Perry the glam queen and sex dynamo pines for her lost innocence
The singer's racy image is a long way from her evangelical Christian roots, writes Barry Egan
Published 27/03/2011 | 05:00
The New York Times ran an intriguing tete a tete with catty Katy last year. In the interview, Mrs Russell Brand was asked whether she was disappointed in hindsight that she didn't finish high school.
The pop starlet's reply was epic je ne regret rien for the Obama generation: "No [I don't regret it] because spell-check exists everywhere."
Katy also noted succinctly that: "I think the 15-year-old me would be excited and flabbergasted, and also say, 'Put on some clothes'."
Put on some clothes is right. It is said she has studied Stanley Kubrick's Lolita movie to perfect her designer jailbait image. I wouldn't be at all surprised.
The minister's daughter from California has appeared with next to nothing on on the cover of more magazines than Russell Brand has had sessions in expensive clinics.
Her pronounced lack of inhibitions appears, on the surface, contradictory to her repressed evangelical Christian background.
This is also evident when she dances in five-inch Emilio Pucci heels and a bra rigged with whipped cream cans across the stage -- as she will tomorrow night at the 02 in Dublin -- imploring: "I wanna see your peacock! Cock! Cock! I wanna see your peacock!"
Or during I Kissed A Girl, we'll get to hear her holding forth on the joys of "cherry chapstick" (there are many interpretations of what's she's singing about; I'll leave it up to you to decide where you stand on her pseudo-lesbian lyrics.)
But who are we to say that Katy's raunchy antics, risque lyrics and choice of clothes -- or lack of thereof -- contradict what she was taught growing up? (She was on the front page of Rolling Stone in G-string that would have passed for floss.)
In Sex, God & Katy Perry Vanessa Grigoriadis writes of Perry's childhood and her parents' take on the world:
"They're born-again evangelical pastors and travelling ministers -- which means they book seminars and prayer circles at any church that will have them around the country.
"They banned Katy from attending co-ed parties and dances, didn't sign her up for sex education in school and forbade most pop culture, including magazines, TV and movies in the home."
"It was not a 'kumbaya' atmosphere," reflected Perry.
"I knew about hell from the moment I understood a sentence. I had felt boards with Satan and people gnashing their teeth.
"My mom and dad practise "tongues and interpretation" together -- my dad speaks in tongues and my mom interprets it.
"God is very much still a part of my life," Katy added. "But the way the details are told in the Bible, that's very fuzzy for me... I still believe that Jesus is the son of God, but I also believe in extraterrestrials, and that there are people who are sent from God to be messengers..."
Some people might debate that Perry has been sent from God. From Mary Magdalene more like. The Observer recently opined that Perry was a bit Barbara Windsor, a bit American cheerleader and, underneath, a lot hard-edged pop singer who's sold millions of records by moulding herself into the cheeky alternative to Rihanna and Lady Gaga."
Whatever Katy Perry is, she is credited with taming Russell Brand:
"He used to basically be a professional prostitute -- now he's not," she said after they got married last October. "So he's an extremist which can be both good and bad. I always needed someone stronger than me. And I am, like, a fucking strong elephant of a woman. I say that hopefully in the humblest way I can."
She is not everybody's cup of tea. Not so long ago Perry dubbed herself as a "fatter version of Amy Winehouse and a thinner version of Lily Allen", Lily was not best pleased. "It's like, you're not English and you don't write your own songs, shut up!"
In terms of her look -- slightly cartoonish -- Perry claims she has multi-personality disorder ("in a very good way, of course") when it comes to her fashion choices.
"When I first started playing around with my look, it was more of a Dita Von Teese pin-up thing," she told Harper's Bazaar last November, before adding that the burlesque look is too high maintenance and she lacked the dedication to carry it off.
For me, Perry is just a notch below being a glamtastic genius for our times. The Varga Girl-meets-Joan Jett looker explored brilliantly the dangers of going out with queeny metrosexual men on her debut single Ur So Gay, a song that still stands up since its release in 2008. Not that it would matter anyway as Perry always get her own way she says. "I was always very manipulative as a kid -- I got my way. Which has helped me my whole life."
But despite the out-of-kilter sexualised image, Perry seems to pine for lost innocence.
"I feel like I wanna be somewhat of a girl next door, but not as fucking sappy."
A girl next door if the Playboy mansion is next door, presumably.
Katy Perry plays The O2 tomorrow night in Dublin