Actress, artist, bizarro style icon and now author Julia Fox is one of those polarizing pop-culture figures who tends to inspire adoration, endless eye-rolls or nothing in between, and last year, when she declared that she was writing a book that was sure to be a “masterpiece,” the scoffs came thick and fast. Whatever—the girls who get it get it, and “the girlies love the vibes, and that’s just what it’s about.”
Fox’s book, Down the Drain, has finally arrived, and though she’d previously demurred on whether the work is fictional or a memoir, instead saying, “it’s just like, my first book,” the 336-page tome ends up playing out as a gripping, largely chronological account of Fox’s life from childhood up through the brief fling with Kanye West that cemented her tabloid notoriety.
“A lot of things didn’t happen at the time I said they did,” Fox told The New York Times in September. “They happened at a different time, but I wrote them into that one scene because it doesn’t matter. It’s still the truth.”
Whether the book is a masterpiece for the ages is a call that will be made by readers en masse, but, taking Fox at her word that everything in Down the Drain is essentially true, the book is certainly harrowing, achingly sad at times, and a narcotics-soaked shock to the system. It’s also impossible to put down.
By the story’s end, you’ll be amazed that its author survived so many overdoses (several on heroin), brutal frights (some initiated by her), and broken relationships to tell the tale, let alone become a Hollywood star—a sentiment that Fox shares.
Let’s just get the whole Kanye thing out of the way up front.
West, referred to in the book as “the artist,” pursued Fox: He asked a mutual friend if they could pass along her number, and despite exhaustion stemming from the birth of her son and her relationship with her volatile now-ex husband, Fox agreed to meet up. Their courtship began at a New Year’s Eve party in Miami, where their “eyes lock and a jolt of electricity runs through me,” Fox writes.
West asks to take their relationship public at a dinner date the very next day and, while she balks, photos of the pair end up splashed across Page Six anyway.
Soon afterwards, West provides a fleet of designer outfits for Fox to choose from so they can attend Slave Play together, and she catches a first glimpse of his controlling behavior: “I’ll get you a boob job, if you want,” West tells Fox. She declines to sign an NDA that would prevent her from speaking about their time together—as evidenced by her recent confession to the Times that “there, like, wasn’t any” sex in their relationship.
Kim Kardashian is (allegedly) partially responsible for their split.
As Fox despairs when West criticizes her outfit choice at a Supreme photo shoot, she cracks a molar chewing gum and realizes she’s “falling apart.” By the time her awkward birthday party is over, Fox is done with West and tells him so.
West responds by saying he had a “good conversation with his soon-to-be-ex-wife”—Kim Kardashian, obviously—“and discovered a lot of information about [you].”
“I didn’t know you were a drug addict,” Fox says West told her, and with that, Fox tells her publicist to tell the press they’re through. Shortly after, a multi-million dollar deal with an Italian denim brand that West had set up for Fox mysteriously evaporates.
“I learned very quickly that I was being weaponized,” against Kardashian, Fox told The Los Angeles Times last month. “I just felt like his little puppet.”
The odds were stacked against Fox from the beginning.
The Uncut Gems star writes of a childhood marred by physically and verbally abusive parents who were largely indifferent to her well-being. When she was around 6 years old, Fox’s father began an ongoing affair with her best friend Mia’s mother; Fox learned of the affair by accident when she walked in on the adults kissing.
When Fox told her mother of the infidelity, “she backed my dad into a corner as she yanked every glass picture frame off the wall, one by one, and smashed it over his head,” Fox writes. “We were swimming in a sea of glass.”
The chaos has just begun—Fox, born in Italy, ping-pongs back and forth from one continent to another through her adolescence, losing her virginity at the age of 14 to a 23-year-old creep named Giovanni who drives her to abandoned churches to have sex.
She somehow survived several narcissistic boyfriends from hell (not named Kanye).
Fox impulsively abandons her high school on the southern tip of Lake Como to reunite with her boyfriend Ace, a monstrously abusive MySpace celebrity who ends up jailed on Rikers Island, in New York City.
The story of Fox’s first encounter with this demon plays like a romantic nightmare: They take ecstasy at a party, and under the influence of the drug, “forget there’s an audience and have sex like we are the last two people on earth and the human race depends on it.” By the end of the night, Ace and Julia have tattooed one another’s names on their arms and he’s swearing he’ll marry her one day.
Of course, his insidious love-bombing soon transforms into a drugged-out pattern of violence that culminates in Fox’s entrapment in Ace’s basement apartment. The darkness of what she endured is overwhelming, and that’s not even counting the controlling billionaire boyfriend she meets later, or the lover-turned-abuser Fox starts seeing behind the billionaire’s back.
Fox urinated on her first client at a dominatrix dungeon in New York City.
Growing up, Fox’s stunning looks made her an object of perpetual, inappropriate male desire and a target for bullying, but they also eventually won her a spot in a dingy dominatrix dungeon in NYC, where, for the first time, she achieves something like easy success.
Attending to her first client, “an old man” who hires Fox to urinate on him and smoke cigarettes in his face, she correctly intuits his “obvious queerness,” and fulfills a previously hidden desire.
“I realize that part of this job is reading between the lines,” Fox writes. “I have to know what they want before they’ve even come to terms with it.”
She really was Josh Safdie’s muse when he made Uncut Gems.
Fox clearly applied her knack for anticipating an audience’s needs to her breakout role in the anxiety-riddled Uncut Gems, the story of a manic gambler and his ride-or-die girlfriend. Hers was a part for which many big-name actresses were considered, but which clearly belonged to Fox all along.
Anyone else would have turned a character who’s screaming at her lover outside a nightclub in one moment, then tattooing his name on her ass the next, into a cartoon. But Fox is breathlessly believable as “Julia” because she’s lived it—all of it, several times over.