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By Deniz Koray
Today, Bob Forrest is best known for his appearances on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s reality show, Celebrity Rehab, where he tries to lead addicted musicians and actors like Tom Sizemore, Steven Adler, and Shifty Shellshock to sobriety. However, in Keirda Bahruth’s 2011 documentary, Bob and the Monster, we see a different side of Forrest. This movie examines his life prior to reality TV.
Before working as a high-profile drug counselor, Forrest struggled with drugs himself in the 1980s when he was in the band Thelonious Monster. Bahruth interviews many of Forrest’s former band mates as well as his contemporaries in the Los Angeles music scene: Anthony Kiedis, Flea, and Angelo Moore. These artists describe Forrest’s larger-than-life stage persona and songwriting skills that led him to critical acclaim.
Forrest, who maintains a strong sense of humor and self-awareness, recalls an incident in which he was described as a cross between Buddy Holly and Sid Vicious. He came to embrace his gawky appearance after that. From then on, concert footage shows the way in which a disheveled and unkempt Forrest captures the attention of West Hollywood groupies.
However, Forrest and his peers also explain how his heroin addiction derailed his promise as a musician. Bahruth utilizes some creative approaches, including the use of clay animation and animation to show parts of Forrest’s most drug-fueled years. Forrest is very candid about his addiction and its damage. He evens traces his upbringing in Palm Springs and reveals a shocking family secret that he discovered soon before he began abusing drugs and alcohol.
On Celebrity Rehab, both Forrest and Pinsky often mention how an addict has to hit rock bottom before getting on the road to recovery, and Forrest explains his own life-endangering low point before finally succeeding at rehab. In the last quarter of the film, Bahruth shows how a newly sober Forrest finds his true calling as a counselor. In little more than a decade, he evolves from a charismatic volunteer helping penniless musicians enter treatment to operating his own outpatient recovery center.
And through it all, Bob Forrest, who has changed dramatically over three decades, remains as idealistic and passionate as ever.
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