A mysterious altercation between Stacy Francis and Whitney Houston two days before the pop legend died is bringing the former X Factor contestant unprecedented attention -- and she's not shying away from it.
Francis and Houston had words at a pre-Grammy Awards party on Thursday, February 9. How heated those words were remains somewhat unclear: Francis has given conflicting accounts of her conversation with Houston, claiming things went from pleasant to downright ugly in a Hollywood minute, but has been hazy on just how ugly.
As the Yahoo! Reality Rocks blog pointed out, Francis changed her tune a bit between interviews given to a UK tabloid on Feb. 15 and Access Hollywood a week later.
Francis told the Mirror that Houston went crazy not long after the two shared a friendly introduction and discussed their children. Apparently, Houston felt that Francis was getting too friendly with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Ray J, who arrived at the party shortly before Houston's demeanor dramatically changed.
She was out of control, Francis told the Mirror. She put her hand in my face. She was screaming at me and called me a bitch. She just went crazy -- like Jekyll and Hyde.
I turned to look at her and she pushed my forehead and turned my face away. I grabbed her hand and said, 'Please don't do this. You're everything to me. You're my idol, you're a legend,' Francis continued.
I was crying and screaming out, we were both screaming until eventually we were pulled apart.
An unnamed eyewitness backed up Francis' story in a Hollywood Reporter account of the altercation, published the day after it took place.
Whitney just got belligerent, the witness reportedly said. Ray was trying to defend Stacy, telling Whitney, 'Stacy's family!', but Whitney was feeling crowded out and hands were raised.
I can't believe I was with her on Thursday night, just two days before she died, Francis said. It's very surreal to me...everything about it is really unfortunate.
Speaking about meeting Houston, her idol, Francis said: I honestly just turned into a groupie.
I was enamored, she continued. She was so cool, she was so sweet.
It wasn't Francis and Houston's first meeting - Francis explained that back in the nineties, she briefly performed on stage with Houston at a show. Houston didn't remember the previous meeting, and Francis wasn't offended or surprised at all.
Who's gonna remember that? Francis joked.
After learning that Stacy used to be on The X Factor, Houston supposedly told her that she was offered a job as a judge, but hadn't made up her mind yet. After this reveal, Houston cautioned Francis to keep it a secret.
Francis said that with Houston's permission, she tweeted a teaser about the news. We went back into Francis' Twitter feed (which took a bit of digging, as she is a very prolific tweeter) and found the tweets from that night.
I just had a long talk with Whitney Houston!!!!! Whoop whoop! She gave an interesting tad bit of information!!! Shhhh!, Francis tweeted at about 1:30 a.m. on February 10.
She also congratulated me on the #xfactor.. She said you know Stacy God is a God of second chance! AMEN!!!, she added a short time later.
The next morning, she tweeted a cryptic message - Wow...very interesting night... - but didn't provide any further details.
Instead, she later retweeted a link to the Hollywood Reporter story previous referenced in this article. In the subsequent days and weeks, some Twitter users accused her of self-promotion and of leaking the story herself, which she denied.
Houston's sister in law Patricia Houston -- who was with her at the Feb. 9 party -- spoke of the incident during an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Sunday.
There have been lots of talk of a confrontation that she had, Patricia reportedly said. Well, there was, kind of. There were words back and forth between [Whitney] and a young lady I believe was on 'The X Factor.' [Francis] comes over, and she says hello, but you keep seeing her. Every corner that we go to, here she comes. Didn't know her. She didn't know her from Adam. I don't know what the initial conversation was. I just know that it didn't feel right....I saw expressions. I saw tears....from the young lady. I said, 'It's time to go.' [Whitney] did not want to leave. I said, 'No.' I didn't hear the words [exchanged]. There was no physical fighting. I would never let that happen.
It seems we may never know how far the fight really went -- or whether or not a scrap between Francis and Houston is responsible for what appeared to be blood on the late pop legend's leg.
According to the Reality Rocks story, Yahoo! searches for Francis increased by 6,125 percent after she was referenced in Patricia Houston's Oprah interview.
Francis was previously in the headlines for allegedly fabricating her backstory when she auditioned for The X Factor in 2011. She played herself off as a struggling, aging single mother whose confidence was shattered by an unsupportive boyfriend, pleasing to Simon Cowell that
Thought it looks like Francis may have some issues, her vocal talent isn't one of them. The girl can SING. Check out her audition for The X Factor here:
Ellen Killoran is the Media & Culture Editor at IBTimes. She previously contributed to The L Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, and The Daily, and co-produced the HBO...