As she vows to marry her foster brother, why Whitney Houston's daughter seems bent on following her to destruction
21:53 GMT, 24 October 2012
16:43 GMT, 25 October 2012
Slumped at the kitchen table with a glass of wine in front of her, a bleary-eyed Bobbi Kristina Brown slurs her words as she admits: ‘I’m not OK. I just need time to learn how to live without my mum.’
Unfortunately, Whitney Houston’s daughter is not learning that lesson in the private and protective bosom of her family, but in the full glare of cameras recording her every move for a new reality television series, which has just started in America and is likely to screen here soon.
Other scenes in the teaser for the first episode of the ten-part series The Houstons: On Our Own, show Bobbi Kristina being sick, frequently in tears, and announcing her engagement at the age of 19 to her foster brother, Nick Gordon.
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Inseparable: Bobbi Kristina and Nick have recently become engaged
It would be heartening to think that, despite the chronic dysfunction of her family life, Krissi, as she’s known to friends and family, will grow into a well-balanced young woman able to put tragedy behind her.
But the fact she has signed up to a warts-and-all reality show, while still grieving the sudden death of her 48-year-old singing legend mother in February, does not score highly in any assessment of her judgment.
Nor, many would argue, does her recent engagement to the 22-year-old man who grew up with her as her brother, and from whom she has been inseparable since her mother’s death.
Whitney took Nick into her care when he was 12 and unofficially adopted him when his father went to prison and his mother could reportedly no longer care for him.
A tweet from Nick in March confirming that he and Krissi were in a relationship met with much uproar, given that until then they had known each other as siblings.
Sudden loss: Whitney died in February aged 48
The family, already fractured by the tensions of an ongoing inheritance battle, is said to disapprove of the romance.
Whether Krissi cares what they think is another matter, given that she has already faced more controversy in 19 years than most people see in a lifetime.
Her mother and father, the singer Bobby Brown, were both drug addicts, and Krissi herself was reported to have been caught using cocaine after her mother’s funeral. Last year, she was photographed snorting what was thought to be cocaine and, in another incident, smoking marijuana from a bong.
Her uncle Gary admits during the trailer for the reality TV show that he is deeply worried about his niece: ‘I sympathise with what has happened with Krissi’s mother but I hope we don’t lose her.’
However, it would seem Krissi has few reliable people to turn to in her hour of need. Virtually orphaned since her mother’s death — her father has been in and out of rehab and the two of them no longer speak — she is surrounded by relatives who appear to have rather mixed motives.
Friends admit to being concerned for her: ‘Krissi was her mum’s best friend,’ schoolfriend Duane Allen told the Mail. ‘She talks about her mother all the time and says she still finds herself doing things and wanting to tell her mum. Krissi, her mother and Nick were a very tight-knit family.’
Krissi’s grandmother, Cissy — Whitney’s 79-year-old mother — has condemned the relationship with Nick as ‘practically incest’, but some are unsurprised by Krissi reaching out to him.
‘He was always there for her to make sure she was all right. I know he loves her,’ says Duane.
A family friend, who asked not to be named, described how the unlikely romance began: ‘Krissi needed someone to cuddle up to at night and invited Nick to sleep in her bed with her.
‘The first night they kissed, there was a fair amount of alcohol involved. They both felt weird about developing feelings for each other because they are sort of siblings, but a few drinks changed things and it’s been on ever since.’
'She sees the same kind of addictive
relationship between Krissi and Nick that Whitney had with Bobby. Those
sorts of relationships can be very destructive'
Krissi and Nick still refer to Whitney as ‘our mother’ when they make frequent comments on Twitter together.
Family relationships aside, aspiring rapper and model Nick, who was pictured on Twitter with a gun earlier this year, is not everyone’s idea of a wholesome partner for a recently bereaved teenager.
There have been rumours about him taking drugs, and many are questioning his relationship with a fragile young woman set to inherit her mother’s fortune, an estimated 7 million, over the next ten years.
However, she seems devoted to him. ‘She’s caught Nick-itis, ’ one of her cousins joked.
‘Krissi will be the first to tell you she hates being away from Nick even for a few hours,’ adds a friend.
‘That scares their aunt Pat Houston [Whitney’s best friend and sister-in-law — she married Whitney’s brother Gary] because she sees the same kind of addictive relationship between Krissi and Nick that Whitney had with Bobby. Those sorts of relationships can be very destructive.
‘As much as they can’t stand to be apart, they do fight a lot.’
Evidence of this came when the pair were in a car accident last month, said to have been caused by their arguing.
A former school friend says: ‘Pat is begging them to wait before they even think about getting married, but Krissi insists she is very grown up for her age because she had to act as a parent to her own parents. She’s headstrong, defiant and determined to make it work with Nick.’
Rumours of their engagement first surfaced in August when she started wearing one of her mother’s rings — a giant sapphire and diamonds — on her wedding finger.
Earlier this month, grandmother Cissy went to court to try to delay Krissi getting hold of any of the money from her mother’s will.
Like mother, like daughter Friends worry that Krissi may follow in her mother's footsteps and become involved with drugs
In court documents lodged in Atlanta, she claimed her granddaughter ‘is a highly visible target for those who would exert undue influence over her inheritance and/or seek to benefit from the respondent’s resources and celebrity.’
Cissy is also said to have pulled out of attending a recent tribute to Whitney because she did not want to see Krissi and Nick being openly affectionate.
Music industry executive Robert Tencer, who knew both Bobby Brown and Whitney, says Krissi is surrounded by ‘enablers’ — people who make constant excuses for their addictions.
‘Her father is an enabler. There were stories he would use his daughter to get Whitney’s money when she was still alive. He spends money like it’s going out of fashion. It’s extremely suspicious that she is engaged to her adopted brother. The big question is, who is guiding Krissi’
Krissi and Nick live in a 700,000 three-bedroom town house in Alpharetta, Atlanta, which was Whitney’s home.
Officially, Krissi lives under the guardianship of the formidable Pat Houston, who is a trustee of Whitney’s will and lives close by. But while Pat, 59, is a mother herself and might appear to be the most responsible person for the role, questions have been asked about her motives, too.
When she died, Whitney Houston was 13 million in debt to her record label Sony
She brokered a dubious deal to profit from footage of Whitney’s funeral service, and is also alleged to be involved in the leaking of pictures to an American tabloid of the Los Angeles hotel room where Whitney died of a heart attack, thought to have been caused by drugs.
Whitney’s mother Cissy, a religious Baptist, was said to be furious with Pat, accusing her of cashing in on her daughter’s death.
However, Cissy has agreed to do a tell-all book about her daughter’s life for a six-figure sum.
Krissi’s father Bobby Brown, meanwhile, seems keen to exploit interest in the Houston family. Already a reality-show veteran, he signed up last month to do a third series based around a new tour and his family life. This is separate to Krissi’s show.
Whitney Houston’s phenomenal success made her the family’s cash cow. She sold 170 million records worldwide and her biggiest hit, I Will Always Love You, is the best-selling single of all time by a female artist.
Destruction relationship: Krissi's parents Bobby Brown and Whitney
And yet she did not die a wealthy woman. Her drug addiction cost her dear, she paid a wage to most members of her family, and her homes were remortgaged.
She staged frequent comebacks, but years of drug and alcohol abuse had impaired her once-incredible voice. By the end of her life, Whitney was said to be living on hand-outs authorised by her record company boss and mentor Clive Davis.
It seems that, like her friend Michael Jackson, she is now worth more dead than alive. But, unlike Michael, she did not write her own songs, so most of the money raised by the re-release of her albums goes to the songwriters. Her family are having to find inventive new ways to keep money coming in.
Krissi harbours her own ambitions to be a star. Having dueted with her mother on stage, she is understood to be in talks about a recording contract. She also had a recent part in a U.S. television comedy for which she attracted good reviews.
Her friend Duane says: ‘Krissi is really talented in her own right. The reality show should open lots of doors for her. She’s approaching everything positively, and she has her own name to make. I think she’s doing well — better than I could have expected.’
Let’s hope Duane is right.
VIDEO: Shocking & emotional trailer for The Houstons: On Our Own