Stop the presses: There are apparently some people out there who think that allowing your offspring to become a child star isn't such a great idea. Shocking, right? But not as shocking as the fact that Billy Ray Cyrus is one of them.
That's right—Daddy Salvia, who not only allowed his daughter Miley Cyrus to become the star of Hannah Montana as an impressionable young teen but starred in the show right alongside her, can keep his silence no more and has spoken out to GQ about his daughter's recent bout of downward spiraldom (see what too much partying in the USA can get you?).
Turns out, he blames the show. For everything. And we mean everything.
"Oh, it's huge—it destroyed my family," he said. "I'll tell you right now—the damn show destroyed my family."
And despite (or maybe because of) the fame and money it brought to him and his daughter, Billy Ray said he regrets the decision to let the show move forward and would not choose the same path were he allowed to do the whole thing over again.
"I hate to say it, but yes…I'd take it back in a second," he told GQ. "For my family to be here and just be everybody OK, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I'd erase it all in a second if I could."
And not just because of the hit it gave to his reputation.
While Papa Cyrus makes it clear that he willingly joined the show (for "peanuts") in order to be near his daughter, he also claims that it was that proximity that seemingly implied his tacit approval on just about every scandal Miley's been involved in. And there have been a lot.
"Every time something happened in Miley's career, every time the train went off the track, if you will—Vanity Fair, pole-dancing, whatever scandal it was—her people, or as they say in today's news, her handlers, every time they'd put me…'Somebody's shooting at Miley! Put the old man up there!' Well, I took it, because I'm her daddy, and that's what daddies do. 'Okay, nail me to the cross, I'll take it…'
"All those people around, they used me every time. It became so obvious that, man, no matter what happens, they're going to put you up there and let you take the bullet."
However, sometime around last year, Billy Ray got tired of the target practice. He even sat out Miley's recent 18th birthday party because it was being held in a bar, something he very much disapproved of.
"It was wrong," he explained. "It was for 21 years old and up. Once again all them people, they all wanted me to fly out so that then when all the bad press came they could say, 'Daddy endorsed this stuff…'
"I started realizing I'm being used. If I would have went out there I would have been right in the middle of all this stuff that's going on right now with the bong. They'd be hanging my ass. I had the common sense…I said, 'This whole thing's falling apart up there and they just want to blame all this stuff on you again.' I'm staying out of it."
A wise move, in retrospect.
"And that was on the heels, the week previous, of some pictures from Spain—a five- or seven-day period of just boom!" he said, referring to the photos that emerged of Miley cradling a Corona abroad.
Which was nothing compared to the footage of her smoking salvia—something Billy Ray says her people—er, handlers—knew was coming and purposely kept him in the dark about.
"There's a trainwreck happening and my daughter's right in the middle of it. I didn't know what the footage was. They told me it was none of my business.
"You know, it seems at this point there's not a lot I can say she doesn't already know," he said, noting at the time of the interview—just before Christmas—that he hadn't spoken to his daughter since the video emerged.
"I've done some stupid crap—I do stupid crap. We all do. But it's different when you sit back and you see it happening to your little girl. I feel like I got to try. It's my daughter. And some of these handlers are perhaps more interested in handling Miley's money than her safety and her career."
However, Billy Ray says that, at least, is something he can never be accused of.
"For the record, to set it straight, I want to tell you: I've never made a dime off of Miley. You got a lot of people have made percentages off of her. I'm proud to say to this day I've never made one commissioned dollar, or dime, off of my daughter."
And that's including his Hannah Montana pay.
"I knew I was working for peanuts. I'm not the smartest man in the world, but I know the difference. I went from $12,000 a week to, after four years and the millions that they make, $15,000 a week. Hell, yeah."
Insulting finances aside, Billy Ray said that the show "was driving a wedge between us."
Of course, he is willing to take some of the blame—he says that his problem was that he tried too hard to be a friend to Miley and not hard enough to be a parent.
"I should have been a better parent," he said. "I should have said, 'Enough is enough—it's getting dangerous and somebody's going to get hurt.' I should have, but I didn't. Honestly, I didn't know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere."
It was something that became abundantly clear last year.
"Season four, it was a disaster. I was going to work every single day knowing that my family had fallen apart, but yet I had to sit in front of that camera. I look back and I go, how did I ever make it through that? I must be a better actor than I thought."
As for Miley now, Billy Ray likens her to Kurt Cobain, Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson over the course of the conversation, but backtracks a bit when it's pointed out that it's not exactly the most flattering company to be in.
"I'm her daddy so maybe I'm a little sensitive to it, but now's a real good time to make sure everything's OK," he said. "An ounce of prevention's worth a pound of cure."
Still, Billy Ray is keeping his daughter's best interests at heart.
"I'm scared for her. She's got a lot of people around her that's putting her in a great deal of danger. I know she's 18, but I still feel like as her daddy I'd like to try to help. Take care of her just a little bit, to at least get her out of danger. I want to get her sheltered from the storm. Stop the insanity just for a minute. When you go through what she's been through, it takes a beating on you. And there comes a point where you just got to step back."