I don’t get the sick feeling or that rising up
year, Cyrus shaved her head – and got it right. Oh, so right. “Never felt more me in my whole life,” she tweeted, along with the picture she used to reveal the new hairdo to the world. Of course, it helped that the peroxide blonde crop showed us her face in a whole new light. What were formerly the pretty features of a living, breathing Bratz doll were revealed as arrestingly beautiful. You can bet that meeting with Wintour was to discuss an upcoming Vogue cover. And as she says: “It caused so much drama. My hair has got me called every name in the book.” Such as? She rolls her china-blue eyes. “Well, obviously I’m a lesbian now I have short hair. Not that I’m offended by being called a lesbian – that’s one of the better things you could call me.”
She obviously feels some vindication in having scooped the top spot in Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 poll this year. “To be on the cover and not be the typical Brazilian bikini babe, with hair down to your waist and fake boobies – you know, to have a real girl as number one – I think that was important.”
As Cyrus loves to tell you, she has strong views on pretty much everything (“My grandad was a Democratic legislator, so I have that in my blood”), and having been allowed to grow up, it feels right, and healthier, that she’s being allowed to express them. For example, no anxious publicist feels the need to jump in and stop her when she tells me she prefers smoking weed to drinking: “When I smoke, I don’t get the sick feeling I get when I drink, or that anger rising up. There’s a reason Bob Marley was like some kind of musical Rasta Mother Teresa!”
Cyrus’s “on-off” (as the tabloids would have it) fiancé is the Hunger Games actor Liam Hemsworth, whom she met when filming The Last Song, and who proposed in May last year with a 3.5-carat-diamond art-deco bauble. The cause of the break-up speculation is the fact that the couple spend so much time apart – and today their relationship is off subject. “I used to be open about it, but people abused that, and now I’ve taken it back, people misinterpret it to mean something is wrong.” For the record, she is very much wearing the ring, flanked by two fat bands of diamonds.
And yes, she does want children, just not too young. “I love being young and living my life,” she says. “I want time to get mentally really strong. I love my partner, but at the end of the day, if it ends up just me, I want to know who I am, so I can be a good parent on my own.”
This could be a veiled reference to her parents’ break-up. After 19 years of marriage, her mother, Tish, filed for divorce from the country singer Billy Ray Cyrus earlier this year. (This is the only other subject she won’t touch today.) But it could also be a lesson she learnt from her good friend Britney Spears, whom Cyrus somewhat worryingly describes as “an idol and like a mentor”.
Was Spears’s public meltdown a lesson on the flip side of fame? “I think it’s different for everyone. I’ve always been outgoing, and Britney is a much quieter person. Plus, my dad has been sober for 20 years now, and he has taught me. It’s not like I don’t have fun and mess up, but it’s controlled.”
Apart from one or two female friends (Kelly Osbourne is “the best one to have on your side”), Cyrus mainly hangs around with guys. “Girls are so catty,” she says. “I’m not good at being fake, and girls are so good at acting, especially girls in LA, because they are actresses.”
Her family – which sounds as close-knit as it is sprawling, with all sorts of siblings from previous relationships, and none other than Dolly Parton thrown into the mix as godmother – is where she gets her real strength. Her younger sister, Noah, and brother, Braison, a model, live with her in LA. “But my mom is numero uno,” she says. “We fight, but I have to have her with me.” And suddenly you remember how young 20 is – even though Cyrus insists the tut-tutting about her sexy new image is ridiculous. “People forget what growing up is,” she says. “When you’re 20, you do some crazy shit, because you’re trying to figure out who you are.
“Besides, kids know everything under the sun. If they have an iPhone, they’re watching porn. Watching me grinding a little in some white leggings in the video for We Can’t Stop [the teaser single for her new album has racked up 144m YouTube views] is nothing compared to what your 12-year-old son is watching under the sheets.”
She doesn’t understand why the internet isn’t censored. “Everything else is, but you can Google how to commit suicide, and Siri will even tell you how to dispose of a dead body.”
Pharrell Williams produced much of the new album. Cyrus describes him as like an older brother: “We fight till we’re black and blue, but we’re always honest with each other.” He has said he thinks the young singer, who has become a sort of protégée, is “an old soul”. It was he who encouraged her to cut her hair. “‘Free yourself,’ I kept saying to her. ‘Your view of yourself, your view of the world, is so accurate. Start to embrace it now.’ ”
It’s rare to meet someone so young who appears so confidently herself, but there is still a constant need for attention (the endless selfies, the Twitter “call outs” to the haters) that suggests an underlying insecurity, which, if ignored, could implode one day.
What happens when it all stops? Of course, she’s also got an answer for that. “Remember when Madonna did the Super Bowl, and she’d reinvented herself again? And people could not believe she was older and looking so hot. I hope I’m that kind of person, where I just continue to be reinvented, doing what I do.”
And even though, as she says, “I have lived so much already”, you know Miley 2.0 is only the beginning.
© Sunday Times