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Houston Sets The Record Straight hide



NEW YORK - We'll start by saying that Whitney Houston looks terrific, and she's not fat, OK? She is a strider, not an ambler, and she walks with a purpose into the formally furnished conference room in Manhattan, where she ended her triumphant Radio City Music Hall stand last week.

She might whoosh, trailing silks and stoles, were she Aretha, or sashay, atop do-me-now pumps and appliqued hose, were she Patti. But she is Whitney, the youngest of the pop divas, and she powers in on clunky black ankle boots, black socks, a khaki-gold heavy twill safari suit and long-sleeved black turtleneck.

An hour-and-a-half later, she is standing in front of nearly 6,000 adoring, screaming fans in Radio City. New Jack has given way to black velvet and a very fitted, floor-length shimmering gold skirt. The bangs have been curled. She strikes a pose of gratitude, the crowd roars, and she gives a graceful wave worthy of a princess touring the kingdom in the open-air Rolls.

Houston turns 30 on Monday.

In the past year, she has: Set tongues wagging with her marriage to Bobby Brown, had critics pan her starring role in "The Bodyguard;" exacted her revenge at the box office; seen the movie soundtrack hang on the charts for 35 weeks and sell over 8 million copies; borne Brown his fourth child (he has three out of wedlock) and resumed tour only four months' post-partum, with a disastrous opening night in Miami.

And, according to media gossips, she has flown to Europe to keep an eye on Bobby during his tour, leaving daughter Bobbi Kristina behind; flown to Puerto Rico for a tearful reconciliation with Bobby, dragging along the baby, who had an ear infection (this complete with pictures of a flabby Whitney!) and, finally, has been hospitalized for overdosing on diet pills that she downed in a desperation to lose her pregnancy weight.

"I really don't place too much time into what tabloids say or they don't say, who likes me and who doesn't like me," she reflects. "You start to feel like you're reading about someone else, but you also have to think of it as someone else who's reading about you, but doesn't know you. So that concerns me that people that are my fans, people that support me, read about me and they get this distorted personality."

The right numbers

Let us get into the weight gain. The speculation can end here. WHITNEY BRAVELY CITES STATISTICS!! We Have Numbers Never Before Printed!!

Courtesy of Bobbi Kristina, "I gained about 10 extra pounds. I've never weighed past 125 in my whole entire life. And now, I'm like 130, but I like it. I feel like that's good for me. I certainly don't wanna be 119 again. When I got married, I was 119. When I delivered I was 182. A buck-82," she says, a little ruefully. "So I put on the extra . . . 63? Is that what it is?"

She looks fit, and she moves well. Houston says she swam a lot to get in shape for the tour and did a lot of "tummy crunches" to get her stomach muscles back in shape to support her diaphragm, which pushes out the air that powers the Houston voice into the stratosphere. In concert, her phrasing has changed.

The woman has a pair of hips now that she didn't before.

"The wonderful thing about having a baby is you feel your womanhood. You feel the glory of being a woman," Houston says.

Everything is fine

She wants everyone to know, her baby is healthy and wonderful and "learning about her toes," and things are very fine between her and her husband.

"I'm doing fine, my husband's fine and the baby's doing just fine," she said onstage Monday night, to approving applause. "We're all just fine. Listen, y'all, we're here to stay."

And furthermore, Bobby may simulate sex onstage, but that's the only thing he's doing with other women, Houston indicates. He's been offstage every night at Radio City, standing by the sound board, where he must be cranking up the bass, from the sound of things.

"The one that bothers me the most is when they talk about my husband being a certain kind of man," she says, brushing her hair away from her forehead. "And if anyone knew me, they would know that I wouldn't marry a man that they thought I would have to guess at - his position and how he feels about me and whether or not he's committed to me or not. I wouldn't have married anyone who I didn't think was."

Already, the baby's "an old road dog," who has weathered Miami and New York and will move on with her mother to Copenhagen and Monaco and Japan later this year. "She's a really good baby. She sleeps through the night," Houston says, and in the morning, our diva drags herself out of bed when she cries.

It's a lot to juggle, a new baby, a new husband and a new road tour. She could have kicked back after the birth, hunkered down in the Jersey compound with her millions, relished that child's first year of life. Nobody's heard much from Anita Baker and Vanessa Williams since their babies were born. So why is she running around the world, if, as she says, "I don't have anything to prove."

The explanation is short and quick: "Because this is what I do."

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