I’m still a celebrity, says Katona

KERRY Katona (annoyingly for some) remains famous for being famous.

I’m still a celebrity, says Katona

The ex-pop star and former winner of I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! has been tabloid fodder for years, her torrid love life, drug abuse, bi-polarity, rehab and cosmetic surgery reported in detail.

The endless revelations, and the photo-shoots, reality shows and Iceland ads have kept her in the public eye, although her star has been on the wane.

She’s running out of reality shows, having done Dancing On Ice, I’m A Celebrity and Celebrity Big Brother, although she’ll be appearing in My Fair Kerry this year, a comedy reality show in which she’ll be taking etiquette lessons from music mogul, David Gest.

Katona, 32, has reunited with Atomic Kitten for a show on ITV2, which will feature Five, B*witched, 911, The Honeyz and Liberty X, followed by a 14-date arena tour.

“I’ve always been in touch with Tash (Natasha Hamilton) and Liz (McClarnon). I’m really nervous, because it’s been like a full circle for me. People forget I started off as a pop star in a girl band,” says Katona.

Katona says she’s happiest as a stay-at-home mum with her four kids, yet a day after our interview she was pictured in a skimpy mini-dress and mile-high glittery heels posing for the paparazzi at a magazine party.

Katona says she hasn’t always sought the publicity. “A lot of people think ‘Kerry Katona, publicity whore, she’ll do anything’. Most of the stories which contained my addiction, my bankruptcy, the cheating, I didn’t want those on the front pages. People thought I was selling my life and that wasn’t the case at all.”

Despite her claims, she recently brought out her second autobiography, Still Standing, six years after her first, Too Much, Too Young, charted her traumatic childhood, and descent into drugs after the break-up of her marriage to Westlife singer, Brian McFadden.

Still Standing details her disastrous second marriage to cab driver, Mark Croft, her battle to quit drugs and reality TV.

“I’ve been clean for three years now,” she says.

“Hopefully, after everything I’ve been through (which includes bankruptcy and two divorces), it’s my time to get everything across,” she adds.

Cynics may say this book is a money-spinner, another way to keep Katona in the public eye and the tabloids interested.

She took cocaine while her daughters, Molly and Lilly (by McFadden), were in the house, but ensured they wouldn’t see her taking it.

“They didn’t have a clue about anything until I did the documentary, Kerry Katona: The Next Chapter (about her battle with drugs) and I eventually let them watch the show.

“Cocaine became my best friend, helped with the grieving process of my first divorce, and then when I met Mark (Croft, her second husband) it went completely out of hand.

“I’m mortified, embarrassed and ashamed,” she says. “I’m not blaming anybody else for what happened. I was too weak to say no.”

In 2010, a spell at bootcamp was the catalyst to her ditching drugs, she says.

“My exercise regime had been a kebab and a line of cocaine. When I went to bootcamp, it was the first natural high I’d felt since I was 14. It was like coming out of a coma.”

Katona hasn’t been on medication for bi-polar for several years and wonders now if she was misdiagnosed.

If she’s having a down day, she deals with it, she says.

“Even from my young days, my life was a rollercoaster, but I got through it and wasn’t on medication until I became an adult. The only tablets I take now are headache tablets, if I’ve got a hangover, and that’s not very often.”

Katona is a survivor: she had a desperately unhappy childhood.

Growing up in Warrington, Cheshire, she had to provide the emotional prop her alcoholic mother, Sue, needed following several suicide attempts, and also lived in fear of her mother’s violent boyfriend.

By the age of 11, Kerry had been to seven primary schools and, at 13, she was taken into care after her mother was knifed by her boyfriend yet stayed with him.

Mother and daughter kept in touch, and in Still Standing Kerry reveals that she took drugs with her mother to help them “bond”. Katona was 14 when they first tried speed.

“It was what we used to do, it was our thing,” Katona said, revealing they did drugs together regularly until she was 28.

Yet, her up-and-down relationship with her mother — who has now quit drugs — seems to be at a good point, although Katona worries about her mother’s drinking.

“She is forever on the vodka still — her liver is screwed, but what can you do? At the end of the day, she’s my mum and I idolise her. Our relationship is much more healthy and adult now.”

Katona has moved from Warrington to a farm in Surrey, near her close friend, Peter Andre, and has help from a nanny. Her eldest daughter, Molly, is at boarding school.

Although she has two divorces behind her, she still talks about how devastated she was when McFadden left her.

Then, last year, when he made comments dismissing their marriage — saying he had no idea what he was doing and that he didn’t grow up until he was 30 — she was furious.

In an angry retort on Twitter, she wrote: “I will never let anyone take away my first marriage, not even my ex-husband! We may have been young, but I knew full well what I was doing!!! And never in a million years would I ever dismiss it, especially bringing two amazing children into it...”

Her second marriage, to Croft, which she says she rushed into, also ended in divorce. They have two children, Heidi and Max.

Now she is dating ex-rugby player and personal trainer, George Kay.

She recently said: “I’ve known him for 18 years, since I was at school, but I literally bumped into him one night and we’ve been together ever since.

“I’ve kept him off-radar because he’s been in jail for blackmail, which sounds a lot worse than it is, but people have said, ‘He’s bad news, he’s another Mark Croft’. He’s nothing like Mark.”

She says McFadden — who has remarried and now lives in Australia — sees their children, Molly and Lilly, about once a year, while Croft hasn’t seen Heidi and Max since February 2012.

With four children in private school and bills to pay, she can’t rely on maintenance payments, so it’s understandable that she needs to maintain her ‘celebrity’.

“If there is one thing I have proved to myself, it is that I can bounce back from anything,” she says.

* Still Standing, by Kerry Katona, is published by Orion

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