Sick of listening to stars harp on about how their baby weight dropped off and Junior slept through at a month old? Then meet Pink, a celebrity mum living in the real world
Photography by James Dimmock in LA
Spend an afternoon hanging out with Pink and we defy any girl on the planet not to want to become her bestest friend in the whole wide world.
She truly is a one-woman pocket rocket of total frickin’ awesomeness. From the moment she arrives at our LA shoot (“Thanks y’all for coming over, it means a lot,” she says genuinely and introducing herself with her real name, Alecia) to the end when a crew member accidentally interrupts the interview (“Sorry, we’re busy in here,” she tells him before turning back and saying: “Let me be the a*****e, I’m good at it”), she’s funny, forthright, sweary, ballsy and bright. Exactly how our 21st-century heroines should be.
And when her gorgeous 15-month-old daughter Willow arrives with the nanny mid-shoot for a lunchtime breastfeed, we witness the tender, nurturing side of the girl who steamrollered her way on to the international music scene back in 2000 and went on to become one of the biggest-selling artists of all time.
“Now that Willow’s so rambunctious and doing her own thing, nursing is the only time I can get her to stop and stare longingly into my eyes,” she says later.
Having Willow has also cemented the often explosive relationship with Pink’s former motorcross-racer husband Carey Hart, 37. They’ve been together for 11 years and married for five and a half, although famously split in 2008 prompting Pink, who turned 33 yesterday, to write the break-up anthem So What. After marriage counselling, they reunited in 2009 and announced the pregnancy in 2010.
“Having a baby has made it permanent, you know?” she says. “I think marriages are so easy to get in and out of these days, I don’t know if we’re ever quite sure about forever any more. There’s always that fear: ‘Is this gonna work?’
“And then you have a child and in some ways it has to work. So you fight, but you fight… nicer.”
They still row?
“Oh yeah! We’re very passionate and I hope we always fight because when you retreat to your silent corners that’s when you have to worry,” she says
“I still think he’s the cutest boy in the world. I always think he’s hot – even when I can’t f*****g stand him, he’s hot. That’s what p****s me off!
So much has changed since the release of Philadelphia-born party girl Alecia Beth Moore’s last studio album, Funhouse, four years ago.
“In every way imaginable,” she says. “I’m glad that I waited until I was 31 to have a baby because, honestly, how many tables can you dance on? I’ve pretty much claimed them all and so I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything. And right now is the best part of life.”
Pink admits that she’s been taken aback at just how well she’s adapted to her new role, particularly as her own dysfunctional childhood didn’t give her a particularly good grounding.
“My parents couldn’t do marriage successfully and nor could Carey’s, so we’re kinda making our own model. It’s surprised me how good I am at being a mom. How natural it came. I was really worried I was going to totally suck at it because when I was younger I had a really s****y relationship with my own mother.
“A lot of women worry about it. They’re like: ‘Oh God, what if I don’t love my kid? What if my kid doesn’t love me? What if I can’t do it?’ Then you just let go and fall in love and it’s the coolest thing ever.”
However, both she and Carey have had to stick to some stringent parenting rules in order to keep the marriage on track.
“It’s f*****g hard. The best advice I got given was just get through the first four months and never take anything that’s said between 10pm and 10am personally.
“So he’d say something and I’d be like: ‘Ahh, it’s 6am so you’re gonna get away with that one. I’m not gonna throw this hammer at your f*****g temple.”
When she sees Carey with baby Willow, however, her heart melts.
“Your man can say that he loves you but he’s probably been hurt before. He’s been lied to, he’s possibly been cheated on, whatever has happened in his life before you.
“And then you just watch him, especially with a little girl I think, you just watch him fall in love.
“What a gift! I felt like I was giving him a present. Like: ‘Here, you deserve this. Take this.’”
Willow has put paid to the legendary Pink party days. There were no all-night studio whisky-drinking benders (as there had been in the past) while recording her latest album, The Truth About Love.
“Carey and I tried to go out once,” she says. “He’s stopped competing but he still owns a supercross team and we tried to go out at his last race of the season.
“F**k me. Babies do not respect hangovers. That’s the last time I’m ever going out again until she’s in college. I’m over it. I’m like: ‘I hate vodka. I hate you.’”
“Every once in a while I miss getting a straight eight hours of sleep. But that’s the only thing. Life is so much cooler now,” she says.
“I’m so relieved that I no longer wake up and worry about myself. Now I wake up and we dance and we party and we’re goofy and it’s like breakfast is a miracle instead of something I have to get through.”
The inspiration for much of Pink’s past songwriting has been drawn from the pits of despair. The broken home, the difficult childhood, the descent into drug abuse and depression, the heartache, the anger, the hurt and the burning desire to rail against injustice.
So, was there a worry that now the garden is so rosy, she wouldn’t be able to produce the lyrics and the fight?
“Sure, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been but then you add in all the turmoil, hormones, lack of sleep and the marriage. And you still have a family, you still bicker, you still have bills to pay, you still have friends who are losing their jobs and the news is still happening. So there’s always information to be translated. Life is still happening.
“I’m totally smitten with my little girl but I don’t wake up on cloud nine every morning and sing The Sound Of Music. I was just relieved that I still had things to say. I ended up having a lot to say!
“I’m super-stoked with the record. I think it’s some of the best music I’ve ever made. I’m just f*****g happy with all of it.”
Although the demons that plagued Pink’s teens and much of her 20s have, for the most part, been put to bed, it hasn’t been the easiest of journeys to contentment. Deeply troubled, out of control and with a mother who struggled to cope, she started taking drugs at the age of just 13. You name it, Pink took it – including heroin.
It was music that saved her when, at the age of 16 and part of girl group, Choice, she was given a record contract. She says: “I was told I couldn’t perform and be a drug addict and I was like: ‘Cool. Done.’ I was never really an addict, I was just a hardcore partier.
By 2000, she’d gone solo and released her punchy debut album Can’t Take Me Home which spawned the singles You Make Me Sick and Most Girls. Follow-up album Missundaztood (which included tracks Just Like A Pill, Get The Party Started and Family Portrait. What. A. Record) turned her into a global superstar. She has sold over 40 million albums, 70 million singles and has three Grammys and two Brit Awards to her name.
She says: “The demons definitely still surface, but I’ve exorcised a lot of them. Most of my childhood demons have hit their expiration date. I think I’ve had a guardian angel since I was very young. I think I’ve escaped death many times.
“Now I’m a lot more cautious. I care about myself and my life a lot more. There’s no reason why I should still be here. I was a psychopath.”
The fractious relationship with her mother Judy, a nurse, who kicked Pink out of home when she was 15 and sent her to live with her Vietnam veteran father James, has mellowed somewhat. Especially since Willow came along.
Even more than Carey?
“F**k yeah! When we see each other we have to get our fight out of the way so that we can just get along for the rest of the trip. There was no compassion when I was growing up. But it was a vicious cycle – she [Judy] never had compassion from either of her parents, or her husband, my father. So she was never able to give it to me.
“I think for me it’s all about communication and compassion and trying to understand Willow as a human and not as my little slave. You know? Or my little soldier that I get to order around. I don’t want to domesticate her to the point where she isn’t herself any more.
“We’ll see. I guess we’ll write it as it goes.”
Chip off the block
Pink can already see the makings of a mini-me in Willow. Some reports have suggested the thought terrifies Pink, but her reaction today is one of amusement more than anything else.
“She’s got the one-eyebrow thing and she’s working on her attitude face, except her timing is all off. So, she’ll wake up and I’ll say: ‘Good morning!’ But then she’ll give it the face and then start laughing.
“I’m like: ‘You gotta wait. You gotta save it for when I tell you do something you don’t wanna do!’
“Carey said the first time she rolls her eyes like me, he’s going to put me over his knee. I guess that’s fair. Whatever.
But perhaps Willow will go the opposite way? Maybe she’ll turn out to be the sweetest, most studious, straight-laced of little girls.
“Yeah, she’ll rebel by hating tattoos and not liking rock and roll,” Pink laughs. “She’s gonna wanna play chess, do ballet, be a doctor and be an academic. She’ll say: ‘Eww you had your tongue pierced? I just wanna sit here quietly and read.’
“Those are my hopes anyway! Haha!”
Dressed in a spaghetti-strapped white summer dress and Birkenstock sandals, Pink is much more low-maintenance mum than high-maintenance rock diva. She’s shed most of the 4st she gained during pregnancy and looks strong, fit and toned.
“I’ve worked my f*****g ass off,” she says.
“I trained hard and I’m still going. I worked with [trainer] Jeanette Jenkins and Jillian Michaels [the brains behind the 30 Day Shred regime] and they kicked my ass twice a day. It’s not fun. But I love feeling like a machine.
“I’m still not back to my pre-baby weight [around 8½st] but my problem is when I look at Willow and go: ‘Do I want to go to the gym? Or do I want to hang out with you?’ And it’s not really a question.”
Sticking to a strict diet has proved even tougher than completing the workouts.
“I love to eat,” she says. “I love carbs. I love pizza, beer, pasta and bread. It’s about balance. I still have bread. I’ve had dinner with those people who’ve given everything up. And personally, I’d be really p****d if something happened to me tomorrow and I’d just given up bread yesterday.”
Politically savvy and a fierce supporter of human, gay and animal rights, Pink has won millions of fans for her outspokenness as well as for her powerhouse vocals and brazen lyrics. She hopes she’s helped pave the way for other female artists with something to say.
“Some people are definitely frightened of women with opinions. Even I’m annoyed by me half the time so I can’t blame other people! I’m loud, I have opinions and I share them. And I scream when I need to.
“They call men ambitious, and they call women b*****s. So, whatever, I’ll play that role. I don’t give a s**t. Just as Janis Joplin, Madonna, Blondie and Cyndi Lauper and all these sorts of badasses broke down doors, I hope I’ve been a positive influence.”
She checks the time, aware that Willow is due her next feed shortly. She’s keen to help encourage more mums to persevere with breastfeeding.
“There’s a lot of negative judgement heaped on women who breastfeed, which is hilarious given the terrible state of our health,” she says.
“I’m a hypochondriac. Now I’m that way with Willow. So just knowing that breastfeeding is like giving her natural antibiotics every day is why I feel it’s worth it. It’s not always easy, but it’s even more important for me and her now that I’m working again. Probably more for me, actually. I’m so needy. I’m like: ‘Willow it’s 4am, please wake up and need me!’”
Willow won’t go far wrong. It’s rare to find a celebrity as accessible, levelheaded and earthy (in the best possible sense) as Pink.
“Our life is very real,” she says. “We just happen to be familiar so we go places where people can’t find us. We go camping.
“I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been on a yacht, once, but it was stressful because it was so expensive. We’re not show-offs.”
Just a normal family?
“Absolutely. A little scary-looking normal family.”
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
Politician Sarah Palin and Dane Cook [American comedian] so I could listen to him making fun of her all night.
What was the best kiss of your life?
It happened an hour and half ago. I’ve been trying to get Willow to kiss me since she was born and she just came up to me and gave me a smackeroo!
My marriage. Because it is a lot of work.
To read people’s minds. And I would so use it against them, too.
Who would you like to say sorry to?
I don’t wanna say sorry to anyone! I’m perfect.
Her career in numbers
40 million albums sold
70 million singles sold
5 multi-platinum studio albums in the UK
3 Grammy Awards
5 MTV Video Music Awards
15 UK Top 10 hits
£30 million reported wealth
● Pink’s album, The Truth About Love, is out September 17.
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