THE DAY I MET JUSTIN BIEBER
BY BILLY RUSSELL
‘The Day I Met Justin Bieber’. I just read that headline back to myself, ostensibly to make sure the ‘i’ was before the ‘e’ in ‘Bieber’ lest the highly strung Beliebers have my head on a spike, but really because after three years of gunning for an interview with our generation’s biggest pop star, I wanted to remind myself that I can now actually write those words outside of my dream journal AND THEY BE TRUE. I met Justin Bieber!
The interview takes place at some schmicko hotel in the city. In the lift on my way up, some big dude with an American accent tells me he likes my t-shirt. I simply mumble an awkward “Aww gee thanks” in reply because I’m nervous, and because elevator small talk is my third most hated kind of small talk after funeral and hairdresser. Also, because I don’t realise until much later that the big dude is actually Bieber’s head security guy, which had I have known I would have replied with something much more inspiring like, saaaay, “OMG I LIKE YOUR T-SHIRT. CAN WE BE FRIENDS AND WATCH BIEBER SLEEP?” and then I’d probably be on a plane right now living the dream and not writing this recount for all of you. My list of life regrets groweth ever longeth.
The first thing I learn about Bieber is that he is late. The second is that he looks like a child’s doll that has had its head cut off and sewn onto the body of something that should have an older face than that of a child’s doll. I also learn that I’m nervous – almost visibly so – and that the mantra running through my head (“Don’t f— this up! Don’t f— this up!”) will pretty much guarantee that I f— it up.
I don’t f— it up. But I don’t smash it, either. It’s just a pretty standard affair as far as interviews go, because Justin is a pretty standard dude. At least he goes to great pains to tell me this. When quizzed about the difficulties of dealing with fame and puberty at the same time, he gives me some go-to response about having an amazing team around him and his faith in God and how he’s still, like, so grounded. And yet I don’t see you or me at age 18 with the name of our charttopping album tattooed on our forearms, do you?
We talk about some other stuff – when the subject of sex arises, he confesses he’s “not a boy, not yet a man” and I just sit there nodding as I clench at the prospect of a potential sequel to Britney’s coming-of-age track – but it’s when the interview finishes that I get the real gold.
A lady in Team Bieber goes up to Justin with a phone. “Look at this! It’s the August Rolling Stone! You’re on the cover!”
Justin surveys the picture, pauses, and then stammers, “I don’t like it.”
TO BE A FLY ON THE WALL!
Team Bieber Lady: “But Justin! Look at you! You’re so hot in this!”
Justin pauses, takes it in, and opens his mouth.
Jaw, meet floor.
Justin then comes up to me and asks for my opinion. And let’s just say that when Justin Bieber shows you a photo of Justin Bieber in a white singlet with veiny arms and a headline reading ‘HOT/ READY/ LEGAL’, there’s no real answer you can give that doesn’t make you sound like a grade A creep.
After the interview, it’s quickly into a cab and en route to the secret location (Trackdown Studios in Sydney – Ed.) for the Bieb’s special live and intimate performance, which will demonstrate Justin’s acoustic chops and confirm once and for all that the only thing scarier than competition winners is nothing (Dude’s right – Ed.). Seriously, Beliebers will scream at anything.
“Are you excited to see Justin?”
“What do you love most about him?”
“Which way to the crapper?”
Highlights from the show: JB rapping Ludacris’ verse in ‘Baby’, one girl faking tears in order to guilt a staff member into offering her a meet and greet and ‘swaggy’, a word Justin uses so consistently and thoroughly throughout his set it’s like it doesn’t even mean anything anymore. Of course, the real highlight is having my choice in teen idol confirmed BECAUSE SUCK IT, GREYSON CHANCE! BIEBER KILLED IT!
The [V] crew gather together after the show and compile the following list of one word reviews:
“Moist” – Sullo
“Unbelieberable” – Jules
“Deafening” – Gazzo
“Stop trying to make me say ‘swaggy’”- Kath
“Beguiling” – Ken
“He’s a little twerp with good muscles. I wonder what hairspray he uses?” – Tippi, who clearly missed the point of the show or the ‘give me a one word answer’ direction.
And while all this is happening inside, it’s a completely different story outside in Trackdown’s surrounds. Those unfortunate enough to miss out on a ticket to the show have discovered Justin’s whereabouts. And while a big cyclone fence keeps them out, the scene that follows as Justin goes in for a harmless hello is like a hyper-horny conjugal visit at a high security prison. Or, at the very least, it’s like that part in Contagion where the dudes in white jumpsuits have food and supplies and all the rabid sickos going hungry start frothing at the mouth as they kill each other while trying to break the fence down. Either way, it’s beautiful.
As I cab home at the end of the day, I can’t help but feel a little flat. For a 26 year old man who owns a Justin Bieber doll, which for the sake of my dwindling masculinity we shall refer to as an ‘action figure’, perhaps coming face-to-face with the kid was always going to be an anti-climax. But as I examine the photo on my phone – this one not of a magazine cover, but rather a talented pop superstar and his drunk-looking cling-on – I pause, take it in, and then open my mouth.
“I just met Justin Bieber. Swag!”