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Excerpts From Rihanna’s Rolling Stone Cover Story

The pop singer on her first kiss, her family and more

JCalderon / Splash News

Rihanna leaving Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica, California, October 15, 2010.

There is a place is called Giorgio Baldi, and it's her favorite restaurant in Los Angeles, maybe even the world. If she's home for a week, which is rare, she might eat here four or five times. She usually gets the spaghetti and sometimes the gnocchi. Tonight, she gets both.

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Chart Topper

Rihanna performing in Barbados in October of 2005.

Rihanna released her first single, the bubbly dancehall jam "Pon de Replay," when she was just 17. Since then she's put out a remarkable five albums in six years, for combined sales of 7 million. Eighteen of her songs have reached the Top 10; among female performers, only Whitney, Madonna, Janet and Mariah have more. If her latest single, "S&M," tops the charts like it looks it could, it would be her 10th Number One – more than Beyoncé and Lady Gaga combined.

 

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Sense of Humor

Rihanna performs in Milan, Italy on November 9, 2010.

She's trying to learn Italian – she got Rosetta Stone for Christmas – but right now, her foreign-language vocabulary consists mostly of swear words. She loves Jonah Hill and Michael Cera (although she calls them "the fat guy" and "the other guy"), and she says cheerfully that she's trying to appreciate her body while she can, because she knows "butt and tits" are the first to go.

 

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Quirks

"I hate the sound of metal on metal. And if something isn't even, it weirds me out – like if my girlfriend hits me on the right side of my butt, it feels numb on the left." She cracks her knuckles. She's a compulsive boob-grabber. She's seen the movie Due Date literally eight times this week.

 

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Fun Facts

She loves going to the grocery store and cooking for herself; enjoys a nice chardonnay at the end of the day; forgoes weed (or at least claims to); and has a killer story about getting blackout drunk on bathtub moonshine while on vacation in Mexico. She digs true-crime reality shows like Beyond Scared Straight and Snapped ("about women who snap"), and she says the last book she read was called Mafia Princess. She's also chronically late and doesn't have a driver's license, but otherwise is as down-to-earth and un-diva-like as anyone with 1,500 pairs of shoes can be.

 

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Sexting

Rihanna is unattached. "I'm not dating," she says. "I'm not sexing, I'm not even sexting. It's on complete nil." She says she hasn't been with anyone since breaking up with Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp, which went down before the public found out in December, so it's been at least four months since she got any action. "You think you're disappointed?" she says. "Try being in this body."

Still, she says, there are alternatives. "When you're not with the person you want to be intimate with, a picture is the next best thing. Well, Skype is safer. But a picture lasts a long time. When you're alone, and those horny moments come up, pictures can be very handy."

That said, she adds, "I haven't gotten a dick picture in a long time. I think people are a little afraid. It can turn out bad."

Little Lady

"I like to take charge, but I love to be submissive," she says. "Being submissive in the bedroom is really fun. You get to be a little lady, to have somebody be macho and in charge of your shit. That's sexy to me. I work a lot, and I have to make a lot of executive decisions, so when it comes to being intimate, I like to feel like I'm somebody's girl."

What else does she like? "I like to be spanked. Being tied up is fun. I like to keep it spontaneous. Sometimes whips and chains can be overly planned – you gotta stop, get the whip from the drawer downstairs. . . . I'd rather have him use his hands." She goes on to recount a recent trip to a sex shop in Sydney called the Toolshed, where she left with two full bags of whips, blindfolds and dildos. The takeaway? "Don't go to a sex store tipsy."

 

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Sweet Basil

Rihanna is actually her middle name. (It comes from the Arabic for "sweet basil.") Her real name is Robyn, and that's what most of her friends and family still call her. "I get kind of numb to hearing Rihanna, Rihanna, Rihanna," she says. "When I hear Robyn, I pay attention."

 

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‘Robyn Red Breast’

Rihanna with Mariah Carey in December of 2009.

When she was about 15, Rihanna won her school's beauty pageant, and a talent show with a performance of Mariah Carey's "Hero." She always knew she wanted to be a pop star. She used to go around singing Whitney Houston and "A Whole New World" into her hairbrush; the neighbors called her Robyn Red Breast because she sang so much.

David Crichlow / Rex USA

Right is Right, Wrong is Wrong

Rihanna and her father Ronald Fenty at her album launch in Barbados, April, 22, 2006

Rihanna says that if it weren't for singing she might have been a psychologist, and she certainly has a deep sense of empathy. "I actually feel really bad for my father," she says. He was abused too – he got beat up by his stepdad when he was young. He has resentment toward women, because he felt like his mom never protected him, and unfortunately, my mother was the victim of that. I'm not giving him excuses. Right is right and wrong is wrong. I still blame him. But I understand the source."

 

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Pain

"I do think I'm a bit of a masochist," she says this evening. "It's not something I'm proud of, and it's not something I noticed until recently. I think it's common for people who witness abuse in their household. They can never smell how beautiful a rose is unless they get pricked by a thorn."

She thinks it explains her attraction to tattoos (14 and counting, including a skull with a pink hair bow on her left Achilles, a pistol on her right rib cage and the words Never a Failure, Always a Lesson on her collarbone), as well as her "love-hate relationship" with the media, and the fact that the darkest moments of her life are out there for public consumption. "When I think about it, I really do take some pleasure in the negativity," she says. "I don't want to say turned on by it – but I'm turned on by it."

 

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Fronting

Rihanna inside the Los Angeles Superior Court during the hearing in the Chris Brown felony assault case, on June 22, 2009

In the months that followed [the assault], Rihanna says, "I put my guard up so hard. I didn't want people to see me cry. I didn't want people to feel bad for me. It was a very vulnerable time in my life, and I refused to let that be the image. I wanted them to see me as, 'I'm fine, I'm tough.' I put that up until it felt real."

 

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Chris Brown

Rihanna and Chris Brown attend the 2009 Grammy Salute To Industry Icons honoring Clive Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 7, 2009

"[Chris Brown and I] don't have to talk again ever in my life. I just didn't want to make it more difficult for him professionally. What he did to me was a personal thing – it had nothing to do with his career. Saying he has to be a hundred feet away from me, he can't perform at awards shows – that definitely made it difficult for him. That was the only thing it was going to change, so I didn't care. But you can never please people. One minute I'm being too hard, and the next minute I'm a fool because I'm not being hard enough."

 

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