ESQ: It was a pretty fascinating scene. Bodyguards, dancers, dozens of people who looked liked they had nothing to do. I saw Jay-Z duck into your dressing room.
RIHANNA: I was walking out as he walked in. He was like, "Yo!" I had my tea in one hand and my drink in the next.
ESQ: You drink them at the same time?
RIHANNA: One is tea and one is a shot. I usually like dark liquor — brandy or whiskey — but it's very high in sugar-content and I have some photo shoots coming up, so I had to switch it up to vodka.
ESQ: Do you live on your bus during a tour?
RIHANNA: I hate going to hotels when I'm on tour. I like to stay on the bus. I can sleep, I can shower, I can just pull up right to the venue everyday. I work out. I have a trainer. So, she trains me wherever, whenever. Touring messes with my metabolism, so I have to get tight.
ESQ: What do you eat on tour?
RIHANNA: I'm very stubborn when it comes to food. I don't like to try new things. When I came to America, there were so many different cultures and tastes. I haven't acquired a taste for a lot of things. Like, calamari? Jay-Z had to make me eat it. We have this thing called Taste Test Tuesdays or New Flavor Fridays or Substitute Saturdays.
ESQ: What happens in your dressing room before a show?
RIHANNA: I eat lozenges, steam my voice, do my makeup. I Skype my vocal coach and we sit there at the makeup table and do warm-ups for about a half-hour. Then, Jen, my personal assistant slash bartender, brings me a shot that she dilutes with a little something so it's not so harsh, like orange juice or soda water and lime.
ESQ: Why do you have the shot?
RIHANNA: I have to have it. I take it very seriously, so there is a level of anxiety, always. I overthink everything when it comes to my job. The drink calms my nerves. I sip it while I watch the opening act from my dressing room. Sometimes I go out into the audience. I put on a really big hoodie and sneak out there.
ESQ: What happens right before you go on?
RIHANNA: I say "House" and the lights go off. My head is down the entire time. I'm hearing the music and I know I only have like twelve seconds left to get into the cage, drink my water, finish the liquor, check my mic. Then I have like three seconds where I get to pray, again, for myself, and for the audience. I always pray for the crowd.
RIHANNA: Anything you want to know about what happens onstage?
ESQ: When you pull the guy out of the audience to do the lapdance routine, do you know who it's going to be be?
RIHANNA: It's never pre-planned.
ESQ: Who's the best candidate?
RIHANNA: The way I pick the person is, whoever I feel doesn't take themselves too seriously, or who I think would be majorly embarrassed about it. Like these old men... it's hilarious. At first, it was just going to be girls. And then one night, I brought up a gay guy, and then I started bringing up straight guys. Then I started bringing up older straight men. Did you see the one who was getting way too comfortable?...He was getting excited....We have pictures.And about how she now feels about her ex Chris Brown:
It's incredible to see how he pulled out of it the way he did. Even when the world seemed like it was against him, you know? I really like the music he's putting out. I'm a fan of his stuff. I've always been a fan. Obviously, I had some resentment toward him for a while, for obvious reasons. But I've put that behind me. It was taking up too much of my time. It was too much anger. I'm really excited to see the breakthrough he's had in his career. I would never wish anything horrible for him. Never. I never have.
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Photographs + Video by Russell James