Russell Brand: Sexy Beast
Inside of Russell Brand’s house in a leafy part of Los Angeles, an injectionist named Sat Hari has pulled back the plunger to load a syringe with a concoction heavy on vitamin B complex while Brand sits on the couch, legs splayed, watching. He’s been feeling a cold coming on. He’s thinking a vitamin shot will help. Finally, Sat Hari slides the needle into his arm (“Beautiful veins,” she says), and Brand leans to the side.
“The warmth is happening,” he says with a contented sigh. “It’s beginning nicely, right at the nut-bag epicenter, the warm ball-bag rush.” Brand, of course, is the 35-year-old comic genius from England who arrived in America a couple of years ago to sleep with as many women as possible, just as he did back home, where five girls a day was not unheard of, and ended up getting engaged to pop star Katy Perry. These things happen. It’s just the way his life works. One moment he’s a gin-swilling heroin addict who loses an MTV UK hosting gig because he showed up for work dressed as Osama bin Laden the day after September 11th, 2001; the next, he’s beaten most of his addictions, wriggled his skinny butt into tight women’s pants, dashed on some eyeliner, dated Kate Moss, bedded about 2,000 other women, said stuff like, “I’m constantly distracted by my ambition, narcissism, vanity, desire, lust. I don’t pretend to enjoy anonymity,” become a Beckham-size British celebrity (only infinitely more notorious), and astounded American audiences, first by playing addlepated scene-and-girlfriend-stealing rock star Aldous Snow in 2008s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then by hosting that year’s VM As, during which he distinguished himself for insults tossed at the Jonas Brothers (for their purity rings) and George Bush (“a retarded cowboy”). And now he’s back, to reprise Aldous Snow in the Judd Apatow-produced Get Him to the Greek. And to shoot up a little vitamin B. And to see if America will embrace him by turning him into a movie star or decide he’s too freaking weird and send him packing. But no longer to sleep with anyone other than his Katy Perry, so help him God.
One afternoon, he’s sitting inside a moody Los Angeles cafe called Figaro, enjoying a double cappuccino, and in your life you’ve never seen anything like him. Tall as a tree in stacked-heel boots, wearing boa-constricting black leather pants with the bright shiny zipper on the outside (“It’s good, it draws the eye”), he’s a popinjay supreme, all bearded, swarthy and swishy Jack Sparrow-pirate-looking. He’s also about the most fun, intelligent, filthy-minded, egocentric, self-effacing and happily contradictory guy ever.
“I came from a working-class background, with a single mother, had very little, became a junkie, was miserable and was finally like, ‘I have this thing, this power, this magnetism, I’m good at showing off, I’ve got to achieve something,’ and so at last I got off drug addiction,” he says at one point. A bottle of water arrives; he takes a quick swig, then sallies forth in his customary breathless way, full of Dickensian flourishes. “What I’ve realized, though, is that the stuff I’ve used that glowing orb of amusement to acquire – status, fame, power, money, fulfillment of dreams – is all meaningless and transient, and what I’m wondering is, can I, whilst now in the belly of the beast, the eye of the storm, swim through it all, cut my way free like Jonah, and discover something valuable and escape with something worthwhile? I don’t know. I mean, going on a voyage of self-discovery isn’t as exciting as getting your cock sucked while chomping on chocolate and playing Nintendo, is it? Ultimately, it’s more gratifying. And my life will be ascetic and about denial. But I’m not there yet, so the conflict continues.”
And then a pretty girl walks by, and Brand’s head jerks in her direction.
It’s well-known about Brand that he’s got some kind of supernatural way with women. “Actually, it’s quite unbelievable,” says his friend Noel Gallagher of Oasis. “We’ll be sitting in a restaurant, a girl will walk past, and he’ll kind of say, ‘I’m just going to go to the toilet and see that girl.’ And then he’ll come back and say, ‘Right, I just got that girl’s number, and I’m going to fuck her later.’ And he will. And you’re like, ‘Wait a minute, how do you do that?'”
But that was back when a London tabloid named him Shagger of the Year three years in a row, back when he would diddle everything in sight, prostitutes most especially. Then came sex-addiction rehab, followed by some backsliding – i.e., tons of girls but no prostitutes – and then, at last, arrived his real cure, in the form of Katy Perry, who bounced a plastic bottle off his head at the 2009 VMAs, texted him a photo of her breasts and got their romance started. In short order, he flew off to Thailand with her, proposed to her, had his proposal accepted and bought a house in L.A. for them to share. And so while his head jerks today, his body doesn’t. It stays put.