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Katie Price on survival, surgery and severe PTSD: ‘I’m good with anaesthetic – I like being put to sleep’ | Katie Price

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‘I’m just getting a bit of toast. Would you like some?” Katie Price asks.

Yes please, I say.

She looks at her nine-year-old son, Jett.

“D’you want some toast?”

“Nah,” he says.

Naaaaah!” she repeats, gently mocking him.

She’s wearing trackie bottoms, a T-shirt and hardly any makeup. People expect her to be glamorous, she says, but this is what she’s happiest in.

“D’you want blackberry jam on the toast? There are flies everywhere in this house.” She swats at them and apologises.

We’re at Mucky Mansion, her Sussex home, a riot of pink kitsch, barking chihuahuas, caged gerbils, kids’ artwork, Price mementoes and battle-hardened flies. “That’s one thing I hate about living in the country. Flies. You’d think I’m a piece of shit the way they fly around me.”

Price was recently diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and she talks non-stop, juggling multiple conversations in one breath. She passes me a mug of tea and the toast. Blimey, I say, you haven’t half slapped the jam on. “Don’t you like it that thick? Everything is fattening in this house!” The mug, from her heyday, shows Price topless. How have you changed since then, I ask. She looks at the mug thoughtfully. “My areolas definitely don’t look like that. They’re smaller. Surgically done. That was one of my first boob jobs.”

Katie Price’s first photoshoot, as ‘Jordan’, in 1996. Photograph: Stephen Mark Perry/Getty Images

Price, now 45, was one of the first celebs to allow cameras into her life, revealing everything – family dramas, business deals, surgical enhancements and diminishments. In a way, her body was the least intimate thing she exposed. I first interviewed her 15 years ago, when she was on a roll. After starting her career on the Sun’s Page 3 with the name Jordan, she reverted to her real name and became the superbrand Katie Price, selling perfume, makeup, clothes. She was also a bestselling author, married to her first husband, pop star Peter Andre. The headline to the interview was: “Who wants to be a billionaire? Katie Price does – and she might even make it.” She was worth £30m at the time.

Today, she is bankrupt, has been divorced three times and suffered a breakdown. She is still tabloid gold, albeit in a different way. Rarely does a day pass without a new Price horror story. According to many newspapers, she is at rock bottom. But she is also still the Katie Price of old – tough, warm, open, outrageous.

“What d’you think of all that Russell Brand stuff?” she asks. “I’ve met Russell a few times. His bodyguard used to be mine.” She pauses. “I thought he was quite a nice guy, actually, quite funny. We were stuck in LAX airport with him once. He had his girlfriend with him and I was with Pete. He was trying to pull my stylist when his girlfriend was out there standing with her, so to me that says a lot. The truth always comes out in the end.”

Do you think it has always been easy for celebs to get away with bad stuff? “A lot of people with status get away with things. People cover up for them and a load of people get paid off.” Price tells me she has been raped three times – as a seven-year-old in a park; by a celebrity; and at gunpoint in South Africa when she was carjacked in 2018. “When I was in the Priory my therapist said: ‘Kate, we’ve never known anyone to have so many traumatic events happen to them.’ And I’m still here, coping.”

As we talk, her younger sister Sophie, with whom she now does a podcast called The Katie Price Show, listens in on Zoom to make sure she behaves herself. Sophie couldn’t be more different – quiet, sensible, contained. Family has been the ballast in Price’s life. Her biological father, Ray, left home when she was four, but she remains close to him as well as to her mother, Amy, and stepfather, Paul.

Were men exploitative when she started modelling? Yes and no, she says. “They treated me as a product.” She looks at the mug in my hands. “That wasn’t airbrushed. Men aside, for me it was a brilliant time because you really had to work. You had goals. I wanted to be on the cover of this magazine or that. Where are the goals now?” Today, she models on subscription site OnlyFans. “I still do underwear stuff, but I don’t go completely topless. I don’t need to and I don’t want to because my kids are older. But you can’t take the animal out of me in the way I love being in front of the camera. It’s what I’m good at, what I like. Sitting here now, I’m not the best looking, but put me in front of a camera and I’ll wipe the shit with anyone.”

She gets more animated. “And. That. Is. Confidence,” she says. Now she’s shouting. “And that is a fact! Hahahahaha!” She swipes at a fly. “All these flies, I’m so sorry. I’ve just got rid of a hornet’s nest out there.”

With Hugh Hefner in Hollywood, 2002.
‘He wanted me to be his girlfriend’ … With Hugh Hefner in Hollywood, 2002. Photograph: David Klein/Getty Images

Which magazine cover did you most want to be on? “American Playboy. And I was.” How much did they pay you? “I think it was 250 grand. I lived in the mansion for about six weeks. Hugh Hefner wanted me to be his girlfriend but I wasn’t going to be having sex with him, so that was a no-no. It was like looking at my grandad.”

I’m staring at her teeth as she talks. They’re so white, I say. “Turkey,” she says instantly. How much? “Free. For an Instagram post. I don’t recommend anyone has fake teeth.” Why? “I can’t eat a chocolate eclair now in case I pull one out.”

I’ve always liked your honesty, I say. “Oh, here we go!” she says, shouting and laughing. “He’s going to ask surgery questions. How much surgery have you had? I don’t know. How many boob jobs? I don’t know. Will I be having more surgery? Yes. What? I don’t know. Does it make me feel better having surgery? I’m older. I’m gonna do it. There you go, I answered that all in one!”

Actually, she says, she’s appalled by what girls and young women do to themselves these days. “Apart from my boobs, I did my whole career without surgery. I’m now 45 and if I want to have my face done, my nose done, I will. Now I’m as fake as you like, and I love it. But I do feel bad for girls in their early 20s or even younger getting fillers. When I see young girls they look like clones – puffy-faced, pucker-fish aliens. It’s really sad.”

Price was only 18 when she first had surgery. “I think 21 should be the minimum age for boob jobs. Back then, my mum was ‘don’t do it, don’t do it’ and it wasn’t as common. Now boob jobs are like buying a pair of shoes.”

Do her surgical procedures reflect her state of mind? “You’re going to start trying to get in my head. Body dysmorphia this, body dysmorphia that. I might have body dysmorphia. My mum thinks there’s a pattern. If something happens in my life, I go for surgery. I’m good with anaesthetic – I’m never sick and I like being put to sleep. It’s such a nice feeling, and you wake up with something new. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think, ‘Oh my God, Kate, what have you done?’ But, you know what, I don’t have any filler in my face, only my lips.”

The past five years have been grim. As well as the rape in South Africa and bankruptcy, she has divorced her third husband, the actor Kieran Hayler. At the same time, she has been bringing up her five children, including her oldest, Harvey, who is severely disabled. It all expressed itself in a complete breakdown. In 2021, she received a 16-week suspended sentence after flipping her car while under the influence of cocaine and alcohol. She was driving while disqualified and without insurance. At the time, she issued a statement saying she was “incredibly sorry” and “sincerely grateful nobody was hurt”. She avoided prison by agreeing to go to the Priory.

How did she lose all her money? “The ex-husbands were on my case, all three of them. Then lawyers. They all wanted money. Money. Money. Money. Then obviously tax. When you’re having a breakdown and you’re suicidal, you shut the world off. You don’t talk to anyone, you don’t answer your phone, you don’t open your letters, and before you know it you’ll have a bailiff at your door. Then the work stops because your head’s not there to do it. It’s all noise in your head. Bills coming in, bills coming in, you hear your husband’s cheating on you, and it all just magnifies.” She’s talking about Hayler. “You’re just trying to be there for the kids, which I was. You’re trying to keep it together and all you want to do is go under the covers and hide. I was ill. Ill. Ill. Ill. That’s why I went in the Priory.”

Price stands beneath a giant charcoal drawing of her own face
At home in ‘Mucky Mansion’. Photograph: Olivia Harris/The Guardian

Meanwhile, the press reported she was a drug addict. It wasn’t true, she says. “I self-medicated when I had the breakdown. Up until then I’d never been known as a drug taker. I’d have a drink, but I’m a lightweight. So yes, I went in the Priory, but it wasn’t for addiction, even though the papers said it was. It was for severe PTSD.”

Sophie is still on Zoom, listening. Price looks at her. “I don’t know if I told you I tried to kill myself. It just came out when I was in the Priory, didn’t it?” Did Sophie think her sister would survive? Price answers for her. “I dunno. At one point it was a bit dodge, wasn’t it, Soph?”

“Our main thing at the time was just getting her help,” Sophie says. How is Katie doing now? “I think she’s in a positive place. There are still days where she has her little wobbles. But she’s nothing like she has been.”

You seem pretty positive, considering everything, I say to Price. She is, she says – the press keep reporting that she’s at an all-time low, but that was a couple of years ago. Sure, the bankruptcy is worrying, but she knows she’ll always be able to make money, and she’ll eventually be able to pay back the £3.2m she owes. And money is nothing compared to her sanity. “I’ve been in the shittest place you could imagine. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, and the media has shafted you, and you come through it, then it’s amazing. And I have. The bomb’s exploded, I’ve survived it somehow, picked up the pieces, and I’m starting my journey again.”

One corner of the kitchen is covered with cards and drawings from the kids. There is a message from 21-year-old Harvey alongside his picture of a packet of Skips. “To Mummy, I love this packet of Skips. Just take the time and eat it very slowly. I hope you enjoy these Skips. Love from Harvey xxx.”

Price says all she asks for from the media is a bit of fairness. Sure, she’s done plenty of stupid things, but, she says, she’s also been a great mum. She has made two deeply moving documentaries about Harvey that don’t sugarcoat their struggles but show their profound love. He now lives in a special school that she hopes will help him live independently, but he remains at the heart of the family. “He still bangs his head, still smashes things. He smashed the car window. It hasn’t been fixed yet. There’s no telly in here, because he smashed it again. And he’s just smashed an iPad, so I’ve bought another one for him. That’s just Harvey.”

He is obsessed with trains, and recently made the Guinness World Records for drawing the longest picture of a train – 21.3 metres. She couldn’t be more proud. “One thing I love about Harvey is that he doesn’t judge me. He just loves me. He just wants my love and cuddles.” His father, former footballer Dwight Yorke, has never shown any interest in having a relationship with Harvey, and Price still hopes that one day he will. “The door is always open. I would love the day I see Dwight and Harvey in front of each other. My mum still contacts his manager every year, and asks does he want to see Harvey for his birthday, and it’s always the same – no.” She says Yorke doesn’t know what he’s missing out on. “I just want Dwight to know what a gorgeous young man Harvey is. Harvey has so much banter. He’s just a funny little bastard. You never know what’s going to come out of his mouth. He rules the roost when he’s home.”

Price and her son Harvey, with his Guinness World Record certificate.
Price and her son Harvey, with his Guinness World Record certificate. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

Price and Harvey have received shocking abuse online, leading her to campaign for Harvey’s Law, which would make such abuse an offence and open a register of offenders. Earlier this month the online safety bill was passed, including some of the measures she was hoping for. Again, she says, it would be nice to get some credit:I think I’ve had an influence on this going through, and will continue to fight for Harvey’s Law.”

Thankfully, she knows Mucky Mansion is not under threat. “People write about me as if I’ve not got a pot to piss in. My £2.5m house is protected. It’s mine – no one can ever take it.” As for the threat of prison over her bankruptcy, she says that doesn’t scare her. “If I could go to jail to clear all this, I would, because it’s driving me nuts.” Meanwhile, she’s busy rebuilding her portfolio, taking her podcast with Sophie on the road and developing two programmes for Channel 4.

She has overcome so many challenges, she says, and bankruptcy is just another one. Meanwhile, she is feeling more positive about life than in years. “There is a fire in my belly. Yes, I do suffer mental health stuff; yes, I suffer with PTSD; yes, I still have a lot of pressures with things going on – but it’s all controlled. I’ve got through it.” She sticks two fingers up. “So, up yours! Basically, fuck you all! What is it Arnie says? ‘I’ll be back.’ And Pricey is back. Don’t. You. Worry. About. That.”

The Katie Price Show Live is on 7 November at the Lowry theatre, Salford.

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