The strangest part of my job has to be interviewing celebrities. Some editors think of it as the best part of the job. So much so that I can barely open any other teen magazine without seeing a picture of an editor plastered next to a celeb-of-the-moment, like they are new best friends. Oh, please. This isn't to say I don't like interviewing cool people who make cool movies or music or TV shows. I just don't dig the whole celebrities-as-zoo-animals thing. More often than not, the celebs' "people" go to great lengths to be sure I present you with just the right "image"--one that will help them sell more tickets, CDs or whatever. Over the years, I've been asked to tell readers a certain boy band member was "single" even though he was, oh, married with a baby. Been told flat out, "She writes her own lyrics," when everyone knows Miss Thing had huge amounts of help from way more talented people. And, recently, a publicist made sure I knew an actress with a new movie and hit TV series "is only 18" when I have a pho to from a yearbook showing she was 12...10 years ago. Not exactly what you'd call big national security secrets, but what can I say? I'm not big on bending the truth just to push the "image."
So back to Evan. Through a coincidental series of friends of friends, I got a chance to interview Evan at home, in his bedroom, with no celebrity "people" anywhere in sight. No one to bark, "You don't have to answer that!" when I asked him about his relationship with Avril or his possibly forming a new band. No one to keep his mom from blabbing about his love for ranch dressing on salmon (OK, so that's not a big secret either, but it is awfully cute if you ask me). And no one to keep me from glancing through the family photos that are everywhere in his living room, showing him as a nice, preppy guy who hangs out with his friends and his family (yes, a hard-rocking guitarist with a blue blazer and a sweet side!).
Evan treated me like any other guest in his house. Introduced me to his family, pointed out all the cool stuff he has that means a lot to him (like the computer he surprised his mom with this past Hanukkah) and generally acted like a normal person, answering all the questions I threw his way. It's times like these that I love interviewing celebrities. Those moments when you can actually see what makes them worthy of fame. Not worthy in an "I deserve a private jet and you don't" way but in an "I am really talented and lucky and happy to be living out my wildest dreams" way.
Fame can be a tricky pony. The cool thing about working at GL is that we often know certain celebs before they become huge, before the "people" and "image" take over. Britney Spears once waited on hold 10 minutes to talk to us in hopes of being in the magazine. Before * Nsync's first local show, J.C. Chavez made it a point to chase me down a hall to ask if I needed any more quotes for my story--he felt the other guys hadn't talked enough. And, perhaps my favorite memory, I literally watched the Backstreet Boys walk on a New York stage as unknowns and walk off as huge stars. I'll never forget the looks on their faces. They were genuinely bewildered that all the screaming was for them--even they couldn't believe they were really about to be as famous in the Big Apple as they were in Belgium.
I wish every celebrity interview could be like the one with Evan--a chance to write about a celeb as he truly is, folding laundry in the place that obviously means the most to him. And I'm not just saying that because Evan is currently changing his shirt. I swear.
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|Title Annotation:||interviewing celebrities|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2003|
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