Fergie knows she’s a lucky bitch. “You don’t have to tell me!” squeals the sole female singer of the Grammy-winning Black Eyed Peas. Not only is her boyfriend Las Vegas lead Josh Duhamel, arguably one of the hottest guys on the planet, the former Kids Incorporated star is about to drop The Dutchess, a solo album she started working on with producer will.i.am before joining him as a member of the Peas in 2003.
Though she swears she never has any specific audience in mind when writing, Fergie’s not surprised her No. 1 Billboard pop smash “London Bridge” has ’mos dropping it down real low and dancing like a ho. She’s also confident they’ll flip for her second single, “Fergalicious” — an adjective describing the irresistible sex appeal that she achieves by spending long hours at the gym. “If I don’t, it’s not so Fergalicious,” she admits.
Fergie — who, for the record, happily admits to having experimented with the fairer sex, and says she’d go gay for Marilyn Manson’s burlesque babe Dita von Teese — is used to having a loyal gay following from her stint in the ’90s pop trio Wild Orchid. “We toured with and opened for Cher,” she explains. ’Nuff said, Fergs. But she guarantees her album has more to make gays go gaga than aggressive party tracks. “I definitely have some big ballads on the album that the gay community will appreciate more than the hip-hop crowd,” Fergie says, pointing to “Finally,” an ode to finding a soulmate featuring John Legend on piano, and “All That I Got (The Makeup Song),” a cosmetic-chucking charmer about being loved for one’s inner beauty.
Just don’t assume these ditties are about Duhamel. “I’m not saying who the songs are about!” she says when pressed. “They’re about a few different relationships that I’ve had, and they’re all true. But you have to realize that these songs were written over a seven-year period, and I’ve had different boyfriends throughout that period.” She’s spent two of those years with Duhamel, with whom she’s excited to spend an upcoming day off celebrating their anniversary. “We’ll probably go to a nice dinner, and I don’t know if we want to do much else. I think we’ll be anxious to get back home!”
While many songwriters find inspiration in heartbreak or jealousy, the romantic Fergie’s not ringing any alarms on this record. “A lot of my songs are beautiful love songs and testaments to loves that I’ve had. The conflicts on this album are more about my struggles with drugs,” explains the singer, who cleaned up her act in 2001 after getting sucked into that scene while with Wild Orchid. “‘Voodoo Doll,’ for example, has to do with the demons versus the angels within yourself, and ‘Losing My Ground’ is about what I went through when I hit bottom.”
Fergie has a specific message for the party drug-prone gay community, for whom she knows crystal meth addiction has reached epidemic proportions. “In my experience, ecstasy led to crystal meth, and I just think that people don’t know how addictive that drug is. It’s so cunning because it’s such a fun drug at first. You lose weight and look great for a while, but I don’t care if it takes six months or five years, it will creep up on you,” she warns in an almost motherly tone. “Don’t be fooled and think you’re special.”
Fergie gets even more worked up discussing “Pedestal,” a track that rips bitchy bloggers and other Internet haters a new one. “I just think, ‘Wow, I’ve worked so hard for this, but what are you doing other than sitting there behind your computers and talking shit about people?’ If people don’t like me, fine, but don’t dis people if you’re not getting off your ass and doing something about your own life.”
No big surprise that The Dutchess has been slapped with a Parental Advisory sticker, but Fergie claims her debut is more raw than dirty. “Sometimes I’m a little too blunt, but that’s who I am,” she says, adding that she’ll release a clean version so as not to exclude her younger fan base. “I want to say what I want to say, and sometimes there’s no other way for me to say things than to be politically incorrect.”
Née Stacy Ferguson in Hacienda Heights, Calif., the 31-year-old also keeps it real on “Glamorous,” in which she claims to be unchanged by the flossy life. But is she really still Stacy from the block? “I’m from a cul-de-sac, okay?” she snaps with mock-attitude. “I definitely am still that girl who gets home and goes straight to Jack in the Box or Taco Bell right after I land at the airport. And I’m still that girl who likes to go home and watch Everybody Loves Raymond with my mom. That’s what I enjoy.”
Even so, Fergie concedes that extra cash is cute, especially when you’ve got a sassy satchel in which to stuff it. “I’m not going on the huge shopping sprees that you see some of these girls go on, but I’m starting to actually buy things, and it feels kind of naughty,” she says, listing recent splurges such as a Fendi B. bag, a Valentino purse and “a big Burberry bag with a big ol’ chain on it.” She reasons, “I was collecting unemployment when I joined Black Eyed Peas, so I really appreciate the worth of things. I have a room full of clothes at my mom’s that I don’t know how to throw out because I still have that weird feeling that I’m not going to get anymore.”
Having crossed that “London Bridge” over troubled waters, her wardrobe shouldn’t wane anytime soon. Music career aside, the budding actress, who studied theater as a creative outlet during her stifling Wild Orchid days, will follow her high-profile part as an ill-fated chanteuse in Poseidon with a role in the Robert Rodriguez-directed zombie half of next year’s Grind House. “I want to earn my place in that world,” she says, “so small roles are key for me right now.”
In the meantime, at least until the end of the year when the Peas take a break from touring after four years on the road, she’ll continue shaking her humps with the pod squad. “We’re not breaking up! We say it at every show because it’s always the question."
After all, what would the Peas be without Fergie? After a long, pensive pause she suggests, "Well, I definitely think it would be a different color." Certainly not one in such a Fergalicious shade of fierce.
HX, September 2006.