ever done, to go back into a sexual relationship, because I knew I would never fake an orgasm again.
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