Jodie Marsh: ‘This is the happiest I’ve ever been’

The ex-glamour model tells heat why she's finally living her dream life

Jodie Marsh in a pink dress sitting on a horse

by Kay Ribeiro |
Updated on

Going to Jodie Marsh’s Fripps Farm in Essex feels like winning Willy Wonka’s golden ticket. Not only is the animal sanctuary not yet open to the public – although she makes exceptions for some people with special needs, and gives everyone an insight in her brilliantly titled YouTube show Filthy – but we get a full tour of all the animals and she feeds us delicious orange and chocolate vegan cake afterwards. Best. Day. Ever.

The 44-year-old Jodie we meet today is a far cry from the celeb we’ve interviewed countless times in the past. Gone are the boob-covering diamanté belts (technically they’re not gone-gone, she still wants to auction them for the right price), fake tan and insanely ripped abs from her body-building days, and in its place is a knackered-but-utterly-content woman who has clearly found her purpose in dedicating her life to the wellbeing of animals.

And we have to say, after our day down on the farm, we’re totally bowled over by what Jodie and her equally passionate team are doing, and pledge to help. That’s if we can make it past Pam the feisty emu first…

Jodie Marsh on Fripps Farm with her animals
Jodie's left behind showbiz to work on Fripps Farm ©Nicky Johnston/heat

How did this new direction come about?

Basically, I’ve wanted this animal sanctuary my whole life, it’s always been my dream. What happened was my mum got head and neck cancer in 2019 – it was absolutely horrific – and I gave up everything to care for her full-time with my dad. I’d always rescued cats and dogs, but when she was sick, I realised that the place I was living in had a really big garden, and I could start rescuing a few more animals. So, I got some goats, I got some ponies, and one thing led to another. Before I knew it, it was a proper rescue centre. But it was my mum’s sickness that made me do it because it made me look at my own life and think, “I know the only thing that’s going to make me happy is to have an animal sanctuary. So, why am I waiting?”

What happened then?

Then my mum died, and I was just a mess for a long time. The only thing that saved me were the animals. And it sort of snowballed, because suddenly everybody wanted me to rescue their animals. The Fripps Farm Instagram’s got such a big following now, and people see that the animals are getting better care here than anywhere else in the world and are so loved.

This isn’t a fad for you, either, is it?

It’s really not. This is my life now. The only thing that’s going to change is we’ll get bigger and bigger because my dream is to rescue all kinds of animals – giraffes and camels and zebras.

What have you got now?

We’ve got cats, dogs, meerkats, skunks, hedgehogs, snakes, lizards, donkeys, ponies, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, alpacas, emus, owls, chickens, turkeys, peacocks, guinea fowl, pheasants, geese, ducks, doves… Did I miss any out? I might have missed someone out.

Jodie Marsh and her mum
Jodie started the animal sanctuary after her mum died ©Instagram/@jodiemarshtv

Who are the main stars?

Definitely Ron the goat, because he looks like he puts rollers in his hair every morning. Everyone loves Ron, not just for his hair, but because he’s so needy with me. Then there’s Ernie, the shonkey. Apparently, there’s only two in the whole world, and he’s one of them. He’s the rarest animal here and he’s very special. His dad is a full-size donkey and his mum is a miniature Shetland. He’s so full of character, and again, he likes cuddles. Maximus is our little star at the moment, because he is a pony that was left for dead at the side of the road. The vet told us he was two hours away from death. Everybody is in love with Maximus, because it’s a horrible story and the picture I put up of when he was found is so horrific, and then when you see the transformation in him now – he defied all odds. Emoo is the favourite emu. I hand-reared her and then she broke her beak, and I had to tube feed her for six months, so she just thought I was her mum. She gives the best cuddles. Pam the emu is the feistiest animal on the farm and she likes everybody to know she’s in charge.

Have you got a favourite?

I shouldn’t say this, but Mabel the meerkat is my favourite of all of them. I hand-reared her because her mum rejected her and Mabel thinks I’m her mum, and she’s just everything – she’s so human. I’m that close to her and bonded, I know what she’s thinking. It’s a deep connection.

How can people help the cause?

On the Fripps Farm website, there’s a Get Involved page and there are so many ways to help. You can give money and do it to suit you, so you can literally give a pound if that’s all you can afford, or you can do monthly subscriptions, and you can do those for as little as a pound a month. I can’t tell you how much that helps us. Genuinely.

How will £12 a year impact the farm?

It costs me about 16 grand a month to run this place – that’s with all the food, vets’ bills, the farrier, the shearing, the medication, building the shelters, maintaining the shelters, the fences, everything. Fripps Farm has 150,000 followers on Instagram, I’ve got 400,000-odd on mine. Imagine if all of them gave a pound. People think it doesn’t make a difference, but it bloody does. So far, we’re up to about 13 grand a month from the one-pound subscriptions.

That’s amazing. Do you still do OnlyFans to subsidise it?

Yeah. At the moment, I’m basically doing it to fund the farm. When I moved here, I had to put fencing in to secure all the animals and it cost 60 grand. I wouldn’t have been able to pay for that if it wasn’t for OnlyFans. No way. I do OnlyFans to pay Steph [the farm manager] to be here full-time.

How did you meet your boyfriend Mark?

I met Mark because he’s a builder and he built animal enclosures for me. He started working here properly this February and basically one thing led to another. He’s really lovely and he just gets it. I have to be with someone that loves animals and understands that they come first. It’s not a normal life, I can’t go out loads and I don't want to. I’m happier here than I am anywhere else in the world.

Has he got the animals’ seal of approval?

Yeah, very much so. The animals all love him and he loves them.

Jodie Marsh and her boyfriend Mark
Jodie met her builder boyfriend Mark when he worked on her farm ©Instagram/@jodiemarshtv

What was a night out like for you 20 years ago?

Well, I wouldn’t go out till 10pm, then I’d get in at 8am. Now, I’m out at 1am checking on all the animals, making sure everybody’s locked up and safe. I don’t go to bed until I’ve done a last check on everybody.

Is it weird looking back at your celebrity days?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m massively proud of some of the things I did. The bodybuilding – I became champion of America – that was insane. I’m massively proud of that. I’m really proud of the documentaries I made about bullying in schools and afterwards being invited to Downing Street three times for my anti-bullying work. I’m proud that I had the most front covers of the lads’ mags – I loved modelling for Zoo magazine. I’m proud of it all, and had some great times. I met some incredible people, like I’ve been to premieres and met Tom Cruise and Jack Black and Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and Justin Timberlake. Jamie Foxx sang a song to me, and Usher asked me out on a date.

Er, what?

Yeah, I’ve had some crazy times. I took Coolio as my plus one to a wedding – a normal wedding, not a celebrity wedding. Literally my mate’s down the road in Brentwood. I got a plus one and I just thought, “Who am I gonna f**king bring?” So, I brought Coolio and he got up and sang Gangsta’s Paradise for the bride and groom, then got them up and got them to sing it with him.

That’s incredible…

They said it was the best wedding present in the world. So, yeah, I’ve got some cool stories. Life has been amazing.

Jodie Marsh's belts outfits
Jodie Marsh's iconic belts outfit will go down in showbiz history ©REX/Shutterstock

Back in the day, you had your famous belts outfit. Are dungarees as sexy as it gets now?

No. I wear crotchless knickers under my joggers.

What, for ventilation?

No, for Mark! But I do it to wind him up on the farm. He’ll ask me what knickers I’ve got on and I’ll just drop my trousers and show him, and then he can’t concentrate for the rest of the day.

Brilliant. Do you still have any famous mates?

I don’t give a shit about showbiz, or how I look, or about my weight or anything. I genuinely would rather be here than at some premiere, and I feel like a lot of celebs would rather be at the premiere than doing anything meaningful in life. I’m good friends with Jessie Wallace and Linda Henry from EastEnders. They’re both wonderful, and Linda is a massive animal lover and just adores what we do here. What’s been interesting is seeing what celebs have got back in touch and which ones, some I didn’t even know in the first place, are now supporting the farm. So, for example, Nicole and Natalie Appleton, who I don’t know, just phone up my local food shop and order food for the animals and have it sent to me. I don’t ask them to do that, they just do it. It’s blown me away, but the public blow me away as much as the celebrities. I regularly end up in tears from messages of support from the public.

We already know the answer to this, but are you happy?

This is the happiest I’ve ever, ever f**king been. Ever. This is not just what I wanted to do, but this is what I should’ve been doing. This is all I’ve ever wanted and more.

Find out more and donate at Follow @frippsfarm on Insta, and Filthy is on YouTube.

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