Former page 3 girl Susie Flashman Jarvis tells her story of leaving behind the worlds of modelling and drugs.
I was an angry child. I grew up in a Christian home, but my father was an aggressive man. I was quite disrespectful of him; he and I would fight together.
I went to church as a youngster and was baptised voluntarily at the age of 17. I had head knowledge of God, but no relationship with him.
As a teenager I was quite lary. I was in the top class at school but I messed about. I began to play around with drugs as a bored, middle-class schoolkid. In those days you could go and smoke cannabis, and there was speed and LSD. But I’m the only one from my peer group who ended up as I did.
I left home at 17 to start training to become a nurse. I met a young man and moved into a flat with him. My father disowned me and my mother bought me a pressure cooker. From then on, things began to get a little out of control.
At 19, I went travelling in India with this boyfriend. When I got back, I got a job in the Jobcentre, who asked me to model for them; to act as a client. I asked the photographer to take some photos of me. So we went out to a field and I had a tiny little skirt and top on. He said, ‘Take your top off, then’, and for some reason I just did.
That was the beginning of the rest of the story. I got a modelling portfolio together and took it to an agent in London, who snapped me up. I was used by The Sun, The Mirror and many magazines. I did lots of topless work, until one day someone said to me, ‘If you carry on doing this, you will get a name for yourself and you won’t be able to do anything else.’
I started doing TV and commercial work then; I’m the original Impulse girl. I did the Harmony hairspray advert with Leslie Ash, and De Beers Diamonds.
USING DRUGS AND PEOPLE
Parallel to that world was my private life. I lived with boyfriends for about two years each, and then I’d trade them in for a new one. I was promiscuous, not that they knew it. I was looking for someone to really know me, accept me and believe in me.
My drug addiction began to escalate and I moved on to class A drugs. If cocaine and heroine were around, I would take them together.
I’m on the cover of the ABC album, The Lexicon of Love. The night before that shoot, my friend had tragically died. I took loads of cocaine in order to do that shoot. I was in such a mess, having lost this friend.
My drug addiction didn’t affect my work initially, but then, as I became more and more addicted, my work ran out. I was stick thin and looked terrible.
Finally I met a man who was a dealer in south London. I used my charms to get the drugs, and then I fell pregnant. I was injecting drugs by this time. We ended up getting married, but a month before the wedding I lost the baby. I remember chopping up a line of heroin on the top of the toilet in the church, in my wedding dress, and snorting it…I walked down the aisle and said, ‘God, I’m so sorry for what I’m about to do.’ And then I did it.
Twelve days later, I was unfaithful. We lived off curry sauce and chips. I’d take barbs off needles and reuse them. I had nicotine all up my hands. I lost everything.
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THE TURNING POINT
The lowest point came when I went to a dealer’s house. I injected him in the chest, trying to find a vein. I could have killed him doing that. I remember thinking, ‘I might as well be a prostitute.’
I went to stay at a friend’s house, thinking, ‘If I can just stay clean for a few days, maybe I can beat this.’ Sitting in her bedroom, I pulled a Bible off her shelf. I stuck my finger in and opened it on a verse. It was Psalm 32 and it said: ‘Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered…For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.’
I read it and thought, ‘This is my life!’ The room started to go really white. I read on. It said, ‘Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle…the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.’
I said, ‘Lord, can you help me? I’m sorry.’
I told my friend, who wasn’t a Christian, about it. She said, ‘Oh Susie, if I could just take away the pain for you, you could deal with all the other stuff.’ And that was what happened. My friend went through the pain of the withdrawal, and I came off heroin, just like that.
I left London, my husband of that time and my heroin addiction. And I never took it again.
Years on, topless pictures of me were discovered on the Internet. I was then deputy team leader at a Christian counselling agency. I came into work, and a colleague said, ‘I’ve found you!’ My pictures had been sold on to all sorts of sites and German magazines that I had never seen before. I was absolutely mortified. I had children of the same age as I was back then. I started to become quite depressed; my past sometimes pursues me. A couple of people said, ‘Are you going to give this to the enemy?’
Soon afterwards, I started writing my book. Potholes and Belly-flops (Instant Apostle) is a no-holds-barred account of what it’s like to become a daughter of the King. I had no option. I had to write about this. I had to claim it for God. I had to say, ‘This is who I was, but here’s who I am today.’
Susie Flashman Jarvis’ latest book, At Therapy’s End (Instant Apostle) is out now