Rihanna: Queen of Pain
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.
All of which makes it easy to forget that she’s only 23 — and a young 23, at that. She says she doesn’t like vegetables because they taste “like bush.” She does, however, love french fries, Cheetos and KFC. 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.
Photos: Rihanna’s Videos: The Highs and Lows
She’s also really funny, in case you couldn’t tell. She has shown glimpses of it before, co-starring with Andy Samberg in two digital shorts on Saturday Night Live about a pants-wetting goofus named Shy Ronnie. (“She came in and nailed it,” Samberg says.) But she also has a dry and self-deprecating wit, joking about her “fivehead” (as in, bigger than fore-) and her prodigious appetite — like when, partway through dinner, she looks down at the three strands of spaghetti left on her plate and says, “Maybe I should stop so I have room for my gnocchi. You think it’s too late?”
She says she’s a bit OCD: “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.
Last year, she bought a 12-bedroom mansion in Beverly Hills, but it’s taking forever to renovate (“The pool has been a nightmare”), so in the meantime she’s renting an apartment in Westwood with Melissa and Oliver, her toy poodle. 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.
At one point during dinner, something catches her eye. “Oh, my God,” she says, lowering her voice, “Colin Farrell is right there. And there’s all those crazy rumors about us right now!”
Sure enough, across the restaurant, the Irish heartthrob is having what appears to be a business dinner with some associates. Last November, he and Rihanna were on a British talk show together, where she told a story about an awkward bikini wax; since then they’ve been rumored to be trading salacious texts. “He probably thinks I’m starting all these crazy rumors,” she says. “We don’t even have each other’s numbers. I wish. He’s smoking.”
Just then, Farrell looks over. Rihanna waves. A few minutes later he comes over, radiating Gaelic charm, and swoops in for a hug and a peck on the cheek. “Hello, sweetheart. Good to see you. How you doing?”
“I’m good,” beams Rihanna, “how are you?”
“I’m good, thanks.” He nods toward the door, where the paparazzi are gathered. “Our friends outside are gonna get some good mileage out of this. We’re gonna be texting each other all fucking night!”
“Right?” Rihanna laughs. “That’s hilarious.”
“It’s good to see you, baby.” He gives her another squeeze, then ducks through the kitchen and out a back door.
Sure enough, the next day, the blogs are all over it. Perez Hilton says the pair were “spotted having dinner together.” According to Hollywood Life, they “were careful to leave at separate times so as not to be photographed.” MediaTakeout refers to Farrell as Rihanna’s “new boyfriend” and tells readers with “100 percent assurance that the two were on a date.” (It also calls Giorgio Baldi “L.A.’s top Irish restaurant.”)
The truth is, 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.”