Billy Crawford left on a PAL flight for L.A. Tuesday night the same way he breezed into town on Dec. 29 last year – that is, sans fanfare.
But it’s not true that he kept his homecoming a secret.
"I came home for vacation," he told Funfare in an exclusive interview (The STAR was the only paper he agreed to talk to) over dinner at the Little Asia (Promenade outlet, Greenhills) the day before he left. "I followed my mom and my brother so we could celebrate the New Year together. I wanted to spend the Christmas holidays here but I didn’t make it on time."
Billy’s only public appearance was last Monday at the Walk of Fame in Eastwood, Libis, Quezon City, where he was given his own "star" (bringing the total to 73 stars so far) by his Papa German "Kuya Germs" Moreno who saw him grow and rise from being a child star to the pop superstar that Billy is now in Europe.
Two weeks ago, though, he dropped by at good friend Claire dela Fuente’s Grill & Seafood restaurant at the Dampa Seaside Paluto on Diosdado Macapagal Blvd. in Pasay City where a roving reporter of GMA’s 24 Oras caught him.
Looking sexier with a leaner body covered with tattooes ("Yes, they are permanent," he said), Billy was accompanied to Little Asia by his long-time manager Raul Laurente and his Papa Germs, while I was with New York-based Balikbayan journalist Raoul Tidalgo (entertainment editor and columnist of The Filipino Reporter) who has his own juicy stories about Billy.
"In Rome," said Raoul who was at the Eternal City in November last year, "I saw pop magazines with Billy on the cover. In fact, Billy is very popular in other parts of Europe, including Paris where he’s a sought-after cover boy of fan magazines. Everywhere he goes, fans scramble for him."
Actually, Billy has been coming and going these past seven years, sometimes just for R&R and at other times to promote an album as he did in 2003 for Ride which he recorded for then BMG Pilipinas, Inc. (now merged into SonyBMG).
"That was the time I had an accident," recalled Billy who was then hospitalized for over-fatigue. "I was in the hospital when I fainted and broke my jaw. I couldn’t dance or sing; it took me three months to recuperate."
He moved in June last year from New York, his home base for years, to L.A. where he has put up his own production company called YPMP which produces, he said, "lots of songs for other artists," not just himself.
"My company produces albums and then I tie up with other companies, whether foreign or local, for distribution purposes."
Before flying to the Philippines, Billy completed a 30-city concert tour in Europe (Switzerland, Monaco, etc., which drew between 10,000 to 20,000 people to every show) where he also launched his own clothing line called BC and released (in Paris) his biography entitled La Vie en Moi (The Life of Me), written in French but translated into English. Both the book and the clothing line will be launched in the Philippines when Billy returns in March (he plans to stay for three months).
Asked what the book reveals, Billy smiled, "A lot." And he means, yes, A LOT!
Besides chronicling his showbiz life that started when he was four years old in commercials and then at age five on his Papa Germs’ That’s Entertainment, Billy also includes in La Vie en Moi chapters about his love life, several of them, the juiciest admittedly being those with Mandy Moore and KC Concepcion (now rumored to be the "new girl" of TV director Lino Cayetano, ex-boyfriend of Bianca Gonzales).
"Before I wrote about her," said Billy, "I called Mandy and asked her if it was okay. She’s one of the sweetest girls I’ve ever dated from the industry. And one of the most humble, too. She was only 15 when I met her, not yet a big star, and I was 17. We dated for more than a year and then we became busy with our respective careers and we simply drifted apart." (Mandy did confirm her romance with Billy when she came here a few years ago to promote her album. Since she broke up with Billy, Mandy has become a popular singer and actress, having released a few albums and starred in a few Hollywood films, including A Walk to Remember and The Princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway.)
What about KC?
Billy was mum.
They met in Paris where KC studied and they were an item for a while.
Pressed on, Billy begged off from talking about KC.
"Just read my book," he said.
And did you know that Billy got arrested – and jailed for one night – when he was in New York?
"That chapter of my life is in my book," smiled Billy. "I grew up in a tough neighborhood. Most of the teenagers were in gangs. But I wasn’t a member of any of them. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. One night, somebody was shooting somebody else. The police came, closed the whole section and rounded us up. All of us teenagers were booked for one night and questioned. I was innocent. The next morning, I was released."
Because Billy is a big star out there, it was played up in French newspapers when journalists got wind of it while Billy was writing the book.
"That’s why I decided to explain the whole thing in my book."
Also mentioned in the book is Billy’s Hollywood experience when he starred as the devil in The Exorcist: The Prequel, some scenes of which were shot in Rome where Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ was also filming.
"The sets of the two movies were located just across from each other, so I would peep into the Christ shoot every now and then. I saw Mel Gibson at work. I also hooked up with Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Christ. One time, the casts of the two pictures even had dinner together."
Now under negotiation is Billy’s next Hollywood outing, tentatively entitled Rhythm, which might cast him with Hollywood biggies like Whoopi Goldberg. "I’m keeping my fingers crossed," said Billy. LINK to post.