Ninety-nine percent of the crazy stories Ke$ha spits out sound utterly ludicrous. One minute she's telling you about the time she infamously threw up in Paris Hilton's closet. The next, she's extolling the remarkable virtues of glitter (which somehow cures her all-too-frequent hangovers) and the necklace with the placenta from her birth that she always wears (it supposedly amps up her psychic powers).
The most fascinating aspect of the 22-year-old singer's stories, however, is that she dashes them off with such earnest verve, as if sneaking into Prince's house don't worry, we'll circle back there in a second were totally normal. ''It's all real!'' says Ke$ha (rhymes with John Tesh-a) several times during an interview over drinks at a Manhattan restaurant. ''It's all honest to a f---ing fault.''
Real or not, her over-the-top persona seems to be connecting. Last month, her No. 1 single, ''TiK ToK,'' set a record for the most digital tracks sold in a seven-day period by a female artist, and it has moved more than 2.7 million downloads to date. Her album, Animal, recently knocked Susan Boyle's blockbuster debut out of the No. 1 spot after a six-week reign. ''I feel kind of bad,'' says Ke$ha of bumping Boyle, just before randomly challenging her to a mud-wrestling match. ''But it's my turn. She had six weeks! That's a really long time.''
The tale of how Kesha Rose Sebert transformed herself into budding superstar Ke$ha is, as you might guess, also quite a doozy. She was born in L.A. and grew up in Nashville, where her mother, country songwriter Pebe Sebert, penned tunes for Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, among others. When the self-avowed ''marching-band dork'' was 17, she got a call from Dr. Luke, the man behind such pop anthems as ''Since U Been Gone'' and ''I Kissed a Girl,'' who had heard her demo. ''I thought her voice was distinctive, and I fell in love with her personality,'' says the producer. ''She had the same sass and irreverence she has now.'' Ke$ha decided to move to L.A., which meant turning down a scholarship to Barnard. At first, nothing came from the Dr. Luke deal, and she spent a couple of years doing backup vocals for the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, while sometimes living out of a Lincoln Town Car she'd inherited from her grandfather. One day, Ke$ha claims, she paid a gardener $5 to let her into Prince's L.A. mansion, where she left her demo (cleverly wrapped in a big purple bow). Prince never called.