NEW YORK — That doggone New York traffic. Even though the Virgin Megastore is directly across from MTV’s Times Square offices, where Marques Houston appeared on “TRL” on Tuesday, it took him a whole 10 minutes just to get to his afternoon autograph signing/ performance.
It didn’t seem like his fans minded, though: MH was about to let them touch his chiseled abs and see some flesh in celebration of the release of his new album, Naked.
“It’s showtime. I’m nervous,” Houston said as he stood shielded by a curtain from the gaggle of fans waiting to get close to him. “I don’t know what to expect. We’re doing the show before the in-store. I hope the crowd loves what I do. I hope I don’t mess up none of my dance moves. But if I do, I can always spin out, so it’s all good.”
While performing hits like “Pop That Bootie,” “Clubbin’ ” and “All Because of You,” MH’s bread-and-butter move wasn’t some fancy choreography out of Michael Jackson’s playbook, it was a nod to the immortal Hulk Hogan: ripping off a perfectly good, white tank top and tossing the shreds to the ladies. You want to see friends turn into instant foes? Try getting them to pry their acrylic nails off one of Houston’s torn tees.
If all that commotion was caused by a shirt, what do you think happened when Marques threw his pants out to the crowd? Nothing — he teased them by unbuttoning his trunks and pulling them down just a little bit. In the new video for the album’s title track, however, MH leaves very little to the imagination, stripping down completely. If you’re reminded of D’Angelo in “Untitled,” prepare yourself for even more action, he says.
“It’s a little bit more edgy than D’Angelo,” he smiled, explaining the video backstage before the performance. “Because it’s not just me; I have a beautiful young lady in the video. It’s really edgy. I don’t think TV wants to play this version, so we have to do a special edit for TV.”
The California native said no special effects or tricks were used for the video; he took everything off.
“I was all the way naked. The only thing I had on me was a red towel to cover myself between shots,” he insisted. “I didn’t have no pants, no underwear, nothing. I was completely ass-naked. At first I was a little uncomfortable. I’m not used to doing that. The only time I get naked is when I’m about to get down, or when I’m in the privacy of my own room, taking a bath or shower or something.”
For his female lead in the video, Houston chose someone close to him.
“She’s a beautiful young lady, I know her, she’s a friend of mine,” Houston said of his counterpart, whom he does not name. “I wanted somebody that I was comfortable being naked in front of and [who] would be naked in front of me. That level of comfort is very important when you’re doing a love scene. The chemistry is important.”
There’s no hidden message in “Naked”: Houston’s coming straight-up in the track.
” ‘Naked’ is basically what it sounds like,” the singer laughed. ” ‘Naked’ is getting to the point: ‘I can’t wait to see us naked doing our thing. I wanna see your panties hit the floor, let your body steal the show. Let’s get naked.’ ”
Houston says the album title, on the other hand, doesn’t really have anything to do with having sex; Naked just reflects the last three years of his life, since he went solo, and proves that he has nothing to hide.
Just how little Houston will wear onstage during the kiddie-centric “Scream IV” tour this summer is still not known (see “Bow Wow, Omarion Team Up For Single And Scream IV Tour” ), but the singer says he’ll be bringing something he never has before on the “Scream” tour: a live band.
“Naked” has not aired on any TV stations as of yet, but both the edited and explicit versions are available at Houston’s Web site, Marques-Houston.com.