Singer Mariah Carey has spoken about her long-standing admiration of Marilyn in a revealing interview with Out magazine.
“Her first, and most enduring influence was Marilyn Monroe, and you don’t need to spend long in her company to see that the identification runs deep. When I note the dazzling butterfly ring on her finger, she extends her hand theatrically, like a caricature of Monroe’s Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. ‘This is Van Cleef and it’s missing a diamond, and it is shocking,’ she says, faux dramatically, before riffing, ‘shock and awe, shock and awe—I’m very upset now, Aaron, I gotta tell you.’ She pretends to fling her ring across the room, before anticipating how this might read in print: ‘It’s missing a diamond, She tosses it on a couch.‘ Another bubble of laughter. ‘There, I did it, so now you can say I did it.’
Carey traces her obsession with Marilyn Monroe back to her childhood, when she received a copy of Norman Mailer’s hefty biography of the actress as a Christmas gift. ‘I couldn’t have been more than 10,’ she says. ‘I was a reader as a child, believe it or not.’
‘Why should I not believe it?’
‘It doesn’t go with the ditzy image, I guess. I have too many highlights!’ She breaks into laughter, and I ask if that image—of the ditz—frustrates her. ‘No,’ she replies. ‘I flirt with it, and I play with it. If it pisses people off, whatever.’
‘Marilyn Monroe was pretty smart,’ I point out.
‘Marilyn was reading Nietzsche on the set of Something’s Got to Give,’ she responds. ‘Marilyn Monroe Productions was the first female-owned production company in Hollywood. She paved the way for women in Hollywood, and every single woman owes something to her for that, whether they agree with her image or not.’ [Actually, Marilyn was preceded by a few other women, including Rita Hayworth – but she still qualifies as an early pioneer.]
It’s tempting to hazard that some of Carey’s struggles, in her personal life and within the entertainment industry, parallel her idol. With both women their public persona served as a disguise for a much more thorough grasp of their circumstances than either is given credit far. Like Monroe, Carey has also experienced the ways in which the entertainment industry tries to control women…Her explanation for wanting to purchase Marilyn Monroe’s baby grand piano at auction in 1999 is instructive. ‘It was her only piece of the childhood she’d never had,’ she says. ‘It was very important for her to find something to cling to.'”