Miley Cyrus is a tween idol with problems. Billy Ray Cyrus is her dad, a former country star who was closely aligned with her career right up to the point it gave signs of going off the rails. Now estranged from his family and living in a farmhouse in Tennessee, Billy Ray is the subject of a profile by Chris Heath in the new issue of GQ. The interview, which has been deemed "devastating" and "shockingly candid" by the New York Daily News and Hollywood Reporter, respectively, sheds new light not just one of the major recent phenomenons in pop music, but the collateral damage fame can inflict on those who would seem most prepared to avoid its trappings. Here is our two-minute version of Billy Ray's most jarring--and downright weird--claims about life in and around the teen fame bubble:
He never made any money off his daughter
"For the record," Cyrus proclaims, "to set it straight, I want to tell you: I've never made a dime off of Miley. You got a lot of people have made percentages off of her. I'm proud to say to this day I've never made one commissioned dollar, or dime, off of my daughter." This seems difficult to fathom considering he played the character of Robbie Stewart, manager to the title character for 98 episodes of Hannah Montana. Cyrus later likens his $15,000 weekly salary on the show to "peanuts."
Miley's handlers blamed him for everything
Half-nude photos in Vanity Fair, provocative outfits on tour, TMZ videos of her smoking a bong: every time something went wrong with Miley's public image, her father says he was made to take the fall. "Every time something happened in Miley's career," he recalls, "every time the train went off the track...every time they'd put me... 'Somebody's shooting at Miley! Put the old man up there!'" Cyrus says he took the public's slings and arrows "because I'm her daddy, and that's what daddies do. 'Okay, nail me to the cross, I'll take it....' "
David Lynch is to blame for his daughter getting Hannah Montana
The noted pseudo-experimental filmmaker never worked with Miley, but he did cast Billy Ray in a minor roll in his 2001 film Mulholland Dr. "Were it not for David Lynch, Miley would never have been Hannah Montana," Cyrus tells Heath. Heath unpacks Cyrus's "highly tenuous" logic. "If not for Lynch's leg up, Cyrus might not have spent four years in Toronto starring in the uplifting, moral TV medical drama Doc, in which his daughter Miley would get early opportunities to guest-star...and so on."
He really misses his mullet
The mullet--business in the front, party in the back--was Cyrus's signature hairstyle during his Achy Breaky Heart days--but his mane took on a more Hollywood look during his time on his daughter's Disney Channel show. "I swear I didn't realize [the mullet was gone] until recently," he tells Heath, "when I went, 'Holy crap—I've lived the last five years with Geronimo's hairdo.'" He responded a few months ago by having "most of his hair cut off, in the way that men and women often do when their lives change dramatically, but left whatever hair he had at the back to slink down his neck."
He hasn't spoken to Miley since video of her with a bong appeared after her 18th birthday party in December
And it doesn't sound like he's particularly broken up about it. "You know, it seems at this point there's not a lot that I can say she doesn't already know. And of course I've sent her the texts of 'I'm here if you need me,' 'Always still love you,' those kind of things...I'll see when she [visits Tennessee again.] Hopefully there's something I can do. I don't know. Who knows? Maybe she knows exactly what she's doing."
He's worried about Miley joining the ranks of celebrities who lived fast and died young
Miley's mistakes, in Heath's estimation, seem more like the "stupid crap" every teenager does than genuinely self-destructive behavior, but her father isn't so sure. "I'm scared for her," Billy Ray admits. "She's got a lot of people around her that's putting her in a great deal of danger. I know she's 18, but I still feel like as her daddy I'd like to try to help. Take care of her just a little bit, to at least get her out of danger. I want to get her sheltered from the storm." He cites Kurt Cobain, Michael Jackson, and Anna Nicole Smith as celebrities who would have benefited from similar guidance.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.