High-Maintenance Superestrella

Paulina Rubio lives for the spotlight. Getting there, though, is a bit uneasier.

"Do you have a cigarette?" she asks the camera guys.

No one does.

Finally, a cart rolls in with a mound of crudités. Matchsticks of squash and carrots and cukes.

"You don't smoke, do you?" Paulina Rubio makes it to showtime -- barely.
"You don't smoke, do you?" Paulina Rubio makes it to showtime -- barely.


Scheduled to perform with Enrique Iglesias on Friday, October 18. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Cricket Pavilion

Paulina looks at her watch. 4 p.m.

"Dinner's at 7:30," she says, frowning. "I'll just pick at a little something in the meantime."

But then the Pepsi Charts producer breezes in, blond, trim and handsome.

"You weren't waiting for me, were you?" he asks. "What happened to the other interviews?"

"Yes, we were," Paulina says, flirting. "We were all waiting for you."

"A touch-up," her publicist tells her, "then the television, then two phone interviews, then you're done."

"Maybe my hair should be bigger," she worries.

She doesn't have to worry about what she will say. About her music: "The most important thing for me is to fuse different styles. To mix hip-hop with ranchera, urban sounds with your roots." About her lyrics: "I will give them Paulina exactly the way she is. I'm not going to change. All I did was switch the message to English. Love is the same in every language. You don't risk your essence. You still keep your taquitos and your picante."

The next night, at the Pepsi Charts taping, Paulina's prerecorded voice fills the club, but she is not onstage. The band gamely matches its movements to the sounds, while a teenage DJ makes a big show of back-spinning vinyl on a turntable. A trio of dancers rises from the floor to execute tight pirouettes, rapid-fire falls, and swings. One crew member taps the microphone Paulina will use to sing over the track, while another arranges fans waiting to fawn on camera.

Finally, Paulina joins the dancers in a crouch center stage, waiting for the track to roll again. Her hair falls in delicate tresses. Her skin is baby-smooth. She has a model's ease of expression. She is almost always in some stage of undress: her shirt falling softly off her shoulder, her shorts riding down her hip. Onstage tonight, her brow is knit into a furrow of concern and her energy is wild.

She's ditched the retro Golden Girl look in favor of a soft-pink tank top and a pair of brown suede shorts. She keeps dancing in between takes, slinking toward the audience with the lope of a hungry feline. While the crew fiddles with some technical snafu, her publicist Bonilla dabs at her forehead with a tissue. A stylist rushes onstage with a comb. Paulina's hair is as big as hair gets.

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