Chris Schulz

Chris Schulz is an entertainment feature writer for the New Zealand Herald.

A close encounter with Miley Cyrus

The Miley Cyrus circus is heading to New Zealand. But there's more to this pop princess than tweeting, twerking and giant tongue slides, as Chris Schulz discovers.
Cyrus says her show is about "what women think is sexy and cool and strong".
Cyrus says her show is about "what women think is sexy and cool and strong".

If she lost her shit, you'd forgive her. After all, Miley Cyrus is being chased by fans who are bellowing so loudly she can't hear herself talk, let alone console her new pets -- a puppy called Emu and a piglet called Bubba Sue -- who are sitting restlessly on her lap.

And in just a few hours she'll perform her Bangerz show in Chicago for thousands of fans, the last US date of a demanding headlining tour that started way back in February and, as TimeOut is announcing today, will land in New Zealand in October.

Sitting in the back of a car amid these chaotic scenes, Cyrus is also trying to answer questions from a journalist who's blathering at her with an equal mix of nerves, excitement and fascination. Any normal person would be tearing their hair out with stress.

But Cyrus is as cool as a twerking cucumber.

"Sorry, just one second ... people are yelling and chasing our car right now and I can't hear you ... they're all fans and it's cool, I just couldn't hear you ...

right, where were we?"

It's a good question. Because while we were getting a snapshot glimpse at the hectic life of a walking headline generator, it's important to remember that Cyrus is only 21 years old. The Nashville singer and daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus has spent half her life in the limelight, first as TV tween queen Hannah Montana, and more recently morphing into the heavily sexualised twerking pop princess and chart darling known by just one word: "Miley".

Now, the world follows Miley's every move. Every tweet is a headline, every Instagram a trend, every twerk a cause for outrage, every song inspiration for entire YouTube channels of cover versions and copycats.

But if Cyrus is feeling the weight of expectation, she's not showing it.

"I'm pretty chill and happy with what I'm doing," she says. "I don't feel any pressure to sell things. I tell everybody I wouldn't care if I was just playing clubs. As long as I'm playing music I don't care how many people I play for. As long as one person turns up and is rocking out and singing along, it doesn't really matter to me."

Cyrus has a fair few more people turn up to her shows than that. In October she'll bring her Bangerz tour to New Zealand for the first time (see sidebar for show details), where she'll perform in a venue that can fit about 12,000 fans.


Photo / Getty Images

By all accounts, we should prepare for plenty of controversy. Because Bangerz has had its fair share of negative press, mostly about the implied sexuality of the show. One concert sparked headlines after Cyrus appeared to mime an oral sex act on a dancer wearing a Bill Clinton mask. At another, a British tabloid reported she wore an outfit covered with -- gasp -- pictures of cannabis leaves. And at a third, the mother of a 9-year-old girl compared the show's antics to "porn".

But asked if her concerts should come with an R18 rating, Cyrus says the answer is a strict "no".

"There is a heart and a soul to the show, which every single person realises after they see it. I'm staring into my fans' eyeballs, looking into their souls telling them to look at me as an example of what kind of freedom [you should aspire to] and how that brings happiness into your life.

"A lot of girls come in, they're dressed like me, and by the end of it they're going wild and I feel like I've unleashed them a little bit and it's really empowering.

"The sexual aspect of our show isn't targeted at men. It's not driven by what men think is sexy. It's what women think is sexy and cool and strong."

It's also a show that's physically demanding. Cyrus admits the two-hour gigs often leave her so hyped she doesn't get to sleep until 5am. In May, she was hospitalised and forced to postpone one tour date after what she called an "allergic reaction to antibiotics".

Cyrus admits she's had to learn to balance her life while on the road.


Photo / Getty Images

"I've never toured like this before. Last time it was crazy and the show was demanding but nothing compares to this show. It's hard and I learned quickly it's all about sleeping and eating right. At first I was working hard and playing hard, but you've gotta find a balance of enjoying travelling around and staying focused and being as healthy as you possibly can.

"Partying is too hard. The dancers go out, for them they're just touring the world. I'm envious of them. When I leave the hotel there's just such chaos it's hard to just experience it."

"Chaos" is a great word to describe the lifestyle of someone who can spark headlines just by getting a new tattoo.

Does she bother reading the stories that fill gossip websites like TMZ, PerezHilton and the Daily Mail seemingly daily?

"I don't read that shit," she says. "I read a lot of good books that definitely make me better and smarter.

"I try to stay away from anything that might make me feel like an idiot."

But she can't help but fire up about a recent headline that got the name of her dog Floyd (he was mauled to death by a coyote in April) wrong.

"The people that write these headlines, they're not real journalists. They don't check their facts half the time," she rants.

"The other day someone told me they wrote, 'Miley got a tattoo of her dead dog Lloyd'. I'm like, 'His f****** name is 'Floyd'. How hard is it to go on f****** Instagram and Twitter and see what my dog's name is? It's not that hard, what the f***?"

To anyone writing or reading those stories, Cyrus has some advice: "There are so many good things to read and so much good stuff to fill our brains with that isn't junk ... people should just focus on being happy and everything works out."

Who: Miley Cyrus
Where: Wednesday, October 8, Vector Arena
Tickets: Pre-sale begins on August 25 through daintygroup.com; on general release from August 28 through ticketmaster.co.nz
Albums: Meet Miley Cyrus (2007); Breakout (2008); Can't Be Tamed (2010); Bangerz (2013).

- TimeOut

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