The story seemed almost too tabloid-ready to be true. In 2012, the investigative website The Smoking Gun broke the news that three-time Olympic runner Suzy Favor Hamilton was leading two lives: a public one as Suzy, former Olympian, happily married mother and real estate agent, and a second, secret one as “Kelly Lundy,” one of the most expensive and sought-after escorts in Las Vegas. Three years on, Hamilton is telling the story her way, with her new memoir, Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From Madness, in which she details with disarming frankness her spiral from “America’s sweetheart” to suicidal sufferer of bipolar disorder. “I was perceived as almost the perfect girl,” Hamilton told us in a recent interview. “Nobody is perfect, but I tried to live up to that persona. I tried to be what everybody wanted me to be.”
After Hamilton’s bipolar disorder was misdiagnosed as depression, she was prescribed medication that intensified her mania and led to hypersexuality and increasingly risky behavior — factors that Hamilton says contributed to her frenzied push to become the most desired call girl in Vegas, with her husband’s knowledge but against his wishes. (Hamilton is careful to specify that she does not believe that sex work is a sign of mental illness.)
“Naturally, my rise up the [escort] ranks had been fast,” Hamilton writes in Fast Girl. “But not fast enough for me, of course.” After “Kelly Lundy” was outed, Hamilton was finally correctly diagnosed with bipolar and has since focused on repairing her health and family relationships — as well as sharing her experiences to combat the stigma of mental illness. We spoke with Hamilton about her book, her days as an escort, and her road to recovery.
Why do you think there was so much vitriol in reaction to the Smoking Gun story? You’ve talked about the incredible hate mail and public censure that you and your family received after it came out.
“I think it’s just because it was so bizarre, people couldn’t get a handle on how this could happen. It was so shocking and I, at the time, I had a hard time, like, why is it such a big deal? And now that I’m healthy, I can see, yeah, it’s very shocking, especially coming from the person I was… I became a different person who is going to do whatever she wanted to do and feel no consequences whatsoever.
“Somebody [asked me], ‘Do you think you were a badass?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I think Kelly was a badass — but she was a friendly badass.’ She wasn’t a mean person. She was really friendly, but she did think she was pretty darn cool.
“And I can talk in the third. I never talked in the third person in my entire life, but I can talk about her in the third person because she was a different person.”