A BLACK LIMOUSINE ROLLS THROUGH the streets of downtown Toronto.
“What CD do you want to hear?” asks the assistant.
“Put this on, Track Three!” answers the pop star.
The CD player whirrs, the assistant crosses her legs, the pop star smiles.
I had this bad hitch uptown, she was whoa!/Had me fucked up in the head, I mean whoa!/Bought the bitch diamonds and pearls, I mean whoa!
“Turn it up!” the pop star yells. The driver glances into the back seat, concerned.
Grenade through your window, bitch, like whoa!/Love to see me do this shit, like whoa!/Niggaz put me through this shit, like whoa!
The pop star is singing along now. So is the assistant.
So I’m gonna go toe to toe, blow for blow, like whoa!/And rip your torso!
“Play it again,” the pop star giggles.
I had this bad bitch uptown, she was whoa….
The limousine pulls into the parking lot of Canadian music-video network MuchMusic, the driver opens the door, and the sound of Black Rob rapping “Whoa!” bursts out the doors, followed by the pop star, a teeny blond teen in baggy, Army-green pants.
She walks at the head of a growing entourage to her dressing room and slips into a black baby T-shirt that halts just below her solar plexus, exposing a navel that wouldn’t look out of place on the label of a Gerber’s baby-food jar. Written in silver on the front of the shirt are the words I LOVE PLAYBOY.
Dear Reader: Meet Christin a Aguilera. She is nineteen now — almost twenty, she says — and she’s sick and tired of being treated like a child.
“I wasn’t sure if I should wear that Playboy shirt,” she admits after the MuchMusic show. “It’s suggestive, in away. So me and my stylist discussed it. And I decided: I’m nineteen years old, and nineteen-year-olds are going to wear things like that. Just because I have a certain image, everyone wants me to be this role model. But nobody is perfect, and nobody can live up to that. I’m living my life.”
She realizes that she’s beginning to sound pouty and stops, then looks up wide-eyed, earnestly, like an adult: “I think my personality is fighting to come out, and that personality is fighting with the image that everyone else has of me.”
Teeny-boppers, your good girl has gone bad. Or at least wants to go bad. Or perhaps she’s always been bad. Or maybe it’s just been along, confusing nine months.
TWO DAYS PRIOR, CHRISTINA Aguilera sits in the back seat of a van in Manhattan. No, sits isn’t quite the right word for Christina’s relationship to chairs. She molds herself into them, slouching her back into the right angle between the backrest and the seat, throwing her legs against whatever object is in front of her and utilizing any wall or nearby stationary object to contour the rest of her body against. She is heading for a final meal at her favorite restaurant chain, Houston’s — the same place she dined the previous night — before boarding a flight to Toronto. She has just rented an apartment in Los Angeles, on the other side of the country from her mother and stepfather, and, as she gazes out the window of the van, it dawns on her that she might miss the East Coast. “Oooh,” she coos. “I want a New York boy. There is so much energy here.”
And what, exactly, is a New York boy? “A little roughneck,” she smiles wickedly. “With the bandanna and the cap to the side. You’re not going to meet boys like that in L.A.”
She kicks her legs into the air, and they fall crossed and tangled onto the back of the seat in front of her. The T-shirt she wears is black, exposes her navel and reads, in letters across her chest, ROCKSTAR. She opens a copy of the music-insider magazine Hits and begins leafing through it, stopping at a full-color, full-page photograph of DMX. “Mmm,” she exclaims. “He is hot!”
It sometimes seems like Christina uses magazine interviews as dating services: Many of the guys she’s mentioned as being cute — Fred Durst, Eminem, Enrique Iglesias, Carson Daly — she’s later been linked to. Do they get in touch with her after reading that she has a crush on them? “No,” she chirps. “We end up seeing each other at parties and whatnot. I’ve actually hooked up a couple of times. Just for fun. But I haven’t seriously dated a celebrity yet.”
So now you’re going to meet DMX? “I don’t know,” she giggles. “It’s craaaaazyyyy, crazy.”
She buries her nose back in Hits, halting this time at an advertisement for a teen-pop group called Innosense. “There’s another one from the Mickey Mouse Club,” she says, pointing to one of the girls, Nikki DeLoach, who was in the same illustrious 1993 cast of the show with Aguilera, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez of ‘N Sync, and Keri Russell of Felicity. Flip, flip, flip. Stop. This time it’s a full-page close-up of Eminem’s head. She pulls the magazine toward her face, until it is just an inch away from her well-glossed lips, and whispers something indecipherable to the image. Then she jerks the magazine back and twists her face into agrimace: “Airbrushed!”
She climbs out of the van and into a booth at Houston’s. Despite having just recovered from two weeks in bed with the flu (her first real downtime since her debut album came out nine months ago), she orders chicken tenders, french fries, a fully loaded baked potato and nachos (which she likes to dip in all three accompanying sauces — cheese-avocado, sour cream and red salsa – simultaneously). Over this orgy of grease, the subject of Eminem returns.
Though Christina, her mother, her manager and everybody in her orbit like to downplay the incident, it is probably the worst thing that could happen to a nineteen-year-old. Like high school all over again, Eminem decided to spread lies or half-truths (you decide) about Aguilera’s sex life in his latest single, rapping, “Shit, Christina Aguilera, better switch me chairs/So I can sit next to Carson Daly and Fred Durst/And hear ’em argue over who she gave head to first…./I should download her audio on MP3/And show the whole world how you gave Eminem VD.”