Mel B is opening up like never before in her new book, Brutally Honest.
The 43-year-old Spice Girl holds nothing back as she discusses her mental health struggles, sexuality and drug use. Mel also delves into her love life, including her rarely discussed relationship with Eddie Murphy and her tumultuous 10-year marriage to Stephen Belafonte.
With anecdotes about rude royals, death scares and societal pressure, Brutally Honest is a can’t-miss read for fans when it hits shelves on Nov. 27.
Here are seven of the biggest takeaways from Mel’s revealing book, and be sure to tune into ET’s exclusive interview with the 43-year-old entertainer on Tuesday’s show.
1. Her suicide attempt
Mel says feeling “so lonely, isolated and misunderstood” led to her considering taking her own life.
“My life was a sham. Behind the glitter of fame, I felt emotionally battered, estranged from my family. I felt ugly and detested by the very man who once promised to love and protect me, my husband and manager, Stephen,” she writes. “…So there I was. Trapped in the vice of my own celebrity image. All smiles on the outside, misery and self-loathing on the inside, always telling the world how happy I was when really all I ever wanted was to scream for help.”
After swallowing many pills, Mel experienced instant regret as she thought about her three daughters, Phoenix, 19, Angel, 11, and Madison, 7. She then called Stephen, her husband the time, to help her get out of the bathroom.
“I couldn’t let myself go under. I had to believe things could get better. I couldn’t do it to my girls, my family or all those people who actually believed in me. I looked in the mirror and said, ‘No.’ Suicide was not the answer,” she continues. “I had to make my life count. I had to get to a hospital, I had to get those pills out of my stomach before anything happened.”
She eventually awoke in the hospital with Phoenix at her bedside, “furious, shaking, full of rage.”
“Of all the memories from all those hours, it is the one that still floors me… it’s like a knife through my heart… It was the saddest moment of my life,” she recalls. “It will always live with me. All I ever want is for her to know how sorry I am, how lost I was and how I will never, ever abandon her again.”
Against doctor’s orders and with “serious damage” to her liver and kidneys, Mel returned to “The X Factor” shortly after her suicide attempt.
“I was giving the British press confirmation of all the [rumours] that had been swirling for years about the state I was in,” she writes. “I would stand proud in this stunning white dress with the marks of my agony all over me. I asked for my hair to be pulled right back from my face, I needed to be seen. I needed all those bruises to be seen.”
2. At one point she was “probably taking five or six lines” of cocaine a day
Two weeks into filming “The X Factor”, Mel says she started using cocaine to “get me through the run of show, to get me through living with Stephen, which felt like neurotic claustrophobia, and — for deeper, darker reasons — to get me through the emotional gridlock of being so geographically close to my family in Leeds and my Spice ‘sisters’ in London. On so many levels, I felt myself sinking.”
Though she’s “not proud” of her cocaine use, it did help her “to have a line of that white powder when I got up in the morning.”
“Most of the time, getting up and working, and then spending the time with my daughters, was enough to keep me going,” she writes. “But a few weeks into filming, I could feel I was starting to sink. I could feel the dark cloud of depression descending. I didn’t want all the crap in my life to get in the way of the job I wanted to do, and knew, I was doing really well. So, as insane as it may sound, my quick fix answer was cocaine.”
“I had a routine, I’d wake up in the morning and snort two lines. Then I would pray: ‘God, I’m sorry for taking cocaine, but please, God, help me get through the day.’ I was ashamed of what I was doing, but I felt I had to have it,” she reveals. “… The cocaine only made my mental state worse because — as a lot of people know — cocaine makes you even more paranoid. I was probably taking five or six lines a day before and after work.”
3. She says the Spice Girls were told to lose weight
During the early days of the Spice Girls, Mel says Geri Halliwell confided in her that she struggled with an eating disorder.
“I barely saw her eat, but I didn’t think about it. Apart from me and Emma [Bunton] (my partner in crime in midnight snacks and fried breakfasts), all the girls were quite quirky eaters,” Mel writes. “Melanie [C] ate mushed-up vegetables, and Vic[toria Beckham] only ever ate bread sticks and dips. I didn’t think twice about it, and it was only years later after Mel C and Geri started to speak out about their eating disorders and the pain they went through that I really began to think deeply about it.”
Despite being “completely oblivious” to the seriousness of Geri’s eating disorder — and feeling “so awful” after she learned more — Mel now understands Geri’s decision to leave the group during their European tour.
“She was depressed, she was anxious, and she was keeping it all secret — and the pressure was too much,” Mel claims. “She couldn’t cope anymore, and, as much as she loved us, she couldn’t face telling us what was going on. She retreated and cut herself off.”
It wasn’t just Geri who apparently struggled with eating, though. Mel B claims both Melanie C and Victoria were told to lose weight by their management.
“You could f**king lose a few f**king pounds, couldn’t ya? What’s wrong with ya? You’d better start watching what you’re f**king eating,” Mel recalls one exec saying. “We all sat there in shock. And that’s really strange considering how feisty we all are. But it also shows how easily girls can be put down and deliberately made to feel insecure.”
4. Geri was Prince Charles’ favourite member of the Spice Girls (& Mel B thought he was ‘rude’)
Years after the fact, Geri told Mel that Prince Charles had written her a letter saying that the band would never be the same without her. Of course, the royal’s favouritism for Geri has been previously documented — the pair sat next to each other at the “Spice World” premiere in 1997.
“I’d even put Prince Charles in his place when I was sitting a few seats down from him at the “Spice World” movie premiere in December 1997, when he brought Prince William along,” Mel reveals. “We were all squished into the seats and there were loads of famous people there because we’d persuaded people like Roger Moore, Jools Holland, Stephen Fry and the lovely Richard E Grant to be in the movie with us.”
“Halfway through, I noticed Charles, who was sitting next to Geri (she was always his [favourite]); he was laughing his head off. I was thrilled,” she continues. “I leaned across and said, ‘I’m so happy you’re enjoying it.’ Charles turned and looked at me, ‘I’m a very good actor,’ he said. I was totally enraged. ‘That’s rude,’ I said loudly, leaving it to Geri to smooth it all over (her role was always the diplomat). But it was rude and I told him so.”
5. She calls herself “an extremely sexual person”
During her marriage to Stephen Belafonte, Mel initiated threesomes, something she said was fun in the very early days.
“We’d go to a nightclub and pick out girls we found attractive. We had similar tastes — toned bodies, an air of confidence, a couple of tattoos and a sexy way of dressing,” she writes. “I preferred blondes. Stephen would watch the way someone danced and moved — you can tell everything about a woman’s sexuality by the way she dances. I’d invite them over for a drink. It’s pretty easy when you are Mel B; people are really happy to talk to you.”
Mel says that Stephen’s only rule when it came to threesomes was that the third had to be a woman, no men allowed.
“[That] suited me fine because I love women. I’ve always found women’s bodies so much more beautiful than men’s bodies. I have no issues with my sexuality,” she shares. “I’ve been in relationships with men and women. I don’t think it’s shameful to like sex. I don’t think it’s shameful to experiment — as long as it is all consensual — and I believe women can enjoy and initiate sex as much (if not a whole lot more) than men.”
Following their divorce, Mel says she didn’t know how to find people to have sex with because, despite being “extremely sexual,” she “hadn’t mixed socially with any straight guys for years.”
Mel says she didn’t want to date, go on the bar scene or get into a relationship, so a friend showed her a website “where famous unattached guys looking for a discreet hook-up put up images.”
“The site was filled with images of men’s erect privates, each one lined up against a milk or juice carton so you could gauge the size,” she writes. “… A few days later, I met him (young, handsome and very famous) in a hotel room wearing just my underwear. It was horribly awkward and nothing happened… I tried again with another famous penis in another hotel room. Same result. Aaarghhhh. Mortifying… I gave up on famous penises and had a few encounters with some very normal, regular guys. Way better.”
6. She was “truly, madly, deeply in love” with Eddie Murphy before being “spectacularly dumped”
In the book, Mel recalls her love story with Eddie Murphy, which, she says, started the moment they laid eyes on each other. Despite the instant chemistry, she “never thought for a second anything would come of it, other than an interesting evening.”
“It was as if a 2,000-volt electric current had passed between us. I felt a hundred different emotions at once, from confused to elated, to happy to scared, to relaxed to incredulous, and everything in between,” she writes of meeting the comedian. “I felt I had known this man all my life and that I was staring at my destiny in his face. And I felt terrified to be feeling like that because I wasn’t prepared for something so massive which I knew was going to turn my world upside-down.”
Though she declined Eddie’s invitation to move in with him after just weeks together, Mel says that Eddie made her “happier than any man” she’d ever met. She eventually became pregnant with their now 11-year-old daughter, Angel, which she describes as a happy development.
“When I got pregnant with Angel, we jumped around his ensuite bathroom laughing and crying, bursting with the best news ever,” she writes. “My family thought he was great because they had never seen me so completely blissed out. Every day I would wake up and he’d tell me I was the most beautiful, incredible woman. I never felt so loved.”
Despite that, after getting pregnant, Mel “went into shutdown” and “had to get away,” leaving a shocked Eddie behind. Though she didn’t see leaving as a permanent breakup, as she was flying away, Mel says Eddie told a reporter that they weren’t together anymore and that he wasn’t sure the baby was his, something Mel says made her “look like a complete and utter slut.”
“I do not — to this day — have any idea why Eddie would have said those words,” she writes. “It was completely out of character for him to talk about his private life, and it was even more out of character for him to say something so damning and nasty about someone he loved. The question ‘Why?’ has haunted me for more than a decade.”
Eddie went on to miss the birth of his daughter, but, thanks to his mom, reconnected with Angel in May 2017 and is now “a huge part” of her life, something that came as a relief to Mel.
“After planning our wedding and me getting pregnant (something I believed Eddie wanted very much), I had been spectacularly dumped after leaving him for a few days to think about our relationship,” Mel continues. “… Eddie is now a huge part of our daughter Angel’s life. I was devastated for so many reasons. I loved Eddie and I lost him. I am, deep down, a romantic, and — you may be surprised to know — I am also a traditionalist. It killed me that my daughter would not have a father.”
7. She felt “free” after leaving Stephen Belafonte
Mel was married to Stephen from 2007 to 2017 and, in her book, she opens up about the tumultuous relationship.
“In my head, I had to answer to Stephen for everything, account for every second of my day. It was for my own good, he would tell me and I would agree,” she claims. “Even when he was miles away in Los Angeles and I was in the middle of recording ‘The X Factor’ in the studio in Wembley I could feel him everywhere. He would call me to check in on me. What was I eating? What was I wearing? Who was I with? If I was late home from work (and I would often try and be as late as I possibly could) there would be 15 missed calls on my phone from him: ‘Where are you? Call me now.’ Even though Stephen was effectively banned from ‘The X Factor’ studios, (Simon Cowell could not stand him) he made his presence felt everywhere.”
After her suicide attempt, Mel initially decided to leave Stephen. That all changed, she claims, after Dr. Charles Joseph Sophy, a Los Angeles based psychiatrist, flew to London from L.A. to tell her that if she left Stephen, her children could be taken away from her.
“Dr. Sophy explained to me that if I left Stephen now, I would risk losing Madison and possibly lose full custody of all three of my children,” she writes. “I had taken an overdose and Stephen could make that public. Stephen could then say I was not mentally stable enough to care for my children, that he’d had to take Madison home to America because he didn’t trust me to have her in my care.”
Eventually, Mel walked away from Stephen, though it didn’t come without its own sacrifices.
“By November 2017, as part of a mediation settlement, I agreed to drop domestic violence charges in order for all the 64 sex tapes he had made during our marriage not to be shown in open court,” she reveals. “I couldn’t deal with it anymore, I couldn’t deal with him anymore. If they were shown then they would enter the public domain. Such are the deals we make. Looking back now that was a deal I regret.”
Despite being generally sexually open, Mel says the tapes “traumatized” her and became something she couldn’t fathom letting into the public eye.
“I have no memory of some of the sexual situations I have seen myself in on video. I am frightened when I see myself in some of these videos. I have seen myself used sexually in a way that I did not enjoy or want,” she writes. “…There were hours of them. And there were not only sex tapes, they were videos Stephen had made on his phone when I was visibly so out of it… Phoenix was in a few of them, dragged in to see her mother in a state. I saw her face. I saw my face. I didn’t recognize it. This wasn’t me.”
Stephen has previously denied Mel’s abuse claims. In a statement to ET last April, Stephen’s lawyer called the allegations “outrageous and unfounded.”
“What matters most to Mr. Belafonte is the safety and well-being of his daughters and step-daughters,” the statement read. “It’s a shame that Ms. Brown elected not to proceed in a respectful and amicable fashion in this very private matter. In due course, Mr. Belafonte will be filing his response to the outrageous and unfounded allegations made by Ms. Brown, which allegations he vehemently denies.”
“When the Court determines the truth, it will become clear that this entire charade was nothing more than a smear campaign intended to cover up Ms. Brown’s own conduct during the marriage in light of her current involvement with a family television show, and in an effort to unfairly gain leverage both financially and with respect to custody of the children,” the statement continued. “When the degree to which Ms. Brown has gone to create a false depiction of her marriage to Mr. Belafonte is uncovered, real victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse will be understandably offended, angry and upset.”
“Mr. Belafonte is confident that the truth will come out when he has his day in court at which time he looks forward to being reunited with his children,” the statement concluded.
Regarding the sex tapes, Belafonte’s lawyer told TMZ in April that, “[Mel B] herself put her sexual trysts and the like at issue by alleging that [Belafonte] allegedly videotaped and/or recorded such conduct and forced her to have sexual relations, etc.”
Even with the emotional turmoil, Mel “was happy” to be out of the marriage.
“When I left Stephen, I walked away with nothing but $936 in a bank account (the only one I had access to) and suitcases full of clothes, books and toys. I didn’t care. I was happy. My kids were happy,” she writes in the book. “I put on my music full blast (sorry to my neighbours) and danced around my house, which was decorated in a very over-the-top Versace style — not my style at all. But I was free.”
Watch the video for more with Mel B: