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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > 298 > The American nightmare

The American nightmare

A documentary sheds new light on Whitney Houston’s desperate — and ultimately tragic — struggles
Photography Leon Csernohlavek

Whitney

Patricia Houston’s happiest memories of her sister-in-law Whitney are the occasions on which the singer phoned to wish her well. “Every holiday or birthday,” she says, “she was always the first person to call to say happy anniversary or birthday. It makes you feel wonderful.”

For Lisa Erspamer, meanwhile, memories of Whitney are dotted mostly with humour, having first met the global superstar while brokering interviews at her day job on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

“What I learned about Whitney is how funny she was. How she had this incredible sense of humour that I don’t think people would necessarily know unless they’d been around her,” Lisa explains.

The two women smile at one another. “To know her is to tell her story,” says Patricia. And what a story it is. Whitney Houston begat a whole industry of power-divas — Mariah Carey, Beyoncé and a thousand lesser imitators who audition for talent shows -- who, without her, would probably look and sound like diff erent propositions altogether.

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About Attitude

QUEER EYE! Five-cover special issue. Plus: Bette Midler on why ageist and sexist Hollywood won’t bring back the cast of Hocus Pocus for a sequel, Whitney Houston’s secret childhood trauma, Drag Race All Stars Shangela, and the shocking reality behind the Truth Project.