Inside Mariah Carey's diva antics and glam room |

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Inside Mariah Carey's diva antics and glam room

Everyone knows what to expect from a music concert. The lights go down, the audience erupts into a chorus of applause and the idolised superstar arrives on stage, bursting with energy, ready to entertain the throng of their adoring fans for one night only. It's pretty spectacular.

But, ever wondered what happens once the curtains close and the lights go up? Are there diva tantrums? Catty fights between dancers? Tour riders demanding vitamin water to bathe pet dogs? Yes Mariah, we might be looking at you for that one, girl.

If you have, you've come to the right place as will give you an all-access, backstage look into what it really takes to make the tours of your favourite popstars come to life, while also reminiscing on some unique moments that made headline news.

Touring is not only an experience for the performer and the fans - the backing dancers, singers, stylists and others are also very much a part of the process and, perhaps more importantly, the backbone of these mammoth shows. So grab your backstage pass as we get the inside scoop from Mariah Carey's former creative director Anthony Burrell because, in this case, what happens on tour (doesn't) stay on tour.

Mariah Carey might just be the epitome of a superstar diva. The hair. The drama. The sass. She's got it all but, is the "diva" we see on-stage really just an act by a woman who's actually lowkey behind closed doors? Nope, what you see is pretty much what you get according to Anthony, who worked as Mariah's lead choreographer and creative director between 2014 and 2017.

"She's just as glamorous behind the scenes, that part is not a facade," Anthony explained to Recalling one particularly funny incident, Anthony revealed: "I was rehearsing at her home and she told her assistant, 'Can you please go get my slippers', because she wanted to be a bit more comfortable. I thought she was going to get flat slippers, really comfy. Her slippers were some six-inch heels with some fluff on them. I was like, these ain't no slippers."

Ah, classic Mariah. Anthony continued: "I asked, 'Mariah, where are your sneakers?' She was like, 'Oh, darling, I don't do those.'" As if she would?! "She's super glamorous, always done up to the nines. You see the negligee nighty thing, it's just a part of her and her divaism," Anthony explained. "It's who she's become and who she really is."

They may have only been in each other's company for three years but, boy, was it an eventful ride of both ups and downs in equal measure. It was a pairing that was written in the stars according to Anthony: "Mariah just kind of fell in love with me, it felt like I was a great asset - I made her look great, feel great, confident. From that point on she just kept me on year after year. There were plenty of changes in the staffing but I was one of the main people who remained because of the comfortability I gave her."

If you've been to one of Mariah's tour shows in recent years, notably the #1 To Infinity Tour, then you're probably familiar with Anthony. He was a prominent fixture by Mariah's side on stage, with her dancer boyfriend, Bryan Tanaka, on her other. It's no secret that Mariah's not a natural dancer - erm she's "the voice" of course - but that was no challenge for Anthony.

"As a choreographer and creative director, we're there to make the artist look great," he explained. "We create the dances to structure everything around her, all the moving, all the staging to make her feel involved and like we're encompassing her. We're just making all of our transitions based on her movements. It was really effective because she's not a mover at all."

That didn't stop Mariah from dropping a command or two whenever she felt like, as Anthony revealed: "She did have this one saying, 'Pick me up, put me down.' So whenever she said 'pick me up', you pick her ass up. That's why I had to hire guys that were aware... Guys that were big enough to pick her ass up and put her down."

Yes, the image of Mariah casually strewn out on a chaise lounge suspended in the air by her fit male dancers has become iconic. It's partly for the audience and, simply, just who Mariah is. Anthony explained: "Some of the antics are put on for show business but Mariah is definitely one of the coolest, friendliest, most down-to-earth women I know outside of the cameras and stage. Mariah personifies a true diva in the true essence and she just takes it on. I don't think she's affected by it, it's just like Beyonce is Sasha Fierce. There's a certain something that's expected with artists these days so I think she just plays it up when it's necessary." The choreographer added: "She's an actress - people have to take on these roles of who people think they are."

With Mariah's diva reputation comes the assumption of impossible demands backstage and almighty tantrums. But Anthony says this could not be further from the truth. It was once reported that Mariah's tour rider consisted of vitamin water to bathe her pet dogs, claims which Anthony rubbishes as "bullshit".

He also reveals that scenes in her glam room while getting ready for a big show, are surprisingly nowhere chaotic. "It was very quiet, it's like her sanctuary time," the dancer revealed. "She loves getting pretty and dolled up so it was a moment for her to just decompress. It was a really nice environment where she had her make-up done. Just her, her make-up artist, hair person - they're just doing their job like everyone else. It's not this fantasy world where there's clowns and leprechauns running around. Her make-up room is a solace, quiet before the storm."

Oh yes, and there was a pretty big storm on the horizon. Anthony's working relationship with Mariah came to a dramatic end in 2016 after that infamous New Year's Eve performance in Times Square. The set was plagued by sound problems causing Mariah to stop singing but the blame came down hard on Anthony, who moved the backing singers' position on-stage before the show. It led to Mariah firing her beloved creative director but he says it was all down to the superstar's poor management team.

Reflecting on the controversy, Anthony explained: "The manager took every route to blame everything else but the reason and what was really going on. We rehearsed, everything was fine and they just tried to steer the blame on anyone else but Mariah or management so that they would look great."

He continued: "I haven't spoken to her or anyone else in the camp. I've kept my distance because I didn't want it to end negatively or any worse than it was with any lawsuits. I knew exactly what was going on behind the scenes but because of my loyalty to her as a friend, I didn't want to put that information out there. I chalked it as a loss but I've moved on and now I follow my own dreams. I've opened my own school in Atlanta and it kind of gave me that fuel that I needed to say, let me do what I need to do for Anthony Burrell and not babysit no recording artist."

Mariah's tour life was famously documented in the 2016 reality docu-series, Mariah's World, featuring Anthony and Mariah's new management prominently. Anthony said of the backstage friction depicted in the E! series: "Her former management team was a nightmare. I knew it all along and I was trying to get the team to see that. Nobody would listen. I'm all about honesty... I know I'm talented and her team that point in time didn't have her best interests at heart, they were there for the money, to be famous and in the pictures. It wasn't my thing and when there are snakes in the grass, they will show their face and they sure did. It showed when her former manager tried to sue her."

Backstage dramas aside, Anthony has nothing but admiration and praise for Mariah as a former friend and artist. It's why he sympathises with her life as a touring artist and having to find the balance between work and personal life - Mariah is mum to seven-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe, who often travel with the superstar.

"Touring is her life. Her kids are there, there's no such thing as a personal life. Touring is her personal life," Anthony explains. "That's why sometimes when I see people try to ridicule her when she has off-days, I'm just like, 'Shut the f up guys', we all have those days. We're not always perfect so to put somebody on this pedestal but we try to beat them and bash them, it's so unfair to hold these people in such high regard."

According to Anthony, his unique bond with Mariah is born out of the fact they're "both from the hood". "There's a part of Mariah inside that is a really hood person. She has such a strong connection to the urban community and that's where we connected," he revealed.

Simply, they just got each other. It's probably why Mariah was once so willing to join him on a visit to a coffee shop, ahem, in Amsterdam during her world tour. Recalling one of his fondest memories of Mariah, Anthony said: "She can't go to regular supermarkets or stores so I thought that was pretty cool and down-to-earth. We sat inside and had some funny brownies."

He added: "It was fun and that's what I take away from the whole experience because she, Mariah, was fun, loving, caring and endearing to everyone on her staff."


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