Katy Perry proves that pop is more than just cherries and bubble gum.
This feature originally appeared in Complex's June/July 2009 issue.
The crowd gathered outside Fenway Park is buzzing, just as you’d expect on an early spring night in Boston. But there’s not a Big Papi jersey in sight. Instead, the line snaking along the block is for Katy Perry’s concert at the House of Blues. The child of pastors and one-time gospel-rocker has parlayed infectious fruit-flavored hits like “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot and Cold” into a sold-out 50-city concert tour. And somewhere along the way, her career became a blueprint for aspiring pop stars.
Everything is calculated: the bright red lipstick; the pin-up aesthetic; the irreverent titles and earworm hooks. But where it might seem cynical coming from anyone else, Katy makes it work. Hell, she makes it honest. At a time when pop music is losing custody battles and undergoing domestic abuse trials, her candor helps her connect to all types of people—including us. She’s so comfortable in her skin that we can’t help but co-sign as wifey material. Just to make sure, though, we settled in with Ms. Perry before her show to talk about her sense of humor, past relationships and her two biggest blessings from God. And we liked her answers as much as she likes kissing girls. Or so we like to think.
I gotta say, these photos are a bit of a switch-up from the clothes we’re used to seeing you in.
It’s a bit of a darker side of me, a little S&M. Though I did have to hang from a cage, which could have easily gone wrong with the five-inch heels I was wearing.
Kind of a departure.
Well, [One of the Boys] was a little young—I made it between [the ages of] 17 and 23. I’ll be 25 this year when I start making my [new] record, so naturally some of the subject matter will be a little more mature. Not like I’m trying to prove anything to anyone—I’ll always order Shirley Temples.
I feel lucky to actually see you dressed down right now.
This is like an exclusive sneak peek. I stopped trying to be like Posh when flying in an airplane ’cause it’s so uncomfortable, and that’s pretty much where I get most of my sleep. Or on the bus. But I dress up every single night, full-blown drag-queen style. Hair, makeup, everything. There’ll be a costume, there’ll be some hot pants, there’ll be some legs, but right now I’m just kind of in my chill-time zone.
You’re big into style—even your ex [Travis McCoy] had a Complex sense of style about him, which gives a lot of hope to…
Your Complex readers? People that have “swagger”?
Exactly. Would you say that he’s your type?
What about a rapper-ternt-rocker like Lil Wayne?
That might be too grindhouse for me. I think T.I.’s really cute, though. I like the guys that have this face about them, which is like…you know, adorable, and cute, and almost looks like a baby pit bull. A little pit bull is so cute, and all rappers love little pit bulls. They have to have two or three.
Or 10 if you’re DMX.
He doesn’t have dogs anymore now. He’s not allowed to. Busted!
He’s obsessed with dogs—is it fair to say that you’re obsessed with fruit?
I’m obsessed with things that are kitsch—funny and ultimately just stupid and gaggy.
It makes for a great visual.
I came out like this 1940s pin-up girl, and of course that has evolved a little bit here and there, but if you ever go to the spots in L.A. for the rockabilly scene where all the girls’ hair is jet black, pale skin, red lips and they all have cherries on their cardigans, you’ll see where I got it from. I like this larger-than-life fruit thing. It’s like Miss Chiquita Banana…on E…from Japan. [Laughs.]
Has a guy ever tried to pick you up before like, “I’m really into fruit”?
No, because duh, that’s not something that turns me on. But I do get turned on by the fact that I was allowed to descend from the ceiling in a huge banana at the Grammys. When I pitched the idea to them, it was very innocent, but looking back at it, that looked like I just descended from a huge penis. [Laughs.] What a Spinal Tap moment it would’ve been if it just stopped in the middle.
Perez Hilton would’ve had a field day with that one. He seems to be a big fan of yours—how cool are you two?
Everyone wakes up and that site is like breakfast. He shits on everyone. He draws [semen] dots on my nose, out of my vagina. I’ve gotten to know him over the past year and he discovered me through Mika, who he loves and who’s an amazing artist as well. Perez knows that I like to keep it all about the music, he knows my grind is hard and I work every single day and nothing is for free—I’m not just some fucking idiot, wasted pop starlet that’s lost on an island somewhere.
Speaking of the gossip blogs, you’ve been linked to people who seem very different from you. [Like Josh Groban and Benji Madden, to name two.—Ed.]
If you have dinner with someone or happen to be at the same restaurant that the person is at, you’re either best friends or you’re bumping uglies. That’s just how it goes. I mean, I never hooked up and dated in the first place. I’m [into] a very one-woman, one-man type of situation; all the boyfriends I’ve had have been for at least two years, and I’ve only had like four boyfriends.
Why do you think the number is so low?
For me, it’s not a pastime, going out and meeting people and trying to hook up with people. That actually makes me feel disgusting. From a really early age, I was really sensitive to that. I mean, I love a good game of eye-fucking. Of course.
[Laughs.] Getting your flirt on is the best thing in the world, but when it comes to sharing bodily fluids with a person I don’t know, no thank you. Disgusting! Even if that’s saliva, you know? Some people don’t brush their teeth.
You’re not a bad girl, just a free spirit. Your parents would be proud.
My parents raised me strict, but they raised me with a good foundation and sense of integrity. They had their wild-child heyday, and they definitely needed to find God and I think that they’re a lot more rock ’n’ roll than anybody makes them out to be. My dad has four tattoos, but they all say “Jesus,” just in case you forget the first one does. One says “Jesus” in Hebrew, one says “Jesus” in calligraphy, one is like a stamp. So you know, they’re very cool. Of course they don’t agree with some things that come out of my mouth, but that’s been the case since I learned how to talk.
At least now I feel a little less weird about asking the next question...
Bring it, Complex. You’re so complex.
Well, the last three posts about you on the blog Egotastic have been…
About my boobs?
Yup. “Katy Perry Boobs. Wow,” “Katy Perry Cleavage Gets Classy in Esquire” and “Katy Perry Gives Good Cleavage.”
Since you come from a God-fearing family, would you consider them a blessing?
God gave me these and I use them to my greatest extent. [Laughs.] I’m not posing naked or anything.
No, you’re not posing naked. I know. I did research.
I’m not like Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian, but it’s there. That hourglass is there in some ways. You can ask Travis. It’s probably the best. [Laughs.] I’m probably going to get into trouble for saying this, but he said he was never a boob guy, he was always a butt guy, until he met me. ’Cause my shit don’t sag.
I mean, I don’t know!
People are always like, “Well, yours are fake,” and I’m like, “No, I just don’t go around screaming they’re not fake.” It’s all about doing push-ups. You know that, right? The push-ups keep them good and not like armpit pancakes.
Yeah, I need to do some of those. I’m getting man boobs, and I’ve never had them.
You will, you’re full-on Italian.
I was always the skinniest dude, and now it’s like…I had two Filet-O-Fish sandwiches at 3 a.m. the other night.
That’s disgusting. Were you drunk?
Yeah, kind of. Still, though, what is that? But enough about me. Last question: What’s the one thing that people always misunderstand about you?
They don’t realize I wrote the joke.
You’re in on it.
I’m in on the joke, folks.
ADDITIONAL CREDITS: (HAIR) Aaron Light for Redken at Celestine Agency. (MAKEUP) Todd Delanco. FIRST, SECOND, FIFTH & COVER IMAGE: Necklace by Zoe Chicco / Ring by Gara Danielle / Bra by Marlies Dekker / Swimsuit by Hervè Lèger by Max Azria / Jacket by 7 For All Mankind / Stockings by Wolford / Shoes by Davis by Ruthie Davis. THIRD & FOURTH IMAGE: Bra Corset by Marlies Dekker / Belt by Michael Angle / Leggings by Kova & T / Shoes by Rock & Republic / Bracelets by Rag & Bone. SIXTH IMAGE: Corset by The Blonds. SEVENTH IMAGE: Corset by Agent Provocatuer / Shorts by Patricia Field. EIGTH IMAGE: Dress by Dolce & Gabbana / Cuffs by Coco De Mer.