The Muse Life Soundtrack Chapter 3: The High Road and the Hollywood Life
What is integrity worth? The idea of sacrificing one’s soul/vision/belief/creed to the highest bidder for a ride to the top of the much desired upper echelon is certainly not a new notion. And it shows up everywhere, in both subtle and grand displays, from the exchanging of money between the hands of the world’s top financial earners, to asking middle-class America what would they do for a klondike bar. Wild, half pieced together urban myths of a mysterious Illuminati, where the highest of high society conjoin to plan the next New World Order, run rampant in the streets and the steeples. But what happens when the desire to be king/queen of the universe consumes a person, so as to blind them with a fog of lust for the spotlight, as the flash of a paparazzo’s camera blinds an uncertain but not at all regretful young starlet?
Right now, my integrity meant nothing to me. I was at a Midtown bar downing washington apple shots and ignoring Nat and Bridget’s conversation. It was a karaoke ladies night, but the only cute guy was the bartender, and it was like the karaoke machine was set on “Quiet Storm”. Everyone was singing these sad ass, “I can’t breathe without your presence” songs. I downed my third shot and looked around the room with contempt.
“Is everybody in here pms-ing or something? Geez!” I commented a little too loudly. Nat and Bridge put down their drinks and turned on their stools to face me.
“Girl, what is wrong with you?” Bridge scolded, throwing a pageant smile at the bartender. I, however, threw him a serious look, and signaled for another shot. “If I hear one more person sing ‘All of me’, I’m going to scream,” I retorted, reaching for my new shot.
Natalie sighed. “Look, not to be mean, but you need to get over this Riley thing. He’s just a BBD guy, always looking for the bigger better deal. Also, do you know how many hot men there are in Atlanta, and you’re sitting here crying over some dude that made your question your looks? You can go to the left with all that nonsense.”
I glared at my friends with a side eye, now more upset because I knew they were right. “It’s not about that. I just feel stupid. I talk about this all the time. What am I always saying? ‘Don’t get caught up in lust! Don’t expect a committment too soon!’ And then I turn around and do just that. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to continue wallowing in my alcohol and embarrassment please.”
“Well, alright. As long as you don’t go jumping off a bridge or anything.”
Just then, the music paused, and the owner of the bar jumped on stage, grabbing the mic. “I just want to give a big shout out really quick, to my homie in the building, with that extra fine girl on his arm -damn she sexy!-go cop his new album dropping soon, Riley Cole!”
Nat, Bridge and I all spun toward the stage. Bridge almost dropped her glass and I looked up at the ceiling and sighed, silently cursing the universe.
“I keep forgetting how small Atlanta is,” Nat thought out loud, staring down the back of Riley’s head. “Do you want to leave?” she asked me. I stood thinking for a few minutes.
“You know what?” I finally answered. “No. I don’t want to leave. I’m going to be a gangster about this. I’m going to go to the bathroom, and when I come back, I might even go say hi,” I boldly declared. I turned and walked toward the back of the bar while Nat and Bridge threw each other a look.
“Let’s hope all that comes out of her mouth is ‘hi’,” Bridget wished out loud.
A few minutes go by with Nat and Bridge at the bar, finishing up their drinks. The lights dimmed, and the track started up for another song, what sounded like Frank Ocean’s “Thinking About You”. I had never gone to the bathroom like I said, but instead just stood near the back, in the shadows, contemplating my next move, watching Riley with his arm around this girl, smiling and whispering in her ear like he used to do with me.
I didn’t even want to think about what he might be telling her.
I watched the next singer, a young guy in a Georgia State hoodie, approach the stage and grab the mic, gearing up to sing.
Before I fully realized what I was doing, my alcohol fueled haze making decisions for me, I was walking up and on to the stage, pulling a Kanye, grabbing the mic and pushing the guy out of the way. I turned to face the crowd and Riley, doing my best attempt to belt out the lyrics, but of course sounding a hot mess. I was basically just screeching into the mic.
“DO YOU NOT THINK SO FAAAR AHEAAD! CAUSE I’VE BEEN THINKIN BOUT FOR-EVAA! RI-LLL-EEYY! OOH-OHHHH!”
My butchered mental state kept me from noticing the bug-eyed look on Riley’s face. The guy I stole the mic from just found it amusing, laughing and encouraging the crowd to put their lighters in the air.
Over at the bar, Nat was frozen in disbelief, jaw dropped to the floor. Bridge was standing next to her, dying of laughter, swaying back and forth with her lighter in the air. “OMG!” Nat shrieked. “We have to do something!”
“Ok, ok,” Bridget replied, before pulling out her phone and holding it up in the air, preparing to record a video. “Come on Bridge, you know what I mean,” Nat sighed in exasperation. “Go get her. You’re the only one that can get her to listen when she’s drunk.”
“Oh, alright,” Bridge agreed, still laughing. “I’m going, I’m going.” She made her way up to the stage and me, taking the mic out of my hand and interrupting my shrill screeching.
“Come on, time to go,” she urged me, leading me off the stage by my arm like a rebellious four-year old. “But-wait-I’m not DONE!” I yelled, looking back at the college kid who was giving me the ‘sorry, not sorry’ face.
Bridge continued pulling me toward the door, while Nat passed by Riley’s table. She paused to lean down towards his date, and nodded toward me. “Emotionally unavailable men should come with a warning label, don’t you think?”
Riley sat speechless, his date gave him a “what-the-hell-does-she-mean” look, and Nat followed Bridge and I out the door.
The next morning, I found myself sitting in the modern boho decorated Buckhead office of my Editor in Chief, Marie Parkes. I was seated in a plush jewel tone emerald velvet chair, facing her desk, large window, and the ridiculously amazing view. Marie, a 55 is the new 20 honey shaded woman, was on the phone, pacing back and forth, and blaring her New York strong accent all over the office, Zanotti heels clicking on the polished floor. A Brooklyn native, Marie’s wit and sarcasm was something I definitely took notes from. It was her best weapon when dealing with the biggest of egos and shittiest of attitudes in this industry.
“What?…Well she’s really not worth the 5 cents a word I pay her now…What’s the answer to 99 out of 100 questions?…You don’t know?…Money. Call me when you get a better option.”
Marie pressed the end call button and finally took a seat at her desk. “Number one rule,” she stated, pointing a finger at me, “you can’t out-pimp a pimp. Remember that.”
“Um…ok,” I hesitatingly replied, nodding my head, not really knowing what she was talking about.
“Good,” she continued. “Now back to you. I wanted to have this meeting with you to discuss your role in the media, at this magazine, and being in the public eye a little more.”
Ok, now let me back up for a second. The whole time I had sat there, listening to Marie chop someone down to size over the phone, in the back of my mind were fragments of my drunken karaoke performance the night before. I had worried that word of my inability to keep my shit together in front of an ex had gotten back to the publication somehow, and I hadn’t expected Marie to call me in for a meeting this morning. So when she mentioned the words, ‘being in the public eye’, my heart dropped into my stomach and I was gripping the arm of the velvet chair, stuck in suspense like I was watching the latest Love and Hip Hop reunion show.
“Ok,” was all I could squeak out.
“Well, I think I have a new job opportunity for you.”
Whew!, I thought. Not busted this time.
“Do you know who Dani Capri is? The reality show girl?”
“Yea, I’m a little familiar with her,” I lied. I was actually very familiar with her. Dani Capri just happened to be the porn star/reality star who broke Riley’s heart a few years ago. In the story Riley told me, they parted ways amicably. But word on the street (and the internet) is that as soon as Dani’s “leaked” sex tape garnered her a little scoop of stardom, she Bigger Better Deal-ed Riley and dropped him for some big shot film producer.
“I really don’t understand you young people and this whole ‘sex tape as a career launch’ trend,” Marie remarked, frowning at a photo of Dani on the cover of Hip Hop Weekly. “And this picture is so airbrushed it might as well be a Picasso. Anyway, the job in question is to be a news correspondent, for our new web show. Dani would be your first interview, and it would be shown on one of the episodes of her show.”
Personally, people like Dani Capri really aren’t my cup of tea. I mean, do you really want to be famous that bad, that you’ll put your reverse cowgirl on display for everybody? No ma’am. I’ll take the high, albeit hard, road.
“Wow. Well, I do have a couple of questions.”
“Of course. Fire away.”
“Well, why me? I’m a music journalist. She’s not a music artist.”
“She is now,” Marie explained, pulling up the E! news website on her laptop, then turning it to face me. “She just announced today, she’ll be dropping an album soon. Says she’s going for a hip hop sound. Aren’t they all though?” Marie joked.
I hesitated. “Look…Marie this sounds like a really great opportunity…just not the right one for me. I can’t interview someone whose work I don’t respect. She’s not a real artist, this isn’t her craft. It’s just another publicity stunt for more Twitter followers.”
Marie looked at me in a motherly, somewhat pitiful way, and sighed. “I remember when I was your age. I held onto my journalistic integrity with an iron grip, too. But the industry isn’t like it was when I was 30. Most people now don’t want to read an article unless it’s tasteless, or all style and no substance.”
I responded by nodding my head.
“I know it can feel like selling out,” Marie continued. “But the trick is, you don’t let it become you. Jobs like these…they’re not a representation of your whole career. Imagine you’re driving, and you might take a shortcut on a side street. You won’t take that route all the time, but sometimes, it just gets you there faster. You know?”
I sat in silence for a moment, then leaned forward to get a better look at the webpage with Dani’s headline on it.
Ok, what are the pros?
This a huge promotion, more money. I’d definitely get more notoriety, nothing wrong with that. Riley would probably piss his pants if he knew I was getting 15 minutes of fame for interviewing the girl who had him singing Carl Thomas’s “I Wish” for three months straight.
Do I really want to be that visible? Attention seeking reality stars are the bane of my existence. And if I’m only doing it to get back at Riley, is it even worth it?
I pushed the laptop back towards Marie and sat back in the chair. “Can I think about it and get back to you?”
A few nights later and Bridget and I were at Nat’s condo in Buckhead. We were getting into stiletto-hot dress-dimepiece mode, gearing up for a VIP night out at a new club, Red Luxe.
The VIP that we were so excited about, was courtesy of Bridget’s new boy toy, Kane Pressley, who was a songwriter with a few #1’s under his belt. He was born and raised right in the 404, so he knew everyone, and knew how to get in everywhere. 6′ 2″, with caramel skin, almond shaped eyes, and long locs to die for, he was also so cute it was hard not to stare at him.
“This is unreal. How do you keep finding these gorgeous men with money?” I questioned Bridget, tying her now dyed dark red and wavy hair into a top knot.
“She carries a can of bum repellent in her purse,” Nat smirked.
“Honestly, I think it’s the shop,” Bridge replied, referring to her tattoo shop in East Atlanta. “You wouldn’t believe how many of them just wander in on a daily basis.”
“Well I hope this VIP is poppin’ like your friend says it is,” Nat declared, tying on her stilettos. “I need to network with some real heavy hitters in my industry. God knows I’ve run into more than my fair share of fake-it-til-you-make-it VIP’s.”
“I’m not dating him for his connections though. I actually really like him.”
“You’re not dating him for his connections right now. But once the perks and trips and red carpet appearances start rolling in, you’ll be a whole new woman, trust me.”
“I don’t know about that,” I interjected, swiping on fuchsia gloss. “Not everyone is that easily swayed by glitterati and bullshit. I got offered a job as an online news correspondent for my magazine, and I don’t even think I want it.”
“Are you kidding me?!” Nat shrieked, running over to me and getting in my face. “You have to take it! Mya, do you know what this could do for your career? You could get endorsements, book deals-“
“You could probably get us into the Vanity Fair Oscar party!” Bridge jumped in, joining in Nat’s screeching.
“Ok, calm down,” I laughed. “The Vanity Fair Oscar party? No, not from being on a web show. But I’d have to interview that reality show girl, Dani Capri, and I am so not feeling it. Her show is like chewing gum for the brain. It would kill any shred of journalistic integrity I had left.”
Bridget stopped jumping up and down long enough to ask “Dani Capri? Isn’t that the chick who broke Riley’s heart?”
“Sure is,” I beamed, a gleeful smile on my face.”That’s the one pro that would make this worth it. It would just be a fantastic way to ruin his whole year, wouldn’t it?”
“I thought you were over it.”
“Not if you’re taking the job just because you think it will piss him off,” Nat chimed in, handing me my clutch as we walked out the door. “And if you’re gonna sell your soul for notoriety, you might as well do it for the right reason.”
While I wasn’t sure if Nat was right about my reasons for taking the job, she sure was right about Kane Pressley. Not only was the VIP all access night at Red Luxe everything we expected, Bridget’s status kept rising higher and higher. Nat and I didn’t realize how serious it was until we spotted her in a celeb party photo on the cover of UsWeekly. Being the girlfriend of a rising celeb had its perks. Front row at all the best runway shows, luxury gifts, hobnobbing with A-listers- Bridget was swept up in an absolute dream. She never stopped to question if the knight in a white limo fantasy came at a price, until one night, during one of their now many stays in one of the luxury suites at the Intercontinental Buckhead, Kane decided he wanted to take their star couple-dom to the next level. Lounging around in the huge plush bed, both of them naked, Kane pulled out his phone.
“Let me take a pic.”
“No!” Bridget squealed, rolling over and wrapping herself up in the sheets. “This ass is not ending up on the internet.”
“Not for the internet,” Kane assured her, crawling towards her in the bed and unwrapping the sheets. “Well not in that manner anyway. I have an idea. I like us being a couple. We like each other a lot, and the public loves us. It’s crazy, but we’re almost like a power couple now. And you know what all the greatest power couples do?”
Bridget wrapped her arms around him. “Get married and have a baby?”
Kane hesitated. “Um…no. See, most of the power in these couples comes from the wife, or girlfriend of the couple being seen as hot, and sexy, in the eyes of the public. Desirable. And what do you do if you’re hot and sexy? Take some sexy pics!”
Bridget didn’t say anything.
“But they can be tasteful,” Kane quickly added.
“Ok, so wait a minute. You’re saying you want me to take some sexy camera phone pictures, and put them on Instagram, so that people will think I’m sexy and our popularity will soar?”
“I knew you would get it!”
“Kane, love -and I say this with all due respect- but that is the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. I’m a small time tattoo artist from Decatur, nobody cares about me posing in lingerie. And I don’t want my family to see it. And why the sudden interest in ‘increasing your popularity’? Don’t you think you’re popular enough? You literally have paparazzo following your every move.”
“Some of those guys work for me.”
“Look baby, just hear me out. Fame doesn’t last, only if you’re really lucky. And when the popularity, paparazzo, and attention leaves, so do the fans, and then your career follows. Come on, I thought you were riding with me. I thought we were having fun. Don’t you have fun with me?”
Bridget once again chose silence. Kane pulled her close, kissed her lips, again and again.
“We could have something real,” he whispered.
“Well…ok. But I choose the lingerie. And the pose. And if my mother calls me over it, I’m putting you on the phone with her to explain.”
************************THE MUSE LIFE CHAPTER 3: THE HIGH ROAD AND THE HOLLYWOOD LIFE, PART TWO******************************
While Bridget was contemplating the power of a sexy selfie, Nat was contemplating the power of her connections. Atlanta was one of those cities where who you know definitely had more weight than what you know. Modeling classes, vocal training, acting workshops- all of these she had participated in and worked hard at since she was five years old. But it still wasn’t enough, and while she could support herself financially with the jobs she was getting, in reality they were few and far between, with the A having one of the most competitive entertainment industries in the country.
The only fast track to the top is that other type of work- porn, or at the very least nude modeling, which in Nat’s opinion usually led to porn. With America’s current (and everlasting) obsession with immorality, sex, and all things crude, it seemed the best way to build your fan base was by applying one of those three ideals steadfastly to your career plan.
Strolling through Lenox Square Mall with me, Nat inquired “So, have you made your decision about the talk show correspondent job?”
“Haven’t really thought about it,” I answered absent mindedly, distracted by the Salvatore Ferragamo store window. “But now that you mention it, I think I’m going to pass. I realized, I’d just be taking it to spite Riley, like you guys said. And if I get too close to Dani Capri, the stench of her shameless attention whoring might make me hurl.”
“You know, I think you judge her too harshly,” Nat retorted, turning to face me. “The girl was just doing what she had to do to make a name for herself.
“No, I don’t want to hear that mess,” I stubbornly shot back. “There’s lots of people who want to make a name for themselves, and they’re smart enough to realize that there are avenues to take other than amateur porn.”
“Well, you can’t blame the girl for taking a quicker route. In fact…” Nat paused. “I may be thinking about trying it.”
This was enough to make me look up from the snakeskin clutch I was eyeballing. “Trying what?”
“Well, not amateur porn exactly. Just a little…nude modeling.”
“What’s the difference?”
“No sex on camera. And I’ll only do the tasteful shoots, like Playboy.”
“You realize how hard it is to get into Playboy as a model, right?
“Not Playboy exactly. Another magazine, similar to it.”
I shook my head. “I don’t get it with you people,” I ranted. “Why does everybody want to take the lazy way out? What happened to hard work? That’s what’s wrong the world now, too many people scheming their way into success, while the hardworking people like me get shitted on.”
“Calm down, Donald Trump,” Nat laughed, leading me out of the store and toward the food court. “I haven’t even made a decision yet.”
Having been adept at acting from a young age, even before she started classes for it as a little girl, Nat successfully convinced me that she hadn’t yet made a decision about her venture into the world of porn, and later on the same day had a meeting over drinks and lunch with Blake Logan, a video-grapher she met at our Red Luxe VIP night. She hadn’t realized it at the time, but when he told her that night that he worked on “independent” film projects, “independent” is sometimes a buzzword for “porn”. But, as he revealed at their lunch meeting, he had a different opportunity for Nat in mind.
“A calendar,” Blake clarified “Something classic, like an old school pin-up calendar- except all of the models would be semi-nude.”
“Well… let’s talk compensation. Based on experience I assume?”
“Pretty much,” Blake continued, searching the restaurant with his eyes, no doubt looking for the waitress who should have shown up with his jack and coke ten minutes ago. “And with your experience, I’d be able to work out a flat rate of, say… about a thousand.”
Nat raised her perfectly arched eyebrow. “About a thousand? Or one thousand exactly?”
“You’re a tough cookie,” Blake chuckled. “Ok, sure, one thousand. But the money is not why girls do these calendars with my media company. The career connections alone are usually compensation enough.”
Nat relaxed her all business-no nonsense attitude for a moment. “Connections?”
“Yup, to mens magazines like XXL, production companies like Lionsgate…”
Having been in this industry and hearing the tallest of tales from people for the bulk of her career, Nat stayed silent and hit Blake with a skeptical look.
“Here, take a look at this,” Blake continued, pulling a stack of photos and papers from a folder. “I do realize that anyone in this town can drop names. And I also realize girls get scammed by the hour by pervy guys in this industry. Its hard to find someone to trust, especially if you’re gonna do porn. So I like to bring proof, just so girls can see that I’m not full of b.s.”
Nat picked up the stack and shuffled through. SAG card. Credentials from different movie studios, and films he worked on. Photos with Mayweather, Tyler Perry, Derek Blank, and countless others.
“You can even Google me. And you know that’s the ultimate test of credibility.”
“Well…” Nat paused, blew out a breath of air as if blowing away her doubts, and stopped for a nanosecond to weigh the means against the ends once more. She knew she should probably discuss this with her agent, but in the end, she made her final decision right then and there. “Ok. Where do I sign?”
A few weeks later, and Kane’s plan to raise his power couple status with Bridget actually seemed to be working. Not only did their popularity increase, but she found herself becoming more comfortable with showing herself off, eventually allowing him to convince her to go from fully covered in lingerie, to semi-nude.
“I’ve always been confident about my body, but the thrill of showing it off, it’s addictive really,” she explained to Nat and I excitedly over lunch at Ru-San’s. I took a sip of my water to keep myself from saying anything.
“Come on Mya, go ahead and say it. You think it’s wrong, blah blah blah.”
I sighed and sat back in my chair. “You know what Bridget? I don’t have anything to say. If the man makes you happy…well if you like it, I love it,” I proclaimed, holding up my glass of water in a mock toast.
“Well, I think it’s fabulous,” Nat added, poking around her edamame. “If you got it honey, flaunt it. And if the public loves you for it, I can’t even be mad at it.”
“Kane just loves showing me off. He’s always telling me how beautiful I am,” Bridget blushed.
I was just about to end my self imposed silence and retort with a sarcastic comment when a loud whisper came out of nowhere. “There she is. She’s a ho. She has no shame.”
Nat, Bridge and I turned toward the direction of the intentionally loud whispers, which appeared to be coming from a group of women sitting a couple of tables to the right, who were darting their eyes back and forth between their phones and Bridget’s face.
“Excuse me?” was Bridget’s response to the whispering. “Do you have a problem?”
A few of them chuckled, the others just turning up their noses and rolling their eyes, as the group stood up to leave. “So you don’t hear me?” Bridget continued. “Because I can hear your loud ass whispering all the way over here.”
“You need to see and not ‘hear,” one them finally answered. “As in ‘see’ what you allow to be put on the internet. Are you really that thirsty for attention?”
As they strolled out, Bridget’s face wore a question mark as she pulled out her phone and logged onto her browser. Her eyes bugged out and she let out a loud gasp.
“OH. MY. GOD! Look at this! What the fuck?! I am going to KILL that man!”
Having already pulled up the info on her phone, Nat held it up for me, large letters in a headline on TMZ,
“Kane Pressley’s new hottie in a scintillating striptease on Instagram!”
Apparently, Kane had decided to take Bridget’s sexy status to a whole new level, and without her knowing about it, sent a video of a completely nude striptease Bridget had done for Kane’s enjoyment to a few social media outlets.
“I made this video for his eyes only!” Bridget continued hysterically. “That jackass! I am mortified! What am I gonna do?” Just then her phone rang. She picked it up to see that it was her mother, no doubt calling over the footage that was all over the world wide web by now. I tried to help by adding “Well, at least your ass looks good on camera.”
“I can’t believe he would do this to me!” Bridge continued shrieking, as we stood up to leave. “Well I hope you’re used to the fame now,” Nat remarked. “Because the next headline we’ll be reading about you will be coming from the AJC, about how you kicked a rising r’n’b star’s ass all up and down Peachtree.”
Bridget’s run in with infamy was on Nat’s mind as she made her way to her first photo shoot for the pin-up calendar. It wasn’t so much the nudity that weighed on her- it was the public perception. Suppose she did this, and instead of becoming a sex symbol like Marilyn Monroe, she became a the pun of a million bad porn star jokes? Scrutinized by family and friends? Crowned the Donkey of the Day by Charlemagne from The Breakfast Club?
To her surprise, the set of the shoot was just like any other she had done. The usual hurried scuttling around of numerous camera and lighting people, makeup and hair people hustling her into a chair so they could get started. By the time she had put on her outfit, a little red nightie number, fishnets, and stilettos, and made her way in front of the camera to begin, she was feeling as confident as ever, ready to take on the world and those connections Blake had sold her on.
A few clicks of the camera in, and Nat was killing it. There was no denying it, the camera loved her, and giving face was one of her strongest talents.
“Alright, hold off for a minute!” Blake shouted, standing next to the camera man. “Bring in Sherri.”
“Sherri?” Nat questioned. “Am I done for the day, you’re switching models?”
“No, not yet,” Blake replied, staring down new model Sherri’s ass as she made her way in front of the camera and stood next to Nat. “We’re photographing the two of you together.”
“Um…ok,” Nat agreed, still a puzzled look on her face. “I’m no stranger to sharing photos, sure.”
Blake just smirked and gave the cameraman the go ahead to resume shooting. After a few minutes, Blake shouted again, “Hold on, hold up for a minute. I want you two to touch each other.”
Nat stopped cold. “Touch each other?”
“Yea, just a little fondling, make it look like you’re pulling down each other’s lingerie, give a little kiss-“
“A kiss?” Nat exclaimed. “None of this was discussed before. I don’t do porn.”
Blake and the other cameramen looked at each other in amusement. “What do you think this is honey?”
“Well you never said anything about touching or kissing.”
“Look do you want this job or not? I have a whole line of girls that would kill to have this job, and would do a lot more than just kiss,” Blake stated in frustration.
Nat looked around, at the crew, at Blake who now wore a face of impatience, and Sherri, whose face was blank, as if she was used to this sort of melee.
“Sorry,” Nat finally responded, not really sorry at all. “But my integrity is worth way more than one thousand dollars.” And with that, she turned to gather her clothes, get re-dressed, and do her best Naomi strut out the door, head held high. She just hoped she wouldn’t regret passing up this opportunity later.
My style against substance conversation with Nat at the mall had certainly jarred me, but it also got me thinking. Was I being too judgmental? Could I just be afraid that if I met Dani, she would actually be-horror of horrors- a really nice person? In lieu of looking like a hypocrite, I swallowed my pride and convinced my editor Marie to let me have a “pre-interview” sit down of sorts, so that I could get a feel for the situation. That way, if she says or does anything ridiculous, I can make a quick exit and tell Marie I changed my mind.
Dani met me in the lobby of Hotel Geneive, a boutique hotel located amongst the fray of other large, corporate hotels on Peachtree near downtown. Well actually, her camera crew met me first, followed by her agent, and a wardrobe stylist. The camera crew, to push the standard “agree to be on camera and keep your mouth shut afterwards” contracts in my face. The agent, to give me a list of questions I wasn’t allowed to ask and subjects to avoid. And the wardrobe stylist? “I’m here to evaluate your choice of outfit for the interview, and make changes as needed,” she explained, no personality in her voice and eyeballing every part of my skinny jeans-blazer-heels outfit with laser precision.
I cleared my throat.”Changes?”
“Yes,” she continued, not even looking me in the face, but picking apart my outfit with her eyes and her unspoken thoughts. “The idea is to allow Ms. Capri the full ability to showcase her beauty and charisma for the viewers without distraction.”
“So…basically I can’t look hotter than her on camera.”
“Bingo,” the agent jumped in, coming at me with a stack of notecards, a revised list of subjects to avoid. Ok, it was already getting ridiculous. Basically the only thing I was allowed to talk about was her music. I had never planned on asking questions about her personal life anyway, since I’ve always refused to report on celeb relationship drama- and I was also dumped by an ex she just so happened to kick to the curb. But the music? I could actually feel myself getting a headache from having to fake being interested.
Let’s just get this over with, I thought to myself, as I made my way towards the pair of leather hunter green and mahogany chairs where Dani was seated, having what looked like a stareoff with the camera on her phone. A creamy golden complexion, shiny brunette curls, and a 5 ‘ 6″ frame was unfortunately badly offset with too many alterations to her face, too large implants- which she admitted to being fake, and what could’ve been an unnatural butt- but which she staunchly denied to being the result of injections.
I attempted to introduce myself, approaching with my hand out, saying “Hello, Mya Sloane, from Crave Magazine. It’s so nice to meet you-“
“Quick! Jump in this pic with me!” she interrupted, jumping up to stand next to me. I didn’t even get a chance to respond before she made a duck face and snapped it. She reviewed the picture on her phone and frowned. “Well, you don’t look that hot, but it’s ok, I won’t put it on my Instagram.”
I just stared at her for a moment, already stunned by the first 30 seconds of this possible trainwreck of an interview.
“Let’s talk about your upcoming album,” I insisted through the fake smile plastered on my face. Dani sat back down, surprised, as if she had just remembered why we were even there. “Oh sure, my music,” she agreed, with a somewhat bored shrug. “Well, I keep telling my vocal trainer, the sound I’m going for is Beyonce meets Rihanna meets Diana Ross. But the old hack keeps telling me it’s impossible, spouting this ‘I need to sound like myself’ bullshit. How am I going to sell records sounding like myself? And auto tune is not something I’m onboard for. I need my music to sound natural, you feel me?”
“Um..ah…” I didn’t even know how to respond. Luckily I didn’t have to because Dani kept talking, scrolling through her numerous social media accounts at the same time. “See that’s one thing I do miss about my ex, he at least understood where I was coming from with my music. He was texting me non-stop, but I know he just wants to get back together with me,” she laughed haughtily, flipping her curls.
During Dani’s nonsensical rant about her “music”, I had already made up my mind not to do this interview or take the correspondent job, so I no longer cared about being professional, and asked the question, “Your ex? Riley Cole, you mean?”
“Oh, do you know him? I tell you girl, the man just won’t move on!” she boasted, still not looking up from her phone. “He just doesn’t have the money or connections I need to further my career. And a girl’s got to look out for herself, you know?”
“Yea, so back to these text messages. He’s been texting you since you guys broke up?”
“Pretty much. Sending flowers and gifts. Almost everyday too. I love the attention, but he is starting to get on my damn nerves.”
At this point I had stopped listening. Texting her almost everyday. Sending flowers and gifts. It all made sense now. While I was trying to figure out how to deal with his emotional indecisiveness and unavailability, this jerk was out still lusting after his ex. Not wanting to make a commitment with me because he was holding out for some woman who didn’t even want him.
I quickly made a change in decision right then and there. Enough of this nonsense. It was time to go to the mattresses.
“I tell you what. Why don’t we schedule a full interview, for your show and my magazine, and we can talk more in depth about it then? Let’s go ahead and take another pic for your Instagram too. Mentioning the upcoming article is bound to bring you thousands of more followers,” I convincingly declared.
“Followers” must have been the magic word, because Dani squealed and jumped up, pose ready. We stood next to each other in front of the camera, looking like the best of fake friends. I smiled my best smile- a smile for my future success, and for that success being the best revenge a girl could ask for.