Kesha Sebert, who's better-known as the pop singer/songwriter Ke$ha, has nothing to hide.
She has a dollar sign tattooed on her hand, inked over a spot of skin where she licks salt before slaming tequila shots. She was once trapped in an elevator that she says went haywire after she provoked a "ghost". She rambles about the psychic power of narwhales-"the unicorn of the sea"-and asks if it's OK to use the ladies room during a phone interview.
"I think people can stand to take themselves just a little less seriously," she says. "I'm fighting the war against pretension." Ke$ha's spontaneity is part of her charm. The artist's debut single, "TiK ToK", an electro-pop song inspired by a night of epic partying and featuring a Diddy camero, is No. 3 in its eighth week on the Billboard Hot 100. The song already peaked at No. 2 on Hot Digital Songs and has sold 875,000 downloads in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Before her recent success, the 22-year-old Los Angeles native was subsisting on free tacos and, at one point, living out of a gold 1987 Gold Trans Am. She scored a break earlier this year as a featured artist on Flo Rida's No. 1 Hot 100 hit "Right Round," which inspired the dollar sign tattoo. "I got it because I was being ironic. I didn't make any money off the Flo Rida song. No one knew it was me," Ke$ha says nonchalantly. "I'm money-I don't need money"
Ke$ha signed a deal with RCA Records shortly after "Righ Round" topped the Hot 100 , and she's now prepping her debut album for an early 2010 release. Tentatively titled "Animal," the set features production from Dr. Luke as well as colaborations with Max Martin and Benny Blanco.
Ke$ha is currently touring, backed by a DJ, bassist and keytar player and armed with a cannon as a stage prop. Though she says she could "party in a cardboard box," the singer boasts that her live shows is a "sensory assualt" of sweat, beer and glitter. If Ke$ha is serious about anything, it's self-motivation. Case in point: She once snuck into Prince's house to ask him to produce her album. "If you visualize what you want and go for it and you work your ass off," she says, "you can realize your own realities." -Sandy Gordon