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into the weird

Katie Manzella Is Too Real for Cable Television

Katie Manzella grew up in the Playboy Mansion, went to rehab for a teenage meth addiction, and claims she has seen a UFO. Somehow, she's now a successful comedian and a certified crystal healer. I called Katie to find out how she was still alive.

Sophie Saint Thomas

Sophie Saint Thomas

Images courtesy of Katie Manzella

About a year ago, I was working on the production team of a late-night talk show pilot when I overheard one of the guests make a vulgar joke. “I make jokes about sucking dick, because that's what's real,” the guest later told me. “Last night, I had a cock in my mouth.”

Her name is Katie Manzella, and she is the type of comedian who is “too real” for cable television—after the pilot wrapped and the crew cleared the set of empty martini glasses, the editors cut many of Katie’s jokes because they were too dirty. While not all of Katie’s scenes made the pilot, her jokes stuck with me.  She turned me on and stole my filthy heart with her uninhibited banter, and over the past year, I've followed Katie’s career and made an effort to learn more about her past.

A Los Angeles native, Katie spent part of her childhood at the Playboy Mansion, because her mother, a Playmate nicknamed Baby Blue, was Hugh Hefner's girlfriend. After being complimented on her comedic methods of turning down losers at LA bars, Katie began performing stand-up comedy three years ago. These days, in addition to Katie’s regular stand-up performances, she does a podcast, The Ding Dong Show, at LA’s Comedy Store every Monday night, performs at The Indigo Children Comedy Hour at Echoes Under Sunset with her partner in crime Lauren Brenner, and works as a certified crystal healer.

Surprisingly, Katie credits her comedy career to earlier experiences with drugs. Although drugs landed Katie in rehab during her teen years and have gotten Katie arrested, she believes they also led to her destiny. As someone who has openly discussed my struggles with drugs and alcohol, I found Katie’s ideas intriguing. This week, I spoke to Katie about her more memorable chemically induced moments and asked her how these events have influenced her career as a comic and certified crystal healer. 

Katie dressed as Paris Hilton around the time of her DUI.

VICE: Why were you sent to rehab during high school? 
Katie Manzella: I ended up in rehab after a long battle with Adderall, cocaine, and meth. I was detained at a party for being really drunk and ended up in the hospital. I had recently been suspended from school for drinking, and my parents finally put me into rehab. It helped for a little, but crystals and my multidimensional travels have really been my life savers. 

Shortly after you left rehab, you got a DUI. How did you end up back in trouble?
My friend from a town called Ojai, where I lived for a few years, came to visit for the weekend. At this time in life, my conscious wasn't equipped with the knowledge that drunk driving was an issue—I also resembled Paris Hilton. Since everyone told me I looked like Paris and I was only 18 years old, I said I was her cousin to get into a bar. Naturally, I was hungry after all the alcohol I consumed, so I drove to a diner. Luckily for me, a nice cop who looked like Pee-wee Herman pulled me over. When he asked me if I had been drinking, I denied that I had been, although there was no mistaking my intoxication. Once they got me into my holding cell, I realized that I was bleeding.

Had you hurt yourself?
No. It was period blood. I asked for Pee-wee to please get me a tampon—anything, even a paper towel. My request was denied time and time again. Even when I said I would stop calling him Pee-wee, I was denied. As Pee-wee walked away and I realized he wasn't going to come back with my simple request, I took it upon myself to take care of the issue at hand. I wrote, “FUCK THE POLICE” with my period blood on the wall of my holding cell. That’s how you get a paper towel at the West Hollywood Sheriff Department.

That's intense. Did the DUI experience change you and your substance use?
My DUI taught me I'm not invincible. I may be limitless, but there are consequences to your actions when you're having the human experience. There are certain laws I must adhere to other than the laws of the universe. It was one of the worst nights of life, but it had to happen or else I would have ended up being in an even worse experience. After the DUI I continued on a downward spiral and I started smoking meth again, but it turned out to be my last battle with meth. After I hallucinated demons and called the cops on myself, I ended up in the hospital. So it was a hard lesson, but it made me (literally) face my demons and become less self destructive.

You're older now, you no longer dress like Paris Hilton, and you no longer use stimulants. What's it like to live less self-destructively?
I have been leading a more conscious and very healthy lifestyle after a number of powerful hallucinogenic experiences over the past few years. I recently became a certified crystal alchemist—my number one focus isn't stand-up, so I do some comedy, meditate daily, eat organic, do yoga, [and explore] nature and the metaphysical side of life. It's my way of bringing more light into the Earth.

Will you tell me about one of your powerful hallucinogenic experiences that led you to become more conscious?
l took shrooms and saw my first UFO. I was in a beam of light that shown down from the craft. I have no memory about what happened but emerged from the light feeling healed and awakened. I am an illuminated being of light and whether it be stand-up or crystal healing, it's my way of bringing more light into the Earth.

@TheBowieCat