Pink – Welcome To The Funhouse
When Pink bursts into the Malibu Performing Arts Center, the secluded studio where she recorded much of her new album Funhouse, the singer fills the room much the same way your best friend would. She struts towards the small gathering of journalists in her enviable Betsy Johnson stiletto heels, a romantic white blouse, and a leather pencil skirt in a rich shade of brown while carrying a full glass of red wine. She crackles with energy and laughter. Her mission this evening, as Pink instantly makes clear, is to get all of us writers – the first to hear her new songs – at least a little bit tipsy. As if on cue, the catering staff refills our goblets.
Wine is a big part of the Pink experience. Pink and Funhouse producer Butch Walker bonded over wine years ago at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont. “I fell down the stairs carrying my glass of wine back to the room to write and busted my kneecaps, but didn’t spill a drop of wine. That further instilled in me that my priorities were correct and Butch and I should be best friends,” she remembers, laughing. Though she bemoans the fact that people use her as an excuse to let loose, saying, “I’m so tired of hearing, God, I smoke so much more around you. Or, I haven’t drank that much ever with anyone else. Or, Oh, it’s you, I’ll have another tequila. I’m like, why are you using me as an excuse to party?!” So is it really any surprise there’s a song on Funhouse entitled “Bad Influence”?
Despite some liquid lubrication after we part ways, Pink is refreshed when we meet up early the next morning, dressed in a tank-top and a pair of comfy – though somehow flattering – overalls. “I’m a night person,” she explains. “I can’t go to sleep, even if I’m lying in bed, so I stayed out late.” Even without a full night’s sleep, Pink is pretty. Her cropped, white blonde coif compliments her tanned skin and unlike other delicate starlets, Pink has powerful features and a fierce beauty that extends from her blue-gray eyes to her bare, muscular arm. She’s a gorgeous tomboy.
We’re tucked in a secluded corner at a rustic breakfast spot in a nondescript area of Malibu, which is good, because at this moment, Pink doesn’t want much of an audience. “When I first meet people I’m a little shy,” she explains. “When you know you’re going to meet someone and five minutes later delve into your childhood with them, that can be a bit daunting.”
It’s not something you expect to hear from Pink, an artist who’s M.O. has always been more about baring it all. In a world of bland celebrities, Pink has rightfully earned a reputation as the pop star you can count on to never say “no comment”. She’s known for letting loose, even if that includes bashing another pop star in an interview or discussing her dissatisfaction with her childhood on her sophmore album M!ssundaztood. So when news broke earlier this year of the split between Pink and her husband, motocross star and Hart and Huntington Tattoo owner Carey Hart, she handled the fallout the Pink way –she called Walker and began pouring out her heart – and at least a few glasses of good wine – into what would become Funhouse.
It was July 2005 and Hart was racing in the motocross finals at Mammoth Lakes, California when he spotted Pink on the side of the track, holding up a pit board with the words “Will You Marry Me?” The two first met at the 2001 X Games in Philadelphia and kicked off their relationship three months later when they ran into each other again in Las Vegas. The pair took a brief break in 2003, during which time Pink was spotted locking lips with Tommy Lee and friend Kristanna Loken, but were now back together. As Hart rounded his next lap, Pink wrote and held up another sign, this one reading, “I’m serious!” He stopped his bike and swooped up the singer. The next January, as the sun set behind them on a Costa Rican beach, the two married.
But, in November 2007, tabloids reported that the marriage was on the rocks. And, though Pink and Hart denied the rumors, the following February they split. Pink’s hurt resonates throughout Funhouse, but her lyrics weren’t intended to slam Hart. “When I’m writing the songs it’s just where I’m at. What I’m doing, what I’m reading, what I’m thinking about. This one was different for me. I’ve not been here before in this way… These songs are like wounds… It was too easy to write. There is no edit button. Maybe there should be, but there isn’t with me.”
At one point during the Funhouse sessions, Pink broke down in tears while recording the vocals for “I Don’t Believe You,” the album’s ballad. “It’s the hardest song I’ve ever had to sing. It’s the most vulnerable sad song I’ve ever written in my life.” It’s hard not to look for traces of Hart in every track on Funhouse, such as “Mean” which Pink says is about how relationships change. “Every relationship, whether it ends or not, does that. How did we get so mean? How did I just say that to you? Let’s sit down and come to the love table and be friends again.” Elsewhere on Funhouse she digs deeper into where things went wrong and suggests that perhaps Hart wasn’t there for her enough when she needed him to be. “I don’t know that anyone will be able to give me what I think I need. And, I think I’m a much better friend than anything else,” Pink explains.Some of the hints about Hart aren’t so subtle. In “So What,” the album’s first single, Pink calls Hart a “tool” and sings “I just lost my husband/I don’t know where he went” and later adds “You weren’t there/You never were.” In the video, she takes a chainsaw to a tree that their initials are carved into. But in a Pink twist, Hart shows up at the end of the video. “The whole world is like, oh she’s a fucking hypocrite, talking shit and I thought it was amicable. And it is, but that’s what I do. I talk shit. I talked shit to him for six years. I’m not going to stop now.”
Pink is also the first to confess that, despite the whirlwind the song created, she’s not sure she’s fully ready to talk about it. “The last [album] was like ‘U and UR Hand’ and ‘Who Knew.’ I had time to process it and be OK with it. It’s all how I feel, but it’s not, Hi, have you seen my heart bleeding? Can I rip open my chest and show you? It’s really exposed and really new and I love Carey so much and we’re not resolved and it’s just really weird. It’s my fault because I wrote this fucking song ["So What"] and I knew what I was doing and I did it as a joke…It’s just all a bit bizarre. It’s like ‘Family Portrait,’ but my own. Unfortunately…or fortunately…I’m not sure yet.”
What Pink is sure about is that she won’t try to erase the past – and that means keeping every tattoo from the matching “help” buttons she and Walker earned during what she sarcastically calls “a really brilliant moment of clarity” to the “Tru Love” tattoo above her wrist she and Hart got spontaneously one night at a tattoo shop in Tampa just before the then happy couple went bowling. Though it’s a reminder of the way things once were, she refuses to cover it up. “We don’t do that,” Pink says fiercely. “That’s the most disrespectful thing in the entire world. There was a rumor going around that Carey got his tattoos covered and I called him and was like, ‘What are you doing?!’ he’s like, ‘Baby, I didn’t cover the tattoos. I’m never covering the tattoos. It’s all good. What are you doing today?’”
Pink got her first tattoo, Japanese Kanji for “good luck and happiness,” on her ankle when she was just twelve, and a guardian angel on her left shoulder followed soon after. “I think part of me did it because it was illegal and it would piss my parents off,” she says as she puts her flip-flopped foot up on the booth seat to show off the four Japanese characters. “I was always really obsessed with Japanese art. My parents have these sake bottles from Japan that are ancient and are so intricately carved and painted. They also had all this Japanese art. It’s the most beautiful culture.” And, as far as she knows, the meanings of all of her Japanese characters are accurate. “I’ve checked them and checked them and checked them. My friend has big ones on her arm that mean ‘cleansing.’ She had her arm out the window and this Japanese woman yelled over ‘Tampon! You have tampon on your arm!’ She yelled back, ‘It’s cleansing!’ ‘Yeah. feminine cleansing. Tampon.’ She’s like…great.”Her other Kanji characters stand for “strength,” and “the will to live.” And, when Pink’s mother turned 55, the two were inked with the character for “mother.” “She didn’t really take that much convincing. Anything sentimental with my mom, she’s in. Now, she wears these little cocktail dresses and makes sure that in pictures it’s showing.”
Pink’s favorite tattoo was created by an artist friend in Philadelphia and reads “What goes around comes around.” As she explains it, “It’s my only truth that never changes. I believe in karma. I believe that it comes around in both ways. I’ve watched really good people have really hard times and then all of a sudden something beautiful happens. I’ve seen instant karma and I’ve seen karma that I think takes lifetimes and I’ve felt a lot of it.”
Her other tattoos include a portrait in homage to her bulldog Elvis who tragically drowned in her pool done by Twig from Hart and Huntington Tattoo, the pink bows on the backs of her thighs that she admits were a drunken decision, and a large dragon on her left thigh by Australia’s Giovanni Di Mizio that acts as a cover up. “When I was in my mom’s stomach I sat cross-legged, so I have dimples in my leg and I hate them. So I covered them with my tattoo.” Just don’t expect her to come out of a tattoo shop covered in color. “I don’t take color well. I love seeing girls with the full sleeves that have beautiful koi fish and lotus flowers and vibrant colors, but I’m all about matchy matchy clothes and if had red and yellow on my arm, that would really fuck with me.”
As a result, most of her work is done in black-and-grey, a style that L.A. Ink’s Kat Von D specializes in. But Von D’s needle is not coming anywhere near Pink. “I’ve heard some things that she’s said about Carey in interviews and I don’t fucking like it. She doesn’t fucking know him so she can keep his fucking name out of her mouth as far as I’m concerned. I wouldn’t let her tattoo me. I know that’s probably putting my foot in my mouth because a lot of people like her, but I’m very loyal and I don’t like it when people who don’t know what they’re talking about talk about other people. Especially my husband. I think it was just the TV shows and Inked and there’s room for everybody. That’s what I learned a long time ago in the music business.”
Her beef with the L.A. Ink star and her split with Hart aside, Pink is trying to enjoy life more these days. “I want to disappear for a while. Pull a Houdini. But, no, I just want to laugh more. Have more fun.” Doing so would make her mother proud. “I get, ‘If you snarl in one more picture… I swear to god, you have such a pretty smile.’ Mom! It’s going to be alright. I won’t snarl on this album!”