HURRICANE BEYONCE by Dennis Hensley

 

Beyonce Knowles has often been described as flawlessÑThat voice! That face! That body!--but that doesn't mean she doesn't flub up once in a while.  Like today, for example.  "Look at me!" she laughs, pointing at herself on a monitor between takes on her new music video "Fighting Temptation," in which appears alongside pals Free, Missy Elliot and MC Light.  "I don't know the words!"  This, it turns out, is not a new phenomenon.  "During live shows, Kelly and Michelle have helped me so many times with lyrics," she says referring to Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, the other two-thirds of the smash R & B trio Destiny's Child, "because I start just making up my own." One can forgive Beyonce, 21, for being a little all over the place considering for the last several months she's been, well, all over the place (see sidebar).   Her long-awaited debut solo CD, Dangerously in Love, has just dropped and it's catchy first single "Crazy in Love" (featuring her rumored beau, rapper Jay-Z) is everywhere.  Add to that her heavily rotated video for the song, endorsement deals for Pepsi and L'Oreal, and a burgeoning movie career (she star plays a small-town single mom who falls for Cuba Gooding Jr.'s choir director in this fall's The Fighting Temptations), and it's lucky Beyonce can remember her own name, let alone some vocal ad-libs she recorded in a studio months ago.  During a break in the action, she retreats to her trailer to talk about her life in the eye of a raging media storm.  Fortunately, her loss for words was temporary.

 

GLAMOUR: Your recent smash single, "Crazy In Love" — was that inspired by personal experience?

BEYONCE KNOWLES:  Yeah.  The song talks about how, when you're falling in love, you do things that are out of character and you don't really care because you're just open.  The song came from me actually looking crazy one day in the studio.

Because of a guy?

(Nods)  I said, "I'm lookin' crazy right now," and Rich Harrison, the producer, was like, "That's the song!"

How was the process of making this record different that recording with Destiny's Child?

Every time I've written songs for Destiny's Child, we did it in literally twelve days. We never had a chance to play with sounds and emotions and all of the things that I had a chance to this album.  This album I worked on for over a year.

Are you nervous for people to finally hear it?

It's like the birth of my baby.  I've put so much into it and I'm anxious for everyone to see my growth and experience a more real and vulnerable side to who I am.

Are there any songs you feel particularly vulnerable putting out there?

Some are really sexy, more sexy than anything I've done before. And some are just so honest and personal, like the song about my father, "Daddy."  For some songs, I didn't even write anything down, I just spoke from my heart.  When I'm creating, I just do whatever's in my heart then after I finish, I'm like, "Oh, okay, I have to let people hear this!" (Laughs)

Where do you get your inspiration?

I write from my experiences as well as things that I hear from my friends and family. No one wants to tell me anything about their personal life because it always ends up in a song.

Do you ever find yourself, say, in a romantic moment and you suddenly get inspired and say, 'Hold on a sec, honey.  I gotta write this idea down?'

(Laughs) I don't go quite that far, though most songs I do write at the most awkward times.  I'm always writing on my hand.  I wrote "Survivor" on a napkin.  "Bootylicious," I wrote on an airplane. So many times, people bought me tablets and little digital tape recorders.  I use them for like one day and then they're never there when I need them.

You've said that you wrote "Bootylicious" as a way of embracing your body, curves and all.  How do you deal with body image and our culture's obsession with looks and weight?

I deal with it by writing songs like that, that say that it doesn't matter.  I want to be healthy and I want to feel good about myself, but my whole life doesn't revolve around dieting.  That's crazy.  I think everyone should accept who they are and know that they're like that for a reason, and know that everyone's not supposed to be the same.  It's beautiful that everyone's different.

Being a spokesperson for L'Oreal, do you feel extra pressure to pull it together make-up wise beforeyou leave the house?

I have to be presentable, because if somebody takes a picture, I don't want to look, you know, scary.  I might put on a little lip gloss and mascara.  L'Oreal actually has this gold shimmer lotion that's really quick and it gives you a glow.

Has the pressure to look good gotten worse for you now that you're making movies?

Movies are worse, but I'm not complaining because I knew that that was part of it before I started.  If I want to be an actress, then that's a part of my job, but I just refuse for it to consume my whole life.

Any favorite pig-out foods?

I like pasta or a nice steak.

What's your workout regimen?

For the past couple of weeks, I've been rehearsing so much that I've just been dancing. I love to dance.  It's fun for me.  And I like running because I can just think.  Yoga, I find very relaxing.  You're taking time for yourself and it just makes you feel at peace.

Your new film The Fighting Temptations is a complete turnaround from Austin Powers in Goldmember.

That was a conscious decision. I wanted to play a real person and see exactly what I can do.

What was the most you laughed making the movie?

There's a scene set at this Gospel Explosion where we had a live band and an audience and between takes, it turned into a showcase. Cuba Gooding started break-dancing and did this little mini-strip tease.

How far did he go?  Shirt off?

Shirt off, yeah, and not pants off completely, but he did a quick little, uh, flash of back.  (Laughs) He's crazy.

Did you get up and work it?

I was the one instigating, telling everybody to go sing.  I was the DJ.

You seem like a very confident person, on stage and off.  Where does that come from for you?

I'm not confident for no reason.    I'm not just fearless. I'm like everyone else. I like to feel prepared and when I'm not comfortable, I have no problem saying, "Listen, I'm not sure if I know exactly what I'm supposed to do.  Can you help me?"

What advice would you give to people about going after their dreams?

First, really think about every aspect of what you want because you might not want it.  Be focused.  Sit down and think about how much time you're willing to sacrifice. If you really want it, when God feels like it's time, it'll happen for you.

In the last year, you seem to have reached a whole new level of fame.  Does it feel different to you?

I've noticed that I can go less places without people recognizing me, which is a good thing and a scary thing.  (Laughs)

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the attention or by the breakneck pace?

I'm human.  Some days, I want to say, "You know what? I just want to go for a week to the Bahamas and do nothing," but now I schedule days off every couple of weeks.  Because I've been doing this so long--almost seven years--I know my limits.  I can say, "Okay, in order for me to do it right, I need to be rested and I need to have these amount of days off to rest."

Are there things you just can't do anymore that you really miss, like going to the mall?

I still go to the mall.  When I go to Houston, I drive me and my sister to the mall. No security. No entourage. We just go.  We have to walk very fast and I wear a hat.  I only can stay for like an hour, because once word gets around, it's over.

If you could be anonymous for one day, where would you go?

I probably would just go walking on the beach with my friends, with my music up, doing whatever I would normally do, but without security and people watching me.

Where's the most uncomfortable place to be recognized?

In the bathroom.  I can't go to public bathrooms.  I get anxiety because I feel like I'm trapped in this room, and all these people are looking and I'm washing my hands, and I'm like, "God, I can't wait to get out of here."

What's your favorite compliment to get from a fan?

When I wrote "Survivor", I heard some really deep stuff from people that were in rehab and people that lost family members or their homes. Every city on our tour, we'd invite kids from the Make a Wish Foundation.  We'd sing to them and the eye contact, it makes you feel like you did something more than just dancing and whatever.  When you write a song like that that connects to people, that's the hugest compliment.

What's the craziest thing a fan has ever thrown on stage at you?

One night we got a Bible and some men's underwear. In the same night!  Very strange.

Speaking of men's underwear, are you dangerously in love with anyone at the moment, like say your collaborator Jay-Z?

I've learned that it's better if I don't talk about my personal life relationships.  I once said that I needed a boyfriend and it was everywhere that I was lonely and desperate.  People just take things and twist them up.

Can you walk about what it's like to work with Jay-Z?

We honestly did bond and glide together.  I was really lucky to have him help me.  All in all, he's just a great person and he always has so many great ideas.

You also sing a duet on the CD with Luther Vandross, who is currently recovering from a stroke.

I actually just heard that he's speaking now, which is wonderful.  I've been praying for him, and I'm just very happy that he's recovering.  I grew up listening to him and I was so honored to sing with him.

Have you ever been star struck by anyone you met?

I spoke with Prince on the phone and I love him so much I like blanked out.  I didn't know what to say, to the point that I said, "I don't know what to say now, umÉ" I was in shock.

Is it hard for you to find time for romance?

I think it's important to make time.  It doesn't matter who you are, your life can't just be all work.

Are you a good flirt?

If I flirt, it's really subtle because I'm a little shy and I don't want to feel like I'm doing too much.  I feel like a guy has to kind of decide, you know.

You want them to feel like they're in control, even when they're not.

Right.  (Laughs)

If you're interested in somebody, will you take the initiative and ask them out?

Probably not.  I would maybe, you know, look at them a little bit longer than I'm supposed to.

A friend of mine calls that, "Giving 'em the green light."

Exactly.    I give 'em the green light.

You can use that in a song if you want.

I think I might.

And then I'll sue you.

Oh, no.  Don't play. (Laughs)

Destiny's Child survived its share of lawsuits and line-up changes.  What did you learn about yourself from those controversies?

When I look back, I'm like, "I can't believe that I survived that," but I came out so much stronger and more knowledgeable about life, about friendship.  I sat down and really thought about how everything works; what's reality and what's just industry hype.  Now I feel like I can take things that I couldn't before and I don't take things so personally.

What's been your lowest point?

When I was eighteen, I got criticized a lot for things that I had nothing to do with.  That was hard.  I was a kid and had these grown people saying, ÔShe's this and she's that,' and they'd never met.  They were just assuming things about me based on other people, or other groups' histories.

Like, "Beyonce's turning into a diva like Diana Ross!"

I had my days where I cried, where I was like, "Why are they doing this?"  But eventually people started seeing who I really am.    If you say all these things about someone, you have to have some facts to back them up and no one could ever tell a story.  No one could ever say that I was mean or unfair, so eventually it went away.  Once you get a certain level of success then there has to be some kind of scandal for people to talk about and if there's not one, they'll create one.

What's the nuttiest rumor you've heard about yourself or the group?

That Michelle sang lead on the last album because she was dating my mom, and my mom told me that I had to let her sing lead.  (Laughs)  Crazy.

Is Destiny's Child over now that you've gone solo, or do you plan to reunite?

Next September, we want to start another album.  I'm very curious to see what we come up with because everybody's been experiencing so many different things.  When we come back together, it has to be something incredible.

When have you been the most proud of Kelly and Michelle?

I was really proud when Kelly got nominated for the Grammy with Nelly for "Dilemma."  And with Michelle, I saw her performing on a TV show and you could just see that she was at peace and happy with herself.

Growing up, you and the group performed at your mom's hair salon.  Did you have to compete with the sound of hair dryers?

We made them cut off the blow dryers. It's like, "We're about to perform! Everything has to shut off!"  Everything stopped, but then after a couple times, they weren't paying any attention to us at all.

What did you get picked on for as a kid?

My ears.  They were really big and they stuck out. People would put objects like cinnamon rolls up to their ears to tease me.

Have you heard of anyone naming their babies after you?

Yes.  I called to get my something done to my phone and the lady on the other end was like, "What's your name?" and I said, "Beyonce Knowles."  And she was like, "Oh my God, I just named my baby Beyonce."  I was like, "Are you serious? That's crazy." And Rodney Jerkins, a producer that I work with, his brother named his little girl Beyonce.  They were all in the studio one day and he kept saying "Beyonce," and I'm turning around.

"Beyonce, do you need Daddy to change your diaper?"

(Laughs)  It was the weirdest thing.  I mean, it's an honor when people do that, but it's strange because Beyonce's a family name.  It's my mother's maiden name.

What's something you're good at that might surprise people?

I can hula hoop literally for hours.  As a kid, I won hula hoop contests.  It's great exercise for your waist.

What's your best habit?

I'm a good listener.

Your worst habit?

I'm always leaving my keys behind and getting locked out.  I'm just a geek that way.

Have you ever thrown a good diva tantrum?

I'm sure I have, but usually when I spaz out, I have a reason for it.  Of course, I can't have too many diva moments with my mother around. She's not having it.

Your parents have always been such a big part of your career.  Are they around as much now?

Whenever I have something really big, my dad flies out.  My sister came to see me yesterday, and I just saw Kelly and Michelle last week.  We don't go too long without seeing each other. My mom styles me so I see her just about every day.

What happens when you don't like what she's chosen for you?

Well, like every stylist, she pulls like a million things so there's always something that we agree on.

When was the last time you went home to Houston?

It's been months, but I'm going home soon just for a day to go to church and go eat.  I have to do that every couple of months.  It brings me back.

You recently bought a home in Miami.  Why there?

I feel like I'm on vacation there. So every time I go home, it will be like I'm on vacation. And I love the water.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I feel like I'm an old soul, and I've experienced a lot, so in ten years, hopefully I'd be married, have a couple of kids, and be not quite retired, but I could just do nothing for a year if I wanted to.

How would you describe this time in your life?

I'm very, very happy with every aspect of life.  My personal life, my career, everything.  I have things that I worry about but I also have honest people around me that are like, "You should calm down."  My goal is to enjoy my life and I'm doing that.