Katy Perry has been churning out hits ever since her debut single, “I Kissed a Girl,” reached the No. 1 Billboard spot in 2008. Back then, she was known for defying her Evangelical roots to champion LGBTQ+ rights and squirt whipped cream out of her boobs; now 37 (she turns 38 tomorrow), she’s a multiplatinum artist and performing more than ever. She’s CEO of her eponymous shoe line, co-founder of nonalcoholic-drink company De Soi, and mom to Daisy, her 2-year-old with Orlando Bloom.
Growing up hasn’t changed Perry’s campy sense of humor, though. Her monthslong Las Vegas residency, Play, features a wild set that includes a giant toilet (complete with dancing plunger and, yes, a human-size turd), made even more trippy by immersive surround-sound technology from L-Acoustics. The show’s run has been extended multiple times and resumed this month ahead of Perry’s next season (her sixth) as a judge on American Idol.
While in the car on her way to therapy, Perry told us about handling political topics with her conservative family members, spending time with her daughter, and managing bouts of anxiety and depression. Here’s how she gets it done.
On her morning routine:
No matter where I am, I do the same gratitude affirmation every morning when I first wake up. I say, “Thank you, God, for today. I am grateful in every way.” And I drink a full glass of water before I go to my coffee.
I’m not as self-controlled as I would hope to be — or want to be in the future. But I am consistent about transcendental meditation, or TM, which has changed my life profoundly. It’s a 20-minute meditation, and you can learn it at any of the TM centers all over the country. I learned it 14 or 15 years ago, and it gave me more of a compass, more of an anchor. I can be too head-in-the-clouds, thinking too much about the future, and it helps me be more present. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety in my life, and TM is a huge tool. I try to meditate in the morning if I didn’t get enough sleep or if my sleep was like an Imax movie — which, most of the time, it is. I use it for jet lag, hangovers, creativity. Sometimes, I just slip away for 20 minutes in the middle of the day. I’ll be like, “I’ll be right back. I’m in a foul mood, and I’m going to come back soon in a better one.”
Then I do some working out. I love hot yoga. I don’t do it every day, because I have a child and want to spend every extra moment I have with her. Sometimes I’ll have the whole day to be with her, but then sometimes I’ll only have a couple hours. It just depends on what I’m doing. Right now, I am doing the Vegas residency on and off, and I’m about to start the sixth season of American Idol — and all the other things in between. It’s a blur. I always say, “I’m going to eat this elephant one bite at a time.” It’s manageable when you have a great team and you can communicate and rely on your emotional tools. Right now, I’m literally in the car headed to therapy.
On the people who keep her life running:
Ngoc Hoang, my manager, is the glue that holds everyone together on my team. She’s No. 1. She’s a superwoman, and she is a logistical powerhouse. She reminds me that there’s always going to be a solution or an opportunity for growth or something positive that can come from whatever curveball is thrown at you. Tamra Natisin, my assistant, who’s driving me to my appointment right now, is definitely No. 2 on the call sheet. She is a very centered, beautiful human who’s been with me for about 13 years. Then my sister keeps me in line. She is a straight shooter. She’s a family-first woman, and she’s not swayed by the shimmering lights. She is the redwood of the family. She helps run my foundation, the Firework Foundation, which helps kids from underserved communities get access to the arts, and we do two kids camps a year. She’s always reminding me of the real point of it all.
So those are my top three. And my mom. My mom is just love. My mom is love, and my mom loves pickleball. For years, I fought her on it. I said, “If you say ‘pickleball’ one more time, you’re going to turn into a pickleball,” because that’s all she talked about. Then I started playing, and now I can’t stop either.
On being close to her family despite political differences:
It has gotten more challenging over the past few years, because everything has become more divisive and extreme. I’m the family Gumby with my arms being pulled right and left. My family is divided between two different political parties, so it’s not easy and I get very tired. But I still try to have healthy discourse, because if I can hear them, then maybe they can hear me. I just think that your family relationships are the core — the root of everything emotionally and developmentally for the rest of your life. And healing them is where you heal yourself. Then you can help in your community. Because if things aren’t right in your home, how can you walk the walk? Of course, there are dynamics in other families where you do have to cut people off and that’s the healthiest thing to do. But for me, it’s important to try and be the peacekeeper.
On setting boundaries:
I stopped Googling myself a long time ago, and I don’t read comments. So if I’m on social media, I post and ghost. I am not going to open the door and invite the whole world to comment about how they think I should live my life. I have a good trusted-friend group, I’ve got a therapist, and we’ve got a couple’s therapist, which is really helpful. So I’m very particular about letting other people’s energies in.
On winding down:
I really try not to stay up past 10 p.m. anymore, because I know my baby is going to be up at 6 a.m. Whether I put her to bed at seven, eight, or nine, come 6 a.m., she’s up. So I have to count the hours backward from that. The clock is ticking.
On getting recognized while out with her daughter:
We do a lot of mommy-and-me classes. This morning, I was with her at a ballet class, and this woman goes, “Oh my God, you look so much like Katy Perry.” And I was like, “Hi, nice to meet you. I care about my kid and take her to classes.” I’ve become a member at all the museums — we go to the zoo, the Natural History Museum, the kids’ museum. That’s my new club.
On her Vegas residency, Play:
I wanted to do a show that could only be seen in one place, this state-of-the-art theater in Vegas. And that gave me more advantages than I’ve ever had before in terms of what I could create. I got to use new technology and different props that I wouldn’t be able to take on a tour. You couldn’t ship a 20-foot toilet on a bus or a ship or a plane.
The show was inspired by a couple of movies that I rewatched with my nieces. During quarantine, we did outdoor movie nights with my family, and we would staple up a sheet and project movies and TV shows and take turns picking what to watch. I picked Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Pee-wee’s Playhouse. That got me thinking about larger-than-life objects and inanimate objects coming to life. I always love playing. I love that my show makes people happy, joyful, and nostalgic, and it is kind of a trip. You feel like you’re on mushrooms when you see it. A lot of people are like, “Next time, I’m going to microdose.” And I’m like, “You don’t even need to, but you do you.”
On taking time for herself:
I love hurt-you-so-good massages, where you’re in pain for two days afterward. I do intense physical therapy after shows. The way I treat myself is just getting alone time, which is rare when you have young children and a career. Sometimes, I’ll go for a drive. I also love to ride my bicycle. Even when I’m doing tours all over the world, a lot of times, the way I get to the venue is by riding a bike. The best way to see a city is on a bicycle. All your senses come alive. You’re smelling, you’re hearing, you can stop at any point. I like to grab a coffee and an empanada and just drink my coffee and eat my empanada while I’m on my bike. People do recognize me, but by the time they’re like, “Is that …? Was that …?” I’m already gone.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.