[I found a cache of articles that I had written that don’t exist online anymore, so I need to put them somewhere so they’re going here for now. I feel like a screenwriter with no produced screenplays lately. And yep, I got to go to the mall with Brooke Hogan and it was weird, in an American way.]
As the headlining pop star on a mall tour, deciding to shop around the very mall where you’re due to perform later can be a complicated proposition.
On this Sunday in July, 19-year-old “Hogan Knows Best” star and potential pop princess Brooke Hogan is set to headline the Simon DTour Live! Concert at the Emerald Square Mall in North Attleborough. For most of the day, Hogan eats pizza with her dancers and manages a series of meet ‘n’ greets with her young fanbase and interviewers.
Her mother, Linda, familiar to any fans of VH1’s Hogan-family reality show, stands imperiously in a corner, all blond hair, leopard print, and sky-high clear Lucite heels. The possibility of Hogan’s perusing a store requires negotiation with Linda, Hogan’s handlers, and the mall security guard.
Their decision: While shopping, Hogan can pose for pictures with her fans, but no autographs, please.
Hogan is hoping to cruise either the Forever 21 or Rave shops, but before she gets there, like a magpie, she’s drawn into junior retailer DEB.
“Cute!” she squeals, inspecting the shiny hot-pink heels on display. At 5'11", Hogan cuts an imposing figure, and she has the same cleft chin as her famous father, wrestling legend Hulk Hogan. For the teenager, fame and music has been wrapped together with her TV show. “The show hits all demos,” Hogan says, tapping on her Coke with manicured black nails, Fendi bag on her shoulder. “The show has good role models for kids.”
The store doesn’t have the pink heels in her size, and Hogan makes her way to the jewelry. Many of Hogan’s fashion choices are for the sake of performing, she explains, while fingering handfuls of shiny bangles: “They look like diamond bracelets from afar … Good for show.”
Hopped up on caffeine, Hogan flutters back to the shoes, muttering “10, 10, 10” as she browses the too-small offerings. “I’m a 12 ½,” she says. “My feet are, like, spreading by the minute.”
Hogan loves wearing heels, which she feels look best with “pants that are really long, or skirts that are really short.” She grabs a pair of white heels to give to her mom. “You know how hard it is to be a woman and have shoes that don’t fit?” she laments.
Besides her duties as a pop star, Hogan is beginning work on a clothing line. “We’re in the baby stages,” she says while inspecting a flashy prom dress, paying careful attention to its rhinestone and sequin detail. She adds, “I never wear pink, because I feel like a giant Barbie Doll.” When it comes to fashion, Hogan says, “I don’t exactly stick to one trend. I like to wear stuff that makes an impact.”
Teenage girls and 'tweens interrupt Hogan and ask for a photo; she happily complies. After a talk with her fans, Hogan brings her armful of goods up to the cashier, throwing a large Tweety Bird lollipop on the pile. “I’m going to get this for my dancer, to come onstage with for the song 'Tasty’,” she says. After a sweep through the store, Hogan’s jewelry, shoes, and apparel come to about $150. “I’m in a daze. You ever get in that stage where you’re just staring?” she asks, the shop-girls nodding in agreement. Then they ask for a picture with her.
Going through her purchases, Hogan points out her armfuls of bangles – a gift for her best friend, even though her pal sticks to jewelry by Jacob the Jeweler, nee Jacob Arabo, the famed hip-hop “bling king.” Hogan, on the other hand, likes “the cheap stuff.” She recounts her last visit to Jacob’s, where she did buy something – a watch – and starts to describe the diamonds on the timepiece as she exits DEB, but is distracted by the troop of teenage girls posing as mannequins in the store window. “Do you really do that?” says Hogan to the girls. 'Are you serious?“
The girls are in sparkly dresses, standing like Edgar Degas’s "Little Dancer of Fourteen Years” – one leg pointed forward, hands behind their backs – trying not to break their poses.
“I’ve never seen that before! That’s really crazy, too!” bubbles Hogan, standing outside the window and gesturing at the girls.
She breaks the spell: Flattered by the pop star’s attentions, the “mannequins” are now smiling and giggling as they try to hold their positions, keeping one leg pointed forward.
Originally published in The Boston Globe on Thursday, August 6, 2007.