The Associated Press caught up with Rodney King to talk about his televised battle against alcohol and drug demons as part of VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab,” which premiered its second season last night.
“Every day I wake up with a beer is a good day,” says King, whose 1991 beating by Los Angeles police led to deadly rioting the next year when the officers on trial were acquitted.
King is among eight famous people set to face their addictions on the reality show’s new season. Actors Jeff Conaway, Gary Busey, Amber Smith and Tawny Kitaen are hooked on opiate painkillers; King and former “American Idol” finalist Nikki McKibbin deal with drug and alcohol dependencies; and rockers Sean Stewart and Steven Adler struggle to stay away from street drugs, prescription pills and alcohol.
King calls his participation on the show and newfound sobriety “a blessing.” He sat down with the AP to discuss his experience with on-camera rehabilitation.
AP: How do TV cameras affect treatment?
King: It felt like I was, in one way, helping a generation before me and a generation coming up after me, to let them see a good, fairly decent human being struggle with this disease. After a while, I didn’t even really notice the cameras. I threw that out of my mind and just focused on me and what I was there for. What I was there for was to help myself, and at the same time I knew that by me being upfront with this thing that other people would see and they might think, ‘It’s not so embarrassing, let me go get myself some help.’
AP: How does it affect the dynamic to be a public figure who isn’t a performer?
King: I’m a simple guy. They were so nice and so welcoming, I just felt like part of the fellowship being among them. They were really encouraging. I was very happy and very lucky to be around so many successful people who are struggling with whatever they’re going through. To see them front their problems right there on camera, it made it a lot easier on me.
AP: How was your “Celebrity Rehab” experience?
King: It was a real positive experience, just getting myself to be alert again and dealing with life on life’s terms. It was a good experience to face some demons… It just felt good to have people still out there rooting for me and giving me the strength and the encouragement to go get some help.