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. Behind the Cover: Fashion | Behind the Cover: Beauty| Behind the Cover: Video
By Claire Hoffman
Photo Credit: Regan Cameron
KATY PERRY HAS HAD A HELL OF A COUPLE OF YEARS. In case you missed it: Amid a best-selling tour for a multiplatinum album, there was a divorce, a walk on the dark side, then a new relationship, a breakup, a make-up, and a return to a lighter side—all of which led to the release last October of her third album, Prism, that has since produced the chart-toppers "Roar" and "Unconditionally" and debuted at No. 1 with the biggest sales week of her career. Got all that?
Being Perry is a vigorous effort, even as she shoots whipped cream out of her bra and sings about kissing girls and teenage dreams to hordes of "KatyCat" fans. Her last album, Teenage Dream, tied with Michael Jackson's Bad for the most No. 1 hits (five) off of a single record, and her multimillion-dollar empire includes partnership deals with CoverGirl, Eylure eyelashes, and Popchips; three best-selling fragrances (Purr, Meow!, and Killer Queen); and voicing Smurfette in The Smurfs movies. And she's not about to slow down now. "I'm never going to be lazy, because there are 500 other people waiting in line for this position," she says.
Today, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter is in rehearsals at the CenterStaging studios in Burbank, California, for her tour that kicks off in May and will travel all over the globe through fall 2015. In a faded zip-up Aviator Nation sweatshirt borrowed from boyfriend John Mayer and leopard-print sweatpants, Perry looks more like a track athlete at an away game than pop's reigning Teen Dream Pop Queen. Around her, dancers and backup vocalists warm up, and band members rehearse "Roar," which Perry will perform later in the week on Saturday Night Live. Her assistant lugs four large black bags, explaining that these are Perry's closet giveaways; crew members draw a number and take turns going through the mountains of clothing that Perry is off-loading. (She is generous with concert tickets, too. On tour, she bikes around in a baseball cap and sweats with 10 tickets in her pocket to give to unsuspecting kids.)
If you wonder how Perry has time for a personal life with all this empire-building, often that is part of the enterprise, too. "I feel like my secret magic trick that separates me from a lot of my peers is the bravery to be vulnerable and truthful and honest. I think you become more relatable when you're vulnerable. When you try to market yourself like some supernatural figurine who can't be fucked with, I always resort back to Scripture: Pride comes before a fall."
Perry has put a lot of thought into how to be relatable—she famously started out as Katheryn Hudson, a pastor's kid with a gospel contract whose parents wanted to keep her away from all things secular and sinful. After getting her GED, Perry reinvented herself, moving to Los Angeles at 17 to pursue a career like that of Fiona Apple, one of her musical influences. By the time she was 23, three record labels had dropped her and two cars had been repossessed. "It built a lot of character, having to earn all of it over and over. Once you have it, you're so appreciative."
Perry in a Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane Jacket and Marni top & skirt.