In 1990 I DJ’d a big college graduation party for John Stamos’s sister at Paula Abdul’s top-o-the-Hollywood Hills house. Stamos and Abdul were dating at the time and she had a big spread with outdoor tennis courts, so it was an ideal spot for a party.
People think Abdul’s cheerleading sweetness on American Idol must be an act, but she was just as warm, encouraging and solicitous of me back then as she is of the singers on the show. She was down with my DJness, responding with some very enthusiastic dancing – and that woman can dance (check out her videos for a reminder).
At the end of the night we were chatting — recall this was the height of her musical fame — and I said something about being worn out and sore after hauling my equipment up and down the MANY steps that led to her tennis courts. Then, to my amazement, she pulled me onto her lap and gave me a quick back rub – did a damn good job, too. I had already been a fan of her unpretentious, tuneful and thumping dance music, but after that I dug her hard. After some tough years, I was very happy for her when AI came along and gave her a new career.
This week Abdul, now 42, addresses rumors about “erratic behavior” on the show and elsewhere with People magazine, and on Entertainment Tonight in segments airing tonight and tomorrow.
She says she has been battling chronic pain that began with a cheerleading accident at age 17 which injured a disc in her neck. Then she had “a couple of car accidents” in the 1980s and a plane crash in 1992, which led to seizures, bulimia and depression. But she kept on dancing because “that’s what dancers do.”
She had 12 operations and used medications that left her so “loopy” she chose to deal with the pain without them. “When I got American Idol it was after my last surgery,” she tells ET. “My prayers came true and I could actually get back to what I do and help other people realize their dreams. Still, I was in a lot of pain. I would be in my dressing room with my friend Daniel. He would constantly be having to reapply my makeup because I would be shivering and having miniature seizures.”
In November she was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a chronic neurological disorder that causes severe, debilitating pain, but is treatable.
She is now pain-free and jolly as all get out. “If people only knew what I’ve gone through with pain and pills. I’m dancing for joy at the fact that not even a year ago I was in so much pain I could barely get up,” Abdul says in People.
The singer/dancer/choreographer/talent judge decided to publicly set the record straight because, “It was getting ugly with the lies people were saying,” she tells ET. “I want America to know that I have never been addicted to anything, no chemical dependency, nothing for recreational purposes. I have been through the kind of journey that I would never wish on anybody.”
I’m still a fan, Paula, and wish you the best.