SINGER James Arthur says his secret fling with Rita Ora led to a wild sex addiction.
The 2012 X Factor winner had “magic” nights with Rita, 26, before she dumped him.
He admitted “turning into a slag” after his fling with Rita Ora ended — with a constant stream of women coming to his flat for sex.
The singer says he chatted up hundreds of girls and would invite “one in the day and another at night, then a different one the next morning”.
But he said the encounters were “pure sex” and he failed to remember many of the trysts as he was so high on cannabis.
James opens up about his sex addiction — as well as his rise to fame and spiral into depression — in his new autobiography Back To The Boy, featured exclusively in The Sun on Sunday.
He said: “If I’m honest, I became a bit of a slag after Rita. I was chatting to hundreds of women online or on Whats-App after swapping numbers with them via Twitter, and I started to sleep with so many of them I lost count.
“They were usually the same type — Babestation girls or glamour models. If I saw someone I fancied I’d contact her on social media and tell her blatantly I wanted to have sex.
“It was ridiculously easy. There would be no emotional attachment and it would be just pure sex, and with one or two exceptions that was how it was.”
James had been riding high after winning The X Factor and hitting the chart with his single Impossible.
And he really thought he had hit the big time when Rita, who was a guest on the live shows, asked to meet him.
James said: “I was so puzzled that someone like Rita was actually interested in me. I told myself this couldn’t be real. Rita’s made a mistake. She must think I’m someone cool. This is so confusing.”
The pair met up while James was on The X Factor tour and ended up in Rita’s tour bus.
He added: “There was a lot of magic there and it was an amazing night. Rita seemed really, really into me, but I still couldn’t quite believe it.
“I wondered if she was a very good actress. I was very stoned that night and my paranoia was sky-high.
“Me and Rita met up a few more times after that and had some more amazing nights. ‘I’m in love with you,’ she told me one night. She said it so sincerely I wanted to believe her, though it seemed insane.”
But despite her declaration, Rita went cold on him. James said he was devastated when he saw pictures of her in the papers with other men.
He tried to reconnect, but said she “seemed to disappear”. He added: “I was heartbroken. It hit me really hard.”
Middlesbrough-born James said friends and family thought he was living the dream but he was craving his old life.
The singer said: “When I was back in my own reality — in my flat with nobody to share my life — I was so, so lonely. I craved normality and so many times I wanted to tell my sisters and my friends what I really thought: ‘I want so badly to go back to being in my old bedsit’.”
And while most thought things were going well for the young star on The X Factor tour, the reality was very different.
He added: “The X Factor tour was a blur in my memory because I was so stoned and drugged up on all my anti-depressants every time I went on stage.
“I was struggling for survival every day and I didn’t even feel like myself. Under my skin, I was still the same frightened, fearful little boy I’d always been.”
Looking back on his darkest days, James now sees how badly he coped after his split from Rita.
He said: “I had a lot of sexual encounters I can’t even remember, because I was so high on weed. I felt self-conscious about putting on weight, and sometimes I insisted on keeping my T-shirt on during sex, because I felt so fat and disgusting.
“For a long time I tried to kid myself I was only doing what any young guy in my position would do, and I also wondered if my extremely high sex drive had something to do with the medication I was on. It didn’t. The simple fact is I have an addictive personality coupled with a high sex drive made me a sex addict.
“I started bingeing on sex. I became as addicted to sex as I was to weed. I craved sex, I had to have it and I needed it to fill the void and make myself feel better.”
His anxiety had started to mount while on The X Factor. By week two he had suffered such a severe panic attack that he thought he was going to die. He says fear and anxiety are the two feelings that followed him his whole life.
And on the night he won the ITV singing contest, he went back to his hotel room and cried because he felt so lonely — and more addictions kicked in.
James explained: “I was on tour and I looked like a whale. I spent the time destroying myself with junk food and drugs. I lived on Burger King for breakfast, KFC for lunch and Subway and Domino’s pizzas for supper.
“I started having panic attacks on a nightly basis. Often it was something as innocuous as the sound of a train passing, making me catch my breath and feel instantly scared. I was always convinced each and every time that this was different, this was the killer attack.”
There were some plus points for James. He earned “hundreds of thousands” and enjoyed spending it on friends.
He took eight pals to Miami and says they will “still be talking about it when we’re old men”.
But his career began to falter after rows with record label Syco. And he began losing money as an addiction to gambling took hold.
He said: “It gave me a buzz I enjoyed when I was feeling low about all the things that were going wrong in my life, and it quickly became another addiction.
“I began doing accumulator bets on football games and UFC boxing matches. I’d smash on £1,000 when I was stoned, convinced I could win. Then I’d lose it all and just think ‘f*** it’.
“If I won I might blow £3,000 on another bet and lose the lot. I didn’t care.
“My antidepressants numbed my emotions so much that I was prepared to take the hit just to feel the buzz, just to feel something.” But he ended up almost £200,000 in debt and was 24 hours from bankruptcy. Then he was dropped by his label.
His anxiety attacks became a nightly occurrence, he began hearing voices and would visualise himself dead.
He admits to at one stage thinking of suicide. He said: “I just wanted to curl up in a ball and die, and I had demons telling me I should end it all. ‘Kill yourself, James. It’s over. Your life is not worth living. There is no future for you, just a big, black space’.”
In a desperate text to girlfriend Jessica Grist, a dancer on The X Factor, he said: “I hate myself. My mind is broken.”
James said: “I was on the edge, riddled with fear and self-loathing, panicking and crumbling under the agony of the deepest depression I’d ever experienced. There was no way I could ever claw myself back to sanity, let alone success.
“It’s taken three years to feel more comfortable in my own skin, and ready and able to explain the demons inside my head and how I’ve learned to cope.”
With his mental health back on track, James, who is now an ambassador for the charity SANE, staged one of pop’s most spectacular comebacks. Syco re-signed him a year ago, he had a No1 single and a platinum album in Back From The Edge.
He said: “During my recovery, I’d worked hard at teaching myself how to stand above my thoughts, to be aware of them, and watchful of them. I began to enjoy the positive benefits of the moment.
“I’ve learned so much about myself and how to deal with my issues and, because of everything I’ve been through, I’m much closer to knowing who I am.”
- Back to the Boy by James Arthur is published by Hodder & Stoughton on October 5 at £20.
CARE HOME AND WEED
JAMES traces his mental health issues back to his disrupted childhood.
His parents split when he was young and he said he was taken into care as a teen.
The singer said of his mum Shirley: “When she was in a bad mood she was vile and vicious. I grew to be afraid of her.
“My life was shattered and the pieces could never be put back.”
He went off the rails and self-medicated with weed, adding: “I was trapped in a vicious circle and like a zombie all the time.”
If you are concerned about your mental health, or someone you are close to, you can contact SANEline on 0300 304 7000.
It is open between 4.30pm and 10.30pm every day of the year to provide emotional support and information. For more details of this and other SANE services, visit www.sane.org.uk