When we hung out with Miley Cyrus for our new cover story, the 20-year-old superstar didn’t just get Rolling $tone tattooed on her feet and jump out of an airplane. She also said a bunch of smart, funny things! It turns out Miley’s mouth isn’t just the place her tongue hangs out between posing for photos. The interviews covered way more ground than could fit in the story, so we’ve gathered some of the best parts. Presenting the Wisdom of Miley.
ON HER VMAS PERFORMANCE
I know what I’m doing. I know I’m shocking you. When I’m dressed in that teddy bear thing, I think that’s funny. I was saying yesterday, I had this obsession about this character that’s like an adult baby. Like if you see a baby do something like that it’s so warped and weird, but there’s something creepily hot about it. So when I’m in that teddy bear suit, I’m like a creepy, sexy baby. But I forget that it’s, like, people in Kansas watching the show. That people sit their kid in front of the TV and are like, “Oh, an awards show! Let’s watch.”
Popular on Rolling Stone
ON RACE AND POP MUSIC
Me and [producer] Mike WiLL were talking about it. He said, “For me, my biggest achievement has been working with a white girl – but for a white girl to work and associate with black producers, you’re being ratchet.” He’s like, “Why am I on the come-up if I work with you, but if you work with me, it’s like you’re trying to be hood?” It’s a double-standard. I didn’t really realize it, but people are still racist. It’s kind of insane. Like if I had come out [at the VMAs] with all white-girl dancers, and done the fucking “Cha Cha Slide” – same outfit, same everything – it wouldn’t have been bad. But because of who I came out with, people got upset. Because they were girls from the club. They had thick asses. They were twerking. That’s what I want, though – I want real girls up there who can really party. The Baker girls [her backup dance crew, the L.A. Bakers] don’t give a fuck about me. They love me, but they’re not kissing my ass. They’re just excited to not be dancing at the club.
I think weed is the best drug on earth. One time I smoked a joint with peyote in it, and I saw a wolf howling at the moon. Hollywood is a coke town, but weed is so much better. And molly, too. Those are happy drugs – social drugs. They make you want to be with friends. You’re out in the open. You’re not in a bathroom. I really don’t like coke. It’s so gross and so dark. It’s like what are you, from the Nineties? Ew.
ON BEING IN THE SPOTLIGHT
I said I was going to take a year off before I made this record. But it’s hard to take a break. It’s almost depressing when you’re not working. You’re so used to people calling your name, and that energy, and when you don’t have it anymore . . . That’s why I never complain about people wanting autographs or pictures. Because if there were a few days where no one asked, I’d probably be like, “What the fuck’s going on? Do people not like me?” I hate the paparazzi – but when they’re not sitting there waiting for you, you’re like “Who’s bigger news? Who are you trying to get a picture of?”
ON THE “WRECKING BALL” VIDEO
It’s the opposite of the VMAs. It’s like the Sinead O’Connor video [for “Nothing Compares 2 U”], but, like, the most modern version. I wanted it to be tough but really pretty – that’s what Sinead did with her hair and everything. The trick is getting the camera up above you, so it almost looks like you’re looking up at someone and crying. I think people are going to hate it, they’re going to see my ass and be like, “Oh my God, I can’t believe she did that” – and then when we get to the bridge, they’re gonna have a little tear and be like, “Fuck you!” I think it will be one of those iconic videos, too. I think it’s something that people are not gonna forget. Hopefully an artist 30 years from now will be like, “Yo, you remember that Miley Cyrus video? We gotta do something like that.”
That sledgehammer was heavy as shit, though. My arms were so sore the next day. And they didn’t tell me it was painted, so I was licking it, and they were like, “Don’t lick that!”
ON HER FAMOUS TONGUE
I just stick my tongue out because I hate smiling in pictures. It’s so awkward. It looks so cheesy. Now people expect it, like, “Put your tongue out!” It’s just easier that way. Taking pictures is so embarrassing. But there’s also something about it that I think is cool. Every other girl is so serious – like, this is my moment on the red carpet, I’m in my ball gown, looking pretty. There’s something empowering about what I’m doing right now. Especially having “short hair don’t care.” I think it’s empowering for girls. Because there’s not one thing that defines what beauty is.
ON LIVING IN LOS ANGELES
The thing about L.A. is it’s pretty much always nice out here. Even when it was 100 the other day, I loved it. It felt good. I worked on my album in Philly, and I would take the train to New York on the weekends, and I’d get off the train and immediately want to die. I would just hate my life. And I’m from Nashville, which is kind of similar – when it’s hot, it’s fucking miserable. But Nashville, at least it kind of rains in the summer. I don’t even remember the last time it rained out here. I always wondered how those big-ass fires start in L.A., and then I’ll throw my cigarette out the window or something, and I’m like “There it is.”
I love animals, but I don’t really like riding animals. Like, I don’t love being on a horse – it’s just not my thing. I feel kinda bad. Like, I just want to pet you. I don’t really want to put you to work. But cats – cats are fucking creepy. Oh my God, cats are creepy. Every time I see a cat, I think it’s gonna turn on me. It’s gonna turn for the worst. I don’t ever see loyalty in cats. They’re gonna scratch you, and then run away. Same with little dogs. Did you know Yorkies were bred to kill mice in the Queen’s palace? I had a Yorkshire Terrier, and if I was a rat, it definitely would have eaten me. And Chihuahuas are the most scary animals on the planet. I’m terrified of Chihuahuas.
ON WATCHING TV
I like Workaholics a lot. American Horror Story is my favorite show – it’s so good, so scary. I think I’m gonna start Downton Abbey next, but I don’t know if it’s my vibe. I always thought that shit was too hipster. And Breaking Bad I just got into, but I haven’t been able to keep up with it as much. There’s just a lot of him coughing. I’m in the first season, and the coughing is driving me crazy. Like, we get it. You’re dying. Do you really need a whole two-minute scene of another cough attack? It’s too much. In every bad situation, how does he get out? He just starts coughing.
ON HER HUMANITARIAN WORK
I do these hearing aids for deaf kids in Haiti. We go to the schools and fit the kids for hearing aids, and then go back and give them to them. It’s the craziest experience, because you go in and it’s so quiet, because no one’s ever talked. There are people who are 90 years old who’ve never talked at all. And then you leave, and it’s so loud! They’re all yelling over each other, because they can hear. It’s so awesome. When I first went, I was wearing, like, mountain climbing boots, but now I go back and I’m in flip flops, I’m touching everyone’s hands, I get wasted on rum. Haitians are awesome. They have no idea who I am. They know that I’m someone, but they don’t know what. They just know that they’re selling my backpacks in the street.
ON MEDIA OUTRAGE
I think it’s all marketing. If a website is like, “We love Miley’s performance!” I don’t think people are gonna click on it. “Miley’s cute performance with teddy bears!” – no one is gonna click on that. So I think it’s the media riling up the people, rather than people riling up the media. And what makes me kind of sick is, Trayvon Martin’s trial didn’t happen more than two months ago. It got talked about a lot – but it still got done being talked about a lot quicker than the VMAs. And that’s really sad. For about two days, it was on Twitter and everything, everyone had their pictures as Trayvon – and then two days later, where was it? Who cared anymore? Even I was like, “I want to help his family when it’s an appropriate time.” But then people just forgot. It slips your mind. We go on to the next thing, our next problem. It’s like, “Why are we not still dealing with that? Why are we not still mourning that loss?”
It’s all a back-and-forth. Like, when my parents are good, they’re good, and when they’re not, they’re not, but they always get themselves back on track. They never put pressure on themselves. And I think that’s a better way to be. That’s how they’ve gotten themselves through everything they’ve been through. The best thing my parents ever taught me is that you don’t have to be attached at the fucking hip. You don’t have to be holding hands all the fucking time. Like my dad can go chill in Nashville for a while, and my mom can stay in L.A., but they’re still walking side by side. And as long as you’re on the same path, one can go a little ahead, and one can be a little behind.
ON GOING BACK TO SCHOOL
Once I ended [Hannah Montana], I thought I might go to NYU or something and study photography. Or to Savannah – they’ve got a really good school in Savannah. I love photography. I have a Canon 5D. I want to co-direct something soon. When they’re saying “Change this lens to this millimeter,” I want to know what they’re talking about. But I’m never going to be able to go to school and have the normal life. I kind of like the way Mary Kate and Ashley did it. They were bajillionaires from being these kid stars, and they decided that that wasn’t the future that they wanted. So they did fashion, and they kind of blended in at NYU. I don’t think people bug them. I think in New York, it’s not cool to care.
ON HER WORK-LIFE BALANCE
I try to not work too many Sundays. At least on Sunday nights, I try to chill out a little bit. I call it Sunday Funday. Before I got my chef, it would be like Chinese takeout, chill by the pool. Every Sunday, I try to get in my pool for at least a little bit and just chill with the dogs. Have a second to reset my mind, get ready for Monday. Not really do anything, just be home. I look forward to those days.
ON HER VERSION OF STARDOM
I want to be the cool chick that everyone wants to be friends with. I want the people who watch my shows or watch my videos to be like, “She looks like the most fun person to hang out with ever. I want to be that girl’s best friend. I want to party with her.” It’s like, if you’re hanging out with Beyoncé, it’s almost like you’re hanging out with a goddess. She’s like a real queen. It’s a different realm. Where my thing is kind of the opposite. My shtick is I’m the homey.
ON HER DAD’S RELUCTANCE TO LET HER BE IN SHOW BUSINESS
I think if he’d known how it was going to pan out, he would have let me. It’s more that he didn’t necessarily want me to. It’s almost like Toddlers and Tiaras – getting the little kids all dolled up and putting so much pressure on them to win. He didn’t want me ever to feel . . . the right word isn’t “pageant-y,” but I don’t think he wanted me to feel like I had to be a certain way. Even when it comes to growing up – like, I didn’t really start dressing myself until I was fucking 16. I always had a stylist. So I think my dad wanted me to figure out all that out on my own. To go through my awkward stages without people zooming in on every fucking pimple. I think he wanted me to be able to be a kid and have braces and go through my ugly phase, without people talking about it. To be able to just hang and live.
ON BEING TALKED ABOUT IN THE PRESS
My parents have never allowed tabloids in the house. When my mom used to have assistants or whatever and they would bring tabloids over, she would be like, “Can’t work with us. I don’t want my kids reading that.” So my dad doesn’t really know what they’re saying about me or our family – which is better. It’s good that he doesn’t know how to Google and all that shit. My dad barely knows how to use the computer. It literally takes him 45 minutes to send a tweet. He’s like, “Can I do a picture on my BlackBerry? Is there an app for that?” I’m like, “Dad, you don’t have an iPhone. You don’t even know what that means.”
ON HER ROLE MODELS
I watch people like Dolly [Parton]. Dolly knows what she is. She’s smart. She’s not just a blonde with big titties – she is a genius under there. She literally came from nothing, and now you go anywhere in the world, and they know Dolly Parton. It’s like, don’t let people’s judgment define who you are. Don’t read the comments and get nervous. Know who you are.
ON SPACE TRAVEL
I’ve always dreamed of going into space. I’m going to go at some point. Virgin Galactic is taking a ship up next year – I’m trying to get on there right now. I’ve got a friend who invested in it, and he can kind of hook it up. I want to be one of the first ones. I thought the only way I would ever be allowed to go to space was if I was an astronaut. I never thought it was gonna be, like, a plane trip. At some point it’s gonna be a normal fare. Right now it’s like a billion dollars. But at some point it’s gonna be like going to Australia.
ON CIVIL RIGHTS
When my kids are around, there will be no one on this planet who was alive when there was segregation. Like, my grandma was around when there was real segregation, when there was no intertwining. For her, for someone that was born in the Thirties, it’s kind of shocking to have a black president. My grandma didn’t have a fucking phone even in her house. It was like Gone With the Wind. Calling long distance was like the craziest shit ever. Now my grandma’s like, “What do you mean you can watch a video on your phone?” It’s gonna be the exact same thing with my kids: “What do you mean gay people couldn’t get married?”
ON HER LOVE OF MUSIC
I’m just around music all the time. Even today, I woke up this morning, went in to my jam room, and I just jammed. I’ll sit in there and jam all day. My chef loves it, ’cause every morning I’m down there playing the piano. I’m writing pretty much all the time. Sometimes I think other people don’t get it – to them, it seems like all I do is work. But you can’t shut off from this.
ON HER NEW ALBUM, BANGERZ
It’s coming out soon, so right now I’m listening to it 20,000 times to make sure it’s perfect. I have to make sure every detail is perfect. There are albums that people still are listening to, like Michael Jackson’s Bad, because it’s so fucking dope. I want people to listen to my album like that. There’s a line Ludacris says on my album that goes, “If I die before my time, at least I’ll still be living through my music.” That’s something I’ve said over and over again. Like, I have one Pixies record that is a time for me – from the time I was 16 until I was 18, the Pixies is all I listened to. And I’m going to be that artist to so many people, so I want to make sure my record is the best it can be. I’m trying to set a new standard for pop music. So it has to live up.