— Russell Brand British comedian, actor, and author 1975
Context: It was a bizarre experience visiting him in there. Not least because I, as was the custom at the time, went to the powwow armed with a yoga teacher. I was hanging out with her a lot. I took her along to the MTV Movie Awards, which I was hosting, where at one point—perhaps the summit of my own personal Everest of Hollywood kookiness—she vetoed a joke from my opening monologue. It wasn’t unspiritual or mean; I think it was about Jennifer Aniston. It was cut “for time,” like the monologue was saggy. I don’t know if that makes it less weird. Tej, her name was, and she was a bloody good kundalini yoga teacher, and the lessons and techniques definitely induced interesting states of mind. Most people would’ve left it at that, but with my tendency for extremism, I first became teacher’s pet and then, in a macabre switcheroo, made the teacher into my pet. I’ve already told you I’m a sucker for a mystic costume. I’m like a wartime gal with a thing for uniforms, swooning at a G. I., and Tej’s get-up was world-class. Kundalini practitioners dress entirely in white—why not? They also wear a turban as the yogic practice they follow is derived from the Sikh faith. Tej was a lovely woman and we became good friends; I learned a lot and had a good laugh. A fair amount of that fun may have been derived, I realize in retrospect, from the novel thrill of turning up at unexpected places with a yogi. Like the MTV Movie Awards or the Ecuadorian embassy. During the production of my let’s call it experimental—with the emphasis on the “mental”—TV show Brand X (surely the last punning derivation my surname can provide), the whole of Tej’s yoga class, which consisted of about one hundred people, was uprooted and placed each morning at the studio where the show was recorded. That’s pretty mad, isn’t it? We left the comfort, tranquillity, sweet smells, and fine foods of the purpose-built yoga center to practice yoga in the functioning canteen of a TV production facility. Sometimes when you’re famous you can get away with being a lunatic. Especially if you’re like me and think the system is corrupt and rules have to be broken and conformity challenged. Before too long, you have a scenario where the teamsters who do all the heavy lifting on a TV show are confronted with the daily spectacle of a hundred yoga devotees descending on their canteen.