The Writer, The Rockstar and The Truth

The bored expression on his face was more than enough to discourage me to carry out this interview. After all, he was The Rock Star. Why would he be interested in what I had to ask him?

He had to be, I told myself fiercely. I'm going to do this, and no one can stop me.

My bravado was gone as quickly as it came; one look into his intense blue eyes confirmed all my doubts and fears: I was nothing more to him but another nosy reporter who was clearly wasting his precious time.

He lifted one corner of his mouth into an ironic smile and he stuck out his hand mockingly.

"Hey how are you my name is Christopher Johns and how can I help you?"

To my complete surprise I ignored his extended hand and looked him in the eye. Steeling my voice, I replied, "You can help me by sitting down."

His left eyebrow shot up and a look of amusement crossed his face. Fortunately for me, he sat without commenting further.

I was not afraid of him, or intimidated by him. At least that was what I told myself as I mentally drew in a shaky breath and sat down facing him. We were in the middle of East Coast Park and the wind was strong today. My editors had chosen this location as they had thought it would set a good ambience for the interview. I personally thought it was stupid as some overly-excited fan might recognise him and ruin the whole thing.

I took out my tape recorder and sat it on the area of grass that separated us. I was about to take out my list of questions for Christopher Johns, the Artist of 1999, when I remembered I did not have one.

I must have looked confused for a while, because he said, "You forgot something?"

On the brink of desperation, I nodded and tried to fight back my nervousness. His presence was intimidating; in fact, his whole persona was intimidating. The aloof way he looked down at you would make you squirm even though you knew you were the best writer your magazine had ever laid eyes on. His ironic smile would get under your skin so much until you realise that was what he wanted, and what he wants he gets. Everything about him commanded attention and respect; even his tousled blond hair did. He gave off an aura that said, "Mega Rock Star Who Thinks He Is Better Than Everyone Else".

And it was true.

Christopher Johns had every right to be aloof and to intimidate. He was good at what he does, and he knew it. One could say his confidence was his major flaw, but compared to the person he was five years ago, his present self was perfection.

"Okay Christopher," I began. My voice shook a little, but I ploughed on anyway. "Make this easy for me, okay? Like you, I'm extremely good at what I do. So I would really — "

"Appreciate it if you could co-operate with me," he interrupted. The sardonic smile was back. "I've heard it a million times."

"Well, maybe if you weren't so cocky you wouldn't have to hear it at all," I retorted. I was unconsciously becoming less and less disheartened by him, mainly because I was getting more and more irritated by his cockiness.

"Okay," he replied, purposely drawing out the 'O'. "That's a real first."

I snorted incredulously. "You mean no one has ever told you that you're cocky and arrogant and annoying?"

"Oh no, not at all," he said. "Cocky and arrogant and annoying, no. But someone did say I was a jerk."

"God bless that insightful soul," I muttered under my breath. Despite that, I was secretly amused by his light sarcasm. I was not about to let him know that, though.

He was about to say something but I cut him off. "Okay, I haven't got much time, so let's get down to business all right?" Without waiting for an answer, I switched on my tape recorder and asked him the first question that popped into my head.

"Why do you think you're God's gift to humanity?"

He was taken aback by the directness of my question, I could see. For a split second his arrogance was replaced by surprise that had nothing at all to do with his obsession with himself. My notion was confirmed when he looked down at his hands and said nothing for a moment.

I could hardly believe what I had just did. Christopher Johns, the rock star who loved himself more than anyone else, had nothing to say. I had stumped him and I was glad.

Finally he answered, his voice indignant, "I do not think like that. I don't know where you got that idea."

"Well then, how do you explain your arrogance? The image you project, it's like you're telling the whole world you're better than everyone else, that you're your own number one. You know what I'm saying?"

He suddenly stared right into my eyes, and the intense purposefulness in his eyes made me wonder for a second if I should have even started this. He said, "I can't explain it. I mean I can, but I'm choosing not to."

With all the courage I could muster, I stared right back at him and managed to hold my gaze.

Pronouncing each word and syllable carefully, I said, "I challenge you to."

Surprise again flickered across his handsome face and this time it was greater than the first. Once again he did not speak, or rather could not. As for myself, I was shaking inside. I had no idea what I had just did, or what was going to happen now.

After what felt like eternity, he looked at me, and I knew I had triggered something in him.

He sighed, and an amazing thing happened. His "I'm-a-superstar-so-worship-me" facade was gone, and he appeared...normal. It was funny how plain celebrities can appear once they had let down their guard.

Then he began to speak, "I really must say, you're one of the few who dared challenge me like that. I'm really surprised, and I'm not sure if it's good or bad. Whatever it is, I admire you for your courage, since you appeared so scared of me just now."

He smiled. This time it was a genuine and sincere one. I started to say something, but he held up a hand, so I shut my mouth.

He continued, "There is a reason behind my "arrogance" and "cockiness", as you had so deftly put it. See, the music business is tough. You must be good and you must stand out from the rest to make it. At least, it applies for the rock music scene. I don't know and care about the pop scene, in fact I think it's total junk, but that's beside the point. And if you're asking me why am I so aloof and why do I intimidate people, well, all I can tell you is, this is the way I deal with stupid media people asking retarded questions. Like that TRL guy — you know TRL, Total Request Live, that lame show on MTV? —, I forgot his name, but he is a fine example of a stupid media person who asks retarded questions. And the questions don't just end at being retarded; they go on and on and on. They intrude your privacy and tear you apart. Trust me, I'm speaking from experience."

He paused and impatiently brushed away the lock of blond hair that had fallen into his eyes. He gathered his thoughts, and went on, "So why am I being the way I am? To sum it up, simply because I don't play well with stupidity. And yes, I guess I am a little aloof and arrogant, blah blah blah. But in this business, you have to be like this. Otherwise, the media's gonna corrupt you. They dig for a weakness and twist it around their fingers until they get their story. That was my reason for hitting rock bottom five years ago, but I would rather not talk about that."

He looked at me, as if reassuring me that he was speaking earnestly and had not forgotten about me. "I've been asked a million times why I became depressed five years ago, but I had never really answered them with one hundred percent honesty. Because it doesn't really matter how honest I am in my replies, they're gonna blow it out of proportion anyway. My arrogance is only a front I put up to protect myself against media slashes. It's a front, but it's part of me nonetheless. But I don't really think I'm God's gift to humanity and I don't think I'm better than everyone else."

He seemed to remember that I was part of "the media", so he quickly added, "You're different, though. That question was amazing, I have never been asked that before. I have never, ever told any other reporter or interviewer or whatever what I had just told you, and if you don't mind I'd appreciate it if you could keep it confidential."

"Keep it confidential," I repeated. For a while I was torn. I could achieve a major break-through with what he had just told me. I would be the first journalist in the world to reach into the mind of Christopher Johns and extract his utmost thoughts and feelings. I could even get paid higher than what I am usually paid, just because of what he had told me.

My mind thought all these, but my mouth said, "Okay."

For the second time that day his left eyebrow shot up. "Thank you." He started to stand up, but the need I felt in me to explain my decision was so strong that I reached out and touched his hand, telling him to hear me out.

I remembered my tape recorder, which was still running, and switched it off. I did not need it after all.

"I'm sorry if the media had caused you so much grief. And in a way you're right, the media do exploit people. But not all of us are like that, and I certainly am not like that. When you asked me to keep it confidential, well I was going to lie and say 'okay' without meaning it. But somewhere at the back of my mind I know a line must be drawn somewhere, and I'm drawing it now. What you told me was personal, and I respect that. Although I have no idea why the heck you told me all that, but I'm glad you did."

He smiled his genuine smile again and stood up. I stood up too and shook his hand. His handshake was firm and sincere.

"Thank you," he said, and that was it.

A couple of weeks later I received a letter in the mail with a magazine article attached. I read the letter first, and it was from Christopher Johns. It read, "Thank you for listening to the real me. I still owe you a proper interview."

I proceeded to read the article, and a quote jumped out at me, "I told the world I'm arrogant, and they believed it. I told myself I'm arrogant, and I gave me a kick in the butt."