Dua Lipa doesn’t have a cold, exactly.
The gold standard of celebrity profiles is “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” by Gay Talese, published in Esquire back in April 1966, when Sinatra was arguably the most powerful celebrity in America. Unlike other celebrities at the time, he didn’t need the publicity; he didn’t need to be in a magazine. Sinatra created and sold his own narrative, and so he refused to speak with Talese.
What made the profile so impressive is that, apparently, Talese didn’t need to talk to him, either. “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” is an account of Talese trailing Ol’ Blue Eyes, studying him and the constellation of stars, strivers and crooks in his orbit. No matter how often young journalists without access try to cop the premise, or how often they reference and riff on the groundbreaking feature, it only really worked when Talese did it. It turns out you need a Frank Sinatra in 1966 to pull it off.
Dua Lipa is not Frank Sinatra in 1966. And, strictly speaking, she doesn’t have a cold, either. She has strep throat. And it’s ruining her day. Just like Sinatra’s cold ruined his.
Actually, it’s ruining a lot of people’s day, including all her fans in Montreal, who won’t be able to see her in concert tonight. She was supposed to fly there after this photo shoot in Toronto, but that isn’t happening anymore. Maybe more than the strep symptoms, having to cancel her show is what’s really bringing her down. When I arrive at the studio in the afternoon, it feels like I’m walking into a funeral. The air is charged with the silence that erupts after someone unintentionally says something too real. Lipa is leaning against a random automobile. The pose could almost be mistaken for sultry, but when you look closer, you realize she’s leaning against the car for support.
Lipa looks like she might cry. I’m not Talese, but I bet even he’d have trouble profiling a pop star who’s too sick to stay vertical. Sinatra only had a cold; Lipa is thousands of kilometres from her home, with an infection in her throat that’s preventing her from doing the thing that gives this whole ordeal meaning. Without a voice, she has no purpose here. Her identity is broken. That’s not a fun situation.
Lipa looked a lot better last night.