In Conversation with Kelly Cutrone
Wednesday, April 26
Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
600 I St., N.W.
The daughter of business mogul and talk show host Sharon Osbourne and heavy metal music legend Ozzy Osbourne, Kelly Osbourne was not only born into a family of success but into the spotlight. Osbourne appeared with the rest of her family on MTV’s “The Osbournes,” from 2002-2005, arguably kicking off the modern reality show genre that is popular today.
Known as the mouthy teenage girl on the show, Osbourne is now a 32-year-old who has evolved into former “The View” talk show host and has appeared on “Fashion Police” alongside Joan Rivers. Osbourne prides herself on being an LGBT ally and has contributed to numerous LGBT organizations including the Trevor Project. She has now written a book, “There is No F*cking Secret,” a series of letters that focus on personal topics such as her mother’s cancer diagnosis, her father’s battle with addiction and her own struggle with body image.
Osbourne spoke with the Washington Blade on everything from growing up with Joan Rivers to being the child of famous parents and more.
WASHINGTON BLADE: What made you decide now was the time to write a book about your life?
KELLY OSBOURNE: I’ve wasted so much time of my life. Whenever anyone asks me, “What do you regret most?,” I always said, “I regret nothing.” Until I started writing this book and I realized there was one thing I truly fucking regret. And it’s that I wasted so much time in my life trying to be anyone but who I really am. It’s such a miserable fucking journey. It’s so deflating and you get lost. I let the media and public perception tell me who I really was and I fed into it. That is my responsibility and my fault because I did do that. But I was so young, I didn’t know any better. It’s my chance now to be like, “Fuck that, cut the crap, this is who I am. I am telling you who I am.” And hopefully by me telling you who I am and sharing my stories with you, you will know even though I’m famous, I was born famous. I didn’t really get a choice in the matter. I have problems too and any of the problems I’ve had I’ll share with you that way you won’t feel alone. And that way you’ll know someone else out there has been through it too. And I hope that people get something out of the mistakes I’ve made. And the fact that love in our family is what kept us together and kept us going. People stop caring about other people and people stop remembering that love is what’s most important.
BLADE: Did you write the book in the format of letters because you wanted it to be more personal?
OSBOURNE: No. We live in a world of millennials now. People like instant gratification. They’ll read a headline and a few sentences and you’re an instant genius. When it comes to reading a book I even realized, I don’t want to read it from start to finish. I like to pick it up, put it down and you can start from all different places. Like a book of short stories. I like books like that because you don’t have to commit to finishing it all at the same time. You can look at the chapters and see if there’s anything that relates to you and go to that chapter. I’m praying my parents don’t read the vagina one.
BLADE: Was there anything else you were worried about your family reading?
OSBOURNE: Yes. Every member of my family has written a book. What I realized is we can all be in the same room and see the same thing, but we all have a different perception of what happened. We see it differently because we’re different people. I made sure that I sent the book to everybody in my family with a note saying, “Guys this is the book. Anything you want taken out let me know, no questions asked.” Because they are my family, I do talk about them so I had to give them that respect. Especially with my brother (Jack Osbourne) who has two children. I would never want to say anything that could affect them because you never know what the media is going to pick up on.
I’m noticing right now from the press they’re really focusing on the drug aspect of everything. I haven’t done drugs, weed excluded because I don’t consider that a drug, since I was 24 years old. I’m 33 this year. I got so much more shit being fat than I ever did being a druggie. And I think because I pointed it out so much now they’re focusing back on the fact that I was a druggie. But now I’m looking at what’s going on in the media right now and I’m seeing how many deaths from opioid abuse, and so it is a prevalent topic, but I don’t want that message to get lost. Because it’s not just what the book is about. It’s about my experience looking after my mom when she had cancer, my Lyme’s disease, relationships, body image, fitting in, having no inner filter, discovering who you are.
BLADE: Did you find the writing process difficult?
OSBOURNE: This is the second time, but (the first time) I honestly feel like sabotaged it halfway through. When I first started writing (the first book) I was in a really good place, but by the end of it I wasn’t and everything I was advising in the book I wasn’t even listening to. I wasn’t doing it myself so I felt like I was a hypocrite. This book is not just redemption on that book, me finally not only writing this but I’m doing what I’m writing. Everybody feels like they have to be perfect and they have to look a certain way. It’s not even about being famous anymore, which is called being an “influencer.” The pressure that young people are under just over the simplest things. The selfie that goes on Instagram, that isn’t a part of my level of understanding. I have such a love/hate relationship with social media but it makes me really happy that it wasn’t around when I was younger because I would have probably been arrested. And that I didn’t have to deal with that added pressure as well. It’s unbelievable.
BLADE: Being the child of famous parents, what’s the biggest misconception people have?
OSBOURNE: My parents were very smart with how they raised me. Back in the days before cell phones, we had beepers. I wanted one and my mom said, “You want one, you go get a job and you pay for it yourself.” So I’ve had a job and been self-sufficient outside of my parents. I’ve had a job since I was 13. I’ve been self sufficient outside of my parents since I was 15. My parents taught us, “You want something, you work for it.” When you’re a celebrity’s kid you have to prove yourself 10 times over. Because you have to prove it’s not just handed to you and you have to gain the respect to prove that you are hardworking and don’t think you’re better than everyone else. But then you do have to be better. It’s a very weird contradiction. People think, “Oh you’re someone’s kid you don’t do anything.” I’m like, “I’ve been working since I was 15. I don’t know how I’m going to pay my mortgage this month.” People think they get to do all of these fabulous things and yes, we do, but anywhere there is fabulousness, it attracts shit. And there’s a lot more shit in this industry than there is fabulousness.
BLADE: Your mother is a co-host on “The Talk.” Do you ever hear her say anything on the show and think “Mom, I didn’t need to know that”?
OSBOURNE: Oh my god. If I ever have to hear about my mom and dad’s sex life I’m like, “Mom!” I guess everybody gets that in their own home, I just get it on national TV. But it’s my mom. She’s earned the right to say whatever the fuck she wants. She has worked her ass off. There are very few women in this industry who can get to that level. Joan Rivers is one of them and so is my mom. They paid their dues. My mom would never say anything to hurt me. Even though sometimes I want to crawl into a hole and die that she told people things about me on national TV. That’s just what it is. I probably would have told everyone anyway. She birthed me so she has the right. And of course, I was the only kid out of my siblings that my mom didn’t have an epidural for. I’m the, “Do you know the pain and suffering?” That’s what I get.
BLADE: You’ve also been a big supporter of the LGBT community. Why has that type of advocacy been important to you?
OSBOURNE: The LGBT community is a community that never gave up on me and that has supported me through thick and thin. (The community) taught me to believe in myself and taught me how to do my makeup and to love yourself no matter what anyone else thinks. Be who makes you happy. Stand against the odds and dare to be different and unique. Everybody has a unique individual inside of them. It’s whether they’re brave enough or not to show it to the world. They can find it within themselves to be brave and show the world who they really are which is a scary thing to do. It’s easier said than done. And within the gay community there is so much creativity and love and acceptance because they’ve been the outcasts of society or at home their whole life. They know what that feels like. I was the outcast too growing up with a satanic, as they said, father in this country village.
Everybody thought that we were satanists. I didn’t really fit in with everybody because we were different. My mom was dressed differently to pick us up from school so the parents didn’t judge us. I’ve been locked in bathrooms at school with the lights off and made to pray for my sins because my father is a satanist. And I’m like, ‘What is this?” It’s not like my parents were the equivalent of the Beckhams. My mom is known as the most badass business woman to ever be in the music industry, in fact the world. And my father is the creator of heavy metal music. It’s a lot to live up to being their kids. They’re icons in their own right. They came from a time where things weren’t instantaneous and you had to work hard. I get that from my mom. If I don’t wake up and start working, my day is shit.
BLADE: You seem like an open person and the title of your book is “There is No F*cking Secret.” But is there anything people might not know about you?
OSBOURNE: I am so empathic and loyal to my own detriment. When I feel like somebody is sad I can feel it when they hug me. I want to do everything I can to make them not feel sad. Because feeling sad, lonely and not good enough are the worst feelings in the world. I know what that feels like to feel like that every day. And I wish I could take that from people. I’m surprisingly really shy at times when someone puts a camera in front of me. I did a quick photo shoot for someone recently and I like shut down. My body language, my shoulders went in. I will never be used to being in front of a camera and my face shows it because I always look like I’m holding in a fart. When I see the red carpets in the magazines I see the girls doing the poses over the shoulder and I’m like I would look like I have jaundice if I tried that. It just isn’t in me.
BLADE: Being on “Fashion Police” with Joan Rivers, what was the best advice she gave you?
OSBOURNE: It’s in the book. You’ve got to find the humor in absolutely everything because laughter is not only the best medicine, but it’s the best survival skill too. Outside of my family and “Dancing with the Stars,” Joan was one of the only people who truly just believed in me for me. Nothing to do with my past or my present or my future. Nothing to do with my family. She just wanted to work with me. And being bestowed with that honor with somebody … I knew Joan for 25 years. I was 6 years old the first time she interviewed me. It’s the most embarrassing interview ever. I’m scratching my vagina, yawned and stuck my tongue out on the entire Father’s Day (on “The Joan Rivers Show”) special. I’m like, “Oh God.” But to have that honor to be an apprentice to Joan Rivers for as many years. We worked 52 weeks a year for over five-and-a-half years together. We did everything together. It’s still and I think it always will be a huge loss in my life that threw me in a way I didn’t think possible. Three and a half years ago I promised Joan the very first copy of my book that I got. I got it so I called Melissa (Rivers) I was like, “I got the first copy and I promised it to her.” So I’d written a little message to Joan and given it to Melissa.
BLADE: You and Melissa still keep in contact?
OSBOURNE: Fifty-two weeks a year, every year, five and a half years? She’s family. We’re family. All the crew, I miss them so much. Whenever I go into a meeting at Universal, I pop in and go in and say hi. We’re all still really close.
BLADE: You’re coming to D.C. to promote your book.
OSBOURNE: I’m so excited because I’m going to Joan’s favorite place, the Sixth & I Synagogue.
BLADE: What’s your favorite thing about D.C.?
OSBOURNE: I spent at least two to three days a year in D.C. my whole life because of being on tour with my father. You know the Jolly Green Giant on television where’s he’s like walking through fields of grass? You’re on the tour bus and all of sudden there are the monuments and so much green and the White House. You’re walking through history which is rare for me in America to feel that way because everything is so new. The house I grew up in is over a 100-and-something years old. I can’t tell you one building near me in L.A. that’s over a 100 years old. So to walk through and see this is where all the stuff I learned in school happened, I love the history of it. But it’s also very interesting that you go one mile in the other direction and it’s a completely different world. People are left and forgotten. I was a little bit shocked about that.
BLADE: They don’t show you that on TV.
OSBOURNE: At all, you don’t even know that’s there. They always say that charity starts at home, why don’t they clean up Washington and look after the people who live there and then you’ll be in a more powerful situation? It’s very confusing. But I don’t know why but I always pretend like I’m Jackie O when I’m there. Totally going to do a bouffant with my hair at my book signing for a Jackie O look. That would be so sick.