Norwood Young, the singer who became notorious for his multiple plastic surgeries and outlandish home on E! Entertainment Television’s “High Maintenance 90210” a few years back is finally telling the story behind his story — and it’s a moving one. He stresses that his former drive to change his face had nothing to do with not wanting to look black; he’s proud to be African American. It had to do with years of childhood sexual abuse.
“Keeping this a secret, it manifested into drug abuse. It manifested into psychosis. It manifested into self-mutilation in the form of more than 15 plastic surgery procedures,” says Young.
“I had the voice of my cousin in my head saying, ‘Shut up! It’s supposed to hurt. You’re a pretty boy,’ so I didn’t want to look like that, didn’t want to look like myself. I don’t like my eyes, I don’t like my cheeks. I would just change this stuff. And I was able to mask the reality with these idiosyncrasies in a show business community where they’re not only accepted, but admired.”
“The King of Hancock Park,” so named for his high-profile legal battle to remain in the area, became more well-known for his excessive lifestyle than for the vocal talent that had gotten him onto Broadway and into recording studios. He surrounded his house with an over-abundance of statuary. His partying often included known names.
Two turning points, years apart, led him toward healing. One was seeing an Oprah Winfrey Show segment on childhood sexual abuse that made him realize just what had happened to him. The second was reading negative online comments about his appearance on E! — particularly a viewer who wrote that he’d keep his children away from Norwood because he looked “dark and demonic.”
“I am anything but dark and demonic,” Norwood says now. “I’m all about love. I have a non-profit organization to feed the homeless. My music is all about love.” The awakening led him to break his drug and alcohol habits, and started him on the road to restoring his original handsome appearance through reconstructive surgeries. He recently underwent a final operation that involved the recreation of his nose utilizing his own rib cartilage.
He admits that when he announced that he would no longer be drinking or doing drugs, “I lost about 65 per cent of my friends. It hurt, but it was a good part of the process. The friends who were my real friends were very supportive.”
Norwood, who has told his story in his new “Getting Back to My Me…The Chronicles of Norwood Young” memoir, has now become a Spokesman for The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Earlier this week, he says he received word from California State Assemblyman Isadore Hall that he is going to sponsor a bill at Norwood’s suggestion “to make April into Domestic Abuse Prevention Month. It’s a start. I’m hoping my story will help others,” says the artist, who’s also singing again these days. “Not everyone is insane enough to cut their face up and blessed enough to be able to put it back together.”