Mary Forsberg Weiland Picks Up the ‘Pieces’

When I walked into Book Soup on Sunset Boulevard for Mary Forbserg Weiland’s book reading on Monday night, it was immediately clear this was not your average book party. For one thing, there was an inordinate number of extremely tall, extremely beautiful, extremely well-dressed women in a crowded indie book store. That would be because the author was also a model. Then, there was the presence of a genuine rock star or two … Dave Navarro (If I really have to tell you — Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, yadda yadda yadda), and Dave Kushner of Velvet Revolver. A writer version of a rock star, Cameron Crowe, was also there, and yes, we stammered something stupid to him. The reason for all the celebrity fanfare? You might recognize her last name: she was married to Scott Weiland, the lead singer of Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots. Her friends in high places came to support her debut book, a memoir about her drug addiction and mental illness, co-written with Vanity Fair writer/editor Larkin Warren.

Rather than a tell-all that trashes her former lifestyle, it’s an unblinking chronicle of the less fabulous side of fame and fortune. After a slow but necessary introduction to her childhood, Fall to Pieces quickly becomes engrossing. It gives a bird’s-eye view of what it’s like to become part of an inner circle in an elite world, where your best friends are supermodels like Ivana Milicevic and you hang out with Cameron Diaz, Eric Dane, and Charlize Theron before they become famous; where you meet your love of your life, because he’s your driver to your modeling shoots, and he’s working in a little band that ends up being plastered all over MTV and playing stadiums. It’s a peep into a world that most of us will never get to experience, and later, a world most of us will never want to experience, as Mary becomes addicted to her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s addictions, shooting up heroin, drinking like a fish, and partying for days on end. She goes through rehabs like boxes of Kleenex and finally, eventually gets the right medication for her bipolar affliction and becomes sober.

She spoke of her twin affliction of Scott and drugs with eye-opening clarity (they say hindsight is 20/20). “I don’t know if that was some kind of force of nature that pulled us together … we would be an identical match,” she said. “It is quite shocking that we would have so much in common. Scott and I are linked to a lot of sad things, but there’s also a lot of great things.”

You have this feeling reading the book that they never got to truly be together, that they were either fighting addiction or depression; that they were never the unsullied couple when they first met (he was married, and she was smitten, and it was unrequited). And it’s strange to read about a tabloid story from the other side of the lens — drug addiction and manic depression is hard when no one knows who you are; it’s even harder when everyone knows your name and puts it in the press.

“There’s a kind of a spotlight on your problems,” said Mary. “You ‘re not left with the privacy to fix yourself. It’s hard to repair yourself when everyone’s watching.”

She sets her husband’s stuff on fire in a life-changing manic episode that gets her sent to the funny farm, but ultimately it was the turning point for her in getting her life back. “If you were to Google me six months ago, you would have thought I was the most bananas person on the planet, a completely spoiled rotten brat who has no courtesy for the rest of the world and just does what she wants.” That said, she’s grateful that the majority of their relationship preceded the advent of Star, DListed, TMZ, and the gossip blog business. “I think it would just be painful to be Lindsay Lohan. I don’t know if she’ll ever get better with he way her life is set up,” said Mary.

Mary’s story is common to the entertainment world; she reminded me of Gia, the world-famous heroin-addicted model who ended up dying from AIDS. But in this tale, there’s a happy ending of sorts. While she and Scott are getting a divorce, she says they are still good friends. “There’s so much love between Scott and I — he was my first true love. That’ll be there forever.”

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