By Luke Burke
I have been a fan of Janet Jackson since I was about 5 years old. I have attended every tour since Rhythm Nation, and I own every album she has released. When the opportunity presented itself to cover the Janet Jackson Rock Witchu Tour concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles last night, I quickly recruited myself.
(See video of Janet Jackson performing "Pleasure Principle" after the jump.)
At the show, I bought the Janet Rock Witchu Tour booklet, which recounts a day in Janet's life on tour through photos and a schedule. For the sake of comparison, here's a little rundown of her day (per the book) and my own, leading up to the amazing moment when the two coincide:
9:30 a.m.: Janet wakes up and snuggles with her dog, who appears to be a puppy. He is a boxer.
Meanwhile ... My flight from New York left this morning at 6:00 a.m., and I am just landing in Los Angeles. I immediately turn my Blackberry on to a host of e-mails from Janet's management and our team in the East Coast office, regarding our coverage of the tour.
10:00: Janet smiles as she is served coffee in bed.
Meanwhile ... I am at the Hertz counter getting my rental vehicle while juggling phone calls and e-mails on my Blackberry. I speak with Yasmine Richards, the producer of this piece, and we set up a lunch meeting.
12:00 p.m.: Janet has a meal prepared for her by her chef and staff. Still lounging in her all-white pajamas and a long, elegant white robe, she joins a couple of business associates in a sitting area, and they go over sketches and look at product samples of her new lingerie line.
Meanwhile ... Yasmine and I meet at Grande Lux for lunch and discuss the plan for the evening's coverage.
1:00: Janet stands in front of a mirror in a large, luxurious closet and holds an elegant necklace to her neck. She has a unique centerpiece on her dresser that she also uses as a jewelry holder. It's a Best Choreography in a Video Moonman for "Rhythm Nation."
Meanwhile ... I'm headed down the palm-tree lined streets of L.A. to my hotel, when Gil Duldulao (Janet's friend and choreographer) pulls up next to me at a stop light in a black Mercedes Benz, texting on his Blackberry.
3:30: Janet arrives at the concert venue, dressed casually but, in true superstar form, wearing a hat low on her forehead and her large dark sunglasses that cover most her gorgeous face. She flashes her iconic smile and waves to the fans who have been waiting at the door for her arrival and are now snapping pictures with their cameras and cell phones.
Meanwhile ... I make phone calls and respond to e-mails in my hotel room in preparation for tonight's concert coverage.
6:30: After her hair and makeup prep, stretches and a warm-up, Janet joins the band for sound check.
Meanwhile ... Yasmine and field producer James Lacsina arrive at the Staples Center for media check-in.
7:00: Janet does a vocal warm-up backstage.
Meanwhile ... Doors open to the public, and our crew is escorted through the press gate. I head to gate M4, where guests with a meet-and-greet pass are instructed to gather. It appears that most of the other guests there are business associates, sponsors and friends of Janet.
8:00: Janet begins her meet-and-greet.
Meanwhile ... A man who says he works for Janet escorts us backstage. We can hear the crowd go wild as LL Cool J begins to open the show. As we approach two dark curtains, Jimmy Jam (Janet's longtime producer and friend) emerges from behind them after visiting Janet. It is now evident to me that I will be meeting Janet shortly, and my nerves hit an all-time high. I have been around Janet several times before (one of the perks of working at MTV), but I have never spoken to her, because I didn't feel it was ever appropriate. My time has come.
8:15: Janet and I meet! Our encounter with Janet is brief but absolutely memorable. I'm wearing a neck chain that has two rhinestone-encrusted handcuffs that dangle below my chest, and Janet immediately reaches for them and holds them in her hands. "I like these," she says as she looks at me with her big eyes and a smile. I smile back at Janet and tell her that I wore them especially for her because of the song "Discipline," which would later be performed at the concert. We pose for a picture, and I tell her it was a pleasure to meet her. Just as soon as it came, my meeting with Janet is over.
As I find my seat in section 115, I'm among a host of Janet's family and friends, including her brother Jermaine and sister LaToya. Former Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams and rap legend MC Lyte are inches away from me, as we all patiently wait for the show to begin.
9:00: The arena goes dark, and the nearly sold-out crowd erupts to the sounds of Janet's voice as it fills the room. The L shaped runway stage lights up, and Janet comes out from between two large letter J's center stage. In a futuristic costume, complete with a cape, she performs her hit "Pleasure Principle," solo. It's not until she performs her second song, "Control," that 13 dancers join her, emerging from underground in various positions around the massive stage. For two hours, they perform nearly 40 hits spanning this pop icon's career, complete with theatrics, costume changes and a few surprises.
But I won't divulge too much (you can check out the clip below for a sneak peek!), but if you want to Rock With Janet, you have to come see this show yourself. Janet never disappoints, and the Rock Witchu Tour is testament that after over 20 years in the industry, she's still got it!