R &B superstar Ne-Yo lived in Las Vegas with his mother from ages 9 to 18, while she worked around town as a blackjack dealer, cocktail waitress and bank manager. (They lived everywhere from Henderson to North Las Vegas.) He later broke big as both a singer and songwriter, and his latest album, Year of the Gentleman, has spawned hits like “Closer” and “Miss Independent”—not to mention six Grammy nominations. He returns to town on February 5 to perform at the Pearl, surely sporting his trademarked Rat Pack-inspired duds. He spoke to the Weekly by phone from Wales.
What did you do for fun growing up here?
There were lots of house parties, and we would always hit the Strip on the weekends. Since it’s a tourist town, you would always run into somebody new—new girls, or whatever we were looking for. We would also go to Wet ’n Wild; I loved that place. To this day I don’t understand why you would get rid of the one water park in a desert town!
You’ve said in the past that you feel underappreciated because you haven’t been on the cover of Rolling Stone or Vibe or People. Do you still feel that way?
No. I’m still very new in this business, so I’m still learning. Me feeling underappreciated was a phase that came and went. The second I started getting upset, six Grammy nominations came my way. That was basically God telling me to calm down, to stop whining and complaining. The respect and recognition I get is enough. I don’t need to be on the cover of every magazine.
What’s the craziest thing a woman has ever done to try to get close to you?
On this tour overseas we’ve seen a lot of flashers, a lot of women who will lift their tops up. I’m not complaining; it’s just a shock when you’re trying to sing a really heartfelt song to look up and see a pair of titties staring you in the face.
In New York one time, a girl actually broke into my hotel room. That was really scary. I was cordial, and let her take pictures and signed some autographs. I asked her how she got into my room, and she wouldn’t say at first, but finally confessed she knew someone who worked in the hotel. I told her that if my security had come in first, things could have gone really badly for her. She said she was sorry, left, and that was that. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, since she just wanted an autograph. Actually, she probably wanted more than just an autograph.