Beyoncé is ready to receive you now. From the chair where she's sitting, in the conference room of her sleek office suite in midtown Manhattan, at a round table elegantly laden with fine china, crisp cloth napkins, and take-out sushi from Nobu, she could toss some edamame over her shoulder and hit her sixteen Grammys, each wall-mounted in its own Plexiglas box. She is luminous, with that perfect smile and smooth coffee skin that shines under a blondish topknot and bangs. Today she's showing none of the bodaciously thick, hush-your-mouth body that's on display onstage, in her videos, and on these pages. This is Business Beyoncé, hypercomposed Beyoncé—fashionable, elegant, in charge. She's wearing the handiwork of no fewer than seven designers, among them Givenchy (the golden pin at her neck), Day Birger et Mikkelsen (her dainty gray-pink petal-collar blouse), Christian Louboutin (her pink five-inch studded heels), and Isabel Marant (her floral pants). She does not get up—a video camera has already been aimed at her face and turned on—so you greet her as you sit down. You have an agreed-upon window of time. Maybe a little more, if she finds you amusing.
You're here to talk about her big post-baby comeback (Blue Ivy, her daughter with Jay-Z, is a year old), which Beyoncé is marking in classic Beyoncé fashion: with a Hydra-headed pop-cultural blitzkrieg. This month, two weeks after she headlines the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVII, she will premiere an HBO "documentary"—more like a visual autobiography—about herself and her family that she financed, directed, produced, narrated, and stars in. This is a woman, after all, who's sold 75 million albums, just signed a $50 million endorsement deal with Pepsi (her flawless visage will festoon actual cans of soda), and will soon embark on a world tour to promote her fifth solo album, as yet untitled, due out as early as April. Who wouldn't want to know how she gets the job done?