Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ozzy: "I Didn't Know About the Restraining Order!"

After 25 years of marriage, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne seem as happy as ever. But they’ve had their share of ups and (drug–fueled, near–murderous) downs, as Blender discovers over a luxe lunch. Pass the speckled dog dick!

By Rob Tannebaum

Blender, June 2007

Rock–Star Double Date

The Couple Ozzy Osbourne and his wife, Sharon Osbourne
The Setting The London Bar, New York
The Goal To witness firsthand the secret love language of our favorite musical couples

The waiter gestures to a grandly designed entrée that’s been placed at the center of our table. It is the creation of Gordon Ramsay, the hotheaded British chef so obsessed with perfection that he routinely dices, skewers and roasts his kitchen staff. The dish, one of 20 we’ll be served at his New York restaurant even before dessert, is roasted­ sablefish bathed in ginger sauce and set beside onions fried in an Indian–spice batter and a white clump of creamed parsnip. “It’s cum,” Ozzy Osbourne blurts, looking skeptically at the milky dollop.

Welcome to Blender’s double date with Mr. Osbourne and his wife and manager, Sharon. During a nearly four–hour lunch at the London Bar, we will hear about his many maladies and the time she head–­butted New York’s most powerful concert promoter. Ozzy will look at a small cinnamon doughnut and ask, “Is that a testicle?” Occasionally, someone will mention this summer’s reinvented Ozzfest tour, but we have more important topics to examine. During a girl–gab session with Blender senior editor Victoria De Silverio, Sharon will gossip about which reality–TV star is addicted to painkillers and will also volunteer her makeover secrets (“I’ve had a lot of surgery!”). And before the bill arrives, Ozzy will utter one of history’s most unnecessary confessions: “I’m not like a normal person at all.”

Imagine what they’d be like at dinner.

This summer — July 4th, in case you’re getting them a gift — marks the 25th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. John Michael Osbourne, of Malibu, California; London, England; and Hades. “When we got married, it was like the joke of the industry,” Sharon recalls, mimicking a skeptic: “How long are they gonna last?”

Both Blender representatives, unable­ to imagine any relationship that lasts longer than three weeks, press for the secret to their longevity. Compromise? Consideration? “We have a fuckin’ row every day,” Ozzy howls. “It’s love and war.”

As Ozzy, 58, peers at the menu over bi­focals, Sharon, 54, puts her feet on the banquette, stretching out regally. She recalls the first glimpse of her future husband: “I was embarrassed and afraid.” She was 17, a secretary at her father’s management company, when Black Sabbath visited him. Ozzy, who’d grown up very poor in Birmingham, England, wore a pajama top and a faucet tied around his neck on a piece of string. “He said it was the only jewelry he could afford.”

Nine years later, Sabbath had marched to the peak of metal majesty, then tumbled down into the underworld. Sharon’s father was now managing the band, and Ozzy was fired because he could no longer fulfill the simple job requirements of being the singer in a hard rock band (1. Show up. 2. Sing). He quarantined himself in a scuzzy L.A. hotel and decorated it with pizza boxes, half–empty beer bottles and cigarette stubs.

The waiter interrupts this romantic tale to deliver plates of lamb cutlet, twice–cooked poussin, baked pork belly, pan–fried fluke and short ribs. “There’s a Henry VIII kind of vibe here!” Ozzy crows.

Back to 1979: While broke and insane on drugs, Ozzy was given $500 by a musician who owed the money to Sharon. She dropped by the hotel to collect the cash. “He didn’t even try and lie,” Sharon says. “He said, ‘I spent it on cocaine.’ I went bloody mad! But he was so vulnerable, so open and so truly sorry. He was very lost.”

She began managing Ozzy, which incited her father to disown Sharon for many years. Ozzy and Sharon’s romance began not with a date or roses or poetry, but with booze. Buckets of it. They were at a hotel, celebrating his comeback, and they had a drink. “And another drink, and another drink,” she explains. “We ended up spending the night together. After we’d had sex, we had a bubble bath, then went back to bed for another fuck, got up, and did it again in the tub.”

Debauchery may not be an auspicious basis for a relationship, and Sharon often had to contend with her mate’s addictions. “Every morning I would say, ‘Today I’m not gonna do pills and dope,’” Ozzy says. “And within an hour, I’d broken every fucking promise.” Then one more unnecessary confession: “I’ve taken a shitload of drugs.”

As Sharon points out, qualities that first seem cute in a partner soon become annoying. Like when your husband OD’s in the bathroom? Blender asks. “He never did that,” Sharon scoffs. “It was in bed.”

Evidently, one key to an enduring marriage is the ability to laugh together. Though they sometimes seem as violently combustible as George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Ozzy and Sharon more often resemble George Burns and Gracie Allen, a husband–and–wife comedy team. She, for instance, begins to tell us about the first of their two separations, which began one night in 1989 when, while drunk, he tried to kill her. After his arrest, she secured a restraining order against him.

“I had a restraining order?” Ozzy asks. He has paused in the middle of chewing.

“You were fucking arrested!”

“I know. But I didn’t know about the restraining order!”

Throughout the meal, Ozzy openly (enthusiastically might be a better word) discusses his various problems: He is dyslexic. He has attention deficit disorder. He is a manic–depressive. He has a neurological disorder that causes tremors and a stammer. He takes antidepressants, which diminish his libido, and Viagra, which restores his libido. He’s also a hypochondriac, which is probably why he’s so enthusiastic about disclosing these ailments.

Sharon gave birth to three children — Aimee, 23, Kelly, 22, and Jack, 21 — while Ozzy continued to record and take drugs, not always in that order. Finally, he agreed to check in to the Betty Ford Center. “I phoned them and said, ‘I’m coming in.’ The woman asked me, ‘What drugs are you doing right now?’ I told her, ‘Booze and coke.’ She said, ‘I want you to keep doing them until you get here.’ So I go, Fucking hell, this is gonna be a great place!” He arrived at Betty Ford, he says, expecting they would have a bar.

For decades, he dipped in and out of sobriety, even during filming of The Osbournes, the MTV show that launched the celeb–reality craze, even while his son Jack struggled with an OxyContin addiction. Three years ago, the couple had a second separation, after he violated her zero–tolerance policy. “Because we agreed that he would have no slip–ups,” Sharon says tartly. “And he had a slip–up.”

Desserts have arrived, and it takes four waiters to deliver them. “This is the way all interviews should be!” roars Ozzy, who has cream sauce smeared across his face. Sharon tenderly dabs it away with her napkin.

They will be together all summer, due to the 12th annual Ozzfest. He’ll be promoting a new album, Black Rain: The music stomps like an army slogging through a muddy, diseased war, and the songs continue his career–long denunciation of politicians and priests. Admission to Ozzfest will be free, a change that has players in the touring business “going insane,” Sharon says.

Ozzy is straightforward, a man who appreciates his good fortune in having avoided the cemetery and likes to deflect anxiety with a schoolboy’s quip. Sharon is a tactician, a tigress who disguises herself as a nuzzling kitten. She is known for packing feces in a Tiffany box (“Because everyone likes to get a Tiffany box”) and mailing it to her enemies, and she mentions that Gene Simmons of Kiss besmirched her family while promoting his A&E reality show.

“He said that our kids are on drugs and that his aren’t messed up like that. He’ll always be C–list, and his wife’s snatch has been rubbed on every pole in L.A. I’ll fucking tear his head off and stick it up his wife’s cunt!” Yet she says this with such breezy joy, it’s easy to believe she’d be content with just tearing his head off.

The day has grown late. Sharon is worried she won’t fit into a gown she’s wearing to their pal Elton John’s 60th–birthday gala tonight. Blender shamelessly begs to come along. Instead, we will spend the evening watching Gene Simmons on A&E.

Our table is lavished with one last des­sert, which is topped with an oval of cherry sorbet. “It looks like a dog’s dick,” Ozzy says. Sharon nods. And Blender eventually realizes they’re right: This speckled frozen dessert looks very much like a dog’s dick. It just takes a while to see the world through the Osbournes’ eyes.



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