Portrait of an Imperfect Angel
CONVERSATIONS - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - October 18, 2009 - 12:00am

SEOUL, South Korea — She’s really very nice. Consistently so. Like an angel.

I interviewed Mariah Carey for the first time more than a decade ago in Hong Kong where she promoted her album Butterfly. I was with five other Asian journalists who interviewed Mariah in bed. She was tired after a round of TV interviews so she requested us to sit around a bed inside a suite at a five-star hotel while she rested her weary body. It was fun!

My second encounter with her was in June last year in Tokyo where she promoted another album, E=MC2. Again spent-up after a hard day, she reclined on a couch during the interview, cooing, “You don’t mind, do you?” Who would!

Then, last Wednesday, I was face-to-face with Mariah for the third time, in this beautiful Korean city where she was promoting her 12th album titled Memoirs Of An Imperfect Angel (released locally by MCA Music, Inc.). She sat on a sofa, fresh as a daisy so to speak. As I did in Tokyo, I gave her a copy of The STAR which carried my previous interview and — surprise, surprise! — she was calling me by my nickname. (She was looking at the logo of my column, maybe?)

While the TV guys were checking my lapel mike, Mariah said, “How are you, Ricky?

    I said, “I’m okay.”

“Do you want anything?”

“No, none. Just being in front of you is good enough for me.”

She smiled. “How are people back home?

   I said, looking genuinely sad, “Not okay. Our country has just been ravaged by two giant typhoons.”

She replied with an equally sad look in her eyes, “Oh, is that so? I’m sad to know that. I will pray for them. They should keep on praying.”

“You were in the Philippines not so long ago, remember?” I reminded her.

“Oh yes. I stayed in this beautiful place but I forgot what its name was.”

“It’s Amanpulo. It’s in Palawan.”

Her eyes twinkled. “It was beautiful!”

I asked her about her album which has 21 tracks, one of them I Want To Know What Love Is which Mariah would sing that same night during a meet-and-greet with fans at the MTV Seoul studio.

“Each song is like an intimate conversation or entry in a private diary. A lot of the songs reflect specific, different times in my life. Others were inspired by movies, actual events that happened to me, or the stories of my friends who told me about experiences that they’ve gone through.”

Obviously, Mariah Carey has made it through the rain — very beautifully!

In the eyes of your fans, you are definitely an angel. Why “imperfect angel” in the title of your album?

“Well, nobody is perfect, right? Even an angel can’t be perfect. I got that from a book that I read sometime ago. ‘Imperfect angel.’ It sounds nice, doesn’t it?”

If ever you’ll write an autobiography, your “memoirs,” will it be a tell-all?

“No, I don’t think so. If I do a tell-all book, some people are bound to say ‘Ouch!’ I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes, you know. I will have to leave some things untouched, unexposed.”

I wonder, do you keep a diary?

Oh yes, I do. It’s a pretty little book. I write down my thoughts every day and then I lock it. Nobody can read what’s in it and I mean nobody. Only I have access to it. Remember, I hold the key.”

It must hold a lot of secrets.

“You bet. Hahahahaha!”

How do you divide your time between marriage (to singer-actor Nick Cannon) and career?

“It’s difficult because my husband and I are both working. He’s always going somewhere and I’m always somewhere else myself. But we do get together and spend really good times together.”

How soon do you plan to raise a family?

“As soon as we have enough time together.” (Laughs)

Let’s talk about some songs on your album. First, Obsessed (which is accompanied by a video directed by Brett Ratner of the Rush Hour trilogy, starring Jackie Chan).

“In that song, I play both a glamorous star and her stalker.”

I’ve listened to the song and its lyrics combine devastating put-downs (such as “Last man on Earth still couldn’t get this...”) with humor (such as “See right through you like you’re bathin’ in Windex...”). Have you ever had a stalker? How did you deal with him/her?

Oh yes, I have. Everybody has, I guess. I consider a stalker someone who talks against you, who tells lies about you, who is out to destroy you. If you go back in time, you might remember a boy who pushed another kid and called him names, and did stuff like that...yes, he could be considered a stalker.”

Next, Up Out My Face. It tells about dismissing a former lover with a good-riddance line, “When I break, I break, boy.”

“That’s right. When I break, I really break. Once broken, nothing can ever fix it and bring it back. Which brings me to the title of another song on the album — It’s A Wrap. The end.” (Laughs again)

Oh, when it’s over, it’s over! Meaning, there’s no turning back, no second time around?

“You said it right!”

One song is titled H.A.T.E.U. Does it mean what it seems to say?

Oh, it actually means Having A Typical Emotional Upset.”

So it doesn’t really mean “hate” as in H-A-T-E?

“Well, what it is is I can’t wait to hate you and make you feel what I do. I’m looking at it from a female’s point of view. The song is about someone who is sad and lonely; she’s a character in the song. I’m not in that world right now. I’m not feeling that way. It’s a distant memory; it’s a past.”

And how do you cope with what you called “emotional upset”?

“Well, I cry and cry. Then, I’m okay again. Crying has a healing effect.”

You have a new movie coming up, titled Precious. Tell us about it.

“I’m glad that the movie is getting good reviews. I enjoyed doing it. The director told me, ‘I want you to look as homely as possible. I want you to look ugly; I don’t want anybody to recognize you at all.’ I don’t think I will recognize myself at all when I watch the movie.”


How do you manage to look gorgeous?

“I keep telling myself that I am 12 years old because a lot of good things happened in my life when I was 12. You know, if you keep repeating something to yourself, it becomes true. So when people ask me how I manage to look the way I do, I tell them, ‘I’m forever 12’.” (Laughs again)

Do you have any beauty secrets? Oops! They won’t be secrets if you will tell now.

(Seriously now) “I have no beauty secret that’s really good, and it really works. If you have a face that’s really red...like I have because my father is Black and my mother is Irish, it comes from my Irish side...you take ice cubes and milk, and put a cotton bud in there and then you dab your eyes and your face with the cotton ball.”

Do you do that at bedtime or upon waking up?

“All the time!” (Laughs)

You are beautiful from head to foot, every inch of you is beautiful. What do you like most about yourself?

“I don’t know. It’s hard to say.”

And what, if any, don’t you like about yourself?

Oh now, I won’t tell!” (Laughs and laughs) “I don’t want people to know. Otherwise, they would be looking for that thing that I’d say I didn’t like about myself.”

I heard that you have your own perfume. Does it help you feel even better, more beautiful?

Oh yes, it does...I think. It’s called Forever. It’s my own brand. It comes in a golden bottle, very pretty.” (Adds deadpan) “I think it comes in a limited edition. There are only about 50 bottles around the world, so I’m afraid you won’t find any available in the store.” (Laughs again)

By the way, after all the awards and the hit records and the accolades, what else do you want to achieve or to do?

“Well, to continue what I love doing — singing. Fill the world with song. Can you imagine a world with no music? It would be drab. Boring! Like crying, music heals. Let’s heal the world with music.”

(E-mail reactions at rickylo@philstar.net.ph or at entphilstar@yahoo.com)

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