How Pink survived on-stage highwire fall

Alecia Moore - far better known the world over as pop superstar Pink - is sitting on the floor of her Santa Barbara farmhouse, munching on raw cauliflower florets and sipping a semillon. Wine glasses, as Stellar points out to her, are a recurring presence in a new documentary about her (pre-COVID) life on the road, during her record-breaking 2018/19 world tour.

"Well, yeah, there should be a trigger warning at the beginning of the film: 'Warning: if you're trying to get sober, watch something else,'" she says, letting rip with that infectious signature laugh.

“Our whole life is ritual and [the children] are included at every turn.” (Picture: Kurt Iswarienko)
“Our whole life is ritual and [the children] are included at every turn.” (Picture: Kurt Iswarienko)

"I work hard, I play hard. I have gotten rid of all of the rest of my vices. I don't smoke anymore, I don't cross the street without looking both ways, but I will have my f*cking glass of wine after a show. I never drink before a show, though - never, ever, ever. I don't want to fall and die."

Pink also loves hard. The documentary, All I Know So Far, is as much an exploration of her primal, indomitable love of the gypsy road family she has collected as it is a testament to her reign as the pioneering queen of the high-flying pop concert.

For two years, Pink juggled her role as a stage powerhouse - performing to millions in stadiums and arenas throughout the world on the Beautiful Trauma tour - with her off-stage identity as the wife of Carey Hart and mother of their children together, nine-year-old Willow Sage and four-year-old Jameson Moon.

It was this unique situation that Michael Gracey, the Australian director of the musical film The Greatest Showman, proposed to illuminate when he joined the tour for its European leg.

"I've heard Michael say that the reason he wanted to do it so much was because when we were having the creative meeting for [my] 'Walk Me Home' video, I was changing Jameson's diaper at the same time," she tells Stellar.

“I work hard, I play hard.” (Picture: Amazon)
“I work hard, I play hard.” (Picture: Amazon)

"And he became so fascinated with the question 'can a woman do it all?' He doesn't word it that way; that's kind of how I heard it. But he was just so fascinated by how many plates can be spinning in the air at once and how there can be no compartmentalisation in a life this big."

The result is an intimate family portrait: a quirky melding of the tightly knit Moore/Hart unit with a sprawling road universe that encompasses 225 tour members and millions of fans.

Atop his father's shoulders, little Jameson high-fives fans lining the barricades as they make their way to the side of the stage where Willow is already perched, swinging from railings and excitedly taking in the massive crowd that has filled the space where she and her brother had been playing just hours before.

Pink says her children love the pre-show ritual. While a life in the rock'n'roll circus may appear chaotic to those outside the bubble, there is a clockwork precision demanded to keep the show on the road and its star singing upside down as she flies above the crowd. That sense of order is heightened by the uncommon reality of the touring pop-star mother.

"Our whole life is ritual and [the children] are included at every turn," she says. "And I love ritual. That brings safety and boundary, and that's what we live in.

“This is the adventure of a lifetime and we’re on it together.” (Picture: Supplied)
“This is the adventure of a lifetime and we’re on it together.” (Picture: Supplied)

"You can make it as hard as you want it to be. It can be, 'Oh, we're going to get on the bus tonight and we'll wake up in Germany and then we'll have a new hotel room.' Or you can make it, 'This is the adventure of a lifetime and we're on it together. And don't worry because Mummy's a Virgo and I know every restaurant we're eating at for the next six months unless something new opens.'

"Every arena or stadium they walk into is our city for a day. Willow can walk into wardrobe when I'm doing vocal warm-ups and my wardrobe assistant Lara puts down her hot glue gun as she's putting sequins on my outfit and she's like, 'Willow, [do] you want to sew something?' She has a relationship with these people, her own standalone friendships. [It's] not, 'I'm Pink's daughter.'"

Jameson is clearly the tour mascot, endlessly entertaining as he runs around in his nappy and, like any little boy, alternately demands his mother's attention with repetitive "Mumma, Mumma, Mumma" pleas and then cheekily giggling as he dodges her attempts to steal a kiss and a hug.

When not roller-skating around the stadium floor or mirroring the dance rehearsals at soundcheck, Willow executes her duties as a wardrobe assistant both backstage and underneath it, helping the female dancers do their quick changes between songs during the concert.

“Women have to compromise in a way that men just don’t.” (Picture: Instagram)
“Women have to compromise in a way that men just don’t.” (Picture: Instagram)

She was paid pocket money of about $10 a week for her work, with Pink mock horrified when one of her beloved road family suggested to the young girl she should hit her mum up for a pay rise. (Nonetheless, Willow is adding to her bank account thanks to the vocals on her mum's hit single 'Cover Me In Sunshine', which came out early this year.)

Pink and Hart make planes, buses and hotel rooms their home wherever they go. Pink organises the children's meals; Hart gets them ready for the day's tourist activities and they join together to settle them down for bed after a show.

One evening, Jameson insisted his mum bring out the family trumpet so they could all give it an ear-piercing blast. The hotel-room telephone rang in the background; one would presume it would be the front desk relaying a noise complaint from a nearby guest. So was it?

"I don't answer the phone; I don't answer my own phone!" Pink tells Stellar.

"I know better, I'm 41. It was like 2am. And I'm not normally an arsehole like that. But that sh*t made me giggle. Were we really doing that? I have two kids and I'm a loud person. Put me in the corner, away from the other rooms."

“I wanted to be a social worker and instead I’m a songwriter and I’m really an imperfect, flawed human being with a lot of experience.” (Picture: Kurt Iswarienko)
“I wanted to be a social worker and instead I’m a songwriter and I’m really an imperfect, flawed human being with a lot of experience.” (Picture: Kurt Iswarienko)

She insists the documentary offers a filter-free view of their life, as well as a souvenir of some of the tour's more memorable moments, which includes her now-signature acrobatic flight through the stadium during the finale.

The extreme daring and danger of that aerial stunt was horrifically illustrated one night in Germany, when she was ripped offstage and slammed into a barricade after a cable detached from the rig around her waist.

Besides letting fly with a stream of expletives, she managed to keep it together until Hart sprinted across the stage and jumped into the pit to check on his wife. As soon as she heard him ask, "You OK?" she burst into tears.

"Goddammit, I was so tough until he got there," she recalls.

"I got back up on stage and I just said to the audience, 'I think I broke my back and I'm going to go to the hospital now.' At the hospital, this guy put me on this metal slab and he was doing a full-body X-ray. At the end of it, he calls from behind the glass, 'Hey, come over here. I want an autograph because I had to sit in traffic for you.'

"He wanted me to get up - with my ass out in a gown - and walk with my broken-ass back over to sign his little CD booklet for his sister-in-law's cousin's daughter!

"I came out of the hospital and the whole crew was there waiting for me because everybody was so scared - not about my health, just about losing their job. I was like, 'I made that barricade my b*tch!' So that became [the message on] our tour T-shirt for the year."

“I don’t think it’s possible to have it all. I think it’s possible to have enough.” (Picture: Kurt Iswarienko)
“I don’t think it’s possible to have it all. I think it’s possible to have enough.” (Picture: Kurt Iswarienko)

But if her determination to execute that treacherous final number - barricades be damned - whenever she performs is a telling clue to Pink's extraordinary and enduring success since she first hit the charts 20 years ago, it's the feedback from her fans that really propels her onstage.

She is known to scroll through her social-media comments each night before a show, soaking in their excitement and reading stories about how her music has affected their lives.

One night, she was in tears as she read a poignant message from a fan who explained how Pink's music got her through tough teen years as a ginger-haired, buck-toothed outsider, coming to the realisation she was gay and again, in her 20s, a spell when she contemplated ending her life after having her heart broken.

"It's the only thing that makes it worth it," says Pink.

"I wanted to be a social worker and instead I'm a songwriter and I'm really an imperfect, flawed human being with a lot of experience. So reading letters like that, it's gnarly - and I want those people to know that it was through touring, and having an audience be with me through it all, that helped me exorcise my demons.

"It's a reciprocal relationship - me getting to see people heal in real time heals me in real time."

Pink stars on the cover of this Sunday’s Stellar.
Pink stars on the cover of this Sunday’s Stellar.

As to whether the documentary ultimately answers Gracey's question about the megastar mum having it all, Pink, like most women on the planet, remains unsure.

"I don't think my answer is a good one," she says.

"I guess you have to decide what 'all' is, first of all. But I don't think it's possible to have it all. I think it's possible to have enough. Women have to compromise in a way that men just don't, and aren't primordially set up for. It's just the way it is.

"And I don't know if it's not anyone's fault, but it's definitely the way that the system is set up. So there are definite compromises, every step of the way."

All I Know So Far premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Friday. The All I Know So Far: SetList soundtrack is also out on Friday.

Originally published as How Pink survived on-stage highwire fall