Every doorway and stairwell is guarded, and every window is blacked out. In 2014, a Swift shoot requires the kind of operational secrecy and logistical complexity rarely seen outside of a SEAL raid.
o my brother comes home the other day," Taylor Swift says, "and he goes, ' Oh, my God – I just saw a guy walking down the street with a cat on his head.'"As an ardent fan of ready-made metaphors, as well as of cats, Swift was excited by this. Half of my brain was going, ' We should be able to take a picture if we want to.
"My first reaction was, ' Did you take a picture? That guy is asking for it – he's got a cat on his head!
I think that's interesting.'"It's 1300 hours in the San Fernando Valley, and Project Sparrow is in full effect.
In a nondescript parking lot at a soundstage in Van Nuys, California, a Blackwater-esque platoon of personal-security professionals stands at the ready.
(Swift also bought the unit across the hall, for about $5 million; she uses it to house her security team.) It took a lot of work just to see it: It belonged to the director Peter Jackson, who had an actor friend crashing here, so the brokers didn't want to bother him much. "I think once you're Gandalf, you can always just stay in Peter Jackson's house."Swift leads the way into one of her four guest bedrooms.
"This is where Karlie usually stays," she says – meaning supermodel Karlie Kloss, one of her new BFFs, whom she met nine months ago at the Victoria's Secret fashion show.
She's five feet 10, but she looks much taller, even with her lanky legs wrapped underneath her like a pretzel twist.
"I need lunch like, whoa," Swift says, and an assistant tells her there's a sushi order happening. "Get a boatload."The video is for Swift's soon-to-be-Number One single, "Shake It Off," which she'll perform for the first time at the VMAs later this summer, but which at this point only a handful of people outside the room even know exists. Or" – she holds up her cellphone – "they can turn this on, right? We don't even know."Swift says she never feels completely safe, especially when it comes to her privacy.
There's a basket of Kloss's favorite Whole Foods treats next to the bed, and multiple photos of her on the walls.