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Pink - is she the thinking gay girl's best friend?

As her latest album, Funhouse, roars up the charts, Pink takes time out to tell DIVA how she feels about therapy, why she’s sticking with boys, and what she thinks of Katy Perry. Interview JANE CZYZSELSKA

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During my conversation with Pink she refers to herself as just another a moron celebrity with an opinion, but I think she’s being a little hard on herself. If half of the world’s celebs shared her passion and integrity on justice for women, the gay, bi, lesbian and transgender communities and animals, we might have a greater chance of putting the world to rights. On America’s seemingly intransigent stance on gay marriage she says: ‘Why are we concentrating on taking away love from people? Who are we to say we need less love in the world? It’s so beyond what we should be focusing on right now.’ That she’s no fan of the book-banning, anti-gay Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin isn’t a surprise – ‘None of their policies address the kinds of rights that I’m interested in fighting for.’ She doesn’t reveal her voting intentions, but I reckon she’ll be marking her card for Obama when she gets home from her European press trip. Although she’s in the capital doing promos for T4 and The Paul O’Grady Show, we don’t get a face-to-face interview. I’ve been told by the press peeps at Sony that Pink only has 20 minutes. In the end, we get on so well on the phone that we clock up an hour of solid gold girl-chat.

And that’s the thing about Pink; with her candid self-expression, her tomboyish-girl-next-door swagger, it’s easy to see why so many young women – gay, bisexual or whatever – feel they can relate to her. There’s no prissy posturing when Pink’s in the house. She’s more likely to admit she’s wayward; a track called Sober on her forthcoming album is a dark number with strings about how she wishes she and her friends could be fearless without having a vice. ‘Me and my friends sit around drinking whisky, trying to find our truth. You know, to love and be loved, and figuring out how to find out who the fuck we are. And every time we use sex or a fucking glass pipe or drink we get further from the truth. So how do you feel free and yummy to the point where it actually lasts and you remember it?’

This is deep, meaning-of-life stuff she’s talking about. But if she really thinks she has a problem with drink, would she ever consider going to a group like AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)? ‘I’ve got clean and sober friends, and I’ve read The Big Book (AA self-help literature) from front to back, but my biggest problem is where it says you have to turn your will over to God. I like being in control. I know it works for a lot of people, but I’m way more of a control freak.’ And with that admission she laughs, a great husky chuckle, and I imagine her settling back in her hotel armchair, surrounded by her ‘people’ who organise the star’s hectic promotional schedule.

Alecia Beth Moore may be the girl next door who wears her heart on her sleeve, but in the eight years since she had her first hit album, Can’t Take Me Home (which incidentally sold over four million copies worldwide), like so many young stars she’s had to grow up fast and lose any vestigial naïvety. When I ask her where she’s staying during her time in London, she says she’s holed up in her favourite hotel near Hyde Park, but she stops short of giving me the hotel’s name because, sensibly, she doesn’t want to be swamped by stalker fans after a hard day’s graft.

Not that she’s been averse to the odd bit of stalking in her time. Before she teamed up with genius music producer Linda Perry (who has worked with Christina Aguilera, Céline Dion and James Blunt) on Get This Party Started, she stalked her by singing Perry’s songs back to her over the phone. Linda eventually called, telling her, ‘You’re fucking crazy. Come on over.’ She sounds wistful when she talks about her now that they no longer work together. ‘She’s way more talented than I am. We’re friends now, but together we created a monster in [massively successful second album] Missundaztood. One day she turned to me and said, ‘I was happy in my bubble, and you burst it’. We’re like two thunderstorms that collided in mid-air and created a beautiful mess. It was a lot for both of us and it was a test in friendship.’

Pink didn’t stop at pestering Perry. Her next ambition was to work with the legendary lesbian music duo the Indigo Girls. ‘I called them up and told them that I worshipped the ground they walked on – I grew up listening to their album Closer To Fine, and on my last album I wrote Dear Mr President and told them they had to sing it with me.’ For Indigo girl Amy Ray, having Pink ask them to join her was flattering. ‘I’ve always admired her punch in the top-40 world, her gat gun approach. It’s a great song we need right now that’s asking some really important questions.’

Whether it’s her lyrics that chronicle some of her toughest personal experiences – her parents’ divorce in Family Portrait reveals the destruction of a family torn apart: ‘I don’t want love to destroy me like it has done my family’ – or Stupid Girls, a scathing attack on the ‘famous for being famous’ and the thin culture she so despises, you feel you’re getting something authentic with Pink.

You may not be a fan of her particular musical style – full throttle American rock that, on her latest album, mellows occasionally to an acoustic ballad – but as with all pop stars, Pink is more than just her music. Her particularity lies in the angry, arsey energy (‘I wouldn’t win a popularity contest because I’m too un-PC’), her realness. There seems to be no mystery with Pink, no hidden agenda, no trying hard to be something that she isn’t, and in this age of gloss and artifice, this is what has won her over 20 million album sales and her first number one US Billboard hit with the very catchy new single, So What.

So What is the gutsy reaction to her recent break-up with the motocross driver, her former husband Carey Hart. It’s already been dubbed the I Will Survive for a new generation and, curiously for some, the video features real horseplay with Hart. ‘Carey and I are each others’ best friend in the whole world, and it makes us laugh as much as it’s confusing. We’ve always been really solid with our friendship – and the sex was awesome too – but it was just a case of wrong timing.’

When I joke that it sounds like a classic lesbian break-up, she agrees. ‘I know, it’s hilarious. Most of my friends are gay, everyone has slept with everyone in LA, and I just love that my best gay girlfriend and her ex can go for lunch with me and Carey and there’s a shared history.’
I ask if she realises that there are going to be a lot of gay women who reckon they may be in with a chance now that Carey’s off the menu, and does she ever see herself in a gay relationship? ‘Oh, I don’t know – I’ve been in them before, and all my girlfriends say, “You’re gay, admit it!” I have no issue with it at all, but I really like penis.’

It seems an odd thing to say – lots of gay women I know also occasionally go native with the trousersnake – but I wonder after we speak whether she feels the special kind of bond with men that she so obviously has with the numerous gay women in her life?
What does she think about the growing number of female actors and singers who flirt with the bi-try image? What, for example, is her take on Katy Perry? ‘I think she’s fucking awesome, and so is Megan Fox (who recently told GQ magazine that she’s considered having a relationship with a woman). They’re both quirky – and it never hurts when a girl has tattoos. The thing that’s really hilarious to me is when it’s people who are really feminine and picture-perfect. Guys say two girls like that is fucking hot, and then when you get girls who are more masculine, like myself, or who aren’t as beautiful, the same guys say, “Fucking dyke,” and it’s really unfortunate.

‘What did I think of [Perry’s song]? I thought I Kissed A Girl was trivialising being gay. I’ve been speaking to my gay girlfriends about it, and they’re kinda put off by it. I’m not judging and comparing, though.’
It’s a peculiarly ambassadorial statement from someone who, by her own admission, is so frequently happy to shoot her mouth off. To this end, she tells me an interesting story about a visit to a therapist years ago. Therapy, she confesses, doesn’t really work for her. ‘I either say nothing or tell jokes. There was this one therapist who told me, “I really like you and think you’re really funny, but when are you going to start telling me the truth?” I just said, “Fine. I’m going to write a song and then I’m gonna kill myself.”’ There’s that husky laugh again. ‘For me, therapy doesn’t really work, but I like putting myself in the most uncomfortable situations. If you call it, you take the sting out of it. It’s like the elephant in the room. That Family Portrait song [from Missundaztood] hurt the whole family, but it swept everything up and we were better for it.’

Pink gets letters from fans who tell her that her songs have given them the strength to get through the most devastating experiences, including rape. And her favourite of all is the letter that said, ‘I don’t want to be like you – you made me want to be like me.’

Songwriting is obviously cathartic for the 29-year-old singer, but I wonder whether she ever gives herself time to sit alone with her own feelings when not working on a project?
‘Not until this year have I really just sat and been quiet and asked myself, “Is this who you are? Do you wanna go back on the road every year?” Because there’s a lot of other stuff I want to do.’
Such as? ‘Well, I’d like to major in psychology, master the violin and learn Spanish and French and have an animal sanctuary,’ she replies in a heartbeat. That sounds like she has a big ‘to do’ list when this album’s over.

‘Yes, I would probably need to be closer to the countries that need the animal sanctuaries most – say Mexico or Puerto Rico. I want to set up a mobile vet unit for speying and neutering – I’ve written letters to the presidents of those countries, telling them I’ll personally match whatever money they put in. I’m serious about it.’ And you know what?
I think she may just do it, given half a chance.

Funhouse is out now.

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