As most 18-year-olds are preparing to head off to college, Justin Bieber is raking in $55 million a year, collects seriously fancy cars and just bought his first multimillion dollar home in Calabasas, Calif. For all intents and purposes Bieber lives a very adult life, but 18-year-old boys are not known for their maturity.
For months the singer has been talking about growing with his fans, creating good music and becoming a "mature" artist, but as GQ recently found out, Bieber behaves just like most kids his age, he's just not allowed to show it.
So when GQ set out to make a man out of Bieber, proposing a number of "insane ideas" that might make for a good profile, his people preemptively shot down their prime directive, which was to get the kid good and drunk.
Neither Bieber nor his handlers were interested in GQ's "manly ideas" and later when they finally were able to get face time with the pop star (in what apparently was the first time that Bieber had ever been left alone with a reporter), he said he really wasn't a fan of alcohol.
"For me, it's just like, I like to be in control of myself. I mean, I've had a beer, like, before.... But I never get out of control," he told GQ.
Wanting to be in control makes sense, since Bieber has a lot of trust issues.
"I mean, I keep my guard up a lot, because you know, you can't trust anyone in this business," Bieber said. "That's what's sad. You can't trust anybody. I learned the hard way."
No one can dispute that Bieber's image is carefully controlled -- he's charming, a prankster, charitable and most of all a nonthreatening personality who makes mothers happy that their teenage daughters are crushing on him. It's hard to get a sense of who Justin Bieber really is. But then, as GQ describes, his brand-new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, tricked out by West Coast Customs arrives and the first peek of Bieber emerges.
Gathering around his new toy, Bieber seems "euphoric" and so excited that he pledges his loyalty to West Coast Customs and dismisses its rival, Platinum Motorsport. "F*** Platinum," he said. "Platinum can suck a dick, man. West Coast all day."
Bieber really is all about loyalty. When he overhears one of his business advisers trashing his pal Kim Kardashian, Bieber pipes up. "You guys are so mean, bro ... People say she doesn't do anything; she actually does do stuff ... she works hard," he says defending Kardashian, with whom he tweets and has collaborated on a photo shoot.
It's fascinating to think about the position Bieber is in at the moment. As peers like Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus or even his longtime girlfriend, Selena Gomez, worry about growing up too quickly -- projecting a too-sexy image that could alienate younger fans -- it's Bieber's natural inclination toward immaturity that could hurt him.
"I'm a swaggy adult," he says, most convincingly.
It's pranks like tweeting a mocking video to the 20-year-old who falsely accused him of getting her pregnant, or tweeting out a stranger's phone number claiming it was his own, that show a youthful restlessness and impulsivity that his handlers seem desperate to keep at bay.
With all the press surrounding Bieber's new maturity, it's as if Bieber's management is pushing for him to grow up as fast as possible, perhaps to sidestep the exploration and push for the independence and mistakes that come with young adulthood.
As GQ explains it:
The label's mission is to make a man out of Bieber. The only person who isn't ready to make a man out of Bieber is Bieber. He wants to be 18. He wants to be a swaggy bro—he seems incapable of being anything else—and that's as it should be. Manhood can wait.
For more on Justin Bieber, click over to GQ.
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: Musician Justin Bieber visits the Nintendo World Store on September 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: Justin Bieber performs on ABC's Good Morning America' at ABC News' Good Morning America Times Square Studio on November 15, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Justin Bieber attends the Z100s Jingle Ball 2009 presented by H&M at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage for Clear Channel Radio)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Singer Justin Bieber poses after his free performance presented by KIIS-FM at Nokia Plaza L.A. Live on February 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 26: Justin Bieber promotes his new book 'First Step 2 Forever' at Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on November 26, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Justin Bieber attends KIIS FM's 2010 Wango Tango Concert at Staples Center on May 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Teen idol Justin Bieber arrives on the red carpet for the 68th annual Golden Globe awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 16, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Valerie MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Justin Bieber attends the 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' premiere at the O2 Cineworld on February 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Singer Justin Bieber poses in the press room with the Digital Artist of the Year award during the 2011 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena May 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 08: Justin Bieber attends the 2011 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Singer Justin Bieber attends the 2011 BET Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on June 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (FilmMagic)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - AUGUST 07: Singer Justin Bieber arrives at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards held at Gibson Amphitheatre on August 7, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Singer Justin Bieber arrives at the The 28th Annual MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Justin Bieber attends the Dolce & Gabbana Boutique on September 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Dolce & Gabbana)
Singer Justin Bieber poses in the press room at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Musician and 2011 Horizon Award Recipien Justin Bieber poses backstage at the 33rd Annual Georgia Music Hall Of Fame Awards at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on September 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Ben Rose/WireImage)