By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
By Frank Owen
By Allie Conti
Instead Nathalie Moar, Puffy's senior publicist, charged forward. Within moments Moar and Rodriguez were in each other's faces, and while Rodriguez may have had a good twelve-inch height advantage, she proved little match for Moar's mouth. Later that afternoon, while Puffy signed autographs at the South Beach Spec's Music, Moar confronted a police officer she thought was taking a cavalier attitude toward Puffy's safety. Although the officer was literally triple her size, she stood on her tiptoes, rising to within an inch of his nose, and began upbraiding him.
Back at the museum Rodriguez temporarily retreated and Moar effortlessly switched to a more charming persona, ushering a succession of Latin-American TV crews into the spacious foyer and onto a couch next to Puffy. Every ten minutes a new interviewer would arrive, with Puffy offering up the same anecdotes, the same ingratiating jokes, the same amped-up plugs for The Saga Continues. Watching him perform was a reminder that whatever his label -- producer, cultural icon, violence-prone thug -- he remains a consummate businessman, the self-made CEO of a $300 million conglomerate. Puffy might insist on chalking up Bad Boy Entertainment's good fortune to God, but keen financial skills and sharp entrepreneurial instincts -- not just divine intervention -- have played some role in this story.
Nathalie Moar brought over an El Nuevo Heraldreporter, who refused to sit down. "I don't work like this," he huffed, motioning to the nearby presence of several museum staffers, security men, Puffy's publicity team, and Kulchur. When Moar declined to provide a private room for an interview, he stormed off.
Puffy, ever the obliging host, good-naturedly asked the folks around him: "If you're not the person doing the interview, maybe you could look the other way or go for a walk?"
Kulchur sat down next to him, and he added with mock gravitas: "I'm just trying to respect everybody's journalistic integrity."
You must be used to dealing with the press by now.
"No, I'm definitely notused to this," he grimaced, spotting something troubling. It was Channel 10's Marybel Rodriguez lurking in the background. Anticipating a 60 Minutes-style ambush, Puffy called out: "What you wanna ask, girl? Don't be asking no silly questions. Get your question right!"
"Are you talking to me?" Rodriguez hollered back from 40 feet away.
"Yeah, I see you!"
Quickly realizing that Moar had left the area, Rodriguez and her cameraman trotted up. "I just want a tease," she begged, just a short spot with Puffy plugging her broadcast.
Puffy let out a groan under his breath. "All right, let me do this real quick," he said to Kulchur, and in an instant turned his sparkle back on, smiling and clowning for the camera. Then he collapsed back on the couch and lay there supine, as if he'd just tapped the dregs of his inner battery.
"You can get a vibe from people," he said wearily. "There's writers I know are assholes as soon as I see them." He sat up with a wry smile, leaning toward Kulchur conspiratorially. "I knowyou're not going to be an asshole."
He regained his poise and continued: "I use the media when I want to promote stuff, just like any other celebrity. When I do great, groundbreaking things, the media applauds us. And then when we get our asses in trouble and we slip and fall, they gonna be there for that too." It's all part of the game, he shrugged. "If you're an entertainer, then you got to know there's papers that have to be sold, so there's going to be misinformation. You deal with it."
Some of that "misinformation" is chronicled by investigative reporter Gerald Posner in the current issue of Talk magazine, which reported that Puffy is the subject of an Internal Revenue Service probe into his charity for children, Daddy's House. A quick look at the Daddy's House tax return for 1997 (posted on thesmokinggun.com) reveals just what aroused the IRS's interest. Daddy's House pays Puffy a salary of $50,000, while celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, and author Stephen King draw no compensation from their own charitable foundations. Those celebs also declare spending only a couple of hours per week managing their philanthropies; Puffy's tax return claims the jet-setting rap impresario puts in a full-time 40-hour grind heading up Daddy's House.
Um, Puffy, there's an article inTalk magazine-
But no sooner had the word Talk been uttered than a hand came down firmly on Kulchur's shoulder. Nathalie Moar was back on the scene: "We're here to talk about the album, right?"