I was on a date with this new guy I'm dating, Joern, when the text messages came buzzing in. Since it's disgusting and rude to look at your phone when you're at a restaurant, especially with an incredibly handsome (German) named Joern -- of course I ignored it. It was a lot of texts all at once though and then his phone blew up, too. Strange.
Then, my phone rang and it was my friend David calling from LA so I excused myself to take the call. Through tears he told me the news. The Diva -- the music -- the drugs -- the Diane Sawyer interview -- the Oprah interview -- the voice -- the life. Gone.
David and I both grew up in small homophobic towns and when I say being a gay teenager in the 80's was scary and scarring -- it was and then some. Pop music was an escape from reality that we both relied on.
Sure, I was into the darker stuff like New Order, The Smiths, The Cure, Patti Smith, Suicidal Tendencies -- etc. But when I heard "I Want To Dance With Somebody" it made me happy. That wasn't an emotion I experienced on a regular basis until I moved to NYC. So, it was a gift to escape into a world of bubblegum fluff for 3 1/2 minutes.
We gays loved the diva she eventually became -- but before the drama there was this young girl with that big voice. I sort of daydreamed that she went to my high school and was my friend. Oh and her 80's fashion at the
beginning -- it was pretty spectacular.
Since I basically could open a small book store with all my old magazines -- I went home and grabbed the JANE MAY 2000 from it's drawer and tweeted a picture of it to David. He rightly responded -- "Wow, isn't that when it all started to come apart?" It's true.
The shoot in LA was styled by Patti Wilson, who I once assisted, and photographed by the legendary Wayne Maser. The stories from set were told to me from our Art Director Johan and they're just what you'd expect. Call time was 9am -- and at 4pm she still hadn't arrived.
A publicist called to say Whitney had chipped a tooth and was at the dentist. At the time we though this was total PR bullshit and like so many celebrities she was just being an annoying superstar and disrespectful of everyone's time. In hindsight it was probably true.
From what I'm told, she was alarmingly frail, but her physical beauty was still unearthly. The disturbing account is that when on set she literally could barely open her eyes. Those soulful eyes. 1,2,3 OPEN -- snap, snap ... 1, 2, 3 OPEN -- snap, snap. The camera trying to catch a momentary frame. The photographs are stunning and you'd never know. That's part of our jobs sometimes as the image makers. Sometimes a photograph can be brutally honest and other times the perfect liar.
What's interesting is that I'll always remember Johan saying that Bobby Brown was very professional, clear and mature. Supposedly he was incredibly patient, gentle and calm with his wife, no doubt having been in this position before. Classic co-dependency right?
In the famous "crack is whack" interview with Diane Sawyer on ABC, when asked about his bad influence on her and why, WHY is she with him, Whitney replied: "Love is where you find it -- love is where you find it. And I found it with him."
WHERE DO BROKEN HEARTS GO?
I know it's been some time
But there's something on my mind
You see I haven't been the same
Since that cold November day
We said we needed space
But all we found was an empty place
And the only things I learned
Is that I need you desperately
So here I am
And can you please tell me, oh?
Where do broken hearts go?
Can they find their way home?
Back to the open arms
Of a love that's waiting there
And if somebody loves you
Won't they always love you?
I look in your eyes
And I know that you still care for me
Ooh baby, I've been around enough to know
That dreams don't turn to gold
And that there is no easy way
No, you just can't run away
What we have is so much more
Than we ever had before
And no matter how I try
You're always on my mind
The Grammy Awards are tomorrow night. I was joking with Bryan that if I'm able to watch them (New York Fashion Week continues in full force tomorrow) and tweet my fashion commentary -- I was anticipating not loving too much. Oh look: So and so is wearing a Muppet.
Now Jennifer Hudson has been asked to sing a tribute to Ms Houston and that no doubt will give the world goose bumps. I pray that the little girl with the big voice is finally at peace -- and hey maybe she's joined Heaven's choir with Etta, Michael and Amy.... Goodnight Diva.
I Will Always Love You on Twitter: xoEricNicholson