Mariah Carey

The comeback queen returns with a brand new album, E=MC² which is poised to be yet another record-breaking release. So has Mimi really put her diva days behind her?

Cleo (MY) June 2008. Text by Hilary Morgan.

You've lost so much weight. What's been going on?
Well depending on what rumour you've heard; it's either an eating disorder or I'm on cocaine. If there's one drug I'll never be on, it's that. It's not that I'm suddenly like a twig. One minute they say you're too fat then you're too thin. Honestly, I've been working with this fabulous trainer named Patricia from St. Barts. We've been on this mission to just get everything together and it has worked. Although when you're working all the time it's hard not to want the French fries.

What does Patricia do to get you looking so good?
She tortures me (laughs). Actually she's my trainer, my water-aerobics teacher and my chef. She's French and very strict. If I want a snack and she's in the kitchen, I know she's going to give me something really bleak to eat. I have to send someone else down for me and sneak something up.

What is your craziest diet secret?
I wish I could say I had a diet secret that made you feel satisfied when you eat and still lose weight but I don't. I haven't got one- there is none. I've done the diet where it's just soups and juice but I didn't do that for very long. I'm a flavour girl. I like ice-cream and stuff. The only secret I have that Patricia told me is don't eat salads before you have to go somewhere because it bloats you. The salad retains water so it's better to have a grilled plate of vegetables. Other than that it's all about morsels of things you like.

Do you feel under pressure following up a very successful last album?
Not at all. The last album opened the door for me. I'm glad it was a success.

So what can we expect from E=MC²?
It's a really fun record. It's been my obsession for a long time now so I'm very excited that people will get to hear it. Sometimes it's been tough but I'm proud of how it's turned out.

The first single from the album, "Touch My Body," is a huge, huge hit. Is that a big relief when that happens after working on a record for so long?
I say praise the Lord! That's what I say every time because it makes you feel so good when something like this is well received. It's such a fun record and the video is hilarious.

You took a break for a while, where did you go?
You know, I never went anywhere. People wrote a lot of stuff about me in the press and that's what happens when you become famous. It is what it is. It's nice to be doing fun projects but I've always been me. I have a very strong sense of faith and that keeps me going. I'm a great believer in that you have to have valleys to have peaks. You can't expect everything to be fantastic all the time. I think when someone can climb up after having a difficult time then you are a living testimony and people need to see that.

Are your wild diva days behind you now?
I've been the same way. I don't think I was ever wild. If it makes people happy to say that I was then so be it. There was the odd exhaustion moment which clearly now is a must in everybody's life- you can't be a celebrity these days and not go through that (laughs). Honestly, I went through a period of time when I was working my butt off. I was working hard and that will get to you. Now I know how to say no to things. I didn't know that before.

You recently became the face of the Pinko fashion label. What is your view on the whole size-zero debate?
It's really none of my business but I think that if someone is naturally a size-zero, or in that range, then that's fine. That's their body type. But I think it's unrealistic to expect people who are not built that way to be size zero- models or not. A size two should suffice.

Do you see yourself as a fashion role model?
You know what? It's very hard to see myself as anything except just me. I look at a picture and just see me. It's not that I don't take it seriously but it's taking pictures, it's fun, it's playing dress-up and having a good time.

You have a fan base of millions, including a lot of young women who see you as perfect. How does that affect you?
Well I definitely don't feel perfect when I wake up in the morning. I look in the mirror and I really just want to go back to sleep. I don't feel perfect. I didn't feel pretty growing up. I'm from a mixed race family so I never really fitted in. It's a big compliment, but I don't feel that way.

How would you describe your style?
I've got my own style. I'm not some rich bimbo in high-fashion duds. I can buy a top at a market stall for USDS. I customize my jeans myself. Add a pair of heels and I feel sexy.

How many pairs of shoes do you have?
OK, you got me (laughs). I don't know! A lot, certainly. Probably too many. But I still have a pair of hand-me-downs from my mother, which I used to wear to school. They're too small for me now, and they've got a big hole in the sole. Whenever I sign a new contract, I open my closet and look at those shows. They remind me of the times when every cent I earned brought me joy.

What is luxury to you?
Free time. I have less free time than money.

So are you much of a party girl?
No, not at all. When my friends are out, I'm having a quiet night in with the humidifier. It's good for the voice, you know?

Is it true that during the shooting of Glitter, that you insured your body for USD10 million?
You know what? I don't even know what was going on during the shooting of Glitter (laughs), The experience wasn't great for me because the script was being rewritten every day and it was happening at a very serious time in the world — 9/11.

You paid USD600,000 for Marilyn Monroe's piano at an auction. Have you still got it?
I don't like to talk about money. It was an investment and I do play it. But I can't tune it because I was told that could ruin it because it's so old.

Tell us about this reported feud that you have with J-Lo. Is it true that you said you would rather share the stage with a pig than do a duet with her?
That quote was so out of left field. That's not even how I speak. I don't know the woman. There are things from the past that remain in the past on a record company level. I wish her well and I have no issue with her.

Do you ever think about having children?
I think if I were to have a child I would want to be married with a stable home environment. I'm not saying that is how everyone should do it of course, but my parents were divorced and I wouldn't want to do it like that.

Do you think you would make a good mother?
I would make sure of it. I would want to do everything right. I know you can never be a perfect parent but I wouldn't want to do anything wrong. I'd want to do everything possible to create the best environment for my children. I'd want them to be happy growing up.

You once said that your advice to these young stars struggling with being in the limelight is to get to know themselves spiritually. What did you mean by that?
That worked for me. I basically meant that if you are not spiritually centered you are always kind of back and forth. But not everybody is at that point and maybe some people need to reel themselves in to get back to that point. That's what I had to do.