Director Nick Broomfield’s Whitney Houston documentary titled Whitney: Can I Be Me, airs August 25th on Showtime, and the narrative explores the “fairy tale” about her life that was constructed by her record label and maintained by her family, Page Six reports.
“It’s a fairy tale,” co-director Rudi Dolezal told The Post. “The idea that Whitney was a great girl until Bobby came along is simply not true. Whitney took drugs and smoked weed a long time before she could even spell ‘Bobby Brown.’
The documentary tells the story of Houston’s extraordinary life and tragic death. It’s comprised of previously unseen 1999 tour footage shot by Dolezal and newer interviews with Whitney’s friends and family. The film also peels back the flawless image of the singer.
Asked by Broomfield in the film about how Whitney was marketed to white America, Arista’s former vice president of R&B promotion Tony Anderson replied, “put the past behind [her] and don’t focus on it. And that’s what we did.”
She was from the ’hood,” explained Dolezal. In the film, her friends remember a Whitney who could be classy but also very street savvy.
“They [Whitney and her two brothers] did drugs,” recalls Ellin LaVar, Whitney’s longtime friend and stylist, in the documentary. “It was the thing you do. You go out, you party, you drink, you do a little drugs. Everybody did it. And her brothers gave it to her. It was just something you do to have fun.”
In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Nippy’s brother Michael Houston confessed to getting her started on cocaine in her late teens. “At the time, the ’80s, it was acceptable . . . [drugs] wasn’t a bad word like it is now.”
Houston met Bobby Brown in 1989 at the Soul Train Awards, where she was booed and many in her inner circle believed it to be a backlash against the whitewashing of her image and music.
“Someone [was] hitting me on the back of the head, and I turned around and it was Whitney Houston,” Brown told MTV in 2009. “She was trying to get my attention, because I was fly.”
“When they met, Bobby was the bigger star. A lot of women wanted to f – – k him, full stop,” said Dolezal.
Their chemistry was immediate primarily because Bobby represented a part of Whitney’s life that had been suppressed for years.
“Bobby was street, Bobby was ’hood, Bobby had swag,” Doug Daniel, then a member of Arista’s R&B promotion team, says in the film. “They came from a similar culture.”
The arrival of Bobby wasn’t the beginning of Whitney’s downward spiral, as it has long been framed, but it did create tension — most especially with Whitney’s childhood friend Robyn Crawford (who was also rumored to be Houston’s longtime lover).
“Everyone always thought that Robyn was [Whitney’s] boss or manager,” recalled Dolezal, who first interviewed her for Austrian TV in 1985. “Whitney trusted her with everything — the way she looked, the lighting, the way she was sitting, everything. [Crawford] gave her security.”
When Brown and Whitney hooked up, their relationship helped dispel rumors about her sexuality but created other problems behind the scenes.
“It was obvious that there was tension between Bobby and Robyn,” said Dolezal.
The only time Crawford has spoken about Whitney’s death was to Esquire in 2012, when she attempted to dispel rumors that it was Bobby who corrupted Whitney and led her astray.
“People thought they had to protect her,” said Crawford. “She hated that. And that’s what people don’t understand . . . She did what she wanted to do.”
PHOTOS: Showtime screenshots
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