Along With 'Talent,' Susan Boyle Shows the World Her Temper, Too

By Mary Jordan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, May 29, 2009

LONDON, May 28 -- Now the tabloids are calling her "Susan Boils Over."

Susan Boyle, the Scottish singing sensation, lost her temper and engaged in a "four-letter rant" with two reporters at her London hotel this week that led to police intervention, according to British news reports. Her family said she is struggling with her sudden fame.

"I feel proud of her and I feel sorry for her," said her brother, John Boyle, 60, in a phone interview, following reports that she had been crying and threatening to quit the TV competition show "Britain's Got Talent."

"It shouldn't matter if she loses her temper," he said. "It should only matter if she can sing."

The finale of "Britain's Got Talent" is Saturday, and Boyle is expected to win. In the six weeks since she first sang "I Dreamed a Dream" on the show, which is similar to "American Idol," her performance has been viewed a record-breaking 235 million times on YouTube.

But the growing number of reports about her public outbursts -- including over the praise a 12-year-old Welsh singer got on the show -- have led many to wonder whether this unlikely star will be able to cope with stardom.

"It's been a tough six weeks for Susan," said John Boyle, who lives a few blocks from his sister in Blackburn, a small former coal-mining town in Scotland. "It's been a heck of a big change. She is now a celebrity, but she doesn't have any of the support, insulation and experience of dealing with publicity that other celebrities have."

Until last month, a big night out for Boyle, 48, was sitting at her favorite table in a small local pub awaiting her turn at the karaoke microphone. She rarely left town and never got a driver's license. She has a mild learning disability due to lack of oxygen at birth and has said she was bullied by other children who called her "Susie Simple." She has said she never had a boyfriend.

But after a stunning singing performance that defied expectations last month, she has become a household name who has been interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, has been mentioned on "The Simpsons" and has topped the news in China.

Thursday, as her "rant" in the lobby of a London hotel made front-page news, Piers Morgan, one of the talent show's judges, said Boyle has been in "floods of tears."

A spokesman for the show said the police were already in the hotel and came to talk to Boyle only after a journalist "wound her up."

In his Daily Beast blog, Morgan wrote that Boyle is "finding it very difficult to cope, to stay calm."

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