Legendary supermodel Beverly Johnson went to dangerous lengths to maintain her slim physique at the height of her career.
During a recent interview with PageSix, the 71-year-old model and actress revealed that she became addicted to cocaine in the 1970s after she binged on the drug to maintain her slim appearance. Johnson, who became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue in 1974, said that she would only eat a bowl of rice and two eggs a week due to the appetite-suppressing drug.
“We were led to believe that cocaine was not addictive. We didn’t know cocaine was addictive. Everyone used drugs back in the day but that particular drug for models was used because we did not eat,” Johnson explained. “I remember eating two eggs and a bowl of brown rice a week. I would be shaking in a cab, and I would say pull over because I have to get a bag of M&Ms.”
Sometimes, Johnson would “stop and get the shakes” due to her unhealthy eating habits. “We did not eat, and every time you came to work they would say, ‘Yes! Chisel to the bone girl. Yes,’ like congratulating you. Nobody really told you the truth.”
The model, who walked in Sergio Hudson’s 2022 NYC Fashion Week show, said she would have spiraled down a dark path if it wasn’t for her mother, who noticed her visibly thin appearance. According to the star, her mother put her in front of a three-way mirror and Johnson was startled by what she saw in the reflection.
“It was the first time I saw my bones looking back at me,” the catwalk legend said, “It was a major wake up call for me.” Johnson, who is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of her Vogue cover, has been sober for more than 50 years.
Johnson will be celebrating her iconic modeling career in a new off-Broadway show called Beverly Johnson in Vogue.
The show — which will take place at the 59E59 Theatre and run until Jan. 28 — will give fans an up-close and personal biography as Johnson graces the stage to narrate her captivating life in the world of fashion and entertainment. Throughout the play, the Buffalo, New York, native talks in-depth about her legendary super-modeling career and her tumultuous relationships. She also reveals the truth about Bill Cosby and sheds light on her role in the #MeToo movement. Much like Johnson’s persona, the show is a blend of humor, fearlessness and unapologetic candor, showcasing her resilience and her unique ability to break barriers.
“I speak on behalf of everyone at the Playhouse when I say how excited I am to be a part of this incredible production,” the show’s artistic director, Tony Braithwaite, shared in a statement. “Beverly Johnson’s story is astonishing and we are so excited to honor her incredible legacy exactly 50 years after she graced the cover of American Vogue.”
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