At 4 p.m. Braun walks to Justin’s hotel room, where the pop star is just waking up, playing Temple Run on his iPhone in bed. Scooter tells Bieber he’ll be on his own for this part of the interview, proving his point about letting Justin be his own man. Braun’s final words before closing the door: “Don’t fuck up.”
Dressed in red from head to toe—red T-shirt, red adidas track pants, and red Vans Authentics—Bieber settles in on the couch, his hair restored to its infamous swoop. He wants to talk about a video that surfaced online showing him and his bodyguard rushing from their car into an airport terminal to avoid paparazzi, leaving a trail of disappointed fans. “The cameramen were waiting for me to come out of the car,” he says. “They thought it was going to be a minute, so they had their cameras down. I sprinted right by them, and they didn’t get any shots of me.” Unfortunately, he says, “I didn’t see the girls there, and it made me look awful.”
I give up a personal life, I give up friends and family to pursue what I love and make fans happy... There's no point in doing this if I'm not going to be the best.
Bieber is conscious of his fans, but not surprisingly, he’s less fond of the paparazzi. “I’ll be covering my face,” he says, “and it pisses me off so much when people say, ‘Get over it, Justin. You’re famous. People are going to take your picture. Suck it up, you’re rich…’ It’s like, ‘Yo, I just got off an eight-hour flight. I’m tired and my eyes have bags under them. I’m not trying to take pictures. I’m not going to come to your house, wake you up, and start snapping your picture.’”
The push-and-pull of JayBee’s coming-of-age came to a head last March when a picture surfaced on gossip sites showing Justin flipping off reporters. It was an image most people over 18 thought was awesome—but perhaps a moment that Justin’s younger fans didn’t understand. “I probably shouldn’t have done that,” Bieber says, explaining that he and his girlfriend were out celebrating his 17th birthday when their car was surrounded by photographers. (He later apologized on Twitter, promising next time he’d try to #killthemwithkindness.) “It was what it was. I’m not hiding from anyone. I am who I am, and I’m not perfect. I don’t want to give these kids the wrong impression. If they learn that from me, that’s not good.”
His problems haven’t always been so extraordinary. Braun recalls a story of Justin speaking at a school in Vegas and telling the kids that he had to steal clothes from the lost and found because he couldn’t afford new ones. Bieber’s tricky upbringing has been well documented. His mother had him when she was 17, and shortly after, his parents split. “They did the best they could, but it was tough for them,” Justin says. “They had to work on their relationship, and trying to raise a kid through that was hard. It made me stronger. There’s a lot of people that I know who wouldn’t be able to handle the position that I’m in now, because it’s too much pressure.”
Part of that pressure is handling criticism. Though he declines to comment on the paternity suit brought by a 20-year-old California woman who claims she hooked up with him after a concert in L.A., he laughs off other claims that have been written about him—like inhaling helium to help him hit high notes, and taking drugs to help him stay young. “Yeah, I’m actually a 40-year-old man in disguise,” he says with a smile. When asked about a recent V magazine shoot in which critics thought he looked feminine, Bieber is coolly dismissive. “Every guy has feminine qualities,” he says. “You’re raised by your mother and father, and I was raised mostly by my mother. I think the pictures turned out good—so whatever.”