October 24, 2016

Reinvention of the original wild child: Amanda de Cadenet

IF you are asked to guess which British broadcaster has just pulled off a long sit-down interview with Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, ex-US Secretary of State and favourite to be the next leader of the free world, a number of obvious heavyweights might spring to mind.

David Dimbleby, perhaps. Or Kirsty Wark. Even Jeremy Paxman.

But few would plump for Amanda de Cadenet, best known in the UK at least for fleeing the country more than 20 years ago after making a name for herself as the leading wild child of the day, posing for Playboy and marrying a rock star while five months pregnant.

But since decamping to Los Angeles in 1992, de Cadenet has undergone an extraordinary transformation.

The drink and drugs that fuelled her table-dancing antics at London nightclubs have long been dropped.

The post-baby body that got her cruelly renamed “Amanda de Flabbenet” has been whipped back into shape by a combination of yoga and a diet that permits no dairy products, no wheat and no caffeine.

And her interviewing technique has been honed over the past four years by chats with celebrity chums such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga on the set of her cable TV show The Conversation.

So when she approached Clinton’s people about an intimate hour-long heart-to-heart on the Lifetime TV sofa they were immediately receptive.

The result was a saccharine sweet exchange screened last Wednesday between the “incredibly grounded and very humble” presidential candidate and the English presenter who has mastered both therapy-speak and a West Coast twang.

“I have wanted to interview her for a very long time – probably like 15 years,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.

“She’s such a unique woman and she has a life and a life story that is so unusual. I didn’t know who she was. I know about her politics, but I didn’t know about her.”

The interview went so well that Clinton’s camp presented her with a throw cushion bearing the words, “A woman’s place is in the White House”.

All in all, how very cosy. But perhaps we can forgive de Cadenet’s decline into blandness and that condition known as Los Angelitis on the grounds that her teenage years were such a whirlwind of activity that they offered up enough material to fill several volumes of autobiography.

Most amateur psychologists have concluded that her chaotic youth had its roots in her parents’ divorce when she was just nine. Her father Alain was a French viscount-cum-racing driver while her mother Anna was a former model.

De Cadenet was still a pupil at Princess Anne’s former boarding school Benenden when she discovered boys – or, more accurately – men.

“I went from being able to walk down the street and be ignored to having men whistle at me,” she says.

“I was an insecure young girl and it felt good to have attention, even though it was inappropriate.”

With her bee-stung lips and mop of blonde hair she cut a striking figure and was still a young teenager when she started dressing to impress.

Aged just 14, she began attending a weekly rave at Crazy Larry’s night club on the King’s Road, where she and fellow teens Emma Ridley and Tamara Beckwith danced in barely-there outfits such as PVC leotards and rubber mini dresses, drank cocktails, popped ecstasy tablets and snorted cocaine.

The papers coined the term “wild child” to describe her and her equally sexually precocious contemporaries and their antics were faithfully recorded by the paparazzi who regularly snapped them falling out of clubs.

Interestingly, both Ridley and Beckwith went on to turn their lives around too.

Today Ridley, a born-again Christian and mother of three, runs a successful fitness business in California, while Beckwith has settled down with Italian property magnate Giorgio Veroni.

But De Cadenet’s lifestyle couldn’t last given her age. When the 14-year-old schoolgirl stopped going home and moved in with a friend, her parents called the police and she was taken into care.

As a teenager used to living it large in the big city, she did not take kindly to the restrictions of life in a children’s home in the west London district of White City: “Your freedom, and freedom of speech, is completely removed.

The couple married on a whim on Harbour Island in the Bahamas in 2006 during a break in a Strokes tour.

The bride, who was pregnant with twins, had intended to tie the knot wearing a wedding dress designed by Marc Jacobs but her baby bump had grown so big she ended up getting married barefoot in a beach dress.

Those twins – Silvan and Ella – are now aged nine and the family lives in LA.

De Cadenet is clearly reconciled to life in the US and is keen to participate in the election of Hillary Clinton. So keen indeed that she is taking out American citizenship.

If that is not a rejection of her past, I don’t know what is.

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