“C’ello,” Mariah Carey purrs, perched on a human pyramid of shirtless men who have contorted themselves into a couch for her to sit on. “This is perfectly normal.”
First came the Veuve for us to sip on, and the Compartés chocolates to nosh on, dahlings. The #1 to Infinity CD that was delivered next would’ve been a treat had I not downloaded $20 worth of her music that morning to pregame for the afternoon’s festivities.
Quivering with homosexual anticipation and slightly burpy from our bubbly, we waited to see what kind of chair would be brought on stage for our queen to sit in. Is that—yes, here it comes: the purple velvet chaise throne-couch for her to lounge in, to scattered applause from the gayest of us at heart. Placed next to it was a side table and a vase with large white roses.
And finally, the parade of shirtless men and the Imperfect Angel herself, looking perfectly Mariah in a sheer, glittery negligee and enough joy to give every TV critic sitting before her eternal life. Carey was at the Beverly Hilton to promote her new E! Channel docuseries, Mariah’s World, which, it was just announced, will premiere Dec. 4.
Facing a ballroom full of members of the Television Critics Association, she premiered a clip of the new show and fielded their—largely, fawning—questions, revealing a Mimi who, it must be said, might be the funniest performer to have been brought in all week during the TCA tour.
It echoed the clip we saw, in which Carey was hysterical, boasting a sense of humor and self-awareness about herself and what it means to be Mariah Carey. She seems sillier than any of us would peg her to be, and more up for anything than her reputation might indicate. And, oh, she knows that reputation well.
She bemoans the notion that she’s always demanding ludicrous things like puppies in her dressing room in the clip, only to immediately transition into a winking qualification: “It would be so cute to have puppies here. Wouldn’t that be cute?”But the Mariah Carey in the clip couldn’t hold a candle to the entertainment of the Mariah Carey before us, opening up her press conference with five minutes of monologuing. The shade was there, though she assured us “I don’t throw shade,” when asked about it. “Why does everyone think that?”
Not to contradict our Rainbow Butterfly, but when asked about her experience on American Idol, she groaned. “That was the most abusive experience,” she told us. “By the way, you’ve just driven me to drink.”
And pressed to name any current female singers whom she admires, she was the delicious diva we were all dying to see: “They would be lovely ladies but it’s not their day.” And then—AND THEN—she dramatically crossed her legs and flipped her hair. Mariah!
Would that be the best moment of the panel? At one point she paused in the middle of answering a question and got a make-up touch, at which point ever gay in attendance finally got his wings.
That’s all fun, but the point of these press conferences is to clarify for the critics what the show is, why they should watch, and the greater cultural questions that might arise from its existence. To that regard, Carey offered some insight on what to expect from Mariah’s World, and broadly talked about her reasons for participating in it—a career decision that has already proven to be quite controversial, at least among her biggest fans.
“First of all, I don’t consider it really,” she began when asked the first and most obvious question: Why? “I wanted to document—we’re going on tour. And I haven’t been on tour in Europe since at least 10 years ago. When I was 10.” She giggles. Bless this woman.
“So I was like, let’s just show the behind-the-scenes, what it really takes to do the tour,” she said. “We call it more of a docuseries because it feels like a documentary. There’s nowhere that I was like ‘Oh, let’s do a reality thing.’ I don’t even watch reality. I don’t even know what reality is.” Again, she laughs: “Literally. In terms of real or not real.”
As far as what role her family and especially her kids will have in the show, she said it’s still being edited. However, the kids, her fiance, and ex-husband Nick Cannon all were filmed at different times.
Asked what the biggest misconception is about her, and what she hopes might be revealed about the “real” Mariah in the show, she gave another typically Mimi answer: part performative as Mariah, part earnest and incisive.
“Oh my gosh, what an abusive question,” she moaned first, jokingly. “No, I’m only kidding. The answer to that is, I don’t know that anybody really knows the real me. Because if someone just sees me on TV or a video or this or an interview, it’s not enough time to get to know somebody.”
She continued: “I’m not even sure how to answer that appropriately except hopefully they’ll see other sides of me that they either find entertaining or something good instead of bad.”
Since the show first started filming, it’s morphed from being exclusively about her tour and progressively begun to incorporate more of Carey’s everyday life, separate from her professional one.
“At first I was withholding,” she said, “because I’m never sure who to trust. That’s just the honest truth. I just didn’t know really, exactly how things were going to proceed.” She wasn’t as free with her personality at first, she said, but has found her guard let down considerably. She hopes that more of the “real” her is starting to shine through.
Asked later what might surprise us about the “real” her, she, in the Mariah Carey tradition, makes up a word, a profession, and a new reason to love this woman: “I can be a little bit of a jokestress.”
Are we certain that we will be sufficiently entertained by Mariah Carey after her TCA appearance? Without question. Did we get the answers to the hard questions about what this reality series means for her? To that regard, the panel may have been a failure.
Almost immediately after the series was announced, tabloids flooded with gossip from anonymous insiders who found the idea that Carey would agree to this to be a little...pitchy.
Ambiguous people purportedly “close” to Carey feared that it would embarrass her. Wendy Williams caught heat for suggesting that this could be Carey’s very own Being Bobby Brown, to which Carey clapped back at the host in an Instagram video: “Don’t come for us unless we come for you.”
Director Lee Daniels also gave an interview claiming Carey has been “used” and “abused” and that he was terrified for her to have a reality show. Having clearly made amends, Carey can be heard playfully and winkingly yelling at Daniels in an Instagram video: “It’s a fucking docudrama.”
(That may be true, but the jokingly combative clip certainly indicates that she’s got the reality TV antics mastered.)
More, a Page Six item claimed that the entire idea was masterminded by Carey’s relatively new manager Stella Bulochnikov, referred to in the piece as a “Russian dictator.” Members of Carey’s team who had been with the singer for years were reportedly fired when Bulochnikov came on board, each of whom, Page Six’s source says, would have scoffed at the ridiculous notion of a reality show.
Excuse me, docudrama.
That it exists, the report goes on, is a testament to Bulochnikov's control over all things Mariah and her own aspirations for fame.
“Stella is the one who really wants to be the reality star. She even filmed a pilot for herself last year. This will likely be more of a TV launching vehicle for her. It’s going to be like the Stella show, which is what she’s always wanted. She is definitely very much out for herself, and this is a golden opportunity for her because she wants to be famous. She wants to be the one in the magazines,” the source said.
It’s worth noting that even before Carey’s appearance in front of the Television Critics Association, she’s seemed exceptionally jazzed to be doing this, despite all these reports that have come out.
Now that we’ve had some champagne and witnessed a far-too-brief glimpse of life in Mariah’s World, we’re jazzed, too.