Bruno Mars is very, very good at being a pop star. And at 27 he has the stats to prove it: His soulful, playfully retro albums, 2010's Doo-Wops & Hooligans and last year's Unorthodox Jukebox, have sold some 9 million copies worldwide and yielded four No. 1 smashes between them (not counting the myriad hits he's co-written and guested on for other artists). Collectively, his videos have been viewed a staggering 1.5 billion times, and his Moonshine Jungle Tour, slated to kick off June 22 in Washington, D.C., just added dozens more dates to sate global demand.
Which is great news because right now it doesn't look like a super-lucrative backup career as a dog whisperer is in the cards. ''No! Geronimo!'' Mars scolds as a young rottweiler skids across the floor of his midcentury-modern Hollywood home and begins to gnaw industriously on the knees of this reporter's jeans as if the seams are secretly lined with bacon. ''I'm sorry,'' he sighs. ''I'll buy you a new pair of pants. I swear he's usually better than that.''
More doggy-appropriate treats are quickly produced ''They should call them 'shut-up snacks,' '' Mars says wryly and he moves to pour a glass of champagne from a living-room wet bar that overlooks a sweeping view of nighttime Los Angeles. The house, with its brass leopards and vintage movie posters, is a triumph of Swinging Bachelor Pad decor; you can practically hear the ring-a-ding ghosts of Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. chasing girls and cocktails around the backyard's cobalt blue swimming pool.
It's been just three short years since Mars went from near total obscurity to the kind of stardom that earns you both the main host gig and the musical-guest spot on Saturday Night Live which he did last fall, very well. Still, most people with an eardrum and an Internet connection are probably familiar with his basic biography by now: the childhood spent in Hawaii in a Puerto Rican/Jewish/Filipino family full of performers; the tiny-Elvis cameo in 1992's Honeymoon in Vegas; the years spent struggling behind the scenes before he landed his first solo success with 2010's silky überballad ''Just the Way You Are.'' He's happy to talk about all that; in fact, he's voluble and charming on nearly every subject, one of those rare stars whose face reflects actual emotions, not the blank slate of a media-training manual. With Geronimo contentedly snacking at his feet, Mars settles in for a wide-ranging conversation on everything from his upcoming single, ''Treasure'' (''I love it! Seriously, I can't wait''), to why he's totally excited to get fat.