Caprice - The Valley Girl finds peace
Her life was far from model. One-time wild-child Caprice tells Barry Egan how her parents' divorce when she was four affected her romantic relationships in later life, her drink-driving scandal, how she has stopped drinking vodka like it was water - and how motherhood and her partner Ty saved her from herself
This lady was not for turning. January, 2005 in the Big Brother house: Caprice's progress was blocked dramatically by Bez, the slightly potty one from Happy Mondays. The one-time Miss Teen California - despite being lathered in unflattering gunk and wearing a bikini - stood her ground and roared at him in her best Valley girl drawl: "Get your ass outta my face."
When Germaine Greer came out of the BB house she had this to say about her blonde housemate: "Beneath a soft and yielding exterior lies stern self-discipline and a will of iron."
Her two favourite books are almost de rigeur for supermodels like her on a super-advanced spiritual search: Many Lives, Many Masters, by Brian Weiss and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra.
Caprice talks like a raw extract from the two aforesaid tomes when she says she believes that on her "journey" - possibly her favourite word - "you can achieve anything you want in life", but you have to be prepared to work your derriere off, and "have love and passion for what you do, don't be greedy, look after the people that look after you and never give up".
The Valley girl has never been one to give up, even when doing so might have seemed the only course open to her. One of the reviews of her new autobiography Caprice: My Boys, My Body, My Business, noted that this book will inspire many women who have given up hope of motherhood.
The 44-year-old talks with undiluted love about her sons Jax and Jett with her partner Ty Comfort. One was born via a surrogate and the other carried by herself, and they were delivered just weeks apart in September, 2013, after a miscarriage and three failed IVF attempts.
She told Hello magazine after the birth of her 'miracle' children: "Our gestational carrier is part of my family now and I'm forever grateful for the kindness and selflessness she has shown us taking such good care of our beautiful little baby. Like every career woman, I worked so hard at being successful, I left it a little late. But then to fall pregnant after our gestational carrier did was a miracle."
She takes out her phone and plays me a video of one of her children singing Let It Go from Disney's Frozen in the kitchen at home in London. "Hang on! Wait for the encore! Isn't that just adorable?" she coos, before going into a long homage to her two angels and her other half, Mr Comfort, and how she is a new woman.
"Things just change. I have calmed down and I love it. It's nice because I think I'm taken a lot more seriously now. My whole image has now changed dramatically. I think it is a much more of a grown-up, credible image, because I have grown up. Finally! At 44!"
When I last spoke to Caprice in 2010, she said she was on the search for love - not a husband. She was categorical about it. She hasn't changed her mind about wedlock. "I told you before. I would never. . . I am not interested in marriage."
What if he is?
"Ty was okay. We talked about it. If it becomes a problem, it will be because the children want us to get married. If the kids want us to get married, I'll get married. But that is the only reason.
"You couldn't pay me - maybe a billion! - to go back," the newly emotionally mature Caprice, says referring to her wild and sometimes wayward late-twenties right through to her mid-thirties. "I was pretty reckless when I got my DUI [driving under the influence]. . ."
Caprice was arrested on December 10, 2005, for being one-and-a-half times the legal drink-drive limit. The following year, the star was disqualified from driving for 12 months after being found guilty of drink-driving at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court. She admitted drinking but blamed medication she was taking for a urinary infection.
Caprice says now that it was a blessing in the end. She adds that she could have killed herself - "or worse, I could have killed someone else. This is what I always say. Thank God, thank God, I got pulled over, and I got punished for it. I learned my lesson. That's for sure," Caprice says.
It was at that point that Caprice realised, she says, "that I'm not invincible."
Was she drinking like that to block out something in her head?
"No. I was just having fun. I would only drink when I was with all the girls. We'd go out and have a party and then I'd go home."
Was there an underlying depression?
"No. I think it was after the news hit and when the media stopped supporting me and I lost two of my stockists of my lingerie and my business was affected - that's when I kind of went to my low point. So it wasn't before," she clarifies, "it was after, and as a result of that [the DUI incident].
"Remember," she stresses, "I made my first million at 25. I'm from nothing. I'm a grafter. And I went nuts! I just thought: 'Holy smokes! I've got all this crazy fame, and a lot of money. This is unreal.' And I went crazy. And then when this happened [DUI] to me, it jolted me," she adds. "I went through a bit of a depression after that."
Romantic relationships seemed to be an issue for you, I say to her.
"Because I didn't want to get serious. I wanted to focus on my work. I was having so much fun. But I didn't believe in cheating as well. So, whenever I wanted to go out with somebody else I would break up with my boyfriend. That's one thing I was quite particular about, because I wouldn't want someone to do that to me.
"But ...you know..." she laughs "...I had a lot of boyfriends!" Caprice says after her arrest for drink-driving she made serious efforts to change her relationship pattern. She told herself: 'I've got to go out with people who are appropriate for me.' Caprice's mother Valerie was more forthright - not least because she watched the news about her daughter's DUI situation on CNN in America. . .
"My mom is tough. She said: 'Get off your ass and change. Be responsible. Change your friends. Change your lifestyle. You are so blessed. Enough of being a wild child. Enough of feeling sorry for yourself and being depressed. Get up and go. I am not going to sit here and appease you like all your friends. Get up and do it properly this time.'" It took Caprice "about a year" to do it properly.
"I think the universe was trying to tell me this for so long and I just wasn't listening," Caprice continues. "Then I turned things around. I stopped drinking vodka like it was water and went out with much more age-appropriate men."
How age-inappropriate was she in her love life?
"I wasn't that bad. The worst I did was 10 years younger. And that was only once. Normally it was between three to six years younger. And all short!"
They were literally toy boys.
"They were proper toy boys," she laughs. "Conversation was just not on the agenda. It was quite superficial. So I went from toy boys to Ty - a man six years older than me."
Long before her handsome prince Ty rode to her rescue on his white steed, the tabloids had something of a field day linking her over the years with everyone from Tony Adams to Rod Stewart to Calum Best to Lee Ryan out of Blue to Prince Andrew out of Buck House. In an interview on TV in America, to promote her Playmate of the Month and cover of Playboy magazine in March, 2000, she answered when asked about Queen Elizabeth's second son: "Even if I have kissed him, do you think I'd tell you?"
Far more damaging than any tabloid stories was perhaps the fact that her parents divorced when Caprice was four. Asked did that effect her psychologically in terms of how she viewed normal relationships, she answers: "Of course it did. I saw what hell ... it was just a nasty divorce. I just thought, 'this marriage thing is totally overrated. I'm not going to sign up.' I think that stems from being in a courtroom on one side. It was awful. But you can't blame your parents. You have to move on and make your own decisions."
As she writes in her new memoir, 'Everything changed for me in 1989 when I won Miss Teen California, and my world kind of tipped on its axis.' Immediately approached to go into modelling, Caprice did her first major calendar shoot in 1990 when she was flown out to 'a tropical island'. Not long after, she was on the cover of Vogue Mexico and landed a big gig in a lingerie campaign for Calvin Klein. When she arrived in London in the summer of 1995 to work for Select Models, she says she knew her destiny lay in London. It was here Caprice Bourret became simply Caprice. She turned herself into a brand. The once shy Californian girl would go on to become unimaginably wealthy as the CEO of all her 'by Caprice' products.
Does she have any sort of relationship now with her father? She shakes her head.
"No, sadly. But it's not bad, because if you don't know, you can't miss."
She has a fantastic, loving relationship with her mother. "My mother is my best friend. She's a power house."
Caprice can remember when she arrived in London from California in 1996 and created a global stir in a diaphanous Gianni Versace dress at the National Television Awards. The tabloids, hungry for a new Elizabeth Hurley, went hog mad, wrote The Observer of that moment - adding, unkindly, even erroneously, that Caprice Bourret embodies "the late-postmodern age of British celebrity culture. She is not simply famous for being famous. She is famous for being famous for being famous." She was on the cover of every publication: Vogue, Maxim, Sports Illustrated, GQ. She seemed to be photographed out every night with a succession of boyfriends. You wondered how she had time for sleep.
Caprice's life these days involves "not a lot of sleep" because of her children. "It's busy. After having my boys. I'd say in the last four years, work has gone on the back burner. Now I've got the flame going again, the ambition going again. I want to do things that I've never done before to have a proper future for the kids," who are two now, "because it is so expensive. The price of schools is shocking for me."
Unsurprisingly, motherhood has changed Caprice's life, she says, completely. "You don't think about yourself any more. Everything is about the children. Everything. Everything is inspired by the children. You worry all the time. I worry about things I never used to worry about. Nothing is about you any more. I was very much about me-me-me. I was a frigging wild child."
How she looks back on that person is, she says, without regret. Be that as it may, Caprice adds that if she were to go back in time she would do things differently. "I would have stopped being so wild at a younger age. I know that is what youth is about," she says of her excesses, "but I took it to the extreme. I took [being a wild child] to 35 years old. I never got into the drugs but I drank vodka like it was water. I just didn't care what anyone thought. I just wanted to do well and make money - and just go nuts! I enjoyed my life of about 50 people!
"But you know what?" she muses.
"I thank God, because now I go to sleep at 9.30 and there isn't any place in the world I'd rather be than right next to my children. I mean, I love Curious George now. I don't watch anything but Curious George and Peppa Pig. And I love 'em!" she hoots.
"And with work, you take much more calculated risks and you think in a much smarter way," she says of her latest brand By Caprice Home. "It's beddings, bed spreads, pillows."
I joke that the advertising campaign should be something like Sleep With Caprice.
"I might nick that from you!" she laughs. "It has been all going really well. With me now, it is all about working even harder."
She said she "went nuts." I ask her how she put her life back together.
"It's just really when you have children. Actually - it was about a year before, because that's when I was trying to have kids, and I went through quite a lot; through that whole process."
The culmination of that process was when she met her multi-millionaire investor beau Ty Comfort in the summer of 2011; "and two months into our relationship he said 'Let's move in together.' I said: 'I am 39 years old. I want to have a child. So if that is not on your agenda, let's just call it a day.' He said: 'Okay.'"
In terms of Ty's suitability as The One, Caprice spits out that old adage about "when you know, you know. I have been around the block, God knows!" she adds. "So when you meet that person. . .you have kissed so many toads, then you're like: 'This is special.' So then we started trying for a baby," she says.
After all the toads she'd kissed, what made Ty special?
"You are going to think I'm mad but. . ." she begins. "This is a bit of a mad idea."
The idea centres around Caprice writing down as many adjectives as possible for her perfect man. (For the record, there were 78 adjectives on Caprice's list for Mr Right. It included everything from 'good looking' - "because I'm very superficial" - to 'accepting', 'hard-working', 'reliable'. "Yeah, I wanted to rip his clothes off every two seconds but I also wanted a best friend.")
Once the list was compiled, Caprice then put her precious piece of paper under her pillow "and meditated over it." She did that for approximately a year-and-a-half.
"And then," she explains, "Ty popped up. Ty was every single adjective on the list but one."
I ask her what that was.
"I used to like short men. I just love short men!" she laughs. "It was my thing."
"And Ty is 6 foot 4!" she says.
It could have been worse, you could have ended up with Tom Cruise, I jest.
"Oh no! Now he's really short! Oh my goodness is he short! I did want a short guy, sadly. And I got a 6 foot 4 guy!"
How did she overcome Ty's so-called shortcoming?
"I thought: 'Close enough.' He had 77 out of 78 right! And you know what? We get on like we're in High School and it is so not complicated. You know - and you just love hanging out with that person?"
Caprice says she can remember a great friend of hers called Ray uttering the dreaded words, 'I have the most amazing guy for you'. She told her fixer-upper pal thus: 'Whatever. How many times have I heard that before.'" "He said 'you got to trust me on this'," Caprice adds. "And almost five years later, here we are with two kids - five kids in all, because I have three stepchildren from him - and I'm happier than I've ever been."
By Caprice Lingerie and By Caprice Home collections are available now from Littlewoods Ireland. Caprice's autobiography 'My Boys, My Body My Business' is out now through Blink Publishing. Available at Amazon
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