Julia Fox is eating a mouthful of vegetable soup, sitting by herself in a corner of the posh Ham Yard Hotel in Soho, London.
Among the bland city boys in beige chinos, hurried hotel staff in tight-fitting black suits and tourists soaked from the storm outside, Fox is preened and poised, wearing a crisp white blazer, trousers and high-neck top, her hair blow-dry bouncy.
Alone on a table big enough for a party of six, she has a killer, razor-sharp confidence, paying her surroundings of loud, pot-bellied businessmen no mind. But when it’s time to talk, she lights up, and gets a little wide-eyed.
“Oh, hi!” she says, holding her hand out for a handshake. “Nice to meet you. How’s it going?”
This is Fox’s fifth interview of the day. Even for the most hardened of Hollywood celebs with decades of publicity training, that’s a pretty gruelling gig.
But Fox is here to promote her new book, Down the Drain – the long-awaited autobiography first teased in a March Instagram post.
Over the past few years, Fox has joined the ranks of the most talked-about celebrities. Every inch of her life has a think-piece on it: her early years as a “Downtown it-girl” in the mid-’00s, her acting chops in the the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems, her past heroin addiction, relationship with Ye; Fox as a mother, Fox as a lover, Fox as a, well, Fox.
And while she hasn’t been one to shy from revealing herself in interviews, Down the Drain is Fox as a wildly intelligent storyteller. It’s gripping, with tales of sex, drugs, death and clubbing; the stuff of Hollywood’s sordid past. Fox is a rarity in a world of carefully curated celebrity; she’s brutally honest, frank, funny and hardcore.
“Being a celebrity in America, we’re like mirrors and we have to be perfect at all times,” Fox says, taking a puff from her Lost Mary vape. “I’m not going to be that. What you see is what you get.”
You’ve probably answered a lot of questions about the book today. Are you sick of it?
No! They’ve all been from different angles. It’s been really nice and respectful.
What book changed your life?
When I was little, I read Go Ask Alice [by Beatrice Sparks] in the third grade. I later found out that it’s anti-drug propaganda and they marketed it as a diary that was [written] by a girl who overdosed – and nothing in it is even real. But I remember at the time being, like, nine years old and finding it in my school library. I thought I hit the jackpot and I devoured it. But I think it did the opposite!
Do you think your book will change someone’s life?
I think it will. I didn’t know if it would at first, but with the feedback that I’ve been getting after people read the book, it really does feel like it speaks to them. People will come to me with personal anecdotes, and [say] how I’ve given them so much hope and restored their faith in life. I mean, that’s the best compliment I think anyone could ever receive.
In the book, you talk about your first near-fatal overdose at 16.
Seeing a glimpse into another dimension, or into the afterlife, gives you a better understanding of what we’re doing here. It made me really value life.
You saw “the light”, right?
I saw “the tunnel”, but I thought it looked like a window with light spilling out. I was like, oh my god, my life flashed before my eyes. I was on the ceiling looking down and I saw cereal [on the floor], a girl going through my bag and stealing my phone, and I saw the drug dealer’s mum slapping me in the face and trying to wake me up, and praying over me in Spanish. And then I woke up in the ambulance. Even though I was in this horrible predicament, inside I felt like I had this secret. You know when you steal something and you’re guarding it, waiting to play with it later?
It felt really exhilarating, invigorating and energising, in a way. And I always think about that when I’m having an existential crisis. I’ll go back to that and I’ll remember that there was something else out there. I’ve had a lot of friends die, so I feel like I’ve caught a glimpse into where they go, and it’s really not so bad. It seems really cool, and I can’t wait to go meet them there.
Are you scared of death?
I’m not scared of death at all now, but I do value life a lot more. I’ve overdosed more times than I can count, and I’ve lost the two closest people to me in my life to overdoses. So I know that if I’m here, it’s for a reason, and all I have is the truth. I need to be here to continue to talk about what I went through, and what I’m still going through, what I hope the world can look like, and that we can stop shaming addicts and really implement some safety structures for them to operate and not feel ostracised from their communities.
You have a lot of stuff written about you. What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever read about yourself?
When people were saying that my net worth was, like, $40 million. I thought that was pretty funny. But I was like, maybe it’s a sign, maybe that’s where I’m heading! Obviously there are so many misconceptions on the internet and people just project their shit onto you.
Did you always know you were going to be famous?
I never wanted to be famous, but I’ve always weirdly had an intuition that it would happen. In almost any environment I went in, it felt like people would talk about me and treat me as if I already was. I mean, my ego was like, yeah, I’m that bitch. But there were downsides: a lot of bullying, a lot of online bullying, too. I’ve had people really idolise me or people that really hate me. That’s still still happening now, but on a much bigger scale.
What are the best and worst things about being famous?
The best thing is that you can really use it to prop up and elevate causes or artists. That’s what I really love about it. And the downsides are the trolls, and the nasty shit that people say, that is really vile. But I think it says more about them than it says about me. Poor, sad souls. It’s so embarrassing.
What did you learn from your time working as a dominatrix?
Well, it’s probably the only [work] place in the world where it’s matriarchal. The women rule, and the men are there to serve. It’s the only other place that I’ve ever seen that. So, entering that environment, I was blown away and I immediately knew this is how it should be. [Women] are amazing, we make babies, we are intuitive and have a better grasp and understanding of life and the world. We’re more graceful, more empathetic, kind and caring. It just makes sense that women should rule, but for some reason, we don’t and that’s why the world is where it’s at today. The proof is in the fucking pudding!
What were your favourite requests from the servants?
Always the ballbusting, kicking guys in the balls, things like that. Corporal punishment and humiliation stuff was amazing. It’s like you’re releasing your rage onto a human punching bag – and they love it, that’s the plus side! It’s not like you’re damaging them, they’re getting off on it, getting hard and coming. It’s a win-win for both!
Did anything gross you out?
There was some harder stuff, like clients who wanted you to throw up on their face or something. That stuff was gross but I still did it because I wanted the money!
What are your icks?
Stinky breath and stinky feet. Automatic dealbreaker. And if they are talking to multiple girls at once. It has to be me and that’s it. Also, if they’re rude to waiters.
If you were to be cancelled for something, what would it be for?
I’ve already been cancelled so many times! I mean, I would hope that it would be something similar to when I stood up for Amber Heard and everyone freaked out. I knew I was right, so you can cancel me all you want but in 10 years, we’ll be looking back at this and I will be remembered as the only person that stood up for her and I will gladly wait for that “I told you so” moment.
What is the best way to get back at someone?
Living your best life: indifferent, unbothered, unapologetic and looking fabulous.
What about shitting in someone’s locker?
Haha. I have a friend that used to call me the patron saint of vengeance because when it came time to masterminding a plan to get back at somebody, I was the girl to call. There was nowhere I wouldn’t go, I would really hit them where it hurts. So, yeah, I did put piss and shit in someone’s locker, but she peed on my stuff first. But I would never have done that if that wasn’t done to me first. I’m not going to let someone get away with that!