Why This Olympic-Athlete-Turned-High-End-Escort Is Telling Her Story

Image: Courtesy of Harper Collins.
The story seemed almost too tabloid-ready to be true. In 2012, the investigative website The Smoking Gun broke the news that three-time Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton was leading two lives: a public one as Suzy, former Olympian, happily married mother and real estate agent, and a second, secret one as "Kelly Lundy," one of the most expensive and sought-after escorts in Las Vegas. Three years on, Hamilton is telling the story her way, with her new memoir, Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness, in which she details with disarming frankness her spiral from "America's sweetheart" to suicidal sufferer of bipolar disorder. "I was perceived as almost the perfect girl," Hamilton told us in a recent interview. "Nobody is perfect, but I tried to live up to that persona. I tried to be what everybody wanted me to be."

After Hamilton's bipolar disorder was misdiagnosed as depression, she was prescribed medication that intensified her mania and led to hypersexuality and increasingly risky behavior — factors that Hamilton says contributed to her frenzied push to become the most desired call girl in Vegas, with her husband's knowledge but against his wishes. (Hamilton is careful to specify that she does not believe that sex work is a sign of mental illness.) "Naturally, my rise up the [escort] ranks had been fast," Hamilton writes in Fast Girl. "But not fast enough for me, of course." After "Kelly Lundy" was outed, Hamilton was finally correctly diagnosed with bipolar and has since focused on repairing her health and family relationships — as well as sharing her experiences to combat the stigma of mental illness. We spoke with Hamilton about her book, her days as an escort, and her road to recovery.

Nobody is perfect, but I tried to live up to that persona. I tried to be what everybody wanted me to be.

Photo: Courtesy Of Daniel Acuna.
Why do you think there was so much vitriol in reaction to the Smoking Gun story? You've talked about the incredible hate mail and public censure that you and your family received after it came out.
"I think it's just because it was so bizarre, people couldn’t get a handle on how this could happen. It was so shocking and I, at the time, I had a hard time, like, why is it such a big deal? And now that I'm healthy, I can see, yeah, it's very shocking, especially coming from the person I was... I became a different person who is going to do whatever she wanted to do and feel no consequences whatsoever.

"Somebody [asked me], 'Do you think you were a badass?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I think Kelly was a badass — but she was a friendly badass.' She wasn’t a mean person. She was really friendly, but she did think she was pretty darn cool.

"And I can talk in the third. I never talked in the third person in my entire life, but I can talk about her in the third person because she was a different person."

Of course, many sex workers enjoy their jobs and don't experience internal conflict over them — what's your take on the difference?
"Everybody has their own reason why they are in that industry. For me, it was to feed my mania... Some are doing it for the money, some are doing it because they enjoy it, some unfortunately are being forced into it. You know, so many different reasons... Being bipolar and being an escort, I couldn’t just be a regular escort. I had to take it to the next level... I had to do crazier and crazier things to get the high. So I'm actually going to take it to a level of, okay, let's overdose on drugs to make this experience even better. Let's have sex on the golf course, on the golf carts... I was going to kill myself, is what was going to happen."
Why did you decide to write Fast Girl?
"When I was outed, I felt so misunderstood. I was so unhealthy, but I was in this state of denial that anything was even wrong with me, and I'm like, I'm writing a book immediately, and I'm going to tell people that I'm okay and I'm this and I'm... I didn’t know who I even was at that point, because I was this different personality. And so I actually signed with this man to write a book — you know, all the vultures come after you when your story first comes out...and it never developed, because I was in therapy and I was in no place to tell my story, because I didn’t even know my story."

Being bipolar and being an escort, I couldn’t just be a regular escort... I had to do crazier and crazier things to get the high.

What do you wish more people knew about bipolar?
"People haven't been ever given a handbook on bipolar and what to look out for... The behaviors are an incredible amount of energy, not needing much sleep, eating less...excessive spending...risky sexual behavior... These are things that we need to communicate and talk about, so if somebody is having these behaviors...and even questioning why they're doing it, they can speak up to a doctor."
How did you feel when you were diagnosed?
"When the doctor was listing the signs, and when I started reading about it, I'm like, That’s me. That really is me. And it brought some relief that things made sense. I know, [for] my husband, it made him totally get me. He was like, Oh, my God, I've seen this my whole life. All these behaviors are making sense now to me. I get it. He really dove into focusing on my disease instead of the behavior that stemmed from the disease. Like, a lot of husbands would have a hard time getting over the sex... He chose to focus on the illness and stay with me and work at the marriage and work at my illness, which you have to commend."
What's next for you?
"There are so many things I want to do, but I also have to work on myself and I know that comes first. And treating my bipolar and managing it, sticking with a routine...and obviously my daughter is our love and our priority... We just adore her, and want to be the best people we can be for her... I want to be the mother, the role model...that I've always wanted to be, and show her that there's nothing to be ashamed of with mental illness and that [her] mom is not perfect and she never will be. And that Kylie, my daughter, never has to be perfect."

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