FHM interview

Monday 21 January 2002

Six months ago, with a new film, Glitter, in the can and a soundtrack album to accompany it, Mariah Carey was looking forward to spending the rest of the year in the media spotlight. Which is exactly what happened - but not quite in the way the best-selling female artist of the Nineties intended. Rather than gracing the celebrity party pages, Mariah made headline news by cancelling all public appearances and checking into hospital for a brief time following what her publicist described as an "emotional and physical breakdown". Then, when she came out, the star was deemed fair game by the gutter press... "They followed me everywhere I went - outside my mother's house, outside my apartment," Mariah explains to FHM in a suite in New York's Soho Grand Hotel. "I would try to go and get something to eat, try to be 'normal', and these tabloid things would happen. It's tough trying to be normal while having a telephoto lens shoved up your ass."
It was no surprise to FHM that Mariah chose these hallowed pages to give her first ever interview following her troubles, and as these amazing pictures show, Mariah's back on top form. Wearing a tiny "wife beater" vest stretched to the point where its cotton threads are squealing, matched with blue jeans just as tight, Mariah Carey props herself up in her armchair. Her shirt is pulled up, exposing her midriff - a fashion trend she started ten years ago. "The funny thing is that I first rolled my jeans down because they made me look fat," she says as she reaches for her wine. "These are not good jeans to show you. But if you have tight jeans on, right, you want the butt to be tight." Then she nonchalantly rubs her buttock cheeks and sits back down.

So really - how are you?
Good. Life has been treating me well. I can't complain. Life hits you with lemons, you make lemonade. I asked for this fame and I got it, so this is what comes with it. Understandably, no-one is out there going, "Oh, poor Mariah."

The press seem to have marked you out as some kind of basket case with a tenuous grip on reality...
It's all been so much drama. The press totally over-sensationalised it. Even I'm guilty of it - I just read something about somebody I know and I'm like, "Is this true?" I don't hate the press; it's just that I've never experienced so much negative attention.

Then where do these stories come from?
Everybody thinks I'm like a cartoon character. Just today somebody told me they were surprised I was doing this interview in a hotel because they'd heard I wouldn't walk on carpet! I'm like, "I lived in a hotel for three years, so what else would I walk on? What am I gonna do, fly into the room?"

How did you lose that annoying accent New Yorkers speak with?
I never had an accent. My mother is from the Midwest - she's an opera singer and an elocution queen. I'm half black Venezuelan.

Did that mean you were picked on as a kid?
I would have beat you up in school, probably. I beat every boy in arm wrestling in my whole grade. Except a kid named Ritchie... I don't think people really understood what I was. I knew that I wasn't exactly like my mother, but then I'd be out with my father and people would look at us at the store, saying things like: "Did someone kidnap this little girl?" I'm a mutt.

And what do people pick on you for now, as an adult?
Everyone ragged on me for wearing short skirts. In public I can wear all the little ensembles. But to me it's dress-up. My friends will see my video and ask, "Must the shorts be that short?" I don't think the short shorts are a problem. I'm not against ass cheeks.

Did you therefore discover the power of the hot pant early in life?
I was an insecure little girl who didn't think she was pretty; then I put on a pair of tight jeans and the next-door neighbour started following me around! I was like, "I guess I can work this angle." He helped my self-esteem.

With clothes that tight, there must be times you just "pop out"...
Why, did I pop out at the shoot? Was it like, "Pow?" Once backstage I had this brilliant idea for a costume change. I was back there practically nude and the guys were... Well, it wasn't the kind of thing to try and do on live TV.

You were once a waitress. Did you ever indulge in any waitress revenge, like dropping a steak then putting it back on the plate?
Nooooo! I'm too freaked out about that. I don't want someone doing that to me. I'm the most germaphobic freak under the sun. I don't want to be contributing to that, in case the karma got back to me.

Apparently you once shaved off your eyebrows. Did they grow back all bushy?
They didn't look stellar, I'll put it that way. I did it as an act of idiocy - I didn't know that you weren't supposed to shave them, you were supposed to pluck them. It was a mess.

We noticed that when you were relaxing during the photo shoot you were wearing what looks like a tiny bandanna as a top. Will this be the next Mariah trend?
It was spur-of-the-moment. It is a bandanna, you're right. Tonight alone, three people have come up to me about it.

If you could be a man for a day, what would you do? Drill a hole, chop down a tree or programme the video...
I'd probably be a drag queen. I've never wanted to be a man. I don't have those fantasies of wanting to be one. I am such a girl - look at how I walk around. I live for girl moments.

(FHM magazine)

Many thanks to Mariah Buzz.

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