Features I by I 18.10.12

What’s next for Trapped in the Closet? How R. Kelly’s recent years – cruises, crimes and memoirs – might affect pop music’s greatest melodrama

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What's next for <i>Trapped in the Closet</i>? How R. Kelly's recent years - cruises, memoirs and all - might affect pop music's greatest melodrama

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s back.

That’s right, Trapped in the Closet – pop music’s most absurd, obscene and ultimately brilliant drama series – returns on November 23, with the man behind the melodrama, R. Kelly, revealing that 20 new chapters have been shot, with “like a hundred [more] chapters to come.”

Of course, in the years since Trapped in the Closet‘s first run, Kelly has been through a lot: cruise ships, memoirs, World Cup anthems, fan-baiting 45 second concerts and, of course, being found not guilty of child pornography offenses. There’s no way that these events won’t be shaping the future of Trapped in the Closet – across the next ten slides, we speculate how exactly they might do so.

When: June 2012
What: R Kelly is revealed to owe a whopping $5m in unpaid back taxes.

Trapped In The Closet has never been a particularly expensive enterprise: those green screen sets are dirt cheap, and R Kelly plays half the parts himself, thus nobbling his wage bill. Still, like the rest of the Western World, Kelly clearly needs to make economies. An Emmerdale-style cull of extraneous cast members is likely, as is a move towards “Dogme 95-indebted directorial flourishes” (read: filmed on an iPhone). Chapters 27 onwards, for exclusively pecuniary reasons, take place in an actual closet.

When: June 2010
What: Kelly performs the official anthem of the 2010 World Cup

In the Summer of 2010, Kelly kicked off the first ever African world cup by performing ‘Sign of a Victory’ with the Soweto Spiritual Singers. It was a performance tinged with sadness though, as former South African president Nelson Mandela had to miss the celebrations due to the death of his grand-daughter. Expect Kels to draw from his humanising experiences in South Africa by looking at the bigger picture: we can see the cherry-pie that played such a key role in early Trapped episodes brought back as a clumsy metaphor for apartheid, and even more rampant emphasis on the importance of safe sex.

When: January 2009
What: Kelly samples Barack Obama on “I Believe”, written in honour of the President’s inauguration.

The latest instalments of Trapped In The Closet arrive at a crucial juncture in American politics, so expect the singer to make another timely political intervention. Anticipate another return appearance by that famous cherry pie: in one scene, Sylvester – who, let’s remember, baulks at Rufus and Chuck’s gay tryst and insists on bearing arms every time he enters a room – suggests the assembled characters slog it out for the biggest slice, whereas Big Man insists on a fair, equanimous, progressive system of pie division.

When: March 2012
What: Kelly drops out of his Love Letter Cruise, claiming that he was never paid for the gig

If nothing else, R Kelly is his own man: after all, why let someone else make money off a Kels-fronted cruise when you could captain the ship yourself? Our – somewhat ambitious – money is on an episode set on the high seas, with more than a touch of Carry On Cruising to it: let’s face it, the characters’ names – Gwendolyn, Cathy, Bridget – scarily need changing, and the watersports jokes write themselves.

When: May 2012
What: Fans demand refunds when Kelly announces a “celebrity hosting” event in Texas, with tickets going for up to $950 – then ends up performing for a measly 75 seconds.

Kelly’s promised us at least 20 more chapters – but, crucially, he hasn’t said how long they’ll be. According to a storyboard we’ve seen, Chapter 27 sees Bridget leap from a balcony, Sgt. James admit that he’s been working for the Chinese government all along, and Twan reveal a well-shrouded Siamese twin – all within the space of ten succinct, no-budget, deeply disappointing seconds.

When: May 2011
What: Kelly rushed to Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital for emergency throat surgery

The status of Kels’ money-maker – his voice – is still marginally uncertain: the singer underwent emerged surgery on his throat last year, and triumphantly returned with a track titled ‘Shut Up!’ late in the year. This Summer, however, Kelly was rushed back to hospital for more treatment. Expect the singer’s new-found uncertainty to play a key role under the surface of Trapped in the Closet‘s new episodes, with moments of naked humility ultimately vanquished by a oversized, Bollywood-style sing-song climax to the entire thing, when Sylvester finally “finds his voice”.

When: January 2008
What: Soul singer Ne-Yo sues Kelly for breach of contract, after claiming he was thrown off Kelly’s tour on account of the singer being jealous. 

Remember the hot-headed, ever-trusty Twan? Trapped In The Closet c.2012 will see him play Ed Miliband to Sylvester’s David. Cordially invited by his brother-in-law to carry out that shady business scheme from Chapter 21, Twan showboats his way through the deal, pilfers the cash, bleats about ill treatment then, worst of all, collaborates with Pitbull and Afrojack.

When: June 2008
What: After years of legal wrangling and suspicion, R Kelly is found not guilty of child pornography offences.

Obviously, the whole Trapped In The Closet project is a none-too-opaque analogy for Kelly’s nightmare decade, so it’s a safe bet that his exoneration will become a crucial leitmotif. Moments to watch out for include: an expanded role for alpha-male-with-a-heart Pimp Lucious; shameless voyeur Rosie The Nosy Neighbour getting a stern dressing-down; and intermittent subliminal flashcards containing the word “VINDICATED!”.

When: August 2012
What: Kelly releases his memoirs, Soulacoaster 

The official publication of Kelly’s memoirs this year was undoubtably welcome news, though it leaves Trapped in the Closet in a difficult position: now Kelly has let the last 25 years of his real life hang out, will the already-tangled revelations of the Closet become even more surreal? If Hollywood sequels have taught us one thing, it’s to always go harder the second time around: expect an actual shoot-out this time, as opposed to the mere countdowns and weapon-waving of the first set of episodes, at least one Sunset Beach-esque incident of confusion between identical twins, and a deluxe DVD box-set, The Bigger Package, released in time for Christmas.

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