”When people see this video, they gonna stop thinking of me as some blonde-haired, bubblegum, music-industry ho — and start thinking of me as an actual ho.” — from a Saturday Night Live parody
Okay, that’s not really how Christina Aguilera described David LaChapelle’s polymorphously perverse clip for her new single, ”Dirrty” — which finds her flaunting a red-panties-and-chaps ensemble as she engages in frottage amongst a sweaty, half-dressed coterie of male, female, and plushie extras. But Saturday Night Live’s vicious parody did capture the reaction of many to the new, clothing-optional Xtina, as the teen-pop star has come to call herself. How — and why — did the relatively demure Aguilera of 1999’s ”Genie in a Bottle” transform into a pierced, tattooed, butt-baring would-be sex symbol? Whether her handlers like it or not, Aguilera, 21, has assumed control of her image and career — and this, she’s saying, is the real Christina.
”Christina’s so talented. I don’t know why she’s hiding it behind all this sex stuff,” says Linda Perry, the former 4 Non Blondes leader who cowrote and produced four songs for Aguilera’s Oct. 29 album, the aptly titled Stripped. ”But that’s just who she is — she dresses like that in the studio…. That girl just doesn’t like clothes.”
Hip-hop producer Rockwilder, who modeled ”Dirrty” after his own track for Redman’s ”Let’s Get Dirty,” agrees. This is the ”real” Aguilera, he says, an artist who may be a little too eager to ditch her bubblegum past: ”She got her driver’s license and she crashed her car down the block, you know what I’m saying?”
Perry says that Aguilera went against the advice of her label and management in picking ”Dirrty” as Stripped’s first single; ”Beautiful,” a Perry ballad, was everyone’s first choice, the songwriter adds. (To the contrary, both Aguilera’s rep and label insist that all parties agreed on the first single.) On Billboard’s Hot 100, ”Dirrty” has — to borrow Rockwilder’s imagery — crashed pretty spectacularly, peaking at a far-from-sizzling No. 48, despite the video’s raunchy reign at No. 1 on MTV’s TRL. Bob Jamieson, chairman of Aguilera’s label, RCA, insists that the provocative video has accomplished its mission, sparking attention that will ultimately sell copies of Stripped. In any case, he and Perry hint that Aguilera’s girl-gone-wild days may be over. ”This was Christina getting her last ya-yas out,” Perry says. ”I don’t think from here on you’re gonna be seeing much of that. That’s what I’m telling myself.”