Angel. baby. Sweetheart. Fat-ass ham. No matter the phrase, throaty crooner Barry White manages to make it sound as inviting as a luxurious, satin-sheeted bed. Which, after a full day of press interviews in a cozy, dimly lit Manhattan hotel suite, he could certainly use right about now.
”My bed at home was made in Italy especially for me,” he drawls, swathed in his usual black silk pajamas. ”It’s really beautiful—and super-king-size.”
You’d expect nothing less for a man whose deep-voiced utterings have been the soundtrack for countless seductions. Now the 54-year-old singer (his new CD is the aptly titled Staying Power) is trying to seduce the literary set with his and cowriter Marc Eliot’s just-out book, Love Unlimited (Broadway).
A swoony hodgepodge of memoir, musical philosophy, and astrology, Love covers everything from groupies (”One even went so far as to…[offer] me her four or five daughters — at the same time”) to writing songs (”Lady Music…. We’ve been fruitful and had lots of babies together. Every song, every album is the product of our love”). Not to mention his memorable Late Night With David Letterman appearance, where he murmured phrases like ”fat-ass ham” and ”Pataki.” But it’s his romantic advice — which White says he’s dispensed since he was 14 — that reveals the inner Barry.
”What women want to hear is no mystery, baby,” he insists. ”Be honest and open and let her explain how she feels. Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus — that’s idiotic s — -. We all come from the same place.”
It’s not all sweet talk, however. The book details his impoverished childhood in South Central L.A.; the deaths of his mother, his brother, and Marvin Gaye; and his struggles to break into the music industry. But in the end, White can’t get enough.
”For people to care that much about what you do, to wanna bring it into their bedrooms…oh yeah.”
Now, that’s love, baby.