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December 9, 2013

Katy Conquers All

After her marriage flamed out, Katy Perry thought her new album would be dark and brooding. Instead, she turned personal pain into professional triumph, and now prepares to tour with a message of rising from the ashes.

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of regan cameron

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Optimism is the through thread of Perry's new album, filled with danceable hits and airy love songs instead of post-divorce anthems. In fact, the new Perry is still romantic ("I don't want to live a life without love"), and her songs are focused on her on-off-back-on relationship with Mayer. "I took a break from my boyfriend, not one that I wanted. It was like a splash of cold water to search inward on what was going on with me. That is what led me to this new awakening, this realizing, If I don't do some self-love, I'm not going to be able to keep the love that I want. I still needed to deal with all of my ex-husband stuff. I hadn't." Perry never mentions Brand by name: "It's almost like if I kept on talking about it, it would seem like I actually cared about it. I don't." She has said she wants children, but "I'm definitely not there yet, and I can't plan that far in advance. When I decide to have a family, I'll just want to be Mom for a little bit … [Brand] really wanted me to have children, and I knew I wasn't ready—I think it was a way of control. I think it was part of, If I have a kid, then I would have to sacrifice—I'd have to be at home more. I really wanted to, but I knew I wasn't ready for it. It wasn't like, 'Hey, let's have a kid because we're in love.'"

The song "Love Me" is about that acceptance she says was nonexistent for a while. "If you put your self-love in someone else's hands, then you can't control it when it breaks or when they toss it out. I wrote something down after a session with my therapist: 'I don't want to lose myself in fear of losing him.'" Reuniting with Mayer was less the goal than a happy by-product of learning to love herself. "He's just a fantastic partner," she says. "I've been a fan of his for such a long time. He's got a brilliant, brilliant mind … It's a rad, mature relationship."

Perry calls over her assistant, who delivers part of her breakfast, a large ziplock bag filled with pills, a photo of which Perry has tweeted to her more than 47 million followers—at press time, the most of anyone in the world. "I went to see a Chinese medicine doctor who curated vitamins and supplements for my blood. It's a rich-bitch-type thing, but when I first did it, I felt like my mind was firing off like I was 17. It really changed my life. It made my mind so fast, my body feels great—and my skin!"

The health regimen was part of a transition period "where you really walk through the door of growing up. It's like you realize, What was cool for me at 26 is just not cool for me anymore." All that transformation made good songwriting fodder for Perry—enough for a double album she thought she'd do. Instead, she finished early, roaring out of the gate. "I've learned so many incredibly valuable lessons, and being given these gifts of songs from these experiences that people take on as their own messages and that inspire them or get them through things—it's a blessing in disguise … Sometimes I feel I'm the positive girl among my pop peers, but I'm OK with that. I'm happy I'm the light."


On Lips: CoveGirls Lipslicks Smoochies Lip Balm in Smooch.

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