Doja Cat has always been funky-experimental; consider that the very first time we featured her on the site, she wore cat ears and feathers on wires. That part is nothing new. But there was a lightness to it, for lack of a better word — it’s a literal lightness; she loved pink — and she’s definitely walking on the darker side now. This cover straddles the line a bit; she’s not as unrecognizable as she is when she’s in red body paint and Swarovski crystals, but she’s still not exactly as she was when she first rose to fame. You believe it’s her, you probably knew it before you read the cover, but it’s different enough that it gets the point across that she’s ever-evolving.

Her manager calls her a boundary-pushing Madonna or Lady Gaga for a new era, and I bristled until I realized Lady Gaga’s first album came out in 2008, 15 whole ass years ago, and she has cooled off from being all-caps LADY GAGA. So maybe there IS a new era. Anyway, Doja talked to Variety about a whole lot of things — her musical shifts, her image, her trolls — and the resulting interview feels freewheeling and weird and un-media-trained in a way that makes for grabby sound bites, but probably also makes a seasoned PR person’s blood run cold. (The words “suck my dick from the back” are deployed.) They jump topics a lot, and in the middle of a long quote from Doja, the author pauses to note that she looks like she’s sitting in a basement surrounded by pillows and filing cabinets. I kept waiting for that particular Chekhov’s gun to go off and it never did. There’s also a bit where someone on her team acts like perhaps they invented the notion of a woman being funny and sexy at the same time. Ultimately, I think this piece sums things up very well, particularly the very first sentence:

One of the key parts of Doja’s appeal is mixing a sense of precision with the appearance that she’s just enough of a live wire that anything could happen. “There’s an art to being a loose cannon,” she says. “Because you can be a true loose cannon, or you can be a fucking fake loose cannon, which I feel like sometimes I am. I still am very self-aware — like, I can’t have a couple drinks without still thinking about how I look and what I’m doing. I still make a fool of myself. But at least I know what I said.”

[Photo: Greg Swales for Variety]
Tags: Variety