Estella Marie Thompson
|Estella Marie Thompson|
|Born||August 9, 1969|
|Known for||Her arrest with Hugh Grant|
Estella Marie Thompson (born August 9, 1969), also known as Divine Brown, is an American former sex worker who gained public attention in 1995 when Hugh Grant, an English actor, was caught receiving oral sex from her in a car on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard. Thompson has remained in the public eye since then through work in pornography, television appearances and newspaper interviews.
Thompson grew up in poverty in the eastern part of Oakland, California. She was one of six children of a single mother. Having herself become a mother of two girls, she turned to prostitution when she could not pay a $133 electricity bill. Going to Union Square in San Francisco one night, she earned $1,000 in five hours: "I just wanted the best for my children and I didn't want them to struggle as hard as I had, so I did what I had to do. I wanted to make money, you know, do the right thing ... go home and raise my children and just have a good life, a good quiet positive life."
Arrest with Hugh Grant
On June 27, 1995, Thompson and British actor Hugh Grant were arrested together in Los Angeles; Thompson was performing oral sex on the actor in his car at the time. Grant had flashed the lights of his BMW at her, and she had gone into a side street to meet with him. Thompson's charge for going to her hotel room was $100; Grant only had $60 on him, so they agreed she would perform her service in the car. According to Thompson, the attention of a policeman was alerted by Grant repeatedly pressing the brake pedal of his BMW with his foot, causing the brake lights to flash.
Charged with lewd conduct, she pled no contest on September 6, 1995. In addition to being ordered to attend an AIDS class and perform five days of community service, she was fined $1150 for parole violations and sentenced to 180 days in jail. Hugh Grant pleaded no contest and was fined $1,180, placed on two years' summary probation, and was ordered to complete an AIDS education program.
Other legal troubles
In September 1996, Thompson was arrested at the MGM Grand Las Vegas in Paradise after flirting and making suggestive comments to undercover police officers. A police officer involved in the operation was quoted as saying, "She didn't actually solicit, but the police officers knew what she was up to." The arrest resulted in a $950 fine for loitering for the purpose of prostitution and resisting arrest. Thompson denied she was still involved in prostitution.
Thompson only learned who her client had been when reporters besieged her house the day after her arrest. In the publicity that ensued in the days after her encounter with Grant, Thompson appeared on a number of television shows, including The Howard Stern Show and Danny Bonaduce's short-lived Danny!. She appeared in a television commercial promoting a Los Angeles radio station, a commercial for a Brazilian lingerie company, in semi-nude pictures for soft-porn magazines like Penthouse, and as a presenter on UK pornography channel Television X. In 1996 she played herself in an X-rated docu-drama based on the incident, Sunset and Divine: The British Experience, directed by adult film star Ron Jeremy.
Thompson continued to stay in the public awareness, appearing in Joey Buttafuoco's public-access television show in 1998, on Judge Judy in 1999, and on the Danish documentary series Negermagasinet in 2005. She was the subject of the biopic Million Dollar Hooker in 2006 and appeared on Hollywood Lives, an ITV television series, in 2007.
Thompson has been reported to have earned a total of $1.6 million from publicity related to her arrest with Grant. As a result, she and her manager, partner and father of her children, Alvin C. "Gangsta" Brown, bought a four-bedroom home in Beverly Hills and became affluent. Thompson has said the money she earned from interviews and endorsements after the infamous 1995 interrupted dalliance has allowed her to put her daughters through private school. "Everything worked out for the better," she said in 2007: "It helped me turn it into something positive … I was blessed that it could get me out of that lifestyle."
Grant, asked in a 2003 Times interview about how he viewed his encounter with Thompson in retrospect, said, "I think, ultimately, the pros and cons about evened out, actually. I remember saying to my agent the night of the event – I was very drunk – 'Is this bad for my career?' He was a very Hollywood guy, for whom everything is fantastic, and even he [...] had to say: 'Oh, it's not great.' But on the other hand, there were odd things coming out of it that were quite positive, in a way. So I have to say, in all honesty, I think it was kind of neutral."
In 2007, Thompson said she had separated from Brown, although they were still friends. She said she had a new fiancé and was pursuing a music career.
TV guest appearances
- Howard Stern: April 30, 1996, May 1, 1996
- ECW Hardcore TV, episode 163 June 4, 1996 "Fight The Power '96": June 1, 1996
- WENN (August 28, 2010). "Former prostitute thanks Grant for changing her life". Wonderwall. MSN. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
- "Vice girl turned millionairess Divine Brown can't thank Hugh Grant enough". Mail Online. July 6, 2007.
- Dugan, Emily (July 7, 2007). "Dumb luck, divine intervention?". The Age. Retrieved August 11, 2009.
- "Hugh Grant interview". Times Online. February 2, 2003. Retrieved May 2, 2010.(subscription required)
- Hollywood Hooker Divine Brown Starts Jail Term Daily News, November 2, 1995 (From Google News Archive)
- ANNE E. KORNBLUT (September 10, 1996), "DIVINE'S NOT OFF THE HOOK YET", New York Daily News
- Matthew Ross Lippman Contemporary Criminal Law: Concepts, Cases, and Controversies Google Books
- "All is not divine when Brown stands on street corners" The Post-Standard, November 22, 1996
- Telly Dream Team Daily Star, April 13, 2008
- "Nardwuar vs Ron Jeremy" Nardwuar.com
- Transcripts: Showbiz Tonight CNN.com, February 6, 2007; Retrieved May 25, 2007
- Divine Brown Rotten.com
- Hugh's Divine intervention Sydney Morning Herald, July 7, 2007
- Emily Dugan The $50 Trick (or how Divine Brown turned an encounter with Hugh Grant into her fortune) The Independent, July 3, 2007
- Divine Brown biography Rotten.com
- Divine Brown at the Internet Movie Database
- "Sunset and Divine: The British Experience (1996)" IMDb.com
- Divine Brown Lukeisback.com - Luke Ford on the filming of Sunset and Divine