"I'm kissing a sock!" shrieked Christina Aguilera. With a smooch on a green-haired wool puppet's cheek -- actually Ed the Sock, the gruff-voiced veejay on Canadian television channel MuchMusic -- Aguilera capped off an unusual press conference in Toronto Wednesday.
Preceding a performance where she played a half-dozen songs at the MuchMusic building on Queen Street, the teen pop queen held court at the Paramount. There, she was presented by BMG Music Canada executives with a four-times platinum award (400,000 sold), and for forty-five minutes the nineteen-year-old star fielded questions from reporters as well as contest winners. More questions came during the interactive portion of her performance, from the veejay and an in-studio audience, as well as viewers who queried the singer via fax, phone and email.
Most questions were innocent enough. A girl hoisted to the mike by her mother wanted to know what is her favorite song on her album (the answer was "Obvious"). Older kids wanted to know what person, dead or alive, she'd most like to meet (Marilyn Monroe) and with whom she would like to duet (Etta James or Janet Jackson). The former is already underway, as Aguilera revealed she would sing with blues powerhouse James on the teen's forthcoming Christmas album (due in early winter).
Though Ed the Sock tried to help her dodge the more personal probes, Aguilera's supposed rivalry with Britney Spears did get addressed. Calling the Spears speculation "lazy journalism," Aguilera said she used to be very close with Spears during their New Mickey Mouse Club days, and has recently reached out to her old friend.
"Even watching her in interviews, I find myself missing her lately," she said. "I'm really proud of her, how far she's come and what she's been able to accomplish."
When posed with a question about Spears' public statements on saving her virginity, Aquilera took the opportunity to explain her own use of sexual suggestiveness. "I had a good upbringing, I'm very spiritual and I try my best to follow my heart and my instincts to do the right thing," she said. "But someone somewhere is not going to be happy with whatever I do. You take 'N Sync, you take Backstreet Boys, and they do sexual things. But you take Britney or me for showing some tummy, and drama! It's a little unfair. We're artists."
Before questions got any more intrusive, the sock jumped into the fray. "Christina and I will not be answering any questions about our relationship," Ed joked. "This is a private special matter between the two of us and we won't have you turn it into some tawdry item for the bird-cage liners you write for." Fair enough. But what about Enrique?