From ‘Illicit affair off air’, 26 August 2012, article by Akshita Nanda, Sunday Times Lifestyle
…In Memoirs Of A DJ, published by Marshall Cavendish, Lopez reveals that Richmond had wanted to call the wedding off days before the ceremony, and she had refused, fearing public embarrassment. She wrote in the book: “Because little 26-year-old me was worried about the public fallout. What would they say? How could I possibly walk around after that? How would I ever buy nasi lemak in a food court again?”
According to her, she could not see or did not want to admit that there was no connection with Richmond, that they were two kids who were merely playing masak masak. Their relationship dissolved not long after the honeymoon and the book described how she became suspicious of his relationship with another woman, identified only as B in the book,and found an illicit love note in his car when Richmond was away filming.
The note was filled with sweet nothings that only an intimate partner would say, she recalled in the book, including the words “…I can still smell you on my pillow…”
…She later followed Richmond secretly and saw him on a date with the other woman. Even then, she could not make herself ask for a clean break. Instead, she cried in solitude or in front of her make-up assistants.
…Lopez stresses that her autobiography is not intended to lash out at her former husband, even though she is aware that many readers will flip immediately to the pages about her first marriage.
“It’s definitely not revenge. It’s just what happened. If I’m going to do my memoirs, it would be silly not to mention it…..People know who I am, but they don’t really know about my personal life. I thought, let people get to know me a little bit more and let them see if they’ve known me at all.” She says she was initially hesitant to write about her first marriage and its breakdown, but then decided “people are expecting to read it. If you’re going to write about your life, write about your life.”
“My mistake throughout that time was to keep it to myself, I was totally isolated,” she adds, as her sister silently takes her hand.
“But I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I’m not about to take a dagger and stab it in someone’s back and destroy a family. All I’m saying is, this is what I went through.
“At the end of the day, I’m very happy for him, he has a wife and a kid and his career’s doing okay.“
The only other Singaporean public figure I could think of to write ‘MEMOIRS’ is Lee Kuan Yew. Despite being a veteran in the media business, you’d need to be of a certain calibre, maybe age, before you may even qualify to describe what’s essentially a tatter tale’s gimmick as a collection of ‘memoirs’. It’s not like she desperately needed the money to sell books, and although she insists that this isn’t about ‘revenge’, Vernetta seems to have forgotten that both of them are already happily married, herself to a British IT guy and Mark to a pro-gay NMP hopeful with a 5 year old kid Sol . Beatrice and Mark presumably met on the set of Triple 9 in 1998, playing LOVERS, when Richmond’s marriage was already ‘on the rocks’.
What started out as a concerned friend turned into ugly ‘the other woman’ finger-pointing. No surprises that they got together so soon (married in 2004) after the divorce, a celebrity script uncannily similar to Hollywood’s most famous love triangle (Brad and Angelina were LOVERS in Mr and Mrs Smith, Beatrice even behaves like an Angelina Jolie in some aspects). Interestingly, Mark himself previously played Denise’s boyfriend in ‘Under one Roof’, while both Vernetta and Beatrice were co-actors in the 2001 flop ‘Now Boarding’.
In a 2009 interview, she had this to say about her previous marriage:
Any lessons you’re carrying over from your previous marriage (Her seven-year marriage to Mark Richmond ended in 2004)?
Don’t be the stereotypical needy chick. You just chill and enjoy the relationship. Hold it back a little, man! Not that I was needy before, but I think I became needy after that. I’ve never been in such a tolerant, understanding, fun, relaxed sort of relationship, where you feel comfortable to say anything.
We take it that the chapter of life with Mark is closed?
People always ask. It’s so closed. You do your own thing, I do my own thing. There are no hard feelings or anything anymore. I’ve definitely closed the book on that one.
Er, no Vernetta. You literally WROTE a whole needy BOOK to remind everyone about it. Someday even little Sol is going to get his hands on your book and uncover dirty secrets about Daddy.
Whether it’s a sly publicity stunt or some form of self-victimising ‘autobiography-therapy’, she appears to have refused to let bygones be bygones, and you could feel the searing heat of the dagger in Beatrice Chia’s back when Vernetta used the painfully obvious ‘B’ in her account of the affair. The divorce was already swirling with rumours of the involvement of a ‘third party’, which both denied at the time. But perhaps the way the article was framed says a lot about ST’s lust for gossip as well. Little effort was made in pitching the actual BOOK itself, but rather spilling the beans on a celebrity marriage gone wrong and putting everyone involved in a bad light, despite the ex-couple still being annoyingly cordial to each other, maybe even exchanging gifts and buddy-hugs every Christmas.
In 2007, she was cast as an ‘unhappy woman stuck in a dysfunctional marriage’ in a Channel 5 anthology called Stories of Love. Maybe that didn’t help her deal with her ex because her reel-life groom then was comedian Gurmit Singh. Earlier in 2003, 2 years after the break-up, she was cast in ‘Ceciliation’ as a mother struggling with her husband’s INFIDELITY. She won an Asian Television award for ‘BEST DRAMA PERFORMANCE by an actress’, which suits the DRAMA queen manner in which she’s handling her divorce. Maybe all this vicarious acting has whetted her appetite for finally telling the truth, even if it’s only one person’s side of the story.
Maybe the Richmonds are consulting their own publisher as we speak. They could sneak in a response to Vernetta’s bawling expose amid their Grandfather stories, and call it MEMOIRS of a DJ/ACTOR/PRESENTER/COMMENTATOR. I just hope serial DJ-husband Glenn Ong doesn’t get any ideas. Maybe Vernetta’s ex-husband was indeed a total scoundrel and philanderer but there’s no reason to call him out, dig up the past and package it as a
sob-story for money. Instead of calling her book ‘Memoirs of a DJ’ and ripping off a Geisha epic, I think ‘V for Vernetta’ would be more appropriate.
Postscript: Following some nasty feedback about how unfair I have been to Vernetta since the post was based on her media interview and not on the actual pages off her book, I decided to head down to Kinokuniya to check it out myself. Surprisingly, Memoirs wasn’t front entrance promo stock, and I took at least 15 minutes just to locate it inconspicuously stacked along one of the quieter info counters (I couldn’t find a ‘Local series’ section. The only local author on display was LKY). Skimming through the chapters, I found them more like essays than a linear timeline of her life from childhood to second marriage. Her tone was exactly like what you would expect from her character on air, sharp, bitchy, even witty. Yes, Vernetta is funny. I said it. Case in point, she excused Mark’s habit of ‘bringing his phone into the toilet with him’ on the basis that ‘reception is better when the toilet flushes’. LOL.
The chapter on everyone’s mind was titled ‘The dark years’ and it started off bleak, about how V was unsure about the relationship and had to consult her mom, who told her that she could still change her mind before wedding day. Then came the rumours of Mark and Beatrice getting too close for comfort in their scenes together as actors, followed by a self-destructive spell of loathing, niggling doubt (felt like ‘strangers on their honeymoon’) and picking up SMOKING. She even had a table of excuses and lies that Mark had presumably told her, of note one about his filming a movie with a ‘famous director’ that either never existed or bombed so bad it just disappeared. The only mention of ‘B’ came when she was snooping around her husband’s stuff, and found the love note, which, as V wrote, ‘was signed off as ‘B’. It was a piercingly shrewd way of pointing fingers, while ‘telling it like it is’. When confronted, ‘B’ came over to ‘explain’ that the pillow story was taken off some literature to ‘console’ her husband who needed to feel loved again. V thought it was priceless. I call it Occupational Hazard.
I had to flip to the last few chapters on the ‘revelation’, when V, with the help of some friends (or relatives, I can’t remember) ‘staked out’ Mark after work, spotting him and B in each other arms, heads nudged together, and him peeking into her car window supposedly ‘kissing her goodnight’. Game over then, with V going ‘I want a divorce’ at the end of it. Interestingly, other than the ‘B’ reference, no names were mentioned in her account. It wasn’t sleazy at all, and although it did seem a little whiny, was over-CAPPED and tends to overplay female empowerment (V worships Oprah), it was actually entertaining enough for me to finish the chapter in one piece. It was snappy, effortless prose and to pay the compliment further, actually worthy of a second flip, though I skipped those BFF moments with Gurmit Singh.
It’s still one side of the story, but for you all know it could have been a restrained narrative when far worse things could have happened in the affair. I would give V credit for her writing style, for putting a witty spin on something gone horribly wrong, but for making public something that happened years ago, for not letting go, even if she had every damn right to spit on her ex’s new family, I still think it isn’t exactly a discerning thing to do. I also think her new Brit husband better watch his back. Memoirs is both a jibe at her ex and love rival, and a stern warning to her current hubby. I bet he keeps it in the office bookcase to remind himself not to mess with his tenacious wife every single day.
So V isn’t going to win the ‘Revenge Sleaze Book Prize’, but someone thinks she’ll get a Pulitzer. When hell freezes over, that is.