Sun, Sep 10, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Fergie is keepin' it real

Stacy Ferguson, The Black Eyed Peas' frontwoman, has let her skeletons out of the closet and is embarking on a solo career with the release of `The Dutchess'

By Caroline Sullivan  /  THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

And now Stacy is “Fergie,” the most recognizable member of one of America’s biggest hip-hop outfits. Has success been what she thought it would be? Her wide, feline face crinkles with amusement. “I’ve learned to suck in my stomach when photographers are around.”

In its way, all of this has set Fergie up for the solo career she’s launching this month with The Dutchess. The deliberately misspelled title refers to sharing a name with the Duchess of York, who has asked her to contribute to an educational charity project. “Sarah Ferguson called me yesterday. I was, like, THE Fergie?’ She was very complimentary and flattering.”

The record company has great enough expectations to have sent one of its Los Angeles-based publicists to Europe with her while she promotes the album. Even more unusually, he sits in on interviews. This, he says, is to discourage interviewers from focusing on her former drug problem, although she herself has always been candid about it. Perhaps he’s there to prevent questions that elicit answers such as this one, from a recent issue of the American US music magazine Blender, which asked who she would most have wanted to sleep with: “Jim Morrison, because I would probably want to do a lot of drugs and have really trippy drug sex. He seems very creative in bed. I like that.”

For her part, Fergie insists she doesn’t regret her openness. “Being honest is nice,” she declares. “It’s important for people to know where I’ve been so they know where I’m at now. It’s cool to express myself, but I’ve had to learn that doing interviews isn’t completely therapy — spilling everything about yourself isn’t healthy all the time. But I’ve been through things that have made me a stronger person, and if I can help some people, I will.”

How did the drug problem happen? “It was a gradual thing. I got unhappy [in Wild Orchid]. I’m a creative person, and for a while I did the drugs-and-club scene. I had a special relationship’ with it,” she smiles ironically. “But I’ve been open about it in the past, and I don’t want ... . I mean, you can read about it on the Internet. Voodoo Doll and Losing Ground deal with that part of my life.”

Those album tracks, though, aren’t among the four songs that the label is allowing the European media to hear prior to release.

US magazine People declared her one of the “50 most beautiful people in the world” in 2004, and she habitually wears tops that reveal incredibly taut limbs and stomach. But she seems preoccupied by the fear that people will get the wrong idea about her. She wants it known, for instance, that the Jim Morrison comment was facetious: “I’m not promiscuous, and I don’t sleep around.”

She raises the subject again later, saying she’d like to be “a role model” for girls who might be coerced into having sex too early. “I don’t sleep around, and I want to show girls that you don’t have to give it away — it should be a precious gift.” Fair enough.

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