With her debut EP "Ur So Gay" out Nov. 20, Katy Perry is poised for the limelight. Between her cheeky lyrics and affinity for all things camp and vamp, she's ready for some attention.
Pretty preacher man's daughter makes good on her looks and big voice.
The Jessica Simpson story is a well-documented one, but this isn't about her, or her sister for that matter. Katy Perry, 22, is the new pastors' (plural, as in mom and dad) girl in town, and, ample bosom aside, she has little in common with the Simpsons' aw-shucks blonde and collagen act. Sure, the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter got her musical start singing in church in Santa Barbara, Calif., but one would never know it based on her debut EP, "Ur So Gay" (Capitol), set for a Nov. 20 release. Perry's full album, three years in the making, is due out in the spring.
In addition to an original ballad, "Lost," as well as a cover of The Outfield's 1985 hit "Your Love," the EP includes seven versions — clean, explicit, remix, a cappella, instrumental, etc. — of the title track, proof of Capitol's faith in its hit potential. With Perry's strong, slightly raspy voice belting out lyrics like "I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf while jacking off listening to Mozart" and a cheeky chorus of "Ur so gay and you don't even like boys," the song has a pop-and-vinegar ethos not unlike that of Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen.
"It's mostly inspired by that whole Emo, Sensitive Sally-type scene," says Perry, during a phone interview, of the song. "You know, guys with guy-liner who use flatirons. I was in that scene. I know boys in that scene. My littler brother was in that scene. I always just thought it was hilarious."
While she faults those Emo dudes for their flagrant vanity, Perry doesn't hold herself to the same standard. When the conversation turns to fashion, she perks up. "That's the subject I know best," says the self-proclaimed girly-girl before ticking off a list of her favorite designers: Jeremy Scott, Jovovich-Hawk, Alexander McQueen and Betsey Johnson. Although, she offers the last label with a disclaimer. "It's probably not the coolest thing to say," explains Perry. "I've always liked it but people are like, 'You like Betsey Johnson — you've probably never heard of Viktor & Rolf.' I'm like, 'Shut up. I like Viktor & Rolf, too.'"In September, Perry made the rounds at New York Fashion Week, taking in Erin Fetherston, BCBG Max Azria and Preen, among others. She was thrilled to see one of her favorite items, the onesie, of which she owns at least five, get more play on the runways.
As far as her stage persona is concerned, Perry has two major influences: "I'm very inspired by Freddie Mercury and how flamboyant and theatrical he was," she says. "And my sense of humor is a little off in a Lucille Ball way. She's cute and sweet, but she's always kind of f--king up." Such big-personality influences demand high-drama clothes. Thus, Perry likens her performance look to that of a Vegas showgirl. "Not revealing like that, but very glittery," she says. "I used to go to the costume houses in L.A. like Warner Brothers and pull from the cancan or the cheerleading section. I would pose as a stylist but I'd really be styling myself."
Indeed, image-wise, Perry's a girl who knows what she wants. In an effort to prep for this story, she put together a look book on Style.com that included everything from Miu Miu to L.A.M.B. and sent it to her publicist, the writer and the stylist involved with this story. "I'm superparticular," Perry says. She's equally picky when it comes to her promo materials. In the past, Perry persuaded her label to enlist hip fashion photographers Terry Richardson and Ellen von Unwerth. And, most recently, hipster party photographer Mark "the Cobrasnake" Hunter, who's known for capturing downtown girls in various states of revelry, shot Perry and friends in a fountain near L.A.'s 5 freeway. Not exactly the stuff of her good-girl beginnings.
So, what do her devout parents think of their daughter's decidedly secular lifestyle? "My parents love me and want the best for me," says Perry. "They don't care what I do just as long as I remember who I am, have some integrity and respect and don't end up like, well, it sounds like Shmitney Shmeers." -Jessica Iredale; styled by Monica Schweiger
PHOTOS BY ASHLEY BARRETT; HAIR BY AARON LIGHT AND MAKEUP BY ROBIN GLASER, BOTH AT CELESTINE; FASHION ASSISTANTS: VICTORIA MISIRLI, CLAUDIA CODRON AND JEREMY ALLEN
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