How Demi was sold for sex at 15 — by her own mother: As the troubled star reveals in a soul-baring memoir of abuse, alcohol and unfaithful celebrity husbands
- Demi Moore, 56, from Roswell, New Mexico, shares her life story in a memoir
- She grew up in a family on the run from creditors, changing school twice a year
- Aged 15, her mother sold her for sex to a 48-year-old LA nightclub owner
- She went on to battle addiction and anorexia, despite the success of her career
- Demi admits she prioritised her third husband Ashton Kutcher over family needs
by Demi Moore (Fourth Estate £20, 272 pp)
Suppose I were to offer you one million dollars for one night with your wife,’ says Robert Redford (playing billionaire John Gage) in Adrian Lyne’s 1993 movie Indecent Proposal.
The wife in question was played by Demi Moore, a woman who knew exactly how it felt to be sold by someone you love.
In this devastatingly direct memoir, Moore says that when she was just 15 years old, her mother, Ginny, gave the key to their apartment to 48-year-old LA nightclub owner Val Dumas.
Demi Moore (pictured in 1981) recounts her upbringing and career in a fascinating new memoir
‘When I got home from school, he was there — inside the apartment, waiting for me. I felt the blood drain from my body. “What are you doing here?” I asked him. “Where’s my mom?” ’
She says she has blotted out many details of being ‘trapped in my own home with a man three times my age and three times my size […] raping me’. But she has a clear memory of him later asking her: ‘How does it feel to be whored by your mother for 500 dollars?’
She said nothing at the time. But now, aged 56, she answers his question: ‘It feels,’ she says, ‘like you are an orphan.’
Born in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1962, Moore was the eldest child of Virginia ‘Ginny’ King and Danny Guynes: a charismatic, but combustible, couple.
Ginny was strikingly attractive, socially ambitious and ‘different from other moms’.
Danny was ‘a charming gambler . . . not boring. The kind of guy who is always riding on the edge, getting away with something’.
The 56-year-old (pictured) who grew up believing that Danny Guynes was her father, was about to turn 18-years-old when she found him dead in his car
When Demi was four, her brother Morgan was born. She remembers a long drive during which her mum handed her a bottle of beer ‘which I slowly administered to him, the way you’d give a baby a bottle of milk. Needless to say, by the time we arrived at our destination he wasn’t screaming any more’.
The family lived on the run from creditors and the fallout from Danny’s affairs. Demi calculates she changed school, on average, twice a year. This is how she learned to act. At each one, she observed how the cool kids behaved and mimicked them.
The gross profit of the 1990 film Ghost, starring Demi Moore
She also honed her acting by concealing the traumas of her family life. One night, she awoke to sounds of distress. Her mother had taken an overdose of pills and her father called to Demi for help.
Danny restrained Ginny while Demi used ‘the small fingers of a child to dig the pills my mother had tried to swallow out of her mouth’. She vividly remembers her mother ‘flailing like a wild animal, and the sound of my father screaming directions at me’.
She felt safest on the occasional periods when she was hospitalised for a kidney condition. In hospitals, responsible adults maintained reliable routines and consistent care. Demi could relax.
Demi (pictured in Indecent Proposal) was sent to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction by the St Elmo team
But, by the time she reached her teens, Demi had discovered that Danny was not her biological father. The month before she turned 18, he committed suicide, aged 36. It was Moore who found him, slumped over the steering wheel of his car with the engine running. By then, she trusted nobody and was conditioned to ‘crave extremes’. This emotional detachment and yearning for highs followed her into her acting career and future relationships.
Demi married her first husband, musician Freddy Moore, three month’s after Danny’s death. She was signed to the famous Elite modelling agency, then won a role in the popular soap opera General Hospital. From there, she joined the ‘Brat Pack’ actors Rob Lowe (with whom she had a brief romance) and Emilio Estevez (to whom she became engaged) in the cast of the 1985 coming-of-age movie St Elmo’s Fire.
But, by then, the wheels were coming off. The St Elmo’s team sent Moore to rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. She quit the booze and coke, but used food to control her anxieties.
In the Eighties and Nineties, as she became one of the sex symbols of her generation, Moore battled with her body image: starving herself, hating herself and exercising to the point of exhaustion. It has been a long journey from seeing herself from the ‘outside in’ to the ‘inside out’ of the book’s title.
Moore was swept off her feet by actor Bruce Willis in 1987. He hired limos and took her on her first ‘proper’ restaurant dates. They married and had three daughters very quickly.
Demi recalls becoming dependent on her third husband, Ashton Kutcher (pictured), who was 15 years younger
But Willis was never settled with Moore. She thinks he was unfaithful, and she was well versed in switching off emotionally while smiling for the cameras.
Moore is proud of the way she changed the culture by being photographed naked and pregnant for the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991. But understandably angry at how she was portrayed as the money-grabbing ‘Gimme Moore’.
Lead roles in Ghost, A Few Good Men, G. I. Jane and Striptease saw her become the highest-paid woman in Hollywood, and the misogynistic Press were out to get her. She notes that nobody condemned Willis for greed, even though he was paid $20 million for his third Die Hard movie at that time, almost double her fee.
She writes that she was always taught to push for the highest amount. And behind the millions was always the child sold for 500 dollars. I ached for the girl who wanted to push her price beyond what money could buy.
INSIDE OUT by Demi Moore (Fourth Estate £20, 272 pp)
It’s sad to read of Moore’s break-up with Willis and her equally doomed third marriage (2005-2013) to Ashton Kutcher, 15 years younger. He allowed Moore to open up about her past trauma, but damaged her further by inviting other people into their bed (confirming her fears of not being ‘enough’) and encouraging her to start drinking again.
After she miscarried and IVF failed, he cheated on her, they divorced, and she sank back into addiction and anorexia that saw her blue-lighted to hospital in 2012. Inside Out has a happy ending, for now. Moore is a flawed human, taking public responsibility for her failings — although I have no doubt that, at her worst, she was more difficult and damaging to be around than she pretends.
The fact that her daughters cut contact with her for years speaks volumes. Her youngest, Tallulah, was arrested for underage drinking at 17 and Demi did not hug her when she went to collect her from the police station. Tallulah thought her mum cared only about the family reputation — then the other two cut contact, too.
‘The girls were angry I’d become so dependent on Ashton — I was addicted to him is the best way I can put it. And I prioritised my addiction over my needs and the needs of my family.’
But her ability to reconnect with both them and herself deserves our respect.
‘I’ve had extraordinary luck in life,’ she writes, ‘both good and bad. But we all suffer and we all triumph, and we all get to choose how we hold both.’
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