By Jeffrey Epstein
In 2002, Kelly Clarkson became America's sweetheart when she beat out big-haired Justin Guarini to win the first American Idol. She is now following up her double-platinum debut album, Thankful, with Breakaway, which features the #1 title single. We caught up with the sassy southerner to talk about the new disc, her love of the gays, and what she was thinking when she made that movie musical.
So I hear you're moving. What did you get?
I am moving to a new house in LA. I'm moving to the beach. I'm done with Beverly Hills. [Laughing] It's over! And in Texas, I just bought a house. It's got 12 acres of land. It's amazing. It's weird to say that at 22 years old. I'm going there for Christmas.
Excellent! So the new album rocks!
Thank you so much.
I have to admit, I'm a big fan of Breakaway.
Thank Avril [Lavigne] for that. She cowrote it. You know what's funny? I had two friends call me and say, 'I just heard a song on the radio and I am not sure it's you. They said it was you, but it just didn't sound like you!' I love keeping people entertained with the versatility. I don't like when you can tell it's an artist right off the bat. That's boring.
In the first go-round, a lot of interviews focused more on American Idol than they do now. Clearly the show launched you, but do you feel like people are looking at you more like an artist now than with the first album?
I don't know. I guess there are always going to be people who focus on the American Idol thing. There are going to be people who look at it positively and negatively. I love my first CD. I'm even more in love with this CD. I'm working with a lot of talented people. I'm having fun, and I think that's what counts. I hate people who say, 'You don't write all your music, so you're not an artist' or 'If you don't play your own instrument, you're not an artist.' It's like a list someone made. There are musicians, singers, writers, entertainers' And some of them do all of it. I love to sing and write. That's my thing. I liked playing guitar on tour. In no way am I a guitarist, but I want to get better. It's hard because I'm having to pick it up by myself. I have to take lessons. But you have to schedule lessons, and that's not even a possibility right now. I'm trying to do it on my own.
In 2002, you pretty much became a superstar overnight. Are you used to the fame?
To be honest, everything happened so fast and I was so busy, I didn't ever have a chance to go out. I think I skipped all of it'the surreal thing and the fame thing. I'm not really fazed by it. On my last tour, right after a show'I don't remember the city'but we were starving. We stopped in a diner. I was having a conversation with a couple guys from my band. Two grown men were sitting there staring at me. I finally leaned over and asked, 'Would you like to be a part of the conversation?' They were flat out staring. I had forgotten they might know me because of TV or their daughters or whatever. My whole band started cracking up: 'Y'all wanna get in the conversation?' I was really inviting them over! I forget sometimes. I'll be somewhere and the paparazzi will be taking pictures when I'm shopping. I'll be like, 'What are they doing? Who are they taking a picture of?' It doesn't dawn on me. My friends crack up on me.
I actually met you backstage at the Fox Press Tour in Pasadena back when American Idol was first airing, and I told you that 'the gays are rooting for you!' Have you always felt that?
My hair and makeup guy, Steve, is all about me. He's my best friend. Come to think of it'almost everyone I work with I think is gay! I don't see a big difference in fan bases. As long as they like the record, that's all I care about. Steve is my favorite guy I've met in my whole life.
Have you always had gay friends?
Yeah. I grew up around gay people. So I don't notice it. And now I live in LA, so obviously, it's everywhere. I grew up in Ft. Worth, [Tex.,] where there were gay people and people of every ethnicity, and then when I moved to Burleson, [Tex.,]'this small, small town in the middle of nowhere'I don't think there was one gay person there. It was odd to people. But I grew up around everything. Love who you can love, and love where you can get it. I'm 0 for 3. And you know what ticks me off? Y'all have taken the good ones! It's not fair. I always have fights with Steve: 'You're takin' all my men!'
What has been the best rumor you have heard about yourself?
That I got married. One of the tabloids said that. But they didn't give me a proper wedding. They said I had a Texas hoedown. People, if you're gonna marry me off, at least give me a cool wedding. Just because I'm from Texas, I don't want to get married in boots.
That's genius. Any others?
It happened when I was on the set of the movie [From Justin to Kelly]. They would take pictures of Justin and I and say, 'They were on a romantic date.' People, do you think I have time to date? I was filming a movie and making the album at the same time. If this all goes sour, I'm going to work for a tabloid. I could make up crap all day.
Speaking of, I have to ask: From Justin to Kelly. What word comes to your mind when you think of that movie?
Jesus. Aw, Jesus.
We did a movie musical in 28 days'that's all I can say. That was the most ridiculous thing ever. I had to do it because of American Idol. But it was cool. I have a lot of friends out here because of it. But I never was really into it. To be honest, little kids adore it. It's cute when you meet them and they're singing the songs. But I'm first and foremost a singer. I'd do Broadway. Maybe movies in the long-term future.
Wow, a singer with no aspirations to act!
You'd think after someone saw that movie, they wouldn't send me scripts. But I get movie and TV stuff all the time. I go, 'What are you people thinking?!' I'm not saying I'm horrible, I'm just no Sissy Spacek.
But if I remember correctly, you told me you did a spot on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
Wow, you have a good memory! When I lived out here before, I was a back-up singer and demo girl, and that only pays so many of the bills. My friend was an actress and she said, 'If you do extra roles you'll get $50 or $75 a day.' So I did that. I did Sabrina. I did Bernie Mac. I did a bunch of stuff. It was just extra work. But I didn't have the desire to be an actress.
What's up next?
I'm going to Asia and doing my stuff over there, and after I come back, I'll be touring. We're going to be touring from the end of March through May. I'm going to be doing theater. And then over the summer I'd like to do another co-headlining tour.
Too bad you're not busy. Well, thanks so much, and congrats on everything!
Thank you, and Merry Christmas!