It is a truth universally acknowledged that almost everyone secretly watches My Strange Addiction. While it’s not something we’d necessarily brag about, it can’t be denied-- My Strange Addiction is downright addicting, and thus has a plethora of fans who eagerly binge watch its episodes. What are we supposed to do? Not watch people eat rocks? What are we, the Pope?
Unfortunately, the reality TV show has some darkness behind the scenes secrets that its producers and cast would much rather fans not finding out about (which isn’t uncommon, sadly enough).
Sometimes these scandals are woven into the foundation of the show itself — like the reputability of the host and the practices of the crew — but sometimes they focus on what goes on after the cameras stop rolling behind the scenes, even after the show ended back in 2015.
Here are the 15 Dark Secrets From My Strange Addiction You Had No Idea About.
15 My Strange Addiction Jr?
My Strange Addiction is often accused of being exploitative of people with mental illnesses. What could possibly be even more exploitive than using people with mental illnesses to get views? Using children with mental illnesses, which has come to pass and aired on TLC for your viewing enjoyment.
The show in question, called My Kid’s Obsession, is an hour-long presentation that went live in December of 2016, and was probably inspired by the success of My Strange Addition.
The special spotlighted five children who spent years collecting some pretty bizarre things. Among the featured kids were 11-year-old Reese from Wisconsin, who had amassed a huge amount of electric fans, and Shelby from Oklahoma, who was 10 at the time and owned thousands of cockroaches.
While there’s nothing wrong with collecting vacuum cleaners or a record-holding amount of fishing lures, one can only imagine that internet trolls as well as classmates/peers who tuned in may have been pretty cruel to these children in the aftermath.
14 April Bucker might be faking her puppet addiction
April Bucker and her career as a ventriloquist took off after she appeared on My Strange Addiction for her supposed puppet addiction. She even went on to appear on The Today Show!, where she continued to speak out about her problem.
On her episode of My Strange Addiction, she went as far as to say that her ex-fiancé made her choose between him and the puppets... and she chose the puppets. However, a longtime personal acquaintance told Gawker another tale.
“Basically,” the unnamed source said, “she has scammed TLC into believing she has this addiction when in fact this is a typical and sad attempt on her part to get fame, fortune, and above all, attention.”
This might be a peer caught in a fit of jealousy, but Bucker’s own blog says that she and her fiancé actually broke up because he had cheated on her with an ex-girlfriend, so there may be some shred of truth to these claims.
13 The living Ken doll almost lost his nose to plastic surgery-related gangrene
After several hundred dollars worth of cosmetic surgery and going under the knife 42 times, Rodrigo Alvez made the news in 2016 due to his nose, which had become at risk of necrosis. The necrosis was from new cartilage being rejected by Alvez’ body after surgery.
If the infection had progressed, doctors likely would have had to amputate his nose to avoid the spread of gangrene. “The infection is eating my nose,” he said at the time to the Daily Mail.
After the ordeal, he lost a considerable part of his nose. However, it eventually managed to heal, though now it is significantly smaller. Alvez, who is a reality TV star in his native Brazil, is currently safe despite the fact that he is still undergoing a rolling barrage of plastic surgeries in his spare time.
His latest surgery binge was estimated at 35 thousand British pounds; in July he was reportedly still waiting for his new chin to arrive in the mail.
12 Yani Williams' online harassment
While cyber bullying of those who appeared on My Strange Addiction is nothing new, Yani Williams felt it much more than most. After appearing on the show, the woman addicted to growing out her fingernails to seemingly impossible lengths has spoken out about the harassment and bullying she received after her episode aired and she was catapulted into the spotlight.
“People say that [I’m] nasty ... the ugliest person in the world,” she said in an interview with Houston Press in 2016. Despite becoming an official entry into “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!,” as well as being objectified by men with “long-nail fetishes," Williams has overcome with the help of some other women who are also fond of growing out their nails incredibly long.
However, the ongoing harassment that she has endured since she starred on the show has some lasting impacts.
11 Is eating your husbands ashes technically cannibalism?
Meet Casie, the woman addicted to eating her dead husband’s ashes. When her husband died suddenly from a severe asthma attack, Casie started carrying his ashes wherever she went. She took the urn to the movies, out shopping, and even prepared two servings of food each night — one for her, one for the box of ashes.
Then one day, she got some of the ash on her hands and licked it off-- the rest is history. Now she can't stop herself from eating her husband’s cremated remains. Aside from the harmful chemicals she may be ingesting and the unhealthy psychological ramifications of what she is doing, the jury is still out on whether eating another person's ashes is illegal or not.
Cannibalism is a controversial and incredibly stigmatized topic-- one that doesn't even appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). While her method is less gory than some, it can’t be denied that what Casie is doing is cannibalism.
Additionally, though there is an argument for consensual cannibalism, her husband probably didn’t explicitly consent to her eating him so what she’s doing is desecration of a body, at the very least. Should such a controversial situation be exploited on television for profit? Probably not.
10 Trisha Paytas’ fame due to her addiction
Trisha Paytas appeared in the 2010 pilot of My Strange Addiction. She had an intense addiction to tanning, which has since launched her illustrious career of being professionally controversial. Over the last seven years, Paytas has spent a lot of time in the limelight becoming tangled up in controversy again and again.
She speaks candidly on camera as a social media influencer for her followers, who number in the millions. She has spoken out about her past as a call girl, her sexual kinks, her anti-feminist beliefs, her near-death drug experiences, and has even filmed the 100 layers challenge with sexual lubricant.
Her most recent stint as a cast member on Celebrity Big Brother this year was cut short when she quit on August 11th (despite not being “evicted”) after a very dramatic breakdown and confrontation with the other cast mates.
To many fans it is clear that rather than help her deal with her issues, My Strange Addiction only propelled her into fame and thus aiding in bringing her to her breaking point.
9 Justin Bieber lookalike tragic death
Toby Sheldon was known on My Strange Addiction for being “addicted to looking like Justin Bieber” — in other words, he had undergone more than $100,000 worth of plastic surgery in hopes of making himself look more and more like famous singer and former teen idol. These surgeries included at least six hair transplants, liposuction, lip lifts, fillers, fat injections, and more.
As a result of these eccentric surgeries, Sheldon appeared on My Strange Addiction, as well as on Botched and The Doctors. When Bethenny Frankel asked him in a 2013 interview what would make him stop his surgery obsession, his answer was “if I die, I guess.”
Sadly, in 2015, this came to pass, as Sheldon was found dead in a Motel 6 of a prescription drug overdose following a breakup.
8 Are any of these conditions actually "additions"?
Ever since the first episode of My Strange Addiction aired in 2010, the premise of using addiction — and bizarre addiction at that — as a ratings grab has been controversial, to say the least, in the medical community.
A simple Google search will show you just how many doctors and other trained medical professionals have weighed in on whether or not what the show does is ethical. Not only that, but there is also considerable doubt about whether what the show features is technically “addiction” at all.
Many of the featured “addictions” are not necessarily disruptive — i.e. the maskers, furries, and objectum-sexuals — but rather help these people to find a sense of community, acting as a kind of lifestyle choice.
Then there are those with pica (eating inedible materials) and apparent obsessive compulsive disorder; these are specific neurological dysfunctions and, while they can be harmful, someone should not be shamed of them as a means of treatment (as often happens in the show).
Furthermore, such conditions are merely symptoms of the larger mental illness and it is unrealistic for the these to be treated as simply "an addiction" that one can casually kick.
7 Is host Mike Dow peddling pseudo-science?
Mike Dow may be a psychotherapist, but this doesn’t mean that he hasn’t come under scrutiny or been associated with those who have. He’s made many notable appearances on the Dr. Oz Show, and has become somewhat notorious for his pseudo-scientific claims.
The most shocking of these is outlined in a piece from the American Council on Science and Health that unearthed one such appearance Dow made on Oz’s show. The episode in question focused on how certain foods high in GABA and tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin) can treat anxiety “safer and simpler” than medication.
While this claim is worrying in its own right, the assertion that certain foods can relieve anxiety is also incorrect. In conclusion ,if you’re having panic attacks, go see a doctor because eating a slice of grapefruit definitely won’t be enough to make it stop. It is scary to think that Dow, who supports those who make these outlandish claims, is in charge of "helping" people with addictions.
6 Sheyla Hershey’s breast infection
Brazillian model Sheyla Hershey is known for her addiction to breast implants. She developed a life-threatening infection in her size triple-K chest after a car accident — the infection was a result of ruptures in her size triple-K breast implants.
Hershey left her husband and two children devastated when, after she had to have the implants (as well as much of her breast tissue) taken out in order to save her from the dangerous infection, she made an attempt on her life which resulted in a coma.
Thankfully she recovered, and after risking her life -- and spending more than $50,000 on 30 breast enlargement surgeries-- Sheyla ignored her doctors and secretly had her breasts re-enlarged in secret.
“Not having my breasts was killing me, I didn't know if I could make it through 2012 without them,” she said in an interview. “I was deformed without them ... I felt like I had lost a leg.”
5 Claims of manipulated footage
Several different accounts of people who have appeared on the show claim that TLC has manipulated the footage in order to make them seem stranger and more debilitated by their addictions than they actually are. Lauren, who appeared on My Strange Addiction in 2009 for her "furry" obsession, wrote that “it was definitely twisted,” in a reddit AMA.
Lauren’s account has been corroborated by Trina and Mike Elliott, a married couple who appeared on the show for their coffee enema addiction. The Elliotts felt that they had been misrepresented by My Strange Addiction and spoke out about it to the Tampa Bay Times in 2013.
After the episode aired, they took their story to ABC News, the Huffington Post, and the Daily Mail. This shook things up a bit, as TLC production director Wendy Douglas provided a response, albeit a pretty vague one: “in the story, you really do see this is something they support… we don’t take a position that it’s right or wrong.”
4 The objectum-sexuals from the show inspired a fashion line
Objectum-sexuality is defined as “a [sexual] orientation to love objects." Many objectum-sexuals, who often believe that the inanimate objects of their affection are alive and can communicate telepathically, have appeared on the show.
For example, one episode features a man who is in love with an assortment of inflatable pool toys, another episode focuses on a man who is engaged in a committed sexual relationship with his car, and yet another episode includes a man who believes that he is married to a sex doll whom he dresses daily.
Objectum-sexuality is a new term developed by those within the objectum-sexual community. However, in 2017, Spanish fashion designer Alejandro Gomez Palomo took it upon himself to appropriate that name for his menswear collection, which he titled “Objecto Sexual.”
The objectum-sexual community has not responded to this, but it remains unknown whether Palomo’s intention was genuine and respectful or whether he was mocking those with the condition.
3 Claims that Divya Anantharaman's taxidermy addiction was misrepresented
Divya Anantharaman lives in Brooklyn and appeared on My Strange Addiction for her apparent obsession with taxidermy. While some news sites have mistakenly reported that she kills the animals herself, Anantharaman is in actuality a self-proclaimed advocate of “ethical” taxidermy-- i.e., she only preserves animals that were already dead when she found them.
While mistakes do happen, the episode of My Strange Addiction that she was featured on does make the her sound incredibly creepy. “I love finding dead animals and stuffing them!” is what she said on-camera.
Immediately afterwards, however, the narrator undercuts her words with the somber, slightly judgmental-sounding proclamation: “Divya’s addiction to taxidermy began four years ago when she found a dead mouse and couldn’t resist the urge to cut it open.”
“I just really wanted to keep it and dissect it and see how it worked!” Anantharaman chirps in cheerfully. This sounds like a case of an extremely unreliable narrator.
2 Adam Guerra is hooked on Madonna again... and feuding with fellow drag queen Bianca Del Rio
Adam Guerra appeared on the show for his addiction to being a Madonna impersonator. After a somewhat melodramatic breakdown on the show, he is back in the throes of addiction.
Guerra, who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race prior to his stint on My Strange Addiction, has had 18 surgical procedures to look more like infamous Madonna. Since leaving the show, he has become embroiled in a fierce public feud with fellow Drag Race alum Bianca Del Rio.
Despite the supposed on-air breakthrough that happened during his episode of My Strange Addiction, where he collapsed sobbing into the arms of Madonna’s choreographer, Guerra is back as a full-time impersonator, and even headlines the annual Madonnarama in South Beach.
“I am Madonna,” he said at the end of his Strange Addiction episode, “but I want to be Adam.” The screen went to black with the text: “After his breakdown, Adam decided to go back to being himself full time.” Well, apparently it isn't that simple.
1 Davecat has a doll “mistress” and issues that were never brought up on the show
Davecat is widely believed to be the inspiration for Lars and the Real Girl, as he believes himself to be married to a doll called Sidore. He appeared on My Strange Addiction in 2011. He prefers the term "iDollator" over "objectum-sexual," and the smart and shockingly charismatic 40-something-year-old has since been interviewed by several news agencies, such as The Atlantic, about his love for “synthetics." All of this media attention has made him something of a public figure.
In 2016, he went as far as to reveal a situation that occurred between him and another sex doll called Elena. The podcast interview also involved a heartbreakingly honest confession about the dark inner world of Davecat’s emotions.
When asked directly about his past relationships with “organic” women, Davecat went on in candid and tragic detail about his crippling fear of rejection. When the interviewer countered that some might take this to mean that, if Davecat did not have such a hangup about rejection, then he would be in an organic relationship. He responded: “I wouldn’t say it’s entirely false."
So, perhaps instead of exploiting this underlining issue, as My Strange Addition did, it is best for him to speak to a real professional about his problems.
Can you think of any other dark secrets behind My Strange Addiction? Let us know in the comments.