From the all-new Manband off ITV’s The Big Reunion, we get an exclusive chat with Kavana, before the show’s finale. On a crackly line, somewhere in an alleyway off Regent Street – a wind-swept 90’s heartthrob talks about Donatella Versace, Coming Out 2014 style, self-sabotage drinking and how he sometimes wants to smack Andi Peter’s in the mouth.
How does it feel to be back?
It’s very surreal, I’m absolutely enjoying it this time round, it’s crazy, it’s very very surreal. Obviously I’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster journey on the show, but I’m just blown over, surprisingly by the public support that I’ve had. – Especially as things are edited in a certain way, and you can be put up in a certain light.
It’s a TV show, that’s what you sign up for. It’s kind of a bit of a soap opera. I did what I did – they can’t put in what didn’t happen. So it’s been crazy watching it back.
What’s it like watching yourself on TV after all this time?
Sometimes it’s fine, sometimes I’m hiding behind the sofa. Sometimes I don’t watch it because I know what’s coming up.
Did you know that the producers of the show, would heavily feature on the drinking episode, ensuing drama and aftermath?
You know what, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into and I think part of me, I would say, did it on purpose; but the self-sabotage comes out. I think at the back of my mind I think I knew it was going to happen, so I thought ‘lets get it over and done with’. It’s been harsh to watch. But I think a part of me that did it on purpose. Part of me made myself do that.
So what happened when Adam Rickitt try to reach out to you – and you had your fabulous, “They’re f**king lucky to have me” dramz?
Well I was just coming back from the pub at 10 o’clock to find a camera crew and Adam Rickitt outside my hotel room waiting for my arrival. I was pissed off. I was like: ‘Come in, come in… What do you want?’
Did you know at the time where it was going ? Did it feel like being like a lamb led to the slaughter…
Yes, that’s why I just thought let’s rack it up. Let’s give ‘em a good ending here. Toys out of pram, magazine thrown to the floor… Cut.
We love that you’ve managed to make it the Kavana show!
Is drinking a problem for you?
What they didn’t show on that particular day is that I had received some pretty bad news, my mum is poorly with Alzheimers. I had a very weak moment. I just hit the bottle, obviously it was right in the middle of rehearsals and on camera.
My mum’s in a care home. It’s pretty tough because I can’t call her because it confuses her. So I’ve gone from speaking to my mum everyday to just not speaking to her – maybe once a month, because it gets her very confused. She doesn’t understand who I am. It’s kind of hard, but it is what it is. When I do see her I make sure we have quality time. I have a tendency to self-sabotage, if something good is about to happen a part of me tries to sabotage it.
What’s the aftercare like when the record industry moves on?
There was no aftercare. You’re just dumped. I was lucky to begin with because I got paid off from the record company. I wasn’t actually dropped. They made a mistake. Virgin basically got all messed up, well not messed up, but because the Spice Girls were on the same label a lot of the team moved to the states. My A&R left. They missed the date to say ‘you can’t have the next record deal’. They owed it me in the end. We went to court over it. They paid me x amount and that’s when I took the money and ran to America.
When I moved to America it was definitely a leap – that’s when I went full steam ahead.
How did Los Angeles treat you?
It was amazing to begin with, I had an apartment on Sunset Boulevard, I had the agent, I had the management. I was going for auditions with Warner Brothers, I was in a soap opera for a little bit, but the dream out there is everybody’s. You go into a café and the waiters are all actors. There’s a lot of competition
How does it feel to be singing those songs again?
To be honest with you, I was sick of singing I Can Make You Feel Good. I’ve gone from singing it – back in the day – in Arenas and TV shows to pubs to make a living. Everyone wants to hear that song, so I ended up hating it, but I’m actually loving it this time round. They’ve totally reinvented it, they gave it a different feel and with the other guys on it is great to have them there.
Have you bonded with the guys well?
I think me and Adam have bonded really well. But everyone is so different – I take the hat of being a looney tune, I have my moments – Gareth’s a bit of a Jack-the-lad – Kenzie’s very dry, but a genuine guy…
So email a very 2014 way to come out to the lads of 5th Story!
Well I was out to my family and friends, but I’ve not done anything in the public eye worth to even talk about it. It was old news to me, but this show is about your story. It was important. I just wanted to lay my cards on the table.
Adam is very good at the group email thing, coming from his MP’s background – everyone CC’d in. We were day 4 into rehearsals and it was just getting more awkward and awkward. ‘Are you seeing anyone Kav? – Are you married’? I just couldn’t get the words out as ridiculous as that sounds.
Kenzie still doesn’t believe I’m gay for whatever reason. I could turn up singing The Wizard Of Oz in ruby slippers and he’d be like: ‘You’re not gay’. Adam was like ‘I knew it, I knew it…’ and I was like ‘you can’t talk – you’re the campest one of the group!’ So there was a lot of banter, but it was fine… Every group needs a gay don’t they!
You were having a heart to heart with one of the girls from Girl Thing in The Big Reunion and you said, you didn’t want people to judge you because they haven’t walked in your shoes. What moment would you want people to walk in?
Wow. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through a bad time on my part, but you can have two instances: One is signing a £500,000 deal, buying a house for your parents, feeling absolutely elated. 6 – 7 years later having to borrow 50p to put in the phone box to call the mortgage company to say that you’re going to agree to them to repossess your house- and you have to tell your Mum and Dad that they can no longer live in the house and be just absolutely pot less. I remember walking around in a circle in Leicester Square thinking: I’ve got to tell my Mum and Dad, who are now in their 60s that they’ve got nowhere to live. From one extreme to the other.
How did you deal with that extreme?
It was the worst time. It was horrendous. The worst stress ever. And that was the trigger for when I went… You know…. Off the rails.
How did you get back on track?
I think it’s a working progress. I’m not perfect – absolutely not, but keeping going, putting one foot in front of the other. My father has passed away, but I’m lucky to have his mindset. He was very much the glass is half full. I always had faith it would turn around. I just kept knocking on doors. Keep trying and keep trying…
If you were going to write an autobiography what would you call it?
I don’t think I’m famous enough to write an autobiography, but I have started writing a book, and the working title at the moment is called: Smashed Hits: Misadventures in Pop. I’m on chapter three at the minute. It ‘s like more memoirs. The first chapter I wrote is called Donatella Nobody… It involved me at Donatella Versaces house in the late 90s in Milan at a party – and she was talking to me and an incident took place and came close to me and whispered in me ear: Don-ta-Tell-a Nobody… (Laughs) I remember that party very well, jumping on the bed with Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss…
What do you make of Andi Peter’s voiceovers?
Slightly annoying… but you can’t not love Andi Peters. He’s so nostalgic. He know exactly what he’s doing.
Sometimes I think it’s funny, sometimes I want to punch him in the face!
The Big Reunion Continues tonight on ITV2 at 9:00PM & Kavana appears on Celebrity Juice, with Keith Lemon straight after. The full interview will appear in the next edition of TheGayUK out on 6th April 2014