Berry & Green

Creative. Strategic. Communications.


Friends. An admission. I was R Kelly’s UK publicist for five years between 1996 and 2001. However, I can be of literally zero assistance to anyone wishing to gain insight into his current situation as I never met him. I wrote the news releases (in fact, my three-pager on his 1998 collection, “R” is one of the greatest pieces of prose since Nabokov), I sent out the CDs, I arranged the interviews, but that’s as far as it went.

The reason for this was that my boss, who, for legal reasons we shall call Gina Frisbee, was slightly in love with him despite being not his type by about twenty years. As a result, on the rare occasions that he granted the UK press an interview, Gina would travel to Chicago to sort it all out. The fact that she wasn’t a PR and had no understanding of how the media worked was irrelevant.

In the late 90s, a summons came through from America. R would grant one interview for the UK and it would happen by telephone. He would also do some photographs in Chicago. The London office went into overdrive. After a flurry of calls, I arranged a feature with sadly defunkt style bible, Arena.

Gina decided to fly out to Chicago to ensure that the telephone interview took place as arranged and also that the photographer, an ace celebrity and fashion snapper, got his shot. Arena wanted a very specific picture of R throwing a pair of dice at the camera and the lensman spent the entire flight over to the Windy City trying to figure out how to make it work - young people please note that photoshop wasn’t as shit hot as it is today.

It should be pointed out that R tended to work at night and sleep by day so the photoshoot was scheduled for 2am. This allowed the photographer six hours in a hotel room to set up the shot while Gina hunted down R, talked him through the plan and got him on the phone to London before bringing him to the suite to be snapped “throwing” dice. The photographer decided that the ONLY way to make the shot work perfectly would be to use very thin thread, the same colour as the hotel wallpaper, and painstakingly wrap it around each die with the thread suspended from the ceiling fan. Four hours were spent delicately, and with a high element of failure, crafting this illusion until it was absolutely right.

At just after 2am, Gina walked into the suite to announce that R was on his way. Noticing a pair of dice suspended apparently in mid-air, she grabbed at them and tugged………..