Craig Revel Horwood’s tragic past – abusive father, sad death and ‘sugar daddy’

Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood is known for his brazen, no-nonsense attitude, but he hasn’t had the easiest start in life.

From a young age he struggled with his sexuality and a strained relationship with his father, but the dancing diva has bounced back and carved a career for himself that has seen him perform in drag and judge the stars.

As a child, young Craig was bullied at home and revealed in a 2008 interview The Daily Mail that he still struggled with an eating disorder: "We grew up surrounded by verbal abuse and shouting.

"As soon as you walked through the door, you knew it was going to start. It didn't occur to me to complain about being bullied because there were just too many problems already.

"I'd do my paper run in the morning, go to school, do my chores, go to dance class, go to bed."

Craig expressed his flamboyant nature from a young age, but his father was less than impressed when the seven year old experimented with his mother’s lipstick to perform for the family at a Christmas party.

He said: “He chased me all around the house, shouting ‘Don’t ever let me catch you dressed like that again!’ and I held my breath under a bed, praying he wouldn’t find me.”

Craig used to perform as his female alter-ego called Lavish: “The bizarre thing was that ten years later he made big efforts to come to my drag show because he was almost entranced by the character up there under the lights.”

The dancer also admitted that after coming out to his family, he continued to date women but eventually had a sugar daddy.

Craig travelled with the mystery man, who he met at a local TV station, in return for sexual favours: “I wasn't standing on street corners touting for trade but I did accept money from this man. He was a sugar daddy I suppose. We struck a deal and decided on terms.

"He knew I didn't love him or even find him attractive but he got what he wanted and I got away from Ballarat. I don't regret it because it helped me to grow up, but it did turn me off the gay path for a short while.”

The Strictly Come Dancing judge has a strained relationship with his father until the 74-year-old suffered blood poisoning after drinking home brewed rum.

He fell over, hit his head on a television set and broke his neck in the process, a death which Craig said suited him.

Craig said: “What dad did was suicide, in a way. You sort of do blame him but then again, you can’t. He was always an alcoholic so in a way it was the most fitting end."

He went on about his ‘abusive’ father to the Daily Mirror: "It’s the last time I properly cried. I’ve thought, ‘If he’d drunk beer, not rum, he’d still be alive’. But if he’d damaged his neck and been a paraplegic that would have been worse.

"I would have gone home if he’d been ill – but he was gone. Mum said, ‘There’s no point in you coming back’. As soon as the Strictly tour finishes I’ll fly over for two months, as I do every year.”

His father’s unfortunate death made the Australian British ballroom dancer ‘more vigilant’ about his alcohol consumption and during an appearance on Loose Women, he discussed masculine grief with the panelists, touching upon his father’s death.

He said: “My father died about five years ago now.

"I felt relief, not because of his death but I think because of the relationship that I had with him was finally put to bed.

“It was an abusive relationship and he was an alcoholic. He died from alcohol poisoning drinking too much on that one night. For me, it was a great relief actually to see the coffin going into the ground. I thought this is abnormal, am I not normal or abnormal.”

Craig also mentioned that he told his family: “I feel the weight is not only off my shoulders but his as well.”

Craig also wrote about his father in his autobiography In Strictest Confidence, confessing that his dad, Philip, went on a rampage wielding a gun whilst Craig hid under his bed.

He waited for the police to arrive as his father attempted to kill his brother-in-law and admitted that he rarely saw Philip sober: “The neighbours and my family had to hide under beds waiting for the police to come. Dad fired shots and nearly killed my brother-in-law, David.”

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