‘Are you a more successful sexual predator now that you don’t drink?’ – I asked Russell Brand while we were sitting in a London cafe in 2006 and giving an interview for GQ magazine.
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘but I resent the word ‘predator’. I like to think of myself as a conduit for the forces of nature. After all, the most natural thing in the world for humans is eating, right? And people want to do it, so all you have to do is remove all the reasons why women don’t actually go through with it, like pride and reputation. You just have to undo the conditions that prevent women from going straight to bed with you.’
Sun columnist Piers Morgan says Russell Brand’s ex-wife Katy Perry called him RasputinCredit: Reuters
Piers recalls interviewing Brando and asking him if he was a ‘sexual predator’
When I asked him if he’s attracted more women since becoming famous, he said: ‘All that’s changed is the amount of seduction required has decreased to almost absurd proportions now that I’m famous. I’ve always been good at pulling because I’m quite charming and totally dedicated to the cause. But if I had talked to ten women in the old days, I would have pulled back to get two or three. Now, I wouldn’t be satisfied with less than eight or nine. And while I would devote a lot of time to seduction depending on the quality of the target, now I just do it. Fame has been a huge help in that regard.’
When I re-read those conversations after news broke that Brand had been charged with rape and sexual assault, I winced.
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I didn’t know if he was an actual sexual predator when I used that description jokingly, and he immediately denied that he was as adamantly as he did again in response to the very serious revelations published in the Sunday Times and broadcast by Channel 4 News .
But there’s no doubt from the way Brand talked about women that he considered them some sort of prey, nor that he’s the most shameless and brash sex braggart I’ve ever interviewed.
He told me he had sex with up to 2,000 women and proudly described the extent of his sexual encounters: ‘Oh my God, at the peak there would be about five a day. One in the morning, maybe two for lunch and three for tea. I’ve had nights when I’ve looked down the bed and seen a plague of women devouring me.’
But in the same interview he insisted: ‘I’ve always tried to avoid misogyny and aggression when it comes to women… I’m really not a mean little pervert… I believe women are goddesses and I try to treat them as such.’
Like most of Russell Brand’s overly polarizing personality, there were glaring contradictions in his various statements.
He is also prone to beautification.
I remember being butchered by Sir Rod Stewart at an awards show for falsely boasting that he had slept with the singer’s daughter Kimberly.
‘I fucking enjoyed putting that bitch in his place,’ Rod told me later. ‘I don’t mind sh*t, obviously, but you shouldn’t claim you f*sed a bird when you didn’t.’
So it’s hard to know where the truth lies with Russell Brand.
But someone who might know is his ex-wife, pop superstar Katy Perry.
When we met in 2013 at the Vanity Fair party in Washington, D.C., after her divorce from Brando, I tried to book her for an interview.
“I’m not ready yet,” she said.
‘Cause you’re going to get the truth out of me, and I’m just not ready to tell you the truth! In fact, I’m not sure I’m ready to admit the truth to myself.’
Then she laughed. ‘You Brits are all the same, so damn self-confident… The problem is I find it overwhelming. I love the British… Well, not all of them – not Rasputin, obviously.’
What truth was she worried about admitting?
(In an interview with Vogue magazine that same month, she said: ‘I felt a lot of responsibility that (the marriage) ended, but then I found out the real truth, which I can’t necessarily reveal because I keep it locked away in my safe for rainy days.’)
And why did she call her ex-husband ‘Rasputin’, after the highly intelligent but sex-crazed, manipulative, controlling and sinister bearded Russian monk who helped overthrow Czar Nicholas II in the Russian Revolution of 1917?
Brand was delighted when I told him what Katy said, exclaiming: ‘GRIGORI RASPUTIN!’ He was a pretty powerful guy, he could manipulate people with his eyes. I like Rasputin… he was okay, wasn’t he… a crazy monk with magical, mystical powers, arguing with everyone, drinking and fighting.’
We both laughed.
But there is nothing at all amusing about the accusations that are now being made against him.
If the allegations are true, he will deserve any punishment he is given.
However, at this stage, the allegations remain, and he strongly denies them.
Whatever you think of him, he is entitled to a fair trial, as much as his accusers deserve to be taken seriously.
Allegations must now be investigated by the police to determine whether crimes have been committed, not tried in the court of public opinion.
Social media was ablaze with people rushing to condemn him prematurely, including Google-owned YouTube which banned all ads on his popular channel.
And by conspiracy theorists who rush to release him prematurely because they absurdly believe he is the victim of some mainstream media conspiracy to silence him.
This current rush to judgment is so dangerous, as we have seen with people like Sir Cliff Richard who was falsely accused of sexual assault and his reputation was ruined until he won legal action against the BBC and cleared his name.
Yes, under today’s stricter moral code following the #MeToo campaign, it’s easy to cringe at Brando’s self-confessed historical behavior as an outrageously promiscuous sex addict.
But he didn’t hide it, and it didn’t stop BBC Newsnight from using him as a political svengali, The Guardian hiring him as a columnist, Channel 4 hiring him for a number of jobs or Ed Miliband asking for his support for Prime Minister.
The course of justice is not best served by prejudging a man for heinous crimes without a full due process to establish the truth.
Piers interviewed Brando for GQ magazine in a London cafe in 2006. Credit: Getty