Justin Article

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whatchagot4meMRJT
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Postby whatchagot4meMRJT » Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:33 pm

If you're too cheap to buy the mag or just want to read it over and over again, and still buy the magazine, go right ahead and knock yourself out! B)

(copied from JJB)


THE BIRTH OF AN ICON
by Devin Friedman / Photographs by Bruce Weber

Is there anything that Justin Timberlake cannot do? Is there any woman he cannot have? Are there any clothes he cannot wear? Oh, and by the way, it's okay to admit that you think he's cool.


Justin is in Los Angeles for a few days in midsummer. He oversees the installation of a sound system in the theater at his enormous Spanish-style house in the Hollywood Hills, the residence he shares with his friend and personal assistant, Trace. He pilots his navy blue BMW 780 Li through the traffic on Sunset, talking on his cell-phone headset. He spends several hours at the Four Seasons Hotel, meeting with the president of his record label, Jive. He pays a visit to an editing suite where they're working on a movie in which he plays an investigative reporter. Afterward he eats lunch by the pool of a hotel in Hollywood. He's wearing medium-baggy jeans and one of those punk-era studded belts, and he looks not unlike the other people at the restaurant, dressed in that attractive, casual way people dress in a town where you should never look like you have a real job. It's a bright, cloudless afternoon, and he asks to be seated in the shade, maybe to protect his skin, which is soft and white and looks to have never seen a ray of sun.

"All the time, I'm getting dailies back," Justin says after he sits down, discussing the film that's being edited. "I'm like, That's Morgan @#%$ Freeman! There's half of me that's like, I really don't deserve this."
He speaks in a small voice in a higher register, not unlike Michael Jackson, and his eyes get big when he talks about something he feels he should be impressed by (like being in the presence of Morgan @#%$ Freeman). It's part of a habit he has of trying to shrink himself, humble himself, which makes him very likable. He is careful to thank the maitre d' for leading him to the table, and the busboy for clearing his salad plate. He says, "Hi, I'm Justin," when you meet him.

Um, no @#%$ you're Justin.

Justin is three days back from Australia, where he was vacationing and playing the final dates of a tour he's been on for the better part of a year and a half. "When I was in Australia, I did a press conference, just to get all the interviewing out of the way," he says. "These reporters showed up ready, stones in hand. For the most part, the questions were good, but we got to the end, and this lady goes, 'Justin, I'm just wondering why there are questions we didn't get to ask you.' I said, 'What did you not get to ask that you wanted to ask?' And she said, 'Well, Cameron's here with you. You brought her all the way to Australia. Are you guys getting married,' blase, blase, blase" -- by which I think he means blah blah blah. "'Your fans want to know this.' And I said, 'The reason we preempt questions about that is so we don't get ourselves into a situation like we're in right now, where you've made me feel awkward and I'm making you feel awkward.'"

In the past, Justin has requested that reporters e-mail a list of questions to his publicist before doing an interview, which is kind of a @#%$ move but understandable when you consider he was entertaining questions about his love life at an age when the rest of us were going to the orthodontist, and when you consider that every public tremor carries the threat of causing major damage to the Justin Timberlake corporation. He did not make this request of GQ, and talking about the press conference now is probably a subtle way of setting up ground rules. But forget about whether it's rude to ask Justin if he's going to marry Cameron Diaz. If I told you five years ago that Justin Timberlake would be having sex with Cameron Diaz on a regular basis, you'd have said I was an idiot. Or maybe you'd have said, "At the rate things are going, you're probably right," and then rolled your eyes at how perilously close the national culture was to swirling down the national toilet. That was, after all, the era of the boy band and bubblegum pop, of Britney Spears humping the floor in a parochial-school kilt. At that point, Justin Timberlake was still posing with puppies for foldout magazine posters and singing "Silent Night" a capella with four men in curious facial hair, still wearing denim suits and cornrows, indulging in countless acts unbefitting a person who has sex with Cameron Diaz. Did Cameron Diaz, along with the rest of the world, have a sudden fit of amnesia? Because now, though there's a decent chance they will have broken up by the time you read this, people generally accept the celebrity logic of Justin and Cameron. And even if it's a romance fueled purely by mutual ambition, which is always suspected to be the case with famous people, that would mean Cameron Diaz thinks dating Justin Timberlake is good for her career.

Justin leaves Los Angeles the next day for Memphis, where he will spend a few days with his family, drink beer at a big barbecue in the Tennessee woods, and do a little rinky-dink event at Sun Studios commemorating the fiftieth anniersary of Elvis's first record. The next day, his mom drives him out to a private airport in her creamy Cadillac convertible, pulling right out onto the tarmac, and Justin kisses her and boards his private jet - a leased plane, well-appointed but nothing you'd show off on MTV or anything - for New York, where, among other things, he will watch Joey Fatone in a production of Little Shop of Horrors.

On the plane, Justin says he has been really into acting lately and admits that, at the moment, he has more energy for that than he does for music. It's been suggested that his own life story is kind of cinematic, and he says if he were writing a screenplay of his life, this is how it would go: "Small, eager, obviously young, naive boy with a dream to be a musician, an artist, not really having an understanding of it at that time," meaning I moved to Orlando with my mom to try to get on The Mickey Mouse Club. "And being lucky enough to follow a path that manifests itself and be in the right place at the right time, landing a television show when I was 12. Spotting talent in four other guys and noticing that we can do something. We started our own vocal group ['NSync], later on realizing after two decades that my dream as a little boy has always been to do my own record and to do it the way I want to do it."

Justified, the record that was his "dream as a little boy" to do, has sold about 3.6 million units over the past year and a half, a hit in anyone's book, well ahead of the business done by the latest record from Britney Spears (Jive's other big artist, Justin's ex-girlfriend, and the yardstick against which he has always been measured). Justified sold steadily for a long time, which I am told makes it a record with "legs," a record people are buying because they like it and not because they were overtaken by some momentary paroxysm of puppy love. Stranger still, the record became cool. It was cool to like it, to talk about liking it, to have it publicly displayed on your entertainment console. It became one of those albums that tons of quote-unquote cool people say are great so as not to appear snobby and obscure and, in this case, because I think they actually liked it.

Justin himself seems cooler, grittier, in vintage T-shirts and chain wallets and a shaved head. That people bought all this is no small feat, and frankly a little baffling. This is a kid who appeared on Star Search when he was 11 wearing a bolo tie and a cowboy hat, singing country songs in a spooky monotone. This was someone who was covering New Kids on the Block when he was in third grade. He was not Eminem. He was JonBenet Ramsey. He was JonBenet Ramsey channeled through Clay Aiken. But Justin showed up on Jay Leno wearing a leather jacket, singing impeccable little R&B songs, and sudenly we didn't care.

Strapped into his airplane seat with a shiny gold seat belt, Justin discusses his bewilderment at suddenly getting everything he wanted. "I'll be honest with you," he says, "because I don't know how else to be. I'm frightened. There's not really the same push to do the same things. I feel a lack of... In some way, shape, or form, my inspiration is shifting. When I was putting my album out, I felt the need to see who I was, see what I was all about. And I feel like I've done that. I'll always have that drive. I think that's what makes me who I am. I just don't know specifically where I want to direct it right now."

Lance Bass says 'NSync is planning to record another album, ideally in November, and he has every reason to expect Justin will be there. Justin's less certain, even when it's suggested he has a contractual obligation.

"I don't know, I don't know," he says. "You're never contractually obligated to do anything. I think A Tribe Called Quest has been contractually obligated to do another album for like ten years." He says he's likely to abandon the whole choreographed, syncopated B-boy thing entirely. "i think going back to my roots, that's the direction I'm going to go in next. Maybe a little southern rock, you know what I mean? Try that on for size."

Let me be the first to say it: There is no way in hell Justin Timberlake will ever make another 'NSync record. It would be career suicide. You do not break out of prison and assume a new identity so you can report to the warden a few months later.

Among the only people Justin has brought with him from his former life are the people sitting in big leather captain's chairs at the front of the plane - Justin's mini entourage. Eric and Big Mike, his security detail, men so enormous they seem to have their own gravitational fields, were hired to stand with their arms crossed wherever Justin is, broadcasting a message of calm. Behind them is Trace, the personal assistant, sittin gon a banquette and removing the plastic wrap from a Jeff Buckley jewel case for Justin.

Trace spends almost all his time with Justin, lives with him in Hollywood, and travels almost everywhere with him. Trace dropped out of high school to go on tour with 'NSync, something he says he wouldn't do if he had to do it over again. Justin and Trace, whose mothers were friends in high school, have known each other since they were infants. They were born within a few months of each other, grew up a few streets apart, and believe they are somehow cosmically bound.

"We went through everything at the same time," Trace says. He has a lot of tattoos, including one that says SPACE COWBOY, which he got to commemorate the first 'NSync tour; on a chain around his neck he wears a miniature platinum Coors Light can inlaid with diamonds, a Christmas present from Justin. "Like, we had our girlfriends at the exact same time," Trace says, "broke up with them at the same time, and we were [feeling] down from that while we did the album. Then I remember coming in one day in January saying, 'What are we doing, man! We're 22 years old. Let's get the @#%$ out of here!' We went wild for six or seven months; then we both got girlfriends the same week. Isn't that crazy?

He's maybe freer than he's ever been. It's like everything in his life changed. I mean, like people have always wanted him to be associated with cheesy stuff, and because you're in a boy band, a pop star, you do it. Now it's like, 'No, I'm not going to do that anymore.' It's cool to see."

Justin has gotten a lot of static in his life for being a simulation, a chunk of plastic molded into various poses by the great powers of the music industry, a white guy - in a long tradition of white guys - capitalizing on the talent of black artists by feeding white kids pablumized versions of black music. It's true that Justin is not the genuine-article B-boy. He did not learn how to dance on a piece of linoleum on the Grand Concourse in the South Bronx; he went to a professional choreographer in Orlando. He studied with a voice coach. What skills he has he's earned the way some people earn engineering degrees or black belts in Tae Kwon Do. But this doesn't exactly make him a special case in the music industry.

"I think some of the same people who say I wouldn't get as much attention if I was a black artist are probably the same people who say I copy everything Michael Jackson did," he says. "Do you think it's a safe assumption to say there's a lot of artists that in some shape or form steal from Michael?"

Justin's point here is that being the B-boy from Orlando doesn't preempt your claim to the legacy of Michael Jackson. What it does is make you obscenely famous. And what Justin has proved is that fame can be almost completely liquid. If you are savvy enough to know how to manipulate it, then no kind of fame is better than another, like no dollar bill is worth more than any other dollar bill. If you are talented and you work hard and you have good taste, if you know how to hire the right stylist, the right record producer, if you are acutely aware of the way you're perceived, if you're likable and charismatic, you can transmute the magnificent fame of being the king of boy bands into doing whatever you want.That's what every waiter in Los Angeles tells himself when he agrees to eat bugs on Fear Factor or live in an apartment with some crazy @#%$ from The Real World. Fame trumps circumstances, it is self-justifying and the stench from whatever it is you did to get it eventually wears off. Most creative people start out being cool and interesting and get progressively lamer and more cloying as they become more famous (the "I love his old stuff" model). Justin, on the other hand, started out lame and hugely famous and, years later, seems to be homing in on a kind of authenticity.

He has understood that he had to take risks to kill off that stickly-sweet kid from Orlando who would otherwise stalk him. But they've been calculated risks, and unlike Madonna, who has always understood the galvanizing effect of pissing people off, even now Justin seems terrified of saying anything that might offend anyone.

"The things I look back on and regret are where maybe I might have hurt someone's feelings," he says. "For instance, the Super Bowl. Obviously it was a flop-up, and it was something that went wrong. Then I felt like, I'm going to show everyone that this was something that didn't affect me, and I'm going to show up at the Grammys. If I would have known that [Janet Jackson] wasn't going to go, I would not have gone. People started saying, you know, 'I can't believe he left her out like that.' It's just one of those things where you're like, I hope that person doesn't think that I was vindictive or that I did something out of malice or whatever."

There are times when you can still feel that Star Search kid's overweening desire to please, to be a good boy, to hit the right note, the jaw-clenched smile of a kid who really wants to win. Even though the entire stunt was probably designed to make Justin Timberlake seem more like a badass, he still can't even admit it was planned. "What actually happened was not planned out."

What was supposed to happen?

"That's all I'm going to say about the Super Bowl."

Justin is by and large laid-back. He folds himself casually into his seat on the jet, and his voice barely rises as he talks for the next few hours. Occasionally, you can see him tense up - when he's asked about Britney Spears or the Super Bowl fiasco. And when the plane passes through turbulance, he clutches lightly at his knees and says, "see, I am not into that." Mostly, the tension seems to come when he's taking pains to create distance between himself and the crushing desires of everyone around him. It must keep him awake sometimes. He must sit up in that enormous house in the Hollywood Hills and feel anxiety at being a giant, an overgrown man who doesn't fit into places anymore, so large he can't move without knocking something over, pulling someone down, causing some change he can scarcely imagine. With Trace living down the hallway, tattooed with mementos from Justin's life, reflecting his strange bright fate like a little Tennessee moon. With the members of his boy band, spread around the country, getting smaller and smaller beneath him, like bits of chaff blown off a booster rocket. With the paparazzi camped at the base of his driveway watching DVDs behind the tinted windows of their SUVs, waiting for Cameron Diaz to show up. With a small population of people living off the public's fascination with him, bothered occasionally by fits of both longing and resentment.

Do you think the other guys in 'NSync hate you for your success?

"If they did, I would think they'd say something about it," Justin says, his leased jet skidding on the wet bubbly air hazing over the eastern seaboard. "I don't sit around and worry about it."

Do you feel guilty about being so successful?

"No. I don't feel guilty. You can't feel guilty about aspiring to be extremely good at something."

But really, why you? Of all the people in the world it seems kind of arbitrary. Why you?

"Man, I've been trying to figure that one out forever. I don't know. I don't know."
A few minutes later, we're making our approach to Teterboro, a small private airport near Newark, New Jersey.

"There's Giants Stadium," Justin says, the jet muscling through the lower altitudes over the stadium, empty and opening skyward. "Played there five nights in a row, 265,000 people in five days. That's a p henomenon you just can't explain. How does that happen? I don't know. The Beatles played there. [Actually, it was Shea Stadium, a few miles east of here]. I don't brag about many things, but I'll brag about that. How does that happen? I don't know. There's your answer: I don't know."

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Postby whatchagot4meMRJT » Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:34 pm

Read it once and I still wanna buy the mag for the pics, but I refuse to read that long ass article again! :no: :lol:

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Postby Angelpopstar7 » Fri Aug 20, 2004 10:23 pm

That's one long article man! When i was reading it on the J board i thought i was gonna loose my mind cause it's so long! lol...although i know that i'll still be buying it for the pics :nod: that's what i always do :rofl:


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