Jonathan always hated the way he looked on screen. It was something about his face. He looked like an idiot. Everyone said the camera added ten pounds. To Jon, it seemed more like it deducted about fifty IQ points.
Not that anyone else seemed to notice. Jon, along with his manager, publicist, and PA stared at the iPad screen in front of them as intently as if they were watching some groundbreaking achievement, like the moon landing. As they watched, the onscreen Jon stood up from his place at the piano and crossed the television studio to sit on Ellen Degeneres' couch.
The host leaned in close. The interview had only aired yesterday, but already this clip had three hundred thousand hits on Youtube. Jon didn't know whether he should feel flattered by that or not.
"Now, Jon." Ellen looked at him. "You know I have to ask you. The pictures." Ellen hadn't put them up in the studio, thank God, but everyone in the audience knew what she was talking about. Jon watched himself shift again on Ellen's couch, wiping his palms on his thighs. He'd been wearing leather pants, he remembered, and they'd constricted around his thighs as he sweated under the hot studio lights. They'd had to peel him out of them afterward. Definitely a wardrobe note to remember.
"Right. The pictures." Jon's voice sounded more confident than he'd felt. He was proud of that, both now and at the time. "Well, what can I say, Ellen? I like people." The audience responded with resounding applause. Jon's manager reached forward and tapped the iPad screen with one long, bright red fingernail. The clip stopped, freezing Jon's face with his eyes half-closed and his mouth half-open.
Jon looked up to see everyone around the table looking back at him.
"What?" Jon felt the nerves rising again. He wiped his hands on his pants. This time, he was wearing jeans.
"'I like people'?" His publicist, Keith, spoke first. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Jon felt a bristle of annoyance. "What does it sound like it means, Keith?"
"What Keith is trying to say," Jon's manager, Sheila, put in, smiling, "is that maybe it's something you might have wanted to discuss with us first?"
"The pictures were already out there, Sheila. Everyone knew about them." The photos of Jon kissing a guy in a hotel bar in Miami had shown up first on TMZ, and then everyone had jumped on them. It had been a stupid move, Jon couldn't deny it. He'd been tired and buzzed after a concert, the guy had been there, and Jon had let himself go for it. He hadn't expected to be caught by the paparazzi. He hadn't thought he was that famous. "Anyway, I just told her the truth."