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Oral History

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Shakira has hypnotized fans with her gyrating hips undulating belly. But her point of pride? Her mouth. “It’s definitely my biggest source of pleasure because I enjoy conversation, kisses, singing,” says Shakira, 28. “I live through my mouth.” Hence the title of her sophomore English-language album Oral Fixation Vol. 2, the follow-up to the Spanish album she released in June, Fijación Oral Vol. 1. PEOPLE’s Simon Perry recently got the Colombian singer to use her favorite body part to ‘fess up to her other obsessions.


“When I was 25, I was the first one to leave my shoes in the middle of the living room. Now, I’m the first one to pick them up, put them in my color-coordinated closet. I became a maniac about organization. I have surprised myself lately with new facets of mine I never knew existed—the little monster inside me who wants a color-coordinated closet.”


Forget chick lit. Shakira‘s current literature of choice is anything about medieval times. “I’m reading about the Templars in Spanish,” says the trilinguist (she’s also fluent in English and Portuguese).


Spaniard Alejandro Sanz—who duets with Shakira on the hit “La Tortura” off Vol. 1—introduced her to “one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard”: legendary flamenco singer Camaron de la Isla. One music icon she needs a break from? Led Zeppelin. At 15, “I could only listen to rock. I heard The Song Remains the Same over and over. I cannot hear it anymore!”


“Colombian food is really good—and really fattening,” says the self-described compulsive eater. When she visits her hometown of Barranquilla, she tucks into favorites like fried yucca and sancocho (soup served with rice). On the road she’s known to keep an emergency stash of chocolate in her purse. “I like any kind of chocolate. American, Belgian, Swiss—I don’t discriminate.”


Though she travels with seven bags full of clothes, “I have a Styx [rock] T-shirt I wear every day,” she says. “The same with my Maharishi pants. I hate shopping. I like clothes, but I hate trying them on.”


She usually has just one cup of Colombian coffee a day. “In Colombia, from the time you can grab a cup, you start having coffee. They put it in the baby bottle sometimes. So sometimes it doesn’t do anything to me. At 4 in the morning, if I want to keep working in the studio, I have to drink 20 cups to keep myself awake.”


Last but not least, the ballad “Your Embrace” on her new CD is “inspired by someone,” Shakira says with a giggle. That someone is her boyfriend of five years, Manhattan-based lawyer Antonio de la Rua, 30, who popped the question during a Roman holiday in ’01. One problem: The diamond engagement ring is too big for her left hand, so she wears it on her right index finger. “Can you believe I haven’t fixed it?” she says. Another issue: There’s no wedding date yet. “It seems,” she says with a laugh, “one of us forgot about the next stage.”