January 29, 2005
Chyna over the edgeLaurer's self destruction a sad tale of fame's dark side
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun
Even back in 2001, anyone who read Joanie (Chyna) Laurer's autobiography could tell something wasn't right. The book was an incoherent mess of self-deprecation, psychotic rants and swear-laden stories. Rather than celebrating her rags to riches fairytale, Laurer (and her ghostwriter) spent the entire 318 pages spewing venom at her detractors -- and often at her allies.
The only thing readers could be sure of was Laurer was very bitter. And very unstable.
But no matter how close to the edge Laurer may have seemed in her WWE days, no one could possibly have envisioned just how far she would fall.
This week, Sean Waltman (Laurer's on-again, off-again boyfriend) made a desperate plea to the producers of The Surreal Life, the VH1 reality show Laurer starred in.
"This is a crucial time for you and anyone else who has profited from doing business with her to step up and help save this woman's life," Waltman wrote on his website. "(She) is on the losing end of a life-or-death battle with drugs and alcohol, along with severe mental illness."
Waltman revealed Laurer had checked herself into a hotel and attempted to drug herself to death. He pleaded with the producers to get her help.
Laurer's self destruction seemingly began after she quit her WWE job in mid-2001. Like so many divas before her, Laurer felt she could be a mainstream star, even without the WWE publicity machine. She ditched the Chyna name (which was owned by WWE) and began a new life as an actress, model and singer.
But reality came knocking.
Fast forward to 2004. Playboy wasn't interested anymore. Her music career bombed before it even got started. Even an 'accidentally released' sex tape (a la Paris Hilton) failed to revive public interest in her career.
So Laurer did what any D-list celebrity would do when strapped for cash -- she signed on for a TV reality show. The Surreal Life -- a VH1 series in which a group of quasi-celebs are locked together in a house -- only served to show what a complete mess Laurer had become. She was constantly drunk and chain smoking, often parading around the house with her breasts hanging out. Unfortunately, it wasn't just an act for the cameras, as the downward spiral would continue when she returned to the real world.
Earlier this month, Laurer was arrested for allegedly beating Waltman in front of his young children and others.
Days later, a New York Post writer observed one of her drunken nights on the town, leading to a Page 6 report of Laurer stripping naked and jumping into a fish tank at a New York City nightclub.
But the problems really became public last week, with an appearance on the Howard Stern radio show.
To say Laurer was wasted wouldn't even begin to describe her condition. She was slurring her words, contradicting herself and launching into random tangents that were impossible to follow.
She denied assaulting Waltman but then proudly boasted she slapped him around. She said she didn't want to do drugs anymore but professed she would gladly do a line of cocaine if it were in front of her.
Wednesday, Waltman posted another message on his website, again directed at the Surreal Life producers.
"Your kindness and compassion have turned Joanie's experience from a sad one, to one of happiness and hope," he wrote.
It appears Laurer has finally been offered the help she desperately needs.
In a business where far too many die far too young, second chances are rare. Laurer has been offered a lifeline and now it's up to her to accept the help.
If she doesn't, I fear the next article I write about her could be an obituary.