The Making of V: Jacob Brown (VMAN 17)

The Making of V: Jacob Brown (VMAN 17)

Jacob Brown on Justin Bieber's early portraits

Jacob Brown on Justin Bieber's early portraits

Photography: Mark Abrahams

Styling: Yuki James

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To illustrate our V family values, we revisit some of our most scrapbook-worthy clips. Below, former V editor Jacob Brown talks about all things Bieber.

JACOB BROWN: In fall 2009, while working on VMAN 17, I’d read a story online about this pop star kid who’d been playing in malls around the country, causing huge rushes of people wherever he went. People had been getting injured… It sounded insane, so I looked up who the singer was, and it was this Canadian kid Justin Bieber. So I just called up the publicist at his label and booked a shoot, in that in-between moment when he wasn’t mainstream-mainstream. But between then and the shoot, he completely blew up. He had the VMAs right before the call time, so I was sweating, waiting to see if he would actually show up. He ended up almost canceling, I think because of the combination of him just skyrocketing between us booking him and the date of the shoot, his having to stop by in between the literal VMAs and the after-parties, and because it might’ve been seen as risqué for someone that young to be doing a [men’s fashion magazine] like VMAN—he was 14 or 15 at the time.

[On top of all that] he had a broken leg. But sure enough, the entourage rolled up with Justin and his broken leg in one of those big orthopedic boots. He comes in and he’s this tiny, tiny little kid, but is pretty bossy, and almost aggressively in control of his image. He picked out his own clothes from the rack and everything.

If he seemed a bit egotistical for a 14-year-old, it may have been for good reason: Rihanna had kissed him on the cheek on stage at the VMAs and he still had the pink lipstick [stain] [to prove it]. I don’t know what [shade] she was wearing; it was pre-Fenty of course. But it may have been one of those all-day-lasting lipsticks because I don’t think we had to do anything [to bring out the color]. But yeah, the lipstick kind of made it historic, I suppose.

I never saw him again, no, but I did interview him over the phone. I remember it didn’t go particularly well… His manager Scooter Braun was on the line, and he had to keep prodding him to answer the questions. I think he just wanted to go back to playing video games.

But in person, he was [fully in pop star mode]; Mark Abrahams had brought his young daughter, Grace, who was only a little kid at the time [and a huge fan]. [Even though it was] such a quick in-and-out shoot, Justin ended up posing for some pictures with Grace, which was super cute. Then he was whisked off to whatever VMA afterparty he was going to.


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