Let me just say at the outset that there's no pleasure in posting this - I'd have given anything to not have it come to this. But I think it's important to have the truth of Kate's hypocrisy out here somewhere. Self-promotion and image are everything to her - she sells herself as such a caring, sensitive artist, writing her songs of love and feelings. But her feelings are only for herself, her only goal in life is her own self-aggrandizement - and she cares nothing for what she's left behind her, for the people she's used along the way. So be warned if you deal with her - she's only interested in what you can do for her.
Also - this is a fairly long story, covers some three years. So I'm posting up as brief a synopsis as I can manage, but it's still lengthy. And bear in mind that this all took place with plenty of people watching, lots of folks saw exactly what happened - including her own family. So there are witnesses to it all...I'm not saying that I'm not posting this as a "disgruntled boyfriend", but the details are what happened.
Last disclaimer - I'm not saying Kate's evil as such. But she's a terribly screwed up person, somethings broken inside her. Doesn't matter why she's done what she has, though - the results are the same.
Kate Russo (as of this writing, late March 2002, her legal name is still Mrs. Jonathan Mishne - see below) is a musician in the Phoenix area, works with a local band called The Elliots. (Oh by the way - also as of this writing she's 31 years old)
I've known Kate (thought she was a friend, then later more than that) since the late 80's when she was in her late teens. A musically gifted, over-sensitive, insecure, rather neurotic prodigy of sorts. This was back in the Boston area. Met her when she walked into a music store I was running. She was, at that time, training for a classical career - I recognized her talent immediately and invited her into a rock band I was with. That lasted a short while, then I moved out west to where I now reside (and regrettably, so does she, now). We stayed kinda in touch after I moved.
Probably worth mentioning - she says (well, used to) that she "loved me from the moment she saw me". It figures into the story.
In the earlier/mid 90's, she met and married an ex-con, psychotic heroin addict named Jonathon Mishne. Not surprisingly, she became an addict herself. Why would a middle-class, small-town, white bread girl get involved with someone so obviously unstable, let alone allow herself to become an addict? Because Jon was a "great musician" (this is a regular theme with Kate - doesn't matter how screwed you are as a person if you're a "great musician") and - probably more to the point - he had industry connections. (Another regular theme - Kate's favorite words are "connections" and "contacts" - it's all about what you can do for her). Through Jon's efforts she had some minor sucesses in that time - played Woodstock 94 (who cares, now?), recorded a never-released album at Prince's studio, toured with a few "dinosaur" rockers. Through this time she'd send me pictures and press clippings and such, showing me how great she was doing - but all the while she was an addict. Did the usual addict thing - use, rehab, relapse.......etc, etc, on and on. She would later tell me how she'd despair and consider suicide doing this time. But she was "hanging with the big dogs" in the industry (many of whom also were addicts, just fed her fantasy more) and she was gonna make it.
Apparently to her thats a fair trade - a life of addiction and despair for the chance of being famous. I should have heeded this.....
It's worth noting that Jon's some 14 or so years her senior. He married a naive, inexperienced girl in her early 20's and led her into addiction - doesn't sound like love to me. But that's another Kate theme - tragic love.
In late 98 she contacted me from NYC (she likes to tell people that's where shes from - she's not, just lived there a few years. She's from a small town in Mass. But "being from NYC" looks better on the bio - and the bio is all-important to her). She said she was being "looked at by the Major Labels" but she was out of recorded material to feed them. She knew that I maintained a recording studio here at the house - could I possibly help her out? And by the way, she was pretty much broke (in hindsight, of course she was - she was an addict. Her and Jon were living on his family's money for most of that time) At that time (not now as you'll see) I was doing OK - had some small investments, open credit - not "set for life" by any means, but reasonably secure. I hadn't seen her in years, sounded like fun, and after all she was a "friend", right?? So I told her sure - made arrangements to fly her in, put her up in the guest room, and have some local musician friends chip in to help her get some product recorded.
Two things happened in the first few weeks she was here. First (and I know how stupid I was, write and tell me so...) I found myself falling in love with her. Don't ask me why, do we ever get to choose?? But it happened - I resolved to keep my mouth shut, finish the project and send her on her way. After all, she was a "happily married" woman, right? And I don't play that...
But second - one night she came to me and it all spilled out of her. Addiction, despair, darkness, thoughts of suicide, the hopeless marriage. She was at an end, she said. And, stupidly, I admitted my feelings to her. To my intial surprise, she returned them - but then, remember that she'd "loved me from the moment she saw me". She told me that years before, long before her marriage. And I believed her words. So I resolved to "save" her - pull her back from the black hole she'd made of her life through her foolish choices.
She was here for a couple months, got a bit cleaned up - decided she had to go back and try to "save her marriage". Unhappily, I told her that if she had to, then so be it - sent her off with my blessing. Told her to call me if she needed to. She went back and promptly relapsed - and called. And called, and called. House phone, cell phone - I saw phone bills topping a thousand dollars in one month. (This was a warning sign, sure - but I loved her, and had committed myself to saving her.....). Finally, I brought her back. (More money on short notice plane tickets) She was here for a couple months - left again. Relapsed again. More calls. Brought her back. A couple months - left again, to "save Jon". Failed at that (he's a hard-core loser), more calls - brought her back.
In 1999 she was with me about half the year - the other half she was back in NY trying to "save her marriage" or "save Jon". During this time I was supporting two people (when she was here) on an income best suited for one, buying plane tickets, paying outrageous phone bills. During one of her times here I bought her a used car so she could get around. I took her on little overnight trips to keep her spirits up, would buy her little presents for the same reason. The bills were piling up - cash flow was starting to bottom out and credit lines were maxing. On one of her times here I took out a sizable loan to try and consolidate things - she sat beside me as I signed the papers, I told her I couldn't do it on my own, that I was doing it for us and I'd need her help to make things right. She told me that she loved me and I wouldn't face it alone......
Why would she keep going back to the man that led her into addiction? In hindsight, because he still had "connections", could still help her advance her "career". Also, she had a "Big Time Industry Lawyer" back in NYC and didn't want to lose that "contact". She spent most of her first two years here (when she was) slamming Phoenix for not having "a music scene" - she'd never be able to "make it" here. Again, it's all about her getting famous, because it's her destiny.
She was back East for the Christmas season 99 (made for a wonderful holiday for me, as you might imagine) - ended up at her parents place in Mass cause things in NY were so bad. During this time I emailed her at her folks place and took her to task for what she was doing - told her in no uncertain terms that her selfishness and self-centeredness, her insistance on doing things "her way" were ruining everything - dragging out a scenario that should and could have been resolved long ago. She told me that I was "being mean" to her - another Kate theme, as long as you agree with her everythings fine - call her to account for her behavior and you're "being mean" to her. Her own father won't even try to tell her the truth anymore because she just "gets angry and walls me off" (his words...)
Believe me, I knew by then that things weren't going to end well, her selfishness and obsession with her own fame were becoming quite obvious to all watching. Many friends had come to me and told me that she was just going to screw me over - use me and my resources while she needed them and then abandon me when something better (ie, make her famous) came along. But I loved her, wanted to believe in her love, and I had committed to her. I wanted nothing more than for her to prove them all wrong - see her rise to the example of love I had set for her, grow into the responsilbe adult I felt was within her. I was being patient, acknowledging that she was coming out of a period of blackness in her life - I'd see her through it and all would be well. Love would prevail, right??
During her time at home, I suggested that she should stay there, get her life in order, get divorced (a year into all this and she still hadn't filed papers - still hasn't as of now, 3/02), and decide what she wanted to do. No - she "loved me" and "wanted to be with me". (Hindsight translation - she didn't want to stay at home, cramped her style. Worth noting that while in NYC she refused to get rehab/therapy that wasn't "artists'" therapy (ie, expensive, exclusive, trendy) - god forbid she should hang with the common addicts, she's gonna be famous...) So, still loving her, still believing in her - I let her come back.
Early in 2000 she left again - this time Jon went totally psycho and slapped her around - back to her parents place. Same suggestion from me, same answer from her. But this time, she really means it, really wants to be with me forever, wants to move out here completely. This time I flew out to get her - rented a truck, packed up all her stuff and brought her back across the country. (Are you keeping track of the money being spent here? This trip alone cost me thousands. But she "loved me", and I was still holding out hope for her maturing, growing into a responsible adult who would be my partner and help me face the rapidly mounting debts together.)
She stayed put for much of 2000 - but like all the the time up till now, she mostly sat on the couch, smoking pot and being unhappy. I had, for a long time, been asking her to get a job, part-time or whatever, to help deal with the financial situation, as well as just give her something to do with her time. But she's a "musician" and couldn't lower herself to actually doing something like work. She'd get the occasional gig and chip in a little here and there - but by then, much too little, much too late. I had by now tapped into my investments to keep things together - had pretty much lost everything I had before her arrival in my life. But it was gonna be alright - she'd get it together and everything would work out...
Let me make it very clear here that by now, she was clean, hard-drug-wise. Had been for some time. Just want to be fair, here - as of this writing, 3/02, she's been clean for a couple of years. And I doubt strongly she'll ever touch the hard stuff again...
Late in 2000, she came to me on a Thursday and told me that she was going back to Jon - on Saturday!! Turned out he'd been working on her behind my back - while I was out working my a*s off to support us she'd been getting calls from him that she never told me about and he'd convinced her to give it another try. I offered to help her pack (of course I was getting sick of this crap by now) - she immediately broke down, begged me to forgive her and let her come back - she'd go back and arrange for the divorce, end it forever. Still holding (slight) hope - and still loving her, wanting to see her grow up - I agreed. So she left and returned - at least this one didn't cost me anything, he made the arrangements - but no divorce yet, just the words. She was with me for Christmas 2000 - bought an engraved ornament for the tree - "Ric & Kate, Christmas 2000" - told me we'd buy a new one together each year from then on.....
Starting in late 2000/early 2001, she got involved with a project out of Atlanta - bunch of investors who were going to put a group together and make them famous. They had resources, money, connections (Kate's favorite word..). Kate became obsessed with it - was flown out for auditions, made the first cut, was certain she was gonna get it. All of which, of course, had nothing to do with staying with me - she'd had left me in a blink if they had chosen her, which they didn't. (And a year later - nothing to be heard from these guys, so much for their great plans......) But finally, I'd had enough of her selfish, self-absorbed crap. In May of 2001, I formally broke it off with her - but couldn't just throw her out in the street, I still loved her, still hoped she'd come around and see the disaster she had created and choose to take responsibility for the results of her actions. So I put her on "roomate" status and insisted that she pay rent - I asked for "X" amount (mighty cheap - it's a nice house with a pool, I'd provide a car (already had), etc.) - she said she couldn't afford that but could pay me "x" - much less. It was better than nothing so I agreed. I had hoped that the jolt of having me break it off would get her to finally do something about it all. It wouldn't have taken much for me to take her back, I did love her - get a job (nope), get a divorce (ditto - still...), even just say the right words and make me believe them. Nothing. Never one word, never one action - nothing. And yet she'll tell you to your face how hard she "tried to be with me".
Somewhere in late 2001 she said she was going to go back east to her folks - fine by me by then. Then she met the guy who's the leader of The Elliots, he was impressed with her (she IS a really good musician - I've never said less) and offered to prop her up (help her get a place, help with the bills if she couldn't make them on her own...) if she'd stay and be in the band. (Apparently offered her a six-month road to sucess. It's been six months - they're hardly a sucess, just another decent local band.) She told a mutual "friend" (who now won't give her a polite word) that she didn't think much of the band, actually - but it would make her good "connections and contacts" in the area. (Seeing a trend here?) So, late in 2001 she finally moved out, without a word of remorse or regret, leaving me financially trashed and on the edge of bankruptcy. (Tens of thousands in debt, cash all gone..) I stayed in touch with her through early 2002 - still hoping that she'd come to her senses - realize and admit how she'd ruined the life of the man who saved hers, committed everything to her well-being - only to have her abandon me to the ruins she created.
Speaking of friends - it's worth noting that (obviously) she got to know many or most of my friends around here - she was gonna be my partner, after all, with me forever. She now sees practically none of them (of course many of them don't want to see her - as I said, people saw what happened to me, and tried to warn me) - has made new ones in the little crowd she now hangs with. Any bets on how many of them she's told the absolute truth to? I can't believe that anyone would want to have anything to do with her if they knew what she was capable of doing to others. I still drop her family a line, infrequently - they like me, know that I saved their daughter from addiction, what it cost me - what she did to me. They're good people - one of the reasons I loved her was that I assumed she was as decent and honorable as they are. I was wrong.
To sum it up - as I said above, nothing could make me less happy than feeling the need to post this. I wanted, hoped - prayed for - the outcome to be different. Wanted her to prove my friends wrong and rise to the absolute love - and total sacrifice - I had shown her.
Kate ruined almost a decade of her life - unless you count addiction as a plus - through a few basic, stupid choices - all of which had to do with her making it in the music biz. She returned into my life after that time, addicted and despairing - and I found that I loved her (though now I don't know why...). And with no other reason than that love - I vowed to do whatever it took to save her, and kept that vow. ("You more than held up your end of the bargain, Ric - she didn't", her Dad says...) I knew fairly early on that I was gonna lose on this - I'm not stupid, and she, early on, showed signs of the thoughtlessness and self-absorbedness with her "career" that others warned me about, early on. I'm not saying that I'm not as much, or more, to blame for my current downfall as she - I could have put an end to it anytime, easily so on one of her trips back to Jon. (And that's kind of obvious, anyway - she's telling me that she loves me and is "trying to be with me" - but goes back to the source of her addiction 5-6 times in 2 years?) But I loved her, truly and deeply, more than anyone in my life, and I had made that vow - I would not allow her to fall back into addiction. And I wanted, more than anything, for her to finally grow up, prove all the naysayers wrong - stand by her words.
Kate writes songs about love - but the man she married led her into addiction, and the man who saved her from that she abandoned to a disaster she helped create.
Kate writes songs about feelings - but the only feelings she'll do anything about are her own. Consider - she is still (as of this writing, 3/29/02)married to the man she "left" over three years ago (to be with me...). Much as I despise the schmuck for what he led her into, I sympathize for him - he's gone slowly out of his mind (not that he was that balanced to start with...) wondering if he still can get her back, they're still married, right? How can you say you care about someone and put them through three years of that hell? And my feelings aren't exactly unbruised, either. Yet Kate says she "loved" us both. I'll let you go figure......
As I said - I'm not saying Kate's some kind of evil person - just a damaged one She wasn't very experienced to start with, very much a dreamer, and then married a man who led her into addiction and fed her dreams. And it was absolutely my decision to let it go on as long as it did, I had plenty of warning. But I just think that somewhere out here on the Web should be a little slice of truth about her. Professionally, I'd say hire her - she is a d**n good musician and will work her butt off at it (but only that - no effort at all that's not directly aimed at her "career" - not even for love). As an audience member, I just want you to remember this story as you listen to her words of love and caring - what are they really worth, if she'll use words of love like she did and then abandon someone? Go ahead, walk up to her at a gig and ask her what she did to Ric. Personally - I'd avoid all but the most casual relationship with her - she's pleasant enough to talk to.....
In the last times I tried to speak with her about what happened, she said, at various times:
-"I never asked you to helped me" - complete and utter crap - she asked, often and fervently.
-"I didn't know you were getting into (financial) trouble" - see the comment above about the loan. And about my asking her to help me out.
-And the real winner, when I told her I might have to file bankruptcy - "Can't you work any harder?" Gimme a break.
If you want to mail me and tell me what a gullible idiot I was - go ahead, but I do already know. If you want to email her and tell her what a manipulative user she is - well, I'm not going to post any info about her here, but just do a search, she'll pop up on a couple of different sites - after all, making sure you know who she is is her reason for being. By the way, just to keep the record straight - many of the claims on the web sites she shows up on are fairly true, she did do Woodstock, did get an NEA grant - although it was Jon, and not her, that actually made those things happen. But one of them - having to do with her "Just a Matter Of Time" CD - is mostly crap. That CD is a compilation of older tunes recorded back in NY, and the tracks she recorded here in my studio (If you have a copy, I'm the "Studio C" she credits on it) She most certainly has not received rave reviews from all the states she lists - there's maybe a couple hundred total copies in circulation, and the majority of them were burned on my system here at the house. Pure Hype and BS.......... which of course is what she does. And note the dates (where provided) on most of her "accomplishments" - they're pushing 10 years old. Now she's just the aging but still cute chick keyboard player in another pop band.
Kate, hon - if you're reading this - I gave you endless chances to live up to your words, make your love mean something. And you threw every one of them away - made all your words of love a lie. God help you, kiddo - you've created some truly bad karma for yourself.