Caroline Graham In Los Angeles For The Mail On Sunday
With her revealing outfits and faux lesbian affairs, Rita Ora has built a career out of being controversial.
But when The X Factor judge revealed to the world that she was dating tattooed rocker Travis Barker, it led some to speculate that the publicity-hungry singer had taken on more than she can handle.
Because according to his former wife, the American brings with him not just a wild appearance and history of substance abuse, but an addiction to infidelity which left her broken and humiliated.
‘Real thing’: Talent show judge Rita Ora and her tattooed boyfriend Travis Barker chat at a baseball match
As she explains in an interview with The Mail on Sunday: ‘Our marriage was plagued by his addictions to pills and other women.
‘He constantly cheated on me. Living with him was like being on a rollercoaster – he’s a Jekyll and Hyde character. I wish Rita good luck – she’ll need it.’
Barker, a former drug addict who at 39 is 15 years Ora’s senior, described his new girlfriend in gushing terms as the pair enjoyed a night out in LA last week.
While the Blink 182 star may not be well known in Britain, in the United States he is widely considered to be one of the finest drummers of his generation.
‘Travis is cool,’ says Shanna, a former Miss USA. ‘I think that’s the attraction. Rita’s trying to make it in America and Travis knows everyone in the music industry.
‘For Travis, she’s a hot 24-year-old who makes him look young and relevant. They are both people who crave publicity so it’s a good match. I just hope Rita understands what she is getting into.’
A softly spoken 40-year-old, Shanna describes her relationship with her ex-husband as ‘toxic’.
Ex-wife: Shanna Moakler, a former Miss USA (above), says her former husband had an addiction to infidelity which left her broken and humiliated
He has written a memoir, set to be published this month, in which, she alleges, ‘he trashes me and our relationship, and makes me out to be an unfit mother. I want the truth out there and I also think Rita deserves to know the type of man he is.’
The pairing of Ora, who arrived in the UK as a baby after her middle-class parents fled Kosovo (her father owns a London pub, her mother is a psychiatrist) and blue-collar Barker, raised in the poverty-stricken LA suburb of Fontana (his father was a mechanic) seems an unlikely one.
But Shanna, the daughter of a dentist, says: ‘Middle-class girls are often attracted to boys from the wrong side of the tracks.’
Rita has previously dated superstar DJ and producer Calvin Harris and Ricky Hilfiger, the son of fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.
Privately, the singer – whose latest romance first blossomed at a Hollywood baseball game last month – has said the lanky drummer ‘could be the real thing’.
Shanna and Barker met in 2002, married two years later and divorced in 2008, yet remained living together until 2012 for the sake of their children – Landon, 12, and Alabama, nine.
Shanna was ‘shocked’ to read Barker has already introduced Ora to their children, adding: ‘I guess Travis must be serious about Rita if she’s met the children.’
Once she became a mother and her husband’s band broke up, he became addicted to drugs, Shanna alleges.
‘He was a serious pill addict. It’s something he’d never hidden. That made him have wild mood swings.
‘He became more famous and surrounded himself with people who were bad people. I always told Travis the truth but he had this entourage, people who had everything to gain from partying with him and doing drugs. They didn’t want the wife around.
’Shanna says Barker began cheating ‘with dozens of women – groupies, celebrities, anyone’, including, she alleges, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
Dating: Rita and Travis are pictured at the Power 106 All-Star Game in Los Angeles, California, last month
‘Cheater’: Shanna (pictured with Travis) said of her ex-husband: ‘He constantly cheated on me. Living with him was like being on a rollercoaster – he’s a Jekyll and Hyde character. I wish Rita good luck – she’ll need it’
‘He would sit and criticise me as a mum and as a person and then go and have these really public affairs. I was so humiliated. We’d split then get back together.
‘He was verbally and emotionally abusive. He constantly told me I was fat and unattractive. I lost all sense of self-esteem. My confidence was crushed. He would scream abuse at me and tell me I was a lousy mother, a terrible wife. This went on and on.
‘I wanted to keep my family together. I loved him. I still love him as the father of my kids. It’s important to me that our children know they were born out of love.
‘Travis is a serial womaniser. When we were together I would go through his phone and find endless messages from women he was hooking up with. It was soul-crushing but like a lot of women I stuck with him for the sake of our kids. I wanted to try to make it work.
Dressed up: Ora is seen at the premiere of Jeremy Scott: The People’s Designer in Los Angeles last month
‘Women and fame were an addiction for him just as much as the drugs were. The more fame and attention Travis got, the more of a monster he became at home. I loved him but had to get out for my own sanity.’
She says Barker is now clean and sober but is a ‘deeply unhappy person’.
She adds: ‘In his book he portrays me as a terrible mother. He’s obliterated any happy memories I had of the decade we spent together. It’s hurtful – and all to sell a few more books. He’s trashed the mother of his kids to sell a book. That’s pretty low.
‘Rita’s young. She’s a girl who likes to take risks but I wonder if she truly understands what she is taking on with Travis. I am in a good place now and I’ve moved on with my life.
‘I genuinely wish Rita well if she’s in love with Travis. Frankly, she’s welcome to him.’