Katy Perry | Interview
Former Jesus freak Katy Perry made bi-curiosity mainstream. Now she turns economic adviser.
Katy Perry recorded her first album at 15, moved out from Mom and Dad’s at 17, then found a place in Beverly Hills and began working with pop superproducer Glen Ballard. It was a charmed life for a teenager—until that would-be breakthrough record was canned. Her next record, with hit-makers the Matrix, was shelved, too. Over seven years, the California girl bounced from label to label, evolving from Christian rocker to pinup. One day, as you might have heard, she kissed a girl. We caught up with the new star while she prepped for a gig in England.
Time Out Chicago: You were terribly ill recently. Gossip has it you blew chunks at the Brit Awards.
Katy Perry: A little bit in my mouth. I didn’t throw up a lot, which everybody was saying. I desperately needed to go home.
TOC: The tabloids also said you barfed on Lionel Richie—just a bizarre rumor?
Katy Perry: He presented me my award. But no, I did not throw up on him at all!
TOC: You took the prize for Best International Female Artist, right?
Katy Perry: Yeah, totally surprised about that one. I beat Beyoncé, which I never, ever thought would happen, and Santigold, who is probably the most deserving.
TOC: It’s not like you haven’t put in the work, with four record deals this decade and two albums shelved.
Katy Perry: Getting dropped, I’ve had a lot of people behind my back say, “It’s over. This is it for her. She’s damaged goods.” It’s no fucking field trip, man. It’s hard work.
TOC: You don’t have any other skills, is what you’re saying.
Katy Perry: Well, I could have been a clown .
TOC: In Blender, you claim you can skate a half-pipe in high heels. You lie.
Katy Perry: Oh, no way! I can hit a half-pipe, but I am not very good at it. I skated for two years and would eat shit in heels. I say stuff that is, like, please put, “Obviously, I am joking” next to it. But they fail to do that.
TOC: Those high-rise Jane Russell shorts—they can’t be comfortable.
Katy Perry: [Laughs] I know Jane Russell; she’s a friend of my family. I’ve tried to honor her. They are as short as can be.
TOC: My girlfriend is damning you for bringing them back. She wants to know if they “hurt your lady parts.”
Katy Perry: Ha, call your girlfriend and tell her I’m sorry! I love the high-waisted thing. I wear jeans that hit me right at the waist ’cause I got a small waist, big boobs and a butt. I try and stick to those features.
TOC: Wait: You know Jane Russell? I thought she was dead.
Katy Perry: She is a sweet lady. She is 86 or 87 now. Is Shirley Temple alive?
Katy Perry: Shirley Temple is alive! I’d love to meet that woman.
TOC: Speaking of old Hollywood actresses, your uncle directed Mommie Dearest?
Katy Perry: Yeah, that wore off on me, too. My parents were more open to those movies than Basic Instinct or whatever was cool in the ’90s. I grew up watching Doris Day and Jane Russell, not Madonna or Courtney Love.
TOC: That seems rather contrary to your much-reported evangelical youth. Joan Crawford whipping her kid with a hanger isn’t exactly Disney.
Katy Perry: My parents were more of modern rock & roll believers. I listened to Christian rock. It wasn’t just all, [Sings] “Oh, happy days. His eyes are sparrows.”
TOC: You broke up with Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes not long after he got some new ink. So: Hall & Oates tattoos on the hands—deal breaker?
Katy Perry: Not at all! It’s actually bonus points. Hall & Oates are the best group ever.
TOC: Does the tabloid spotlight influence your search for a new lover?
Katy Perry: The dating process isn’t on my mind. I am doing things people would give their kidneys to do. Don’t worry, I have love when I want it.
TOC: Speaking of which, I was listening to “I Kissed a Girl” today when I passed two homeless people making out. Feel free to use that.
Katy Perry: Sure, they only have 15 teeth instead of 27, God bless them. Homeless are allowed to make out if they love each other. It’s real. Welcome to the era of hope. I think things are turning around.
TOC: It’s going on the record: Katy Perry predicts an economic turnaround.
Katy Perry: Save up on all of your Y2K grains and beans! When Y2K was going to hit, my dad stocked up on rice and beans. I was like, “Are you kidding me, Father?”
TOC: He must’ve been stuck eating beans and rice for a year.
Katy Perry: Yes! Totally! Once you commit to nuclear winter, there’s no going back.
Perry plays the House of Blues March 26.