The New York Post got its hands on the new memoir by music honcho Tommy Mottola and the paper's most depressing article today is a long piece detailing all the ways Mottola outlined his abuse of ex-wife and ex-employee, Mariah Carey. Mottola first came into contact with then-18-year-old singer through a mix tape. He might have fallen in love with — and set his sights on making money from — her voice, but he very quickly turned their relationship into a sexually exploitative, controlling and emotionally abusive one.
As the Post explains, Carey had just graduated from high school and was working as a backup singer when Mottola set his sights on her, promising to make her bigger than Madonna and Michael Jackson. But first he made Mariah break up with her boyfriend, who was also her collaborator; he assumed control of all her producers and song writers; and he refused to allow her time off to relax and enjoy her success.
After the couple married, the abuse only worsened. She couldn't collaborate with who she wanted to work with; she was forced to do albums she didn't want to do. In a classic move of isolating her from her friends and family, he relegated her to a home in New York suburbs, which she referred to as "Sing Sing."
The Post describes how at one point early in the relationship, Mottola bragged that his therapist warned him to stay out of Mariah Carey's pants, shrink-ishly pointing out both that he was married and that the singer was basically still a teenager. (She is still basically a teenager, kind of.) Instead, he trotted Carey out on his arm at an awards show where she took home several awards just because he knew his shrink would be watching. This fits perfectly with what we know about abusers: instead of being remorseful, they're actually quite proud of themselves for getting away with it.
The Post quotes directly from Mottola's memoir, Hitmaker, out later this month about how little remorse he feels — nay, he feels justified:
What an asshole.
“If it seemed like I was controlling, I apologize. Was I obsessive? Yes. But that was also part of the reason for her success.”
Mariah Carey's ex Tommy Mottola claims responsibility for her success in memoir
Mariah Carey's ex-husband Tommy Mottola claims responsibility for her success in his 'Hitmaker' memoir - NYPOST.com
It was the most sinister marriage in pop music this side of Ronnie and Phil Spector — and even today, music exec Tommy Mottola will never let ex-wife Mariah Carey be completely free of him.
Married in 1993 and divorced in 1997, Carey gives this description of what it felt like to be a global pop superstar wedded to one of the most powerful men in the industry: “I longed for someone to come kidnap me back then,” she said. “I used to fantasize about that a lot.”
Even after their divorce, Carey spent years working through the trauma of what she called an emotionally and mentally abusive relationship.
“For me, to really get out was difficult,” she said. “[It] was not only a marriage, but a business thing where the person was in control of my life.”
And as Mottola himself makes clear in his new memoir, “Hitmaker,” out Jan. 15 — just one day before Carey makes her debut as a judge on “American Idol” — he still claims ownership over his ex.
In October 1988, Carey was a struggling 18-year-old singer from Long Island, living in a one-bedroom in Manhattan with two roommates.
She was tough, a result of her chaotic, complicated childhood. Carey was born in Huntington, LI; her mother, Patricia, was an Irish-American opera singer, and her father, Alfred, a black Venezuelan aeronautics engineer. Patricia was disowned by her family for marrying outside her race, and the couple was often the target of racially motivated attacks — their dogs poisoned, their house set on fire.
When Carey was three, her parents divorced. She and her older brother, Morgan, lived with their mother, while her older sister, Allison, moved in with their father. As a child, Carey moved around a lot; this, coupled with her multiracial identity, caused her great confusion.
“I always felt different from everybody else,” she has said. “If you look a certain way, everybody goes, ‘White girl.’ And I’d go, ‘No. That’s not what I am.’ ” She has said she does not consider herself black or white.
From a very early age, Carey was obsessed with music, and her mother became her informal vocal coach. At Harborfields HS in Greenlawn, LI, Carey was ditching class to work on songs with a couple of friends. She was absent so often that other kids called her “Mirage,” and in her high-school yearbook she wrote that her interests were “sleeping late, Corvettes and gueidos [sic].”
Not much time elapsed between high school and her meeting Tommy Mottola, then the 39-year-old head of Sony Music.
The official version, and the one that Mottola retells in his book, has him at an industry party when Brenda K. Starr, then a B-list singer for whom Carey had sung backup, passed him a copy of Carey’s demo recording; he listened to it in the car on his way home.
“An unbelievable energy was running though me,” he writes, “screaming, ‘Turn the car around! That may be the best voice you’ve ever heard in your life!’ ”
Three days later, Mottola called Carey in for a meeting. In truth, Carey had already been offered a $30,000 deal with Warner, but Mottola simply upped the figure by $50,000. He told her he would make her the biggest pop star in the world — bigger than Whitney, bigger than Madonna. She’d just have to get rid of her collaborator, who was also her boyfriend.
Mottola also felt that he and Carey had “great chemistry,” as he puts it. So even though he was married with two children, Carey, “flirtatious from the moment I set eyes on her,” caused him to act against his better judgment. And he acted like a teenager himself, going in to work and gossiping with fellow executives about the details of his nights with Carey.
It never occurs to him, all these years later, that the power imbalance was inherently toxic.
Mottola’s therapist, however, did, and repeatedly told him not to pursue his young protégée.
“You don’t understand!” he’d tell his shrink, according to the book. “Mariah is going to be the biggest star in the world. She’s going to be as big as Michael Jackson.”
Undeterred, his therapist kept telling Mottola that Carey was still just a teenage girl, one barely out of a rough upbringing, who was in no way his equal — chronologically, mentally, emotionally, professionally.
What the shrink didn’t understand was that Mottola wanted exactly that: an empty vessel, someone he could create and then unleash upon the world as the ultimate Tommy Mottola production.
After signing Carey, Mottola took control of everything: hiring Carey’s producers, songwriters, arrangers. He spent $1.8 million on her debut record and when he saw the first cut of her debut video, for “Vision of Love,” he demanded it be scrapped and spent another $500,000 on re-shoots. By the end of 1991, Carey’s eponymous debut record had sold more than 15 million copies, making it the best-selling album of the year.
Carey was just 21 years old. She wanted to take a break, to have a minute to enjoy her success, to party and shop and travel, but Mottola felt she needed to keep working, and back in the studio she went. “My feeling was that there’d be plenty of time for Mariah to celebrate just a little ways down the road,” he writes. “I’m not talking 10 years, just a few.”
Mottola felt particularly vindicated when he escorted Carey to her first-ever Grammy ceremony, where she won two awards — and not because she was his biggest project, but because his shrink was probably watching.
“I can only now wonder about the expression on my therapist’s face when . . . she saw Mariah thank God for that first Grammy, and then Tommy Mottola for believing in her,” he writes. “She could no longer call me delusional.”
After arranging a quickie divorce from his first wife, Mottola married Carey in a ceremony so vulgar that one guest called it not so much a wedding as “a coronation.” Carey, then 23, watched replays of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding for inspiration, then ordered an even longer bridal train (27 feet to Di’s 25) and more flower girls (50 to Di’s 5 — all fans, Mottola says).
In the book, Mottola says he remembers little of the day itself, and that later, it was one photo that stood out to him: his 12-year-old daughter in tears, hugging her 13-year-old brother. It crushed him, Mottola says — not because he was so detached from their distress, but because clearly they understood this union would end badly.
“They knew in their bones what I simply couldn’t feel,” he writes.
Carey would soon learn who she was married to: the more famous she became, the more Mottola constrained her. When she talked about wanting to record younger, more modern stuff — hip-hop and R&B-driven — Mottola shut her down, demanding she sing treacly power ballads such as “Hero,” which she openly loathed. He made Carey do a Christmas album — Christmas, he writes, is his favorite holiday — and when she sardonically asked him if he was trying to turn her into Connie Francis, he nearly laughed in her face: “How the hell,” he writes, “does she even know who Connie Francis is?”
To this day Mottola maintains that Carey must be grateful that he forced these decisions upon her. That Christmas album, he points out, has sold more than 20 million copies. “Helloooo!” he writes.
As Carey kept agitating to work with artists who were young and actually relevant, Mottola’s roster was aging and decaying: Billy Joel, Hall & Oates, Gloria Estefan, the rapidly unraveling Michael Jackson — these were his priorities in a landscape dominated by alternative rock and hip-hop.
When, in 1993, she released the single she fought so hard for — “Fantasy,” a wild mash-up that sampled Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” and featured a cameo interlude by Ol’ Dirty Bastard — she was proven right.
Mottola clamped down even harder. Carey was relegated to the Bedford, NY, mansion he had built, a 20,000-square-foot residence replete with gourmet kitchen, recording studio, indoor shooting range and surveillance cameras everywhere. Carey had two bodyguards assigned to her at all times, even when she went to the bathroom. She called the house “Sing Sing” — a morbid reference to her caged-bird status.
Mottola himself did nothing to soften his own image, and a 1996 Vanity Fair profile proved deadly, portraying him as an uneducated thug with questionable taste who had muscled his way to the top. The article noted that Mottola drove around in an armored limo, carried a 9mm Glock in his briefcase, and had such dubious connections that Sony Music asked the FBI to carry out a background check before hiring him. (The verdict: He was clean, his friends weren’t.)
Carey was not available for comment at the time. “She won’t be talking,” Mottola told the reporter. “It’s not good for her; it’s not good for me; it’s not good for the company.”
In many ways that profile was the best thing that could have happened to Carey: the world now knew, and within weeks she left.
“A private hell” was how she later described their marriage.
In his book, Mottola offers a classic non-apology: “If it seemed like I was controlling,” he writes, “I apologize. Was I obsessive? Yes. But that was also part of the reason for her success.”