Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past eight months, chances are you’ve heard of Katy Perry. A dollish dead ringer for actress Zooey Deschanel, the Santa Barbara-born Perry has been making some serious noise since bursting onto the pop scene last June with her debut record (the Capitol release One of the Boys) and hit song, “I Kissed a Girl.” Not to be confused with Jill Sobule’s 1995 tune of the same name, Perry’s version is all flirtatiously New Wave and focuses primarily on, well, smooching a fellow ladyfriend behind her man’s back. Of course, not long after the song found success, word got out that Perry, in fact, had never swapped female spit, and certain members of the gay community spoke up-loudly. No matter though, as “Girl” went on to spend a whopping seven weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, even scoring Perry a Grammy nod-and a couple guest spots on head lesbian Ellen DeGeneres’s hit daytime talk show.
Now sitting pretty atop four hit singles, Perry has ditched her one-time Warped Tour buddies and charted out on her own for a full-fledged world tour. And this weekend, she’s coming home-at least for the night. On Saturday, the S.B. native and former Dos Pueblos student will take to the Bowl stage for her first hometown show in well over three years, and trust us when we say she’s excited.
“We’re only a few tickets away from selling out,” Perry said of the show recently via phone from a tour stop in Montreal, Canada. “It is totally crazy and unexpected, and all the same one of the most flattering things that I’ll ever be able to do. To be going home so quickly in the game and to be playing the Bowl-I mean, [I] saw Radiohead for the first time at the Santa Barbara Bowl.”
Perry’s ticket sales and tour stops are nothing to be scoffed at either, especially for a first-time headliner. “It’s just fun. It’s not choreographed, and it’s spontaneous,” Perry explained. “I think that means that almost anything can happen-especially with someone like me. There’s a lot that can happen.”
For the fans that sing her praises, Perry’s onstage spontaneity is a huge selling point, as is her commitment to performing live. And considering the similar success stories of stars like Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpson, it’s also a big point of contention for Perry. “I know a lot of my pop peers don’t even go on tour,” she emphasized. “They just hock random shit and that’s how they get by. For me, being on tour and going to a different city every night, that is no easy feat. : But it means a lot to people for you to go out there and play live and show them that you’re not just a puppet. It may not always be perfect and it may not sound exactly like the record : but I kinda pride myself on [the fact] that I’m not lip-synching-ever.”
Visually, the 24-year-old is also pulling out all the stops in an effort to give concertgoers more bang for their buck, which means props-lots of them. “I’m trying to bring as much extra as I possibly can by having an inflatable fruit background. It’s a huge, like larger-than-life fruit [bowl] of strawberries and bananas and cherries.” Perry’s also bringing with her a massive faux cat, modeled after her real-life feline friend, Kitty Purry. That’s right, her cat’s name is Kitty Purry.
Listen to the cheekier tracks on One of the Boys-or take a look at Perry’s more “inventive” onstage attire-and one thing quickly becomes clear: This is a girl with a big personality and a serious sense of humor. Whether the rest of the world is getting the joke remains to be seen, but Perry seems to be the last one to care. “A woman is made of many different things,” the singer jokingly coos into the phone mid interview, referencing her none-so-cheeky ballad, “Thinking of You.” “We [girls] are very complicated creatures because we have so many details going on.”
“When I play that song live it doesn’t have any bells and whistles,” she went on to explain. “It’s just the spotlight, the guitar in my hand, and the song. It’s a bit of a showoff moment, but it’s a bit of, like, ‘Hi, this is who I am’-as well as the bubbly, larger than life fruit-bouncing girl.”
Whatever form she may take, one thing is for certain; the media is definitely fascinated by Perry’s seemingly unending antics. A quick Google image search finds the singer riding a giant tube of chapstick (as part of her hosting stint at the recent MTV Europe Music Awards), dressed up like Freddie Mercury (for her 2008 Halloween-birthday bash), and strutting around in a multitude of ’50s-inspired bathing suits (worn as eveningwear, of course). “I don’t really try and bring that stuff upon me,” Perry explains wholeheartedly. “I’m not at the opening of every envelope. I’m not at every hotspot. I’m just where my friends are. And it so happens that someone maybe sees that and reports about it, but it’s not like I’m dying to have my picture taken.” Fair enough.
Nor is Perry dying to clear the air regarding what some consider to be her “lezploitation” of the homosexual community through songs like “I Kissed a Girl” and the less-recent kiss-off, “Ur So Gay.”
“I have that [kind of response] in so many other straight communities, too,” she laughed in response to her haters. “Like, some people just love to form organizations to steamroll my CDs. That’s the thing; I’m not obsessed with trying to please people at all. You’ll really lose who you are if you try and be everything to everyone. Who you are is the reason why people like you. And I’ve seen other artists who get into this mode where they just try and change and be everything to everyone, and they’re just a mess afterwards.”
Love her or hate her (and based on a recent Internet scan, the jury still seems to be out on that one), it looks like Katy Perry is in it for the long haul. And with what at least sounds like a levelheaded take on the world of celebrity, she might just make it. Of course, record number two will be the ultimate deciding factor in Perry’s musical future. But until then, you can catch Santa Barbara’s first full-blown pop star-and her inflatable cat-live and in person this weekend. Suffice it to say, it’ll be the hottest homecoming date the Bowl’s seen in quite some time.
Katy Perry will play the Santa Barbara Bowl with openers The Daylights this Saturday, May 9, at 7 p.m. Call 962-7411 or visit sbbowl.com for tickets and show info.