Katy French: The final words from her Hot Press interview
Shortly before her tragic death, Katy French talked at length with Hot Press about cocaine, her burgeoning celebrity and her belief in the afterlife.
Jason O'Toole, 20 Dec 2007
Have you ever tried a line of coke yourself?” Given the prevalence of cocaine in the media and fashion worlds, it was a natural question to ask Katy French, in a Hot Press interview. By that stage, back in October, she was already Ireland’s best known model, as well as being a semi-permanent fixture in the media. We were more than half way through an interview that itself was destined to grab the headlines.
“Who hasn’t?” she replied, instinctively. However, Katy – the circumstances of whose recent, tragic death have become the stuff of rumour, counter-rumour and urban myth – backtracked as soon as the words were out of her mouth. Almost immediately, she went into self-protective mode and disguised the admission implicit in her initial answer with a humorous comment: “…No. I have been to Amsterdam – that was some craic now. But what went on in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam.”
For clarity’s sake, I asked her again if she had ever experimented with cocaine. Katy denied ever trying it and then went on to speak in great detail about her abhorrence of the drug, pointing out that people didn’t call it the ‘Devil’s Dandruff’ for nothing.
Despite being sceptical about her denial, I had no valid reason to disbelieve her. Katy had been extremely forthright about other contentious issues during what was an extraordinary and highly engaging in-depth interview. And besides, it was perfectly understandable why someone like Katy – who was dependent on the goodwill and respect of a wide variety of clients for her modelling work – might not want to admit to breaking the law. If she preferred to deny it, I wasn’t going to browbeat her.
It was a touchier point than I’d realised. According to an article by Liam Collins, written for the Sunday Independent just after her death, after reading the Hot Press interview, Katy’s mother had asked her: “Why did you lie?” Apparently her mother sensed that what she knew to be an untruth would be “unmasked”.
In retrospect, I can only presume that Katy herself had feared that the potential repercussions for her modelling career – or the career as a TV presenter to which she aspired – were too great to risk admitting the truth. Or perhaps she feared that acknowledging that she had used cocaine might have a bad influence on the increasing number of teenage girls, who saw her as a role model.
“The things that celebrities do obviously influence people,” she had told Hot Press back in May, when she participated in the Rock The Vote campaign, championed by the magazine, “whether it’s what they say, what they do, what they wear, how they wear their make up, how skinny they are…” .