There's a lot more to Carré Otis's new book than her famous ex-husband, Mickey Rourke. But he is a big part of her story. The Colorado resident and supermodel will be signing her new memoir, Beauty, Disrupted, Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Boulder Book Store. The book details everything from her abusive relationship with The Wrestler star to her struggles with addiction and anorexia in the modeling industry, and finally how she turned her life around with the help of Buddhism. We caught up with Otis in advance of her signing.
Westword: What inspired you to tell your story?
Carré Otis: I think the fact that I've got two little girls and it's so important. At a certain point they're gonna be able to Google me and there had been enough in the press about me that was inaccurate and my story is, with a couple tweaks here and there, it's so many women's story. It's really about putting a voice to what a lot of people live in silence with.
What do you hope people take away from the book?
This book is really about taking responsibility for your life, realizing that we all have choice and it's also being courageous enough to tell our story and move beyond our stories. We're not our story and I think we get pretty hooked on being a label, whether it's a victim or this or that or the other and that it's ultimately about freeing yourself.
The book deals a lot with body image and the way you were treated in the modeling industry. How do you feel about the industry now?
I think the modeling industry is still very reckless. I think that there should be a union and health benefits and, you know, rules and regulations that apply to any industry using minors that is pulling them out of school and then spitting them out from their place as a model by the time they're 25 because they're over the hill. I think that there needs to be a lot of changes. And sure, I think there have been changes, I think things are different than when I was a model, but I still think that there's a lot of the same issues and that they need to be addressed. In any other industry, in any other business there's a code of ethics and there's rules and regulations and it seems very irresponsible that there's not in an industry that's so based on the physical body and pushing sex. How do you think that can be changed?
As a society, we right now culturally are buying the magazines, we're watching the Kardashians, people actually are looking at that horrific show Toddlers in Tiaras. I mean, what has become normal in our population is just horrific. So you would ask that people take more of a social responsibility than they have, but that may not happen, so there's gotta be some social responsibility internally in the industry. So what would happen? I think that girls should not work before 18. I think that there should be a certain level of education that is achieved. I think that there needs to be an advocate--a kid steps into the industry and I think they need to have a mentor or something like a big sister. I think that at photo shoots there needs to be an adult there who can say no if the kid needs to say no and doesn't know how. I think that kids shouldn't be put in sexually provocative situations on photo shoots. You know, here you have people advertising, and just because you have a famous designer's name on the ad, anywhere else it would be kiddie porn. Wake up people. Really, wake up.
The playing field really needs to be equaled. You can't just use seventeen-year-olds who are a size two. The majority are white with blue eyes and blonde hair. There's just gotta be some diversity and something that more adequately represents us as women as we get older. It all needs to be represented and it is definitely not. Which makes a lot of us feel like shit, you know? A lot of women looking at those magazines just walk down the block of self-loathing. And while that is too a choice, it's also a setup, because here you've got a seventeen year old selling wrinkle cream and it looks as if the wrinkle cream is doing miracles. Well, it's not! It's a seventeen year old and she's even airbrushed. And the older women that they do choose to use they airbrush the crap out of. What kind of responses have you gotten about the book?
I've had amazing responses. Women who are so thankful and the discussions alone on finding your voice and body-related issues and finding your orgasm and living for years without faking it and being the performer. There's so many subjects that I think all my friends and I talk about. In society women are still in this performance mode of faking it, whether it's orgasm or faking that you're happy. There's been a lot of celebration and discussion around that. And that's been wonderful.
There's been some interesting response from several male interviewers, and certainly not all of them. I've been interviewed by some amazing men. And then a couple of them that were kind of like that old thing of "you should not be a snitch." As if my story is about taking down anybody. That's actually so far from the truth because throughout I take so much responsibility for where I'm at in each different state. Although there were two names that I did not change, one because I couldn't, because he's my ex-husband and that was public knowledge, and then the other was an agent in Paris and I made the decision to keep his name in the thing because he's still an agent in Paris and I think that's dangerous. But in general there's been a very supportive response.
Specifically what have the male interviewers said to you?
Just kind of questioning my timing, like "Wow, does this have anything to do with your ex-husband working again?" And you know, if there was any timing involved I would have timed it way before, like with The Wrestler or something. For me, I'm a mom in a small town in Colorado and you know, it puts it in a different perspective when you have two little girls and you have the life that I have. I feel I want to empower them with the voice I didn't have. And part of that was telling this story and it really has very little to do with anything other than my own timing. When you write a book like this you realize not everybody's gonna like it and it's gonna ruffle people's feathers and you don't write it to be approved of or liked. I got over that need a long long time ago.
Have you heard anything from Mickey Rourke about the book?
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No, I haven't, and that's a pleasant surprise. But I don't rule it out that all is silent on that front, but it's a pleasant surprise. It may be the one time in his life where he just does the gentlemanly thing and deals with it.
Vouchers for Otis' signing are $5 and will get you $5 off of Beauty, Disrupted or any purchase the day of the event. For more info, visit the Boulder Book Store's website.