Scene & Herd - Hate me now
My moment with Janet Jackson
We, the genius-level minds behind Creative Loafing's editorial content, are often unfairly categorized as snobs.
Perhaps we're assigned that label from time to time because, as an organization, we seek to direct readers to the city's highest forms of cultural expression. But despite the fact that we're obsessively dedicated to exposing audiences to quality art, food, music and more, CL does not employ snobs.
Well, except for me.
I'm a big fat snob.
I think I'm better than you.
Why, you may ask, am I a big fat snob? Well, the answer is quite simple: I'm a big fat snob because I met Janet Jackson and you, undoubtedly, did not.
Now, don't get mad and please don't hate on me because I met Janet and you did not. Most humans have never spent quality time with a legendary pop icon like Janet (and that's Ms. Jackson to you because you're probably nasty). Hey, shit happens.
Of course, you may be wondering how the hell I came face-to-face with the beautiful, vivacious star of stage and screen? Well, the multitalented native of Gary, Ind. (which also happens to be my hometown) visited Atlanta last Friday to promote her soon-to-be-released CD, 20 Years Old. To that end, she hosted a major press conference at the Four Seasons hotel in Midtown and I was invited. OK ... I'll be honest: I wasn't actually invited. CL's music editor, Heather Kuldell, was invited, but she passed the info to me. Forwarding me the invite via e-mail, Heather said, "Here's something that will make your life." Heather sure is smart.
Anyway, here's how the whole thing went down: The press conference was scheduled to start at 3 p.m., but — being that I'm totally obsessed with Janet — I (joined by Staff Photographer Joeff Davis) showed up at 1:45. Since we arrived so damn early, we were able to snag front-row seats. Before too long, other press folks filed into the small ballroom. Once everyone was in place, the waiting game began.
Print reporters, on-air correspondents, videographers and photographers stood around for what seemed like an eternity (about 45 minutes) waiting for Janet to show up. As we waited, Janet's entourage scrambled to transform the drab hotel meeting space into a Jackson-friendly zone. A makeshift stage situated in the front of the room was covered with a carpet remnant and taped down. A long row of small candles were placed on a mantle and slowly lit one by one. Huge photos of Janet, printed on foamboard, were placed on easels, and moved around several times to various spots in the room. Everything had to be perfect for Janet!
In the midst of all this action, a "Janet handler" made her way around passing out small note cards. What was up with the note cards? Well, when an artist is as big as Janet (in terms of celeb-status), reporters aren't actually allowed to ask her questions with their own lips. So, every journalist in the joint was presented with a note card so they could jot down up to two questions, which would then be read to Janet by a member of her own staff.
Honestly, the note cards freaked me out. I could only ask two questions? That was wack. And, with a brain full of depraved and prurient thoughts, I really didn't see them verbalizing any of my inquiries. I figured I was fucked, so I scribbled down some crap, passed my card to a Janet handler and sat down. After resting my booty for a few seconds, Janet's boyfriend (lucky bastard), music mogul Jermaine Dupri, jumped on stage and started talking. A few seconds later, Janet entered the room. And a few more seconds later I resumed breathing.
I was flabbergasted. Janet fucking Jackson was sitting, like, five feet away from me. It was a surreal-ass moment. Janet apologized for being late and then opened the floor up for questions. A Janet handler stepped up and started reading the questions, which were corny. Here's a sample:
• Are you and Jermaine going to get married?
• Will you ever have children?
• Do you hate Beyonce?
Who gives a shit? I was blown away at the sheer lameness of the questions. A room full of seasoned journalists and that's all they could come up with? But yo, check out my question: "I'm trying lose 10 pounds. Got any tips?" Pretty dope, eh?
Once Janet heard my question, she made full-on eye contact with me and asked, "You really want to lose 10 pounds?" I couldn't even breathe. Seriously though, Janet and I had a moment. She directed me to stand up and spin around so she could get a good look at my dilapidated physique. She asked me, "Do you lift?" My response: "Yes, I lift ... sandwiches!" I even asked her if my butt is too big, but she quickly interjected, "Don't lose the butt." Hey, her wish is my command.
After she was done dispensing health tips, I sat my fat ass down and just soaked in the moment. I didn't even listen to the rest of the questions. I was in heaven.
Anyway, once the press conference was done, I drove back to the CL offices and gloated to anyone willing to listen. Later that night, I went home and saw that my little episode with Janet had made it into the evening news. And the next day, some reporters wrote about my moment with Janet in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Damn. I'm the shit.
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