Qantas flight attendant confessions: When Owen Beddall met Katy Perry
In his 12 years as a first-class Qantas flight attendant, Owen Beddall gossiped in the galleys with a whole host of celebrities. Here, he recounts one session with Katy Perry.
I first met Katy Perry in 2008 when she was promoting her ‘I Kissed a Girl’ single but got to know her the following year in a much more personal way on a Bangkok to London flight.
She had been on her first romantic getaway with Russell Brand in Phuket. At that stage, no one knew about their relationship and none of the crew knew that they were going to be on board until they came down the aerobridge into first class for the 1am flight. They were seated in the back row of first class and I was quite shocked to see them behaving quite amorously together.
They were very casually dressed: Katy in a black and white leopard-skin print dress with black leggings and Russell in his usual grunge look of a T-shirt and loose black pants. They were easy passengers; they had something to eat and went to bed.
After my break I was standing around reading the flight attendant’s bible – OK! magazine – and Katy came up and I asked if I could get her anything. She said she was a bit bored and there was nothing on the in-flight entertainment she wanted to watch. The magazine I was reading happened to have a picture of her in it so I showed it to her and then she asked what magazine it was and we started chatting. I invited her to sit on the jump seat next to me.
‘Now, darl, what’s going on here?’ I could see that she was immediately apprehensive, thinking I was going to ask her questions about Russell. ‘I’ve just been reading that you made $45 million singing a song saying you kissed a girl and you liked it; well, I kissed a girl and I didn’t like it and I’m cooking you breakfast . . . so what the hell’s going on? There’s something wrong with this picture.’ It wasn’t actually a question but Katy started laughing uncontrollably – I’m funny but not that funny.
She told me that particular song wasn’t her original first choice but it was the one that had taken off internationally.
These days, downloads were the way recording artists could make money faster than through traditional album sales, which had a long lead-time for royalties and returning money to the record companies. She was well aware that people would remember her by the implication of the words, ‘I Kissed a Girl’ but she said she was a proud supporter of gay rights and didn’t mind.
She talked a bit about her family and how they originally disapproved of her lifestyle and music choices as they were deeply religious but she wanted to be her own person and she was really happy. She didn’t want to talk about the other celebrity girls she knew in the Hollywood set (trust me, I asked) although she did tell me her best friend was Rihanna (whom I said I admired and loved). She said the music business was incredibly interconnected and the best policy was not to talk about anyone as they were all just one degree of separation away from each other. While it might seem like a massive industry to the outside world, it was actually a small and incestuous business; everyone knew where everyone else was on the chequer board.
‘Most people are connected in some way, which is why many of them get opportunities they don’t deserve.’
We started talking about various money-making ideas; I said I just wanted the money, not the fame. She said she knew a really easy way I could make money. All ears I asked how, thinking she was going to impart some inside information.
‘Magazine covers! You can make a lot of money appearing on magazine covers. Sometimes you don’t even have to do an interview.’
‘Yes, darling, I’m ready for Anna Wintour but is she ready for me – all 110 kilos of me?’
She laughed; she was still very innocent, not the experienced performer she is now – and quite unaware of how funny her suggestion was.
Above: Owen Beddall with Katy Perry and Russell Brand. Photos: Supplied
Russell woke up and came out. He talked about a movie he was doing. He was completely the opposite to his TValter ego; he was charming and educated and I was quite surprised. When I enquired about his holiday in Thailand, he spoke intelligently of the geography and culture. He was a vegan and keen on spirituality and came across as having a very kind and gentle disposition. I could tell Russell was smitten by Katy and quite protective of her but not in awe.
He seemed to be genuinely interested in whatever I said and when I made little jokes he laughed – even at the ones slightly at Katy’s expense.
Interestingly, while we were chatting he said he was ‘in’ on the whole joke of celebrity. If you were known for being successful at something, you just worked at perfecting whatever it was. It occurred to me that it was a bit silly that his public image was to act the goose when in reality he was so much more, although I didn’t tell him that; I just said, ‘If you’re onto a good thing, stick with it.’
I asked Katy how long she was going to be in the UK.
‘Oh no, I’m not going to the UK – I’m going to London,England.’
And you’re worth $50 million, I thought. I looked at Russell and he smiled at me.
We were landing at 6am and I told them it was time for me to start cooking their eggs. One of the other crew came up and said he’d do the breakfast.
‘No, I’m doing breakfast. Katy’s mine,’ I said.
‘But you’ve had her all night,’ he complained.
I turned to Katy: ‘You choose; do you want to be served by the straights or the gays?’
‘Always the gays,’ she said sweetly, looking at me.
I asked if I could have my photo taken with them both; Katy said she had no problem with this just so long as I was discreet. I promised not to go off selling them to the magazines and we had some photos taken together.
Several days later Katy and Russell’s relationship became public and everyone wanted photos of them.
I thought I could have sold those photos after all; but at least I’d had some private time with them and was happy to respect Katy’s wish not to sell them. Though their secret getaway to Thailand did not stay a secret, I kept my end of the deal.
From Confessions of a Qantas Flight Attendant by Owen Beddall. Reprinted by permission of Random House Australia. All Rights Reserved.
RRP $34.99 by Ebury. Available now from booksellers, online retailers and as an eBook. For more details visit randomhouse.com.au