It’s said that if you want to know who someone is, you must first find out who that person was. In that respect, 28-year-old music superstar Katy Perry appears to be nothing like Katy Hudson—the 16-year-old incarnation of herself (before she adopted her mother’s maiden name as her own).
And yet, to those who are looking, it would seem that 16-year-old Katy still wields an influence over the 28-year-old pop diva personality she’s grown up to be. If Perry’s mega-blockbuster album, Prism, is any indication, that ebullient, frustrated, hopeful, doubtful, determined, disillusioned, joyful teen still lives behind the artist’s expressive blue eyes.
So who is Katy Perry now? And who was she then?
Today, she’s a darling of preteens and teens, (who like her outsized musicality and girl-power persona) of parents and other adults (who like her catchy creativity and fierce rock-n-roll independence) and straight and gay men (who adore her sex-kitten beauty and bisexual teases). In terms of popularity, Katy Perry is arguably the biggest pop star in the world, rivaling Michael Jackson in his prime. She’s won more than 100 music awards—including Teen Choice, People’s Choice, Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice, MTV awards and more—and been nominated for hundreds more, including several Grammys.
She’s had a plethora of Number 1 hit songs and charted at the very top in a whopping 25 countries. Her Teenage Dream recording was the first since the aforementioned Mr. Jackson’s Bad to score more than five number one hits from the same album. She’s starred in her own hit bio-documentary movie, and also voices the character of Smurfette in two The Smurfs movies and video games. Oh, and did we mention she’s sold 10 million albums and over 50 million digital tracks and mobile products? Impressive by any standard.
But who is Katy Perry?
Well, no one knows for sure—possibly not even Katy herself. But perhaps there are clues to be found from both yesterday and today...
KATY PERRY: YESTERDAY
From a 2001 PopFam exclusive interview with Katy (Hudson) Perry.
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PF: What would you like people to know most about Katy?
KATY: Well...I’m a dork. (giggles) Literally. I don’t have very many friends. I mean, I know a lot of people, sure. Many people do. But I don’t want everyone and their mothers speaking into my life and telling me what I should be or do. Because then you just get too frazzled.
I think one thing that they should know right now is that I’m trying to reach some stability in my life.
I think it’s really important to have good mentors around you, have a good church, youth pastor, and even having good family life. I’m praying for that.
My life isn’t peachy-keen and I never want to live in fantasy land, but I want to have a good foundation for my life. I think all of us teenagers do. Everyone is like, “Wait two years, you’ll be 18, out of the house...” I don’t want that. I want to be able to have the best relationship with my family now. Anyways.... gosh I spill my dirt early.
PF: What are your favorite things: color, musical group, ice cream flavor, book, movie, and person in the Bible?
Hum. I like turquoise. And black. I’m really liking my Beatles CDs again. I think it’s that whole happy California coast/weather thing that’s got to me.
Ice cream—whoooooaaa! I’m a fatty, but when I’m feeling healthy enough to eat ice cream (giggles) it’s either bubble gum or the darkest fudge chocolate. I have broad tastes. Movie? Right now, it’s Almost Famous. Not to say that I am the star in the show or anything (giggles). That and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
My favorite person(s) in the Bible are: Esther. I really do love girls that can kick....hum.
And the woman who gave her last meal to the prophet Elijah. It shows so much faith. She reminds me of my mother.
PF: Tell us about your self-titled, Katy Hudson CD.
My CD....gosh. It’s got soo much to it.
I mean it can be compared to so many things, like Fiona Apple or Jennifer Knapp. A little jazzy, a little Beatles. I think this CD keeps you on your toes, kinda waiting for something more every song. It’s been about nine or ten months since I have recorded anything, and I think I have grown. I mean when I started everything was soo new to me. It still is, but now I think when we sit down to another record I think I will put more thought into it.
It was really hard to figure out and mold what I wanted to be for this record in so little time.
Now I have a clue what I want to do and not what others want to make me into.
I write and I play so I have been able to develop that over time. Hopefully it tickles your ear.
PF: What are your plans for 2001?
I think I’ll be doing some festivals this summer, but I won’t be everywhere. I don’t think I have to hit every little place my first year and drain myself and then be totally fried next year. I wanna take baby steps. But I’m always willing to play.
I love playing—for me and God or for anybody else that wants to listen.
Hopefully we’re looking at some fall tours to get on and just play my little tail feathers off. Basically I’m trying to be open enough to hear what God wants me to do. I make plans...and He laughs.
PF: What’s the Lord doing in your life and ministry?
Well lately I have been so thankful for His forgiveness and grace. I mean a lot of people tend to think that us artists are immortal and some heaven-sent beings, when really we trip up all the time.
Lately I haven’t understood some of the things I have been going through in life, whether that be with my family or my music. Or things just aren’t working out as planned. I am beginning to realize God will have His way no matter what, and He won’t let me go through anything that I can’t go through.
PF: Tell us about signing with your new management company.
That has been air to my lungs! This is the first time I have had any kind of management in my life and it’s just so great, because as an artist we need to be really focused on our ministry and spiritual life rather than having to sit in the office and call people about plane flights. I mean, it’s always good to know what you’re doing when you are an artist, but time is so valuable. Plus, I absolutely have loved [music artist] Jen Knapp forever, I still get sweaty palms when I see her. She knows it.
PF: How about prayer requests. What can Katy fans pray for?
Basically pray for God’s guidance in my life right now. I’m having to make a lot of decisions in my life that will affect me in the long run. I don’t want to make the wrong ones...[Pray] that I will be open to whatever God wants for me.
KATY PERRY: TODAY
Excerpted from Katy Perry interviews in Cosmopolitan (August 2009), Rolling Stone (August 2010), Interview magazine (March 2012), Maxim (May 2012), and Vogue (June 2013).
“I’m not defined by where I came from.”
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“I never took part in the rules and hatred that sometimes go along with religion. But if my parents are happy with what they believe, then I’m happy to stay out of their way. We agree to disagree.”
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“Sex wasn’t talked about in my home, but I was a very curious young girl.”
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“I’m on this extraordinary adventure, and if I have no one to talk to at the end of the night, I feel lonely.”
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“I can’t just be the girl who sang ‘I Kissed a Girl.’ I have to leave a legacy.”
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“I took mushrooms once while dressed up like a robot at a Daft Punk concert, and I had to throw myself into the shower fully clothed afterward.”
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“I wasn’t ever able to say I was ‘lucky,’ because my mother would rather us say that we were ‘blessed,’ and she also didn’t like that ‘lucky’ sounded like Lucifer. Even the Dirt Devil as a vacuum—didn’t have one. Deviled eggs were called ‘angeled’ eggs. I wasn’t allowed to eat Lucky Charms, but I think that was the sugar. I think my mom lied to me about that one.”
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“Meeting gay people, or Jewish people, and realizing that they were fine was a big part of it. Once I stopped being chaperoned, and realized I had a choice in life, I was like, ‘Wow, there are a lot of choices.’ I began to become a sponge for all that I had missed—the music, the movies. I was as curious as the cat. But I’m not dead yet.”
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“God is very much still a part of my life. But the way the details are told in the Bible—that’s very fuzzy for me. And I want to throw up when I say that. But that’s the truth…Every time I look up, I know that I’m nothing and there’s something way beyond me. I don’t think it’s as simple as heaven and hell.”
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“I’m very into things that are above and beyond me and were before me and will be after me.”
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“Now I’m seeing a lot more color in the world—and asking more questions.”
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“I think when you put sex and spirituality in the same bottle and shake it up, bad things happen. Yes, I said I kissed a girl But I didn’t say I kissed a girl while f---ing a crucifix.”
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“I’m burning at such incredible speed that I need someone stronger than me.”
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“It’s a very strange closeness [between me and my parents]...My whole thing is to agree to disagree and to have respect because nothing can really be changed and you wouldn’t want to ruin their happiness—even if that happiness is ignorance.”
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“People tried to do a lot of stuff with me early in my career where they tried to shape me into one thing or another…Now I have a confidence because my research shows that I should just really trust my instincts.”
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“Celebrity does not equal creativity, and the reason I’m here is because I want to create.”
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“I don’t want to be an entitled b---- who thinks everyone knows who I am. There are still people who are discovering me.”
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“I was in love with [Russell Brand] when I married him. Let’s just say I haven’t heard from him since he texted me saying he was divorcing me December 31, 2011.”
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“I hope I don’t have to live as a widow. An emotional widow…I’m not in a relationship, I’m just on my own—I am myself in my own bed. I have to be happy being alone, and I am happy. I believe that I will be loved again, in the right way. I know I’m worth it.”
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