The Prettiest Star: Whatever Happened to Brett Smiley

SAF Publishing Ltd (2006)

Fourteen and forlorn, Nina Antonia escaped the torment of her teens with dreams of Marc Bolan and the New York Dolls. They ruled supreme in her glam rock universe – until the night she saw Brett Smiley on the Russell Harty TV Show.

Appearing to reside in very different worlds, Nina and Brett shared the same wish – some kind of transformation through music. The youngest child ever to play Oliver on Broadway, Brett seemed poised for stardom, and as the Seventies went into orbit, he found himself the protégée of Rolling Stones’ svengali Andrew Loog Oldham.

Coming to terms with her damaged childhood, Nina began writing about the lives of her teen idols, resulting in a friendship with former New York Doll, Johnny Thunders. Eventually she learned of Brett’s fall from the high life and his crash landing on the boulevard of broken dreams.

The Prettiest Star details two people’s search for redemption, and is a tender and sad love letter to the heady days of glitter, champagne, cocaine and platform boots.

Brett Smiley and Nina Antonia in 2003. Photography by Mykel Nicolau