Exclusive: Excerpt From “Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead”

So we picked up the book written by Neil Strauss, Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead: Journeys into Fame and Madness. The book features unfiltered interviews and encounters with celebrities over the years and an interview with Gwen from 2002 is featured. The interview actually took place over a Japanese meal in New York City a week after the Billboard Music Awards. It’s really candid and Gwen goes into detail about her schooling, life with her brother Eric and how she felt like she had earned to be looked at as a sex symbol. It’s a really good interview and also has a strange but interesting caricature of Gwen. The book is currently on sale on Amazon.com for around $12.00.

No Doubt walked the red carpet at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. Paparazzi screamed not for the band but for “Gwennnnnn,” who obliged them by opening her fur jacket and sticking out her chest, which was covered by just a teeny bikini top. She gave a big patronizing smile, her body a bone for the dogs. Later, a teenage fan ran up to band bassist (and singer Gwen Stefani’s ex-boyfriend) Tony Kanal. “Man, I love your band,” he said. “You’re my hero but can I ask you something: When you guys first got together, did you just think “Wow, she is hot!”? Kanal didn’t answer.

Over a Japanese meal the following week in New York, Stefani wrestled the concept of being a sex symbol.

So you were saying about the new record…

Gwen Stefani: Yeah, I think it’s a cool record. It does have a sexiness and a hipness that we’ve never had before. The thing about the sexy side, for me, is that I earned it (laughs). I feel like I didn’t play my cards too soon on that because I never felt comfortable.

When did you start feeling comfortable with that side of yourself?

Stefani: It wasn’t until, like, two years ago that I felt comfortable wearing high heels, because when you’re on heels — dude, you should try it — all of a sudden you’re sexy. It doesn’t matter who you are. It just gives you a different way you walk. I never felt old enough before. I think I finally feel like there’s a side to me like, “I’m a woman now,” which is cool. It’s fun.

That’s pretty good. You’re thirty-two.

Stefani: Yeah, I never felt really strong growing up. I think it was the way my parents raised me, in this really Catholic way. And maybe being insecure about being a girl in the scene back in the day. I didn’t know where I fit in. All the women around me I could look at were bands like L7 or Hole. And these were hard girls. They were angry and they were pissed, and I didn’t really feel like that. And then the other ones were these folky girls. So there really wasn’t anybody until I discovered Blondie. She was sexy and and she wasn’t afraid to just be rocking out. And to me, that’s having it all because we all want to be sexy, even guys do. It’s in human nature, we’ve gotta have babies.

It’s interesting, because when we went to the Billboard awards, you would vamp and show skin and give the photographers what they wanted, but you’d do it in sort of tongue-in-cheek.

Stefani: I think the whole being sexy thing, to do it seriously is just a joke. The only time it ever becomes serious is when you’re one-on-one with the person you love, and then you can’t be silly about it… I mean, have you seen me in the morning?” Nobody’s perfect. I don’t get it. I don’t get the whole thing.

Waiter: Everything okay? You like the noodles?

Stefani: Yeah! It’s so weird to think noodles came from Japan, right? And then somehow made it to Italy and turned into Pasta.

One thing I’ve noticed after talking to you is that you’re a very traditional person.

Stefani: It’s from my family. You’ll meet my mom, and you couldn’t get anymore traditional.

What does your brother do?

Stefani: My brother was always an artist — since the day he was born — and he always got all the attention. He would win all the awards at school. I didn’t have to do anything, because I had him. That was my claim to fame.

Were you popular in school?

Stefani: I was always a pretty passive person. I was a one-on-one person. I had one best friend, and I didn’t have a lot of girlfriends. I never have. I can still name all of my best friends — the three girls from growing up, my first boyfriend — who was the first guy I kissed — and Tony. And that’s it. That’s not much before the band. I wasn’t doing drugs or having premarital sex or anything.

You were you more of a studious type?

Stefani: I was always a really good girl, but I was really bad at school. So I decided once I graduated, I was going to start over again. I went to college, and I took it really seriously. I wanted to, like, get smart. I took every class from the very beginning: beginning English, beginning math. It took me a long time.

What did you want to do with that education?

Stefani: I guess I never really had dreams and never really thought that far ahead. At that point, I just decided, “Okay, I’m going to take art as my major, and then I’ll decide what I’m going to do with it after I explore it.” But then we went on tour, and that was that. I never headed back. I didn’t have to fucking decide.

Waiter: This is the last thing. Usually after finishing your food, you drink this to your health.

Stefani: Okay, I need the health stuff. (Downs the drink in seconds.)

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