MUI 305 Project: Adam Lambert
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MUI 305 Project: Adam Lambert

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There is nothing more valuable to the health of an eight-year-old TV series than a surprise. And when it comes to American Idol, surprises are few and far between. We can depend on one winner per year, someone who will either proceed to a robust, award-laden career in music (like Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood), or not (like what's-her-name and that other guy). And we can also depend, every couple of seasons, on a losing contestant dishing out sweet revenge on the charts (Chris Daughtry), at the Oscars (Jennifer Hudson), or on Broadway (Constantine Maroulis, who just became the show's first-ever Tony nominee).

But once in a very long while, someone arrives who doesn't just dominate American Idol, but challenges and even changes it. Idol has always positioned itself as a portal to what ''America'' (meaning, its particular viewers) desires in a newly anointed star. It's no accident that each episode's opening credits showcase faceless CGI humanoids striding toward their destinies. Idol stars are supposed to be blank slates, ''relatable'' folk with extraordinary talent whom we elect in an orderly fashion and elevate to success.

Meet Adam Lambert. Adam has messed all that up. Adam is nobody's idea of a blank slate. Adam is a surprise.

There was a time not too many seasons ago when, with his mop of glam-rock cobalt-blue-on-dyed-black hair, his earring, his sneering, and his unambiguously ambiguous sexuality, Adam would have been brushed off early on, chum thrown at the sharkish judges for a laugh during the audition rounds. And there was also a time, more recently, when Adam would have made it to Hollywood but been dismissed as ''too Broadway'' or ''too musical theater'' — phrases that are Idol's heterocentric way of weeding out male singers with a little too much throb in their voices and an attentive flair for the drama in lyrics.

Then in walked this 27-year-old from San Diego, a chameleon of a singer who was unashamedly everything that the Fox reality show thought ''we'' didn't want. And he flattened the competition. One week he'd surge priapically through ''(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction'' like someone who'd daydreamed a lot about Mick Jagger's body language. Another week he'd slow-torture the '70s disco hit ''If I Can't Have You'' down to 16 rpm and take us with him. He could morph from a quasi-punk whom the judges accused of being ''like something out of Rocky Horror'' (''I like Rocky Horror,'' he shrugged back, in a wonderfully understated middle finger of a reply) to a Rat Pack sharpie to a grown-up crooner. Other contestants who have tried this on Idol routinely get accused of lacking identity. But Adam may be the first to understand in his marrow that shape-shifting has become an essential element of our love for pop musicians.

There's always been a fracture between how you succeed on Idol (essentially, by playing the game) and how you succeed beyond Idol once you enter a world in which being the cookie-cutter product of a network series is a liability. But Adam has taken a (big, sequined) battering ram to that aesthetic. And he's doing so while playing out the big issue — the gay question — with a complicated mixture of caution and shrewdness. Though Adam is widely assumed to be gay (even his celebrity rooting section, which ranges from Kathy Griffin to Hairspray director Adam Shankman, thinks he's out), the most he would say to EW about the public scrutiny is ''I know who I am. I'm an honest guy, and I'm just going to keep singing.''

That nonanswer is a window into the fact that neither we nor the show has come as far as we'd like to pretend. Can an openly gay contestant win American Idol? The question is being considered everywhere from fan blogs to The New York Times — but we're still one openly gay contestant short of a test case. While the Internet has provided gay Idol fans like me with ample photographic evidence that Adam seems to enjoy performing dental exams on other guys using his tongue, Adam hasn't said ''I'm gay.'' American Idol hasn't said ''He's gay'' (the closest the judges have come is to compliment Adam for being ''brave'' enough to be ''himself''). And teenage girls in the audience are still waving hand-lettered signs saying ''MARRY ME ADAM!!!'' (That feels...unlikely.)

So we're just guessing about Adam. Simon Cowell told TV Guide that Idol has ''never had an issue'' with its star contestant's sexuality, which is ''a huge step forward.'' Actually, it's a huge step sideways. While Adam's competitors come packaged with humanizing backstories — Kris Allen is married, and Danny Gokey, as you may have heard seven or eight hundred times, is a widower — Adam's personal life remains shielded. He was apparently made by the hand of God and left in a basket backstage at Wicked, where he was discovered, bestowed with a lifetime supply of black nail polish, and raised by musical-theater queens.

Adam's sexuality offers a fascinating challenge to the show's status quo. Is Idol ready for a gay winner? Possibly. After all, its British forebear Pop Idol crowned a contestant, Will Young, who came out shortly after he won. And Idol itself came close when Clay Aiken, then closeted but somebody who even houseplants surmised was gay, finished second. But is Idol ready for this gay(ish) winner? Perhaps not. Clay, after all, never sang ''I'm gonna give you every inch of my love'' while wearing skintight pants and green-glitter guyliner. In general, Idol voters have demonstrated a strong preference for contestants who are a little abashed, nervous, demonstratively relieved when they survive. And Adam doesn't do humble. Preeningly elongating his bombastic falsetto and shimmying in his shiny suits, he strutted through the early rounds oozing confidence. On Idol, it's good to be the best, but dangerous to act like you know it. Ask Chris Daughtry.

As a culture, we like gay underdogs, but on reality-competition shows, we haven't seen many Adams before — someone who enjoys selling his sexuality, who looks you in the eye, flirts, and dares you not to flirt back. We're fine with gay men as vulnerable lost souls singing suicide-hotline emo ballads like ''Mad World.'' But what's exciting about Adam is that, despite that superb performance, he really isn't that guy. He's out, loud, and proud. Well, two out of three.

Many readers will say ''Why are we even discussing this? Why does it matter whether he's gay or not?'' It doesn't. Or rather, it shouldn't. Except that unlike his counterparts, who commodify their lives on their sleeves, Adam isn't talking about it. He's handled inquiries with disarming jokiness. Ambushed recently by a TMZ reporter who said, awkwardly, ''So, you could be the first...,'' Adam replied, smiling, ''The first what?'' daring the reporter to finish the thought. He didn't. But neither did Adam. Maybe it's still too costly to say who you are. It's certainly costly not to. Does he feel he can't? Does the show feel he shouldn't? Is his choice personal or strategic? Will it pay off? And does any of this represent progress?

I can, at least, tackle that last one. Progress is when all those other questions no longer need to be asked. But since, win or lose, Adam Lambert is going to be the most exciting new star American Idol has found in quite some time, I can't wait to hear his answers. - Entertainment Weekly


I'm a 39-year-old single woman and I have a crush on Adam Lambert of American Idol. I love his voice and his self-assured smile. I love his white jeans. I find myself surfing YouTube for Adam's videos and watching his rendition of ``Mad World'' 20 times. After posting a comment on the American Idol website at 1:15 a.m., I broke out in a perimenopausal panic: Not only would I never have Adam in the flesh, it was also likely that I was in the midst of a full-on regression to preadolescence. An instant message appeared from my girlfriend. ``Is that your comment, loser?'' Relieved that I was not alone, I perused a few more boards, and discovered many fans gone gaga for the ``Glambert.'' One favorite: ``He's the only rock star I've ever screamed over {ndash} and I'm a 30-year-old mother of two with a minivan.'' I've seen posts by women in their 60s who, despite speculation over Adam's sexual orientation, are ready to hurl their underdrawers onstage. Even my father admitted, ``That guy's pretty good, right?'' as he pressed rewind.

Every Tuesday night this season, I relived the pain of youthful infatuation. The sting lingered for days, despite each Wednesday's awkward Osmond-esque group number. I hear Adam's ``Satisfaction'' while I'm ordering a burrito. Will he be wearing a suit or a studded belt, I wondered before each week's installment. Adam Lambert {ndash} who as of this writing was still in the competition {ndash} possesses a voice lined with more velvet than an Elvis painting and exudes a mouthwatering, cherubic sex appeal reminiscent of The King himself. My adult crush is a derivative of the adolescent variety, except that it's tinged with shame. Sometime before freshman year of college, it becomes unacceptable to indulge in a one-sided infatuation that can only be consummated by a ballpointed heart containing the message ``Adam + Erika. 4ever.''

Adam's popularity proves that perceptions of sexual orientation do not determine what makes a man irresistible. My friend John doesn't understand {ndash} he thinks the possibility that Adam plays for the other team disqualifies him as the object of a woman's crush. A voice rooted in my loins responds, ``So what?'' His performances display a smooth-edged virility that transcends sexual preference. Besides, crushes are supposed to be unrequited {ndash} that's why we are crushed by them. I don't expect Adam to come waltzing out of my bedroom closet carrying a tray of chocolate-covered strawberries. Mmm. Cue the drool police.

Any idolatrous crush is a defiant act against practical love, a madness designed to bring the impossible closer. In middle school, I had a four-year crush on our star soccer player, as well as on the preppie guy who played A.J. on the TV show Simon & Simon.

If you're crushing on someone in your social orbit, there is some possibility of actual human interaction, which is the first prerequisite in building an enduring relationship. The heart can dare to be hopeful. You can actively mastermind scenarios, like begging to be fixed up by your friend's sister's dental hygienist whose miniature-golf partner lives next door to your crush.

A celebrity crush frustrates the rational senses. The degree of separation between Adam and myself is incalculable, and so I am stuck exerting my passion onto a dimension as flat as the cover of Tiger Beat magazine. Establishing contact would require a commitment to stalker-ism, a line I only fantasize about crossing. But the idol crush is a source of misery that also can be tapped for its exhilaration. Passion, like energy, has to go somewhere; I can channel the intensity of my emotion into that dusty screenplay, the forgotten electric guitar, or just plain old life.

My next step, after watching this week's finale, is to secure tickets for the American Idol concert, although I am a bit worried about how I will conduct myself saturated in such euphoria. Will I rush the stage? If he shakes my hand, will I lick it? Even if Adam harbors no romantic interest in me or my fellow female fans, his performance will help me access my own passion. Plus, I might get a close-up of those tight white jeans. - The Boston Globe


If American Idol is a referendum on American taste, then it's possible Adam Lambert--the most flamboyant contestant yet on a show that has never been a beacon of restrained masculinity--will be gone before you read this sentence. Pleasantly little fuss has been made over pictures circulating on the Web of Lambert kissing a man, but a form of prejudice could still do him in: prejudice against irony.

Idol is a reliable source of platinum talent largely because the talents it produces--Kelly Clarkson, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood--respect the conventions of its genres. They are nice singers who sing nice songs nicely. Lambert, 27, may have the best chops of the bunch (his ability to hold high notes recalls Grace Slick in her prime), but where he really outshines them is in self-awareness. While his peers act as if being plucked from obscurity to sing in prime time is normal, he understands that he's on a television show, where acting normally would be completely abnormal. In his hands, a song and a performance are separate messaging opportunities, so "Born to Be Wild" becomes a rock anthem and show tune, "Ring of Fire" a love song verging on the orgiastic.

The judges love Lambert, but they are also routinely stumped: "Confusing and shocking and sleazy!" shouted Kara DioGuardi after Lambert seduced Sammy Davis Jr.'s "Feeling Good." Lambert might just be too weird for a show this big. But win or lose, it won't matter: after producing plenty of singers, American Idol has found its first star. - TIME Magazine


Sometimes, in the desert, you can figure things out. That’s what Adam Lambert discovered a couple years ago at Burning Man, the annual utopian festival in Nevada. At the time, he had been hanging out in the nightclub scene in Los Angeles, at Hyde and other celebrity spots — “It was negative, and really dark, all about cocaine and synthetic-ego bullshit,” he says — and he felt a little bit lost, not sure of what he wanted to do with his life. “I was getting bitter,” he says. “I was looking for something, and I wasn’t sure what it was.” At Burning Man, he drove around in a bus with a flamethrower welded on top, performed in an impromptu musical revue called the “Big Black Man Show” and experimented with “certain funguses.” Then it happened: “I had a psychedelic experience where I looked up at the clouds and went, ‘Oh!’” he says. “I realized that we all have our own power, and that whatever I wanted to do, I had to make happen.” And what he wanted to do was try out for American Idol.

These are not the kind of stories that one expects to hear from the average American Idol contestant. And there are many other aspects to Lambert that people don’t know, even after 30 million viewers spent four months thinking they were getting close to him. For example, he’s Jewish, though he was never bar mitzvahed and hated Hebrew school, mostly because he got a bloody nose in front of class the first day. His parents split up when he was 19, while he was in Europe performing in a cheesy six-person musical revue on a cruise ship. He admits to having spent a lot of his life partying, obsessively chasing love, though at his core he is the hardest thing to come by in pop culture: a genuinely free-spirited, easygoing flower child who prizes love over money, peace over power. And there’s one more thing, something you probably know already, but he hasn’t been explicit about until now: “I don’t think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I’m gay,” he says.

This information — again, not a surprise — is passed along at 11pm, two nights after the Idol finale, when Lambert bounds into the waiting area of 19 Entertainment’s chic office on Sunset Boulevard, with a view of the Los Angeles lights sparkling in the distance (”Is it smog that makes everything look that way?” Lambert muses, gazing into the distance. “Or is it glitter?”). In two weeks, he’ll begin rehearing for the Idol national tour, which starts July 5th, but tonight he met with Simon Fuller, the creator of the Idol franchise, about his new recording contract. “He’s so confident and self-assured,” says Fuller. “He’s like Marc Bolan meets Bowie, with a touch of Freddie Mercury and the sexiness of Prince.” This may all be the case, but right now Lambert is running on fumes. After the finale, he celebrated the show’s wrap up until 3am, then woke up for a batch of Fox-affiliate TV interviews an hour later. “The first thing I did in the morning was crack a Red Bull,” he says, laughing. “For a little while, I felt I was at a race. Then I went from ‘Oh my god, who has glow sticks?’ to ‘Stick a pacifier in me, I’m done.’” Nevertheless, he pops open a bottle of Vueve Clicquot, a present from Fuller, pouring glasses for his new retinue: a publicist, a day-to-day manager, and a bodyguard. “Ain’t going to say no to booze,” he says. “You’ve got me in rare form: no filter.”

It certainly seems that way over late-night dinner next door at the Sunset Marquis hotel, where — in the face of a grotesque media circuit with such paragons of virtue as Bill O’Reilly and Perez Hilton trying to beat his homosexuality into public consciousness on a daily basis — Lambert eagerly shares details about his private life and his rationale for having kept many of them to himself. “Right after the finale, I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, ‘I’m going to wait for Rolling Stone, that would be cooler,’” he says. “I didn’t want the Clay Aiken thing and the celebrity-magazine bullshit. I need to be able to explain myself in context.” Later, he adds, “I find it very important to be in control of the situation. I feel like everyone has an opinion of me, and I want a chance to say, ‘Well, do you want to hear how I really feel about all this?”

This is a question easier posed than answered, because Lambert has a lot of thoughts on his newfound role as American’s new gay runner-up Idol, and many of them are somewhat contradictory. But there’s one point on which he is completely sure: “I’m proud of my sexuality,” he says. “I embrace it. It’s just another part of me.”

Let’s return, for a moment, to the other parts of Lambert, the 27-year-old from San Diego who captured many hearts in this season of American Idol for reasons that have little to do with his sexual preference and everything to do with his show-pony voice, silky presence and explosive performances. After all, this is the guy who upstaged Kiss on the finale. “I was so excited,” he says of the segment. “I was like, ‘I’m going to glue rhinestones on my eyelids, bitch! That’s right, American Idol in platform boots. You ain’t voting anymore.’” The same electricity that he projected onstage is abundantly available in person, coupled with the triple-snap sense of humor, relentlessly sunny disposition and a knack for quickly assessing the best way to work everything he comes across. Lambert is handsome — six feet one and 165 pounds, with patrician features and sky-blue eyes — and he’s unrepentant about flirting with both sexes. Even when you know that he’s gay, it’s hard not to find him physically attractive. And that’s the way he likes it. “I loved it this season when girls went crazy for me,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s all hot. Just because I’m not sticking it in there doesn’t mean that I don’t find it beautiful.”

These are the kind of lines that Lambert loves to throw off, a glint in his eye as he savors the shock value. Some of it is gratuitous, meant to provoke; most of it seems genuine, stemming from a sense of confidence that comes from having staked his claim in Hollywood for almost a decade. Before the show, Lambert was a working singer, making $1,800 a week as an Actor’s Equity chorus member in the Los Angeles production of the musical Wicked. But he wasn’t happen. “I’d finally gotten a part in a Broadway show and suddenly it wasn’t what I wanted,” he says. “Musical theater was too static, in a way, and too thankless. I was so over being a chorus boy.” Backstage, in Wicked’s dressing room, the guys liked to chatter about American Idol. “Everyone had an opinion, like, ‘Oh, Jason Castro is so cute, but can he really sing?’ or ‘Carly Smithson, she’s so fierce,’” he says. When he shared his Burning Man epiphany with them, they cheered him on: “They were like, ‘You have to go, bitch!’ I knew that it was my only shot to be taken seriously in the recording industry, because it’s fast and broad.”

So, in July, he drove up to the Idol auditions in San Francisco — and soon catapulted into the Top 36, whereupon he got his first tattoo, the Eye of Horus, an Egyptian god, to keep him safe. He tried to keep calm, dig into his own pocket for stage costumes and agonized over every song choice. “I saw what David Cook did last year, and it was cool,” he says. “He thought, ‘I have to sing something everybody knows, but I’m going to make it work for me, and I am not going to give a fuck about what the theme is that week — and, most of all, I’m going to just ignore the pageantry of the whole thing.” He snorts a little. “It’s so pageant,” he says. “That’s why it’s hard for people like Allison [Iraheta], who won’t stand there and smile, say what they want her to say. I was on my best behavior, but it wasn’t fake. That’s really was my best self.”

When Lambert hit the top 13, he sublet his studio apartment in a 1920s Hollywood building and moved into the show’s Bel-Air mansion with a new roommate: eventual winner Kris Allen. “I was like, ‘Oh, shit, they put me with the cute guy,’” he says. “Distracting! He’s the one guy I found attractive in the whole group on the show: nice, nonchalant, pretty and totally my type — except that he has a wife. I mean, he’s open-minded and liberal, but he’s definitely 100 percent straight.” Danny Gokey, a worship director from Milwaukee, was not quite as progressive as Allen, and Lambert says they discussed religion a few times. “Danny is by the book, and the book is the Word,” he says diplomatically. “And I respect that. Just don’t try to push it on me and we’re good.”

Gokey wasn’t in Lambert’s clique on the show, which was made up primarily of Allen and 17-year-old Iraheta. “Two bros and a sis!” says Iraheta, giggling. They encouraged Iraheta to pick up a guitar, express herself. “One of the vocal coaches once said to me, ‘Stop giving everybody such good advice. No one else is doing it for them,’” says Lambert. “But it was good karma, you know?” Allen didn’t need any of his help, and Lambert isn’t upset about losing the competition to him. “I wasn’t after the title,” he says. “I was after staying on the platform as long as I could, and I did that.” Allen has been unceasingly gracious about grabbing the crown. “Adam was consistent through the competition, and I was really shocked to win,” he says.

Backstage at Idol, Lambert was out to everybody, but America wasn’t completely clued in. Then, one day in March, pictures of him dressed in drag and tonguing his ex-boyfriend hit the internet. It was his fault: Before Idol, he took down his Myspace and Facebook pages but forgot to remove photos from his profile on Tribe.net, a social-networking community of Burning Man attendees. “I thought, ‘Fuck, I’m screwed, possibly,’” he says. “Going into Idol, I assumed, ‘OK, people are going to talk.’ I mean, I’ve been living in Los Angeles for eight years as a gay man, I’ve been at clubs, drunk, making out with somebody in the corner. But photographic evidence?” He shakes his head ruefully. “Didn’t count on that. Wasn’t ready for that.” He was particularly nervous about the drag photos, worried that people might think it was his true nature. “I’ve only dressed in drag three or four times — and of course I took pictures, because I looked amazing — but I don’t tuck and wear breasts, that’s not me,” he says. “Sucking my boy’s face? Yes, that I will own.”

The decision then was to keep the matter quiet — a choice made for him in part because the Top 13 contestants are usually banned from speaking to the media until they are voted off the show. “The head of Idol public relations asked me what I wanted to do about it,” says Lambert. “They were completely supportive of any decision I made.” He thought about coming out in the press, but he didn’t want audiences to focus on the issue. “I was worried that [coming out] would be so sensationalized that it would overshadow what I was there to do, which was sing,” he says. “I’m an entertainer, and who I am and what I do in my personal life is a separate thing. It shouldn’t matter.” He sighs. “Except it does.” He shakes his head. “It’s really confusing.”

Way back, before he went on Idol, and definitely before the revelation at Burning Man, Lambert wasn’t sure that he liked being that different. When he was little, he enjoyed spending afternoons in a cape, singing or lip-syncing songs in front of the mirror. “The box with the Halloween costumes stayed out all year,” says his mom, Leila, who worked as a children’s dental hygienist. “He was so precocious and thirsty for everything.” His parents, a liberal couple who met at the University of Vermont in the late seventies, didn’t mind that he didn’t like sports; instead, they joined a children’s theatre group to cultivate Adam’s talent. His dad, Ever, who worked as a DJ in college and followed the Grateful Dead throughout the eighties, let Adam mess around with his record collection. “I’m not a huge Dead fan, though I did love the community and art around them,” says Adam. Instead, he gravitated to Diamond Dogs, Jesus Christ Superstar, and theatrical rock like Queen (although it was widely reported that Lambert might tour with the band, it seems that this is no longer in the cards). “Once, someone gave Adam a two-CD set of seventies disco, the era that I hate the most, and I came home to him playing ‘Brick House’ at full volume,”

The cape, it turns out, remained a fixture at home through middle school, when he suddenly began to feel awkward around his classmates. “I started to realize that I wasn’t like every other boy, and I was just in my own head about it, tripping myself out,” he says. PE classes stoked his anxiety. “I didn’t want to be naked and vulnerable,” he says. “I was so scared of my sexuality.” He found solace onstage, double-booking himself as the lead actor in school plays and semi-professional plays in San Diego, and says his father. “I was like, ‘Man, it’s so depressing that I have to live through this music twice.”inserting himself into a tight-knit circle of theater kids, many of whom were Mormons. “We were such goody-goodies,” he says. “When I was young, I never got in trouble at all.” His parents asked a gay friend whether they should talk to Adam about his sexuality, but he advised them to wait for their some to come to them with the news. When Adam was 13, Eber caught him looking at gay porn on the family computer. “I went to my ex-wife and said, ‘It’s official,’” he says. “She said, ‘He’s just curious.’ I said, ‘Let me tell you about heterosexual men and homosexual pornography — this isn’t curiosity!’”

In high school, Lambert made out with a few girls, and even had oral sex with one during spring break, but for the most part, they were quick to realize he wasn’t on their team. “During plays, Adam would hang out in the girls’ dressing room while we were changing, and every once in a while a mom would walk by and ask him, ‘What are you doing in there?’” says Danielle Stori, a singer-songwriter. “And we’d be like, ‘C’mon, it’s only Adam!”

After high school, he enrolled in college in Orange County but dropped out after five weeks to star in a play in San Diego. One night, he accompanied his mother to a high school speech-and-debate evening of fictional monologues. “One kid did a dramatic speech about his parents turning their backs on him because he was gay, and the kid almost got killed because of it,” says Lambert. “I could tell my mom was getting upset. On the way home, she asked, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ I said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘Do you have a boyfriend?’ I said, ‘No.’ She was like, ‘Well, do you want one?’ I said, ‘Yes, that would be nice.’” He laughs. “Suddenly, it was like a wall dropped and we started gabbing like crazy.” But he still had maturing to do. “I didn’t feel comfortable in my skin, didn’t feel sexy,” he says.

After spending a year on the cruise ships, he moved to Hollywood, where he lost his virginity on his 21st birthday. “I was drunk, and it was awkward,” he says. “I was like ‘Wow, that was bad.’” Intimidated by the notion of moving to New York to pursue a job on Broadway, he took roles in small productions in California, including a musical version of Debbie Does Dallas in Lake Tahoe. “In high school, I got everything I wanted as far as performing was concerned, but in the real world, it was really hard,” he says.

When he couldn’t pay the rent, his parents usually bailed him out, but sometimes his cell phone would get cut off, and he wouldn’t have money for gas. As 21, he was cast in a European tour of Hair for six months. In Germany, he started smoking pot and tried ecstasy for the first time; dyed his hair black and went to his first sex club. “I was always obsessed with the sixties, and this experience was like living through it for me,” he says. “I wanted so badly to be the hippie in the show.”

That’s the lifestyle he sought out upon his return to America, immersing himself in the West Coast neohippie underground around the Burning Man festival — a mix of psychedelics, astrology, left-leaning politics, dub-step DJs and free expression (some might call it “oversharing”). An after-hours musical revue based on the zodiac? Sign him up. A Monday-night bacchanalia in grimy downtown L.A.? He’s so there. In this crowd, being different wasn’t only OK — it was to be revered. “Having so much extra is a difficult journey,” says one of his best friends, Scarlett (she goes by one name). “Sometimes if you’re too fabulous, people react in a weird way, and I think that was part of Adam’s path.”

Friends like Allan Louis, an actor on the CW’s Privileged, encouraged him to expand as an artist, and he took up songwriting on GarageBand with Monte Pittman, a guitarist for Madonna and Prong, and even fronting a metal band for Pittman briefly. He also fell in love for the first time, with another Burner. “I expanded a lot spiritually with him,” Lambert says. “We treated our relationship like a workshop, talking to each other about the ways we wanted to grow.” (”I’m trying to get Zac Efron to come to Burning Man,” he says later. “He says he really wants to go!”)

Now he feels creatively awakened and personally fulfilled. “Everything that I always thought was a fantasy is actually happening, and it’s a testament to imagination and doing whatever the fuck comes to my mind,” he says. He even met his own idol, Madonna: Pittman invited Lambert over to her apartment after he gave her a guitar lesson. “She had her guard up a little at first, like anyone would in that situation, but after she realized I had good intentions she was so playful,” gushes Lambert. “I told her that I loved her and was intimated by her, and she was like, ‘Oh, so love equals intimidation for you?’” Madonna hadn’t watched American Idol, but the two of them did talk astrology, and they discussed his moon sign, Aries. “She said, ‘You don’t like anyone telling you what to do, do you?’” he says. “It’s so cool, because she gets it, you know?”

He smiles. “I’m finally checked in to my self-worth for the first time in my life, and the fact that it has coincided with Idol is so sweet,” he says. “I mean, I still have moments where I think, ‘Oh, my skin is terrible, and I’m a little fat, and I should really go to the gym more.’ But for the most part, when I look in the mirror now, I finally see somebody who can do something cool.” Then he laughs a little. “Don’t they say that you dream more when there are things you aren’t attaining, that you are repressing? Well, I haven’t been having any dreams lately. Now I’m in a waking dream.”

The day after the dinner at the Marquis, Lambert arrives at his hotel in Beverly Hills around 10:30pm, after a long photo shoot, taking a seat in the second-floor lounge. We talk about his likes and dislikes: on the side of likes, we have the Twilight book series, Bret Easton Ellis, Thievery Corporation, Goldfrapp and President Obama. “I voted for the first time, for Obama,” he says. “Traveling in Europe was so depressing when Bush was in office: People were always asking, ‘Why’d you elect him?’ And I guess I let it happen, in a way.” The dislikes list is topped by Nickelback, Creed, cameras (”Why can’t you have the experience without taking a picture of it?”) and cocaine. “That drug is such a reflection of the lack of self-esteem and control people have over themselves and their lives,” he says. “I’d much rather smoke a bowl, chill out and listen to music.” We start talking about his fears, and the only one on this list is worry about his parents dying and, later, growing old alone himself. “I believe that whatever happens after death is really great,” he says. “I don’t believe in hell. Maybe you’re rewarded for being a good person, but I don’t think you’re punished.”

This is the usual kicked-back attitude one expects from Lambert, but when the conversation turns to his newfound role as a gay icon, he begins to pick the polish off his nails, which is what he does when he feels anxious — it’s clearly an argument he’s spent a lot of time having with himself, in his own head. On one hand, he wants to support gay rights at a moment when same-sex marriage is in legal limbo in many states. He enjoyed performing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” on the show for a reason: “This civil rights movement is near to my heart, and it felt really good to sing that,” he says. “I’m not asking to get married in your church, but you don’t have any right to tell me I can’t do it.”

Discrimination, though it’s usually minor, is a fact of his life: Just the other day, an American Idol chauffeur told him that he had no problem with him, “‘because at least you’re not girly.’” Lambert shudders. “Man, it’s so ignorant,” he says. “Why can’t some men have strong feminine sides? Does that make them less of a man? I don’t know why our society has such an emphasis on masculinity and femininity — it’s really gross. I don’t think you’re truly sexy until you don’t care about that.”

On the other hand, Lambert doesn’t want to be the poster child for gay rights. “I’m trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader,” he says. Also, he’s uncomfortable with some of the ways that gay culture has evolved. “Middle America may think that what I am is gay, but here in Hollywood, gay guys are all about looking and acting hetero,” he says. “Clay Aiken’s gay, and I’m gay, and we couldn’t be more different. The only thing that’s the same about everyone in the gay community is that we’re gay. Do we have anything in common besides the fact that we like dick? Why can’t we talk about a human community?”

He’s right: Identity politics suck, and his situation is tricky. Plus, if he didn’t want to come out publicly, wouldn’t that be his prerogative? “I think I reserve the right to talk about my own sexuality,” he says. He’s faced a firing squad of entertainment reporters every day, desperate to know when he’s going to answer the “question dangling over his head,” as one of them put it. He shrugs. “I can either get irritated and let this drive me nuts, or laugh at it,” he says, then smirks a little. “I kind of like things dangling over my head anyway.” He leans in. “Lately, you know, there’s part of me that’s almost bi-curious the other way around. I’ve made out a few times with girls at nightclubs when I had way too many drinks. I don’t know if it would ever happen, but I’m kind of interested. I don’t think I’d want to do it with a groupie, though.” He cocks his head. “Then again, maybe I’d rather it was with a stranger than someone I knew.”

After an hour of talking in the hotel lounge, Lambert’s bodyguard appears to escort him to his hotel room so he can pack for his trip to New York tomorrow, for a new round of TV interviews. At 9am the next day, he jumps into the back of an SUV, Karl Lagerfeld shades clapped on tight, gabbing about the new condo that he wants to buy. “I want a crash room, or a kind of hookah den with pillows on the floor, a sound system and lots of color therapy, sensual purples and reds,” he says, then fiddles with his BlackBerry. “My brother Neil called me last night so drunk, with his friends,” he says, giggling. “He said, ‘We think you should do an album of covers called Doin’ Hella Dudes: you’ll cover some badass dudes, but it’ll be like you’re doin’ dudes, you know?’” He lets out a loud guffaw from deep in his belly. “Then he said, ‘It’s cool if you can’t thank us now, but when the album comes out, give us credit, because we love you.’”

In New York, Lambert dines at five-star restaurants, gets into a fight with a cab driver and bawls through Hair on Broadway. He meets with Barry Weiss, the head of RCA, the company distributing his album with 19 Recordings — “He asked if I was a Jew, and I said I’d wear a yarmulke if he wanted, as long as it had rhinestones,” he jokes. He’s hopeful about his new album, which he classifies vaguely as pop-rock electro. “Everyone’s so hung up on ‘Are you pop?’ or ‘Are you rock?’” he says. “It’s like, ‘Um, does this song make you want to dance, or have sex, or remind you of something?’ It’s not that deep. Being a rockstar is just playing. It’s Halloween, make-believe.” He laughs. “I can’t believe I get to play dress-up for a living now!”

On the morning of his return to L.A., he decides to drive up the coast with a guy he’s dating to a resort in Santa Barbara (the dude, whom Lambert met while passing out fliers at a club, is “Cajun, voodoo-down, dreamy,” but he doesn’t want to talk about him too much for fear of jinxing the relationship). “I’m so excited to be almost on vacation,” he says. “I ain’t going to lie, I put Kahlua in my coffee this morning.”

Before he leaves, he stops at a nail salon, where a dozen Korean attendants whip their heads around in unison at his appearance. After selection a gunmetal-black nail polish, he sinks into a massage chair, one attendant buffing his feet and another at his hands. He murmurs a little, then directs his attention to a flatscreen TV, set to a replay of the 2008 American Music Awards, with performances by the Pussycat Dolls (”my guilty pleasure”), the Jonas Brothers (”I like those laser lights more than them”) and Justin Timberlake (”Yum”).

Within minutes, a pair of bedraggled paparazzi appear at the salon’s door, toting cameras. A manager lowers a gauzy white curtain for privacy, but they linger on the sidewalk, rising on their toes to peer through windows.

“Should I flip them off?” asks Lambert, a smile playing on his lips. “Is that too racy?”

He goes back and forth on this decision — “Don’t you think I want to make a storm?” he says. “Isn’t it fun to be cheeky?” — before settling on showing off his pedicure for the cameras when the polish dries, but he gets impatient. He bounds out in bare feet, wiggling his foot like the hokeypokey, then slips into a waiting car.

It would’ve been fun to flip them off, though. “I would have done it with a big smile on my face, to show them I’m not actually mad,” he says. “I’m only playing.” - Rolling Stone


"He's the New Age Elvis!" gushed Marie Burgess of Bowie, after she and her mother saw the gyrating, lip-curling Adam Lambert perform Tuesday night when the American Idol Live tour made a stop at Verizon Center.

Sure, Lambert, 27, lost the "Idol" title to the clean-cut Kris Allen, 24, but that hardly deterred the moms, daughters, tweens and everyone else who shrieked with dog-whistle-pitched delight when Lambert emerged onstage. In a ruffly, studded, knee-length blue tailcoat (later cast off to reveal a rhinestone-studded vest over a bare chest -- the man loves a good costume change or three), Lambert looked like the spiky-haired, black-nail-polished love child of Eddie Izzard and Prince.

After eight of Idol's top 10 finalists had done their thing on Verizon Center's stage, Lambert appeared (cue shrieks) to open his mesmerizing set with Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love," an ace in the hole, given that the crowd was liberally peppered with Adam Lambert T-shirts and signs that declared: "Adam is my winner," "I {heart} Adam Lambert," etc. So a song in which Lambert promises "I'm gonna give you my love" was unsurprisingly successful.

"He said in an interview that he likes men," Burgess said, "but I could be that 'lucky girl'! I am married, though." Burgess's mother smiled, still clutching her own homemade Lambert sign. (Their tickets, incidentally, were a wedding present from Burgess's husband).

But if one isn't in the audience simply to bask in Lambert's admittedly electric stage presence, what does the "American Idol Live" tour have to offer?

Well, at least it's better than the TV show.

Although 10,000 "AI" fans showed up, Verizon Center seemed a wee bit dead, at least for the first hour or so of this Lord-of-the-Rings-length performance. Maybe the fans are just accustomed to watching these "Idols" on TV. They stayed in their seats and pretty much ignored 10th-place Idol Michael Sarver's attempts to get people clapping along. Or maybe fans in the building were just mopey after hearing rumors (later confirmed) that Paula Abdul won't be judging the upcoming ninth "Idol" season.

Starting from this season's 10th-place finisher and working their way up to winner Kris Allen, the Idols each had individual stage-time. The first few performers were allotted two songs, while later Idols got to belt out four tunes. Each had the benefit of a full band and two backup singers, who also chimed in on some ensemble numbers.

By the time fourth-place Idol Allison Iraheta took the stage, the audience was a bit more receptive. And Iraheta certainly earned the response as she hopped around the stage, her bright red hair trailing behind her. Though only 17, she was prodigiously confident and dynamic, tearing through impassioned renditions of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby" and Pink's "So What."

Though the stick-to-the-script-ness feel made the overall concert a bit blah, 24-year-old Scott MacIntyre (the show's first blind contestant) and former lounge singer Matt Giraud, 24, ramped things up when they appeared, seated at pianos, on a platform that ascended from below the stage and launched into a spirited duet.

When winner Allen finally arrived to wrap things up with a few understated ditties, the audience happily chimed in on "Hey Jude" and cheered for Allen's Obama shout-out (Tuesday was the president's birthday). The iconic Beatles song was followed by a house-pleasing rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," for which all Idols were on deck.

Of course, American Idol Live (D.C. was the 21st show on the 52-stop tour) is much like the TV formula -- without the judging: Nonconfrontational persons sing nonconfrontational songs that were written and made famous by other people. The Idols wear clothes other people chose and (it seems) repeat pre-approved choreography and patter. Plus, there are lots of corporate spots (the massive screens surrounding the stage broadcast an extended car commercial pre-performance, featuring footage of all 10 finalists). Ugh.

But at least the Idols sound much better in person than they do on TV. If you've ever shaken your fist at the "Idol" screen and vowed you could do better, the Live tour might assuage your hissy fits. And some of the Idols managed to break through into a semblance of live-ness, including Iraheta, Lambert and Giraud, who mercifully indulged in some entertaining patter.

Pre-concert, five of the Idols gathered backstage to spend some time with the press and dish. Since the tour began on July 5, the Idols have been traveling together in a single bus. During a rare day off in Washington on Monday, Lambert (who's rushing to co-write and record an album by November) got a facial and went shopping, donning a trucker hat and sunglasses (his incognito look). Giraud went to the Natural History Museum, where, he says, he hummed the "Night at the Museum" theme song and "geeked out for hours." Megan Joy, Lil Rounds and Iraheta went shopping with their hairdresser.

None of the Idols who spoke to the press were aware that Abdul's absence from the upcoming ninth season had been confirmed.

"I haven't heard that," Giraud said. "I gotta call her!"

Second runner-up Danny Gokey, 29, called the notion of Abdul's departure "awful" and "a mistake" before cautiously adding that it probably wasn't any of his business. But, he said, Abdul was the judge who cared most about the contestants themselves.

"Paula," Gokey said, "brought heart to the show." - The Washington Post


As traveling pop smorgasbords go, this one was pretty delectable.

American Idols Live! at the TD Garden last night featured 2 1/2 hours of performances ranging from mediocre to magnificent, with the Top 10 finalists mixing and matching onstage for duets and group numbers.

A 20-minute intermission was the only true buzzkill, though Season 8 winner Kris Allen's closing set came in a close second. Yes, some of the Fox-fabricated stars fared better than others.

Lil Rounds brought plenty of energy to a pair of Mary J. Blige tunes and a semi-choreographed version of Beyonce's ``Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),'' but ultimately made fans appreciate the originals more.

Danny Gokey has one of the best voices of the bunch, but was hampered by song choices that didn't do his seductive growl justice (though ``What Hurts the Most'' was gut-wrenching). Matt Giraud, however, rose to the challenge of ``Georgia on My Mind.''

Guitar-wielding 17-year-old Allison Iraheta was soul-stirring on ``Cry Baby'' and ``Barracuda,'' while Anoop Desai, clearly stepping up his fashion game as well as his choreography, delivered on ``Always On My Mind'' and Ne-Yo's ``Mad.''

Let's be clear, though. There may have been 10 Idols, but there was one star: Runner-up Adam Lambert got a rock star-worthy entrance that allowed the Adamania brewing all night to fully take hold.

Bringing leather and smoke machine-assisted theatrics to the stage, Lambert gave Robert Plant a run for his money on ``Whole Lotta Love,'' brought suggestive hip thrusts and serpentine gyrations to David Bowie's ``Fame'' and ``Let's Dance,'' and scaled it back for ``Mad World,'' though fans continued to stand and scream declarations of love.

Piano- and guitar-playing champ Allen seemed at home on the straight-up ``Bright Lights'' by Matchbox Twenty, but his rock remix of Kanye West's ``Heartless'' was lifeless. Following Lambert's gleaming, edgy fire, Allen's middle-of-the-road approach was a letdown. - The Boston Herald


To go to an ``American Idols Live'' concert is to commit to the entirety of it, the happy, safe mediocrity of the world's greatest karaoke show. It is to know that you will endure the wobbly warbles of Megan Joy Corkrey before getting to the tougher tones of Allison Iraheta. It is to know that after Adam Lambert rules every inch of the stage, you still have to sit through Kris Allen.

Yes, poor likable ``Idol'' winner Allen, with his plaid shirt and his hi-tops and his acoustic guitar, functioned as a sweet and hardworking anticlimax when he appeared as the last act of the night, crooning such fan favorites as ``Heartless'' and ``Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone.''

It was Lambert who truly owned the show from the moment he appeared in a cloud of smoke, singing ``Whole Lotta Love'' with a full commitment from his vocal cords and his pelvis. He made PG-rated motions with the microphone stand. He sat intensely on a stool for ``Mad World.'' He pulled Iraheta onstage for a rollicking duet of ``Slow Ride.'' He writhed for a Bowie medley. He threw a bra that had landed onstage back into the squealing TD Garden crowd.

He was the drawer of the loudest screams, the one producers blessed with the most lights and stage effects, but the rules are the rules. Like the television show that spawned it, the ``Idol'' tour, which played to a sold-out crowd of 13,100 last night, is an efficient and ordered affair.

Each of the top 10 contestants sings a few solo songs in the order of elimination, junior varsity before the intermission, showstoppers up last. The group numbers are perfunctory and blissfully brief. There is no encore.

There are pleasant surprises along the way. Maybe an arena is more acoustically forgiving than a TV soundstage - or maybe it's a function of more practice - but Scott McIntyre and even Corkrey (who now goes by ``Megan Joy'') sounded better than they did on television. Danny Gokey did an appealing white-boy version of ``PYT'' before descending into an airy puff of Rascal Flatts sentimentality. Anoop Desai pleased the tweens to no end. Matt Giraud pleased their mothers.

There were low points, too. Lil Rounds was nearly swallowed up alive by her version of Beyonce's ``Single Ladies,'' and she and Corkrey shared a frightening off-key moment during a duet. Iraheta, so electric when she sang with Lambert, shouted into the microphone during ``Rock Star'' and ``Barracuda.''

But it's not completely fair to complain; by definition, an ``Idol'' show will be less polished, less professional, even surprisingly wistful, as when McIntyre finished his set and descended, via hydraulic lift, back into the bowels of the Garden. Yes, the tour is about making scads of money for the ``American Idol'' enterprise, but it's also about the end of a chapter before a new season begins. For every Lambertesque star that ``Idol'' brings into the world, there are eight or 10 people who will fade back into obscurity, so this really is the brief fulfillment of the karaoke singer's dream.

It's exactly how we all need to approach the show: take what you can from it, then watch it fade away. - The Boston Globe


They started throwing the bras in Tacoma. That was the second night of the American Idols Live Tour. More flew in San Diego, Kansas City, and D.C. There were lacy, flowery bras and perky, polka-dotted bras, and the one that's currently dangling directly over Adam Lambert's head—a spongy E–cup on which some ardent fan has scrawled the initials A.L. over each giant boob. As a friendly prank, crew members have strung the bras up in the bowels beneath the stage at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside Chicago, among an abundance of other offerings—some of them X–rated. The groupies also hurled riding crops, feather boas, handcuffs, panties; it looks a little bit like a grenade went off in Frederick's of Hollywood. "I've heard about Tom Jones and panties," says Lambert, who has come down to survey the haul. "But me and panties, that's just a little bit freaky." He points to a jockstrap on which someone has written, in sequins, JOCKS LOVE ADAM. "Oh," he says wryly. "They do?"

To the showman in Lambert, a six–foot–one Pan of a man with deep–set blue eyes and a shock of jet–black–and–blue emo–style hair, it's all part of the spectacle. "A lot of times I'll pick up a bra and play with it during a song," he says. "It's a way to connect. It's like, 'I threw my bra up onstage and you're spinning it around. Cool. Yay.'"

Still, he says, "I think it's weird that I'm having this effect on women. It's flattering. I've never had underwear thrown at me before. Clearly there's something significant about it, because there aren't a lot of openly gay men in the entertainment industry."

It's a testament to the sheer mainstream power of American Idol that a gay man with an unabashed affection for eyeliner and nail polish has emerged from this year's competition as a new American sex symbol. "I think it's beautiful," Lambert says. "That's the way it should be. It shouldn't matter what a person's sexual preference is—it doesn't change their appeal."

In the end, Americans of every persuasion proved defenseless against Lambert's vigorous pelvic exertions. "When I'm onstage," he says, "there's definitely a sexual energy that goes into it." Indeed, he gyrated his way through performances like Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" with a libidinous abandon that's rarely seen on prime-time network television. Moral Majority types found his style scandalous, but Lambert offers no apologies.

"I have no problem telling people, 'You know what? I'm not your babysitter, and I'm not your church,'" he says. "They go, 'Jesus loves you, too.' One time I just blurted out, 'I'm Jewish, okay? I don't need another crucifix! This is not an appropriate gift for me!'" He laughs. "I know people are coming from a good place, but it can be offensive. Like, 'Thank you, I'm not Christian! I don't read that book.'"

Nor does he beg forgiveness for his outrageous costumes, which often look like cast–offs from a Vegas production of Mad Max. "There's a certain level of pageantry with Idol, and in order to work the show, you kind of have to feed into it," he says. Some say the 27–year–old even upstaged Kiss during their Idol visit, outshining them with his soaring rock–tenor vocals and Bowie–lite stage presence.



Undeniably, it was his voice—which has been compared favorably to those of Robert Plant and his hero Freddie Mercury—that got him a shot on Idol, but it was his savvy that helped him stay there and eventually steal the show. The gay speculation that surrounded him, which he never shied away from, probably didn't hurt, either.

Although he didn't win the competition—"It doesn't fuckin' matter" who won it, says Lambert, the runner–up—it got him what he wanted: a platform from which to launch a singing career. And fame.

When the season ended, he was awarded a six–figure recording contract with 19 Entertainment, the company that owns Idol and puts out the albums of its headliners, like Clay Aiken and Kelly Clarkson. Simon Fuller, the Great Oz behind the show and one of the most successful producers in history (Idol music sales alone have generated close to $100 million), explains Lambert's appeal as a matter of genuinely unique talent and natural charisma.

"His voice is second to none," Fuller says. "It's up there with the all–time great singers I've come across. Many millions of people have already fallen in love with him. He's got that glint in his eye, whether you're gay, whatever, it's just attractive. He's just a very sexual guy—and he's not threatening to women."

Lambert's groupies on the Idols Live Tour follow him across the country, offering him clothes and books and jewelry—and they've tried to give him other things.

"There was one woman in Jersey who was actually gorgeous," says Lambert. "She had obviously had a couple of cocktails, and during an after–show meet–and–greet, she just slithered up next to me and started kissing my neck. I was cool with it. But then it started to get a little weird because she was, like, moaning. She gave me a note that said, 'I want to make out with you, here's my number,' and I was like, wow, this is crazy. But again, it's cool. Because yeah, I am gay, but I like kissing women sometimes. Women are pretty. It doesn't mean I'm necessarily sleeping with them.

"Of course, had I been the one drinking the cocktails," he adds, "I probably would have made out with her."



He says it wouldn't matter to his 24–year–old boyfriend, whom he won't discuss except to say that he's "Cajun" and has "swagger." ("I like 'em smaller and younger," Lambert says mischievously.)

He smiles. "I don't see how all this is any different than—let's take a modern sex symbol like Brad Pitt. How many of these women who fantasize about him actually get to sleep with him?" he asks. "It's all fantasy—that's what entertainment is. I'm here to entertain you, and if my sexuality is apparent and you respond to it, and you're attracted to it, then great, I'm doing my job. It ain't happening anyway!"

His road manager arrives to hustle him off to get ready for the show. "It takes him a little longer because he's totally on girl time," she says affably.

"I like to get real pretty," Lambert says.

Lambert grew up in an affluent suburb of San Diego. His parents were laid–back boomers—his mother was a dental hygienist and his father a supervisor at a telecommunications company—who didn't freak out when their little boy exhibited a fondness for singing show tunes and gamboling around in capes. Which might explain why, two decades later, Lambert could sit up in front of a somber Chris Connelly on 20/20 and tell him how comfortable he is with his sexuality.

"Get into it, bitches!" he says now, laughing. "I'm not hiding anything. At least I can say that I'm honest."

But growing up, he says, he felt different, and he didn't always like the way he looked. In high school, he battled acne and his weight. "I really struggled with my self–image for a long time," he says. "I thought I was ugly. So that's probably where all the makeup and the dyeing of the hair stemmed from." (He's really a redhead.)

After a few weeks as a musical–theater major at a college in Orange County, he left to star in a play in San Diego. He came out at 18, but he was still a virgin and "actually very lonely," he says. At 19, he worked as a singer in a musical revue on a cruise ship for a year. "That showed me the world," he says. "And I got to do a lot of shopping. It affects your perspective like crazy. Somewhere in the South Pacific I saw a really poor Third World island and I was like, ohhhh. I had never seen that. I was kind of, like, upper–middle–class and white–bread."



He lost his virginity on his 21st birthday, in Hollywood, where he had moved to pursue a singing career. That same year, he traveled for six months in the European production of Hair. In 2004, he got great reviews playing Joshua in an ill–fated musical production of The Ten Commandments at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, alongside Val Kilmer. But, he says, he felt he wasn't really getting anywhere.

He fell into a depression sometime in 2006. "I got out of my first relationship, and I was kinda downward–spirally," he says. "I was destructive . . . just numbing myself out." He started partying at nightclubs like Hyde and sleeping around a bit—or as he describes it, "being a slutbag." He was also drinking, "smoking a shit ton of weed," and doing coke. "It was everywhere," he says. "And I'm not gonna lie, I had some fun, but it's never worth it the next couple of days physically."

In 2007, he was cast in the chorus of the national tour of Wicked and finally making enough money to support himself—about $1,800 a week. "But I was burned out on the show," he says. "Wicked was humbling; I was an understudy. I didn't get to go on all that much."

That summer, on a spiritual quest of sorts, he went to the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert. While on acid for the first time, he says, "I had a spiritual epiphany about the world and where I fit into it and what I am supposed to be doing. And my epiphany was, like, I can't be afraid anymore. I have to take life by the balls and make shit happen."

When he got back to L.A., he decided to try out for American Idol.

Lambert's entrance onto the stage of the Allstate Arena is preceded by some booming thunderclap sound effects and a screen lit up in pulsating red lights that look like the electronic flames of hell. Twenty thousand fans unleash bloodcurdling screams. And they're not all girls. There are dudes—straight dudes who look up to the stage with expectation, waiting to see this guy who held his own singing with Kiss and Queen: their bands.

Lambert swaggers onto the stage amid a near–seizure–inducing light sequence, wearing a leather jacket with spiked shoulders. He launches into his trademark Zeppelin number with howling gusto, then plunges the mic stand between his legs and rubs it up and down as if teasing his manhood. The crowd goes insane.



Now the women are throwing bras at him. They come zooming up from every which way. Here comes a pink feather boa. Lambert picks it up and swings it around his head. When a brightly colored beach ball arrives, he gives it a swift, hard kick into the crowd. Not a girlie kick, either.

Outside after the show, 16–year–old Cara is waiting in front of the stage door with about a hundred other teen girls and their moms. "He's sexy as helllllll," she says. "He's a fucking badass."

"Adam Lambert is the perfect man," sighs 15-year-old Jennifer.

The next day, Lambert sets out for a walk around Chicago. He's reluctant to go at first because, he says, "they will mob . . ." And they do. In their own polite way, because they're Midwesterners. They want to praise and congratulate him and take pictures with him. "I voted for you!" they tell him.

"There's a feeling of entitlement [with the fans] because they voted to get us where we are," he says, just a trifle irritated. "But you know what? I am responsible for what I created on that show—you voted for what I created, and thank you, but I created it, you didn't."

A beefy guy in a sweatshirt and aviator shades approaches.

"Big fan," he says, opening his arms for a hug.

"Oh, right on," says Lambert, allowing himself to be embraced.

"I thought it was you!" says the man, squeezing Lambert close.

"Yeah, it's me," says Lambert, gently extricating himself.

It would be hard to miss him. Lambert is wearing an outfit that looks like Johnny Rotten's closet had an orgy with Prince's dry cleaning. "Nobody tells you how to do this—there's no handbook for, like, insta–fame," he says as we walk away. "I'm just trying to be nice and responsible."

At a quiet Italian restaurant, he discusses the phenomenon of his "jock" appeal. "Maybe it's the thing of being, like, confident in who you are, which cuts across the lines of gender and sexual orientation," he says.

Or maybe the jocks just like the way he sings—and Lambert intends to keep it that way. "I just want to entertain," he says. "I don't want [my music] to be a political or social thing right away. Eventually I would love to mess with that, but it's a tricky, tricky road. There's a part of me that's a businessperson and part of me that's an artist, and the artist wants to push buttons and break boundaries, but the businessperson goes, 'Well, that doesn't really sell albums.' I don't want to alienate a bunch of people who would otherwise be into what I do."

For the album, 19 Entertainment has paired Lambert with some of the best pop producers in the music industry, including Greg Wells, who has worked with Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson. "The surprise is that he's also a gifted songwriter," says Wells. Lambert plays a taste of the album for me on his iPod. He describes it as "edgy pop." It has the kind of catchy hooks designed to go platinum.

"I'm working my ass off right now," he says. And it's already paying off: He just rented a three–bedroom house in Hollywood Heights and has his eye on a Jaguar coupe. "I've started looking at them and I'm like, ooooh. I'm not gonna lie and say money doesn't mean anything to me," he says. "It's fun to have money. It's nice to have nice things and live comfortably, and that's one of the reasons why I wanted this. That's one of the trade–offs of fame. It's the American dream."

"Adam, is that you?" A woman is passing by our table. Seeing him, she stops; her hands fly to her mouth. She begins to tremble and weep. Lambert gets up to give her a hug.

"It's going to be okay," he tells her, laughing. "It's really going to be okay." - Details Magazine


In early October, Out sat down with Adam Lambert for an hour-long talk about his upcoming album, life inside the American Idol machine, and how carving out a career in the music industry is still easier for him than being in love. (Lambert and then-boyfriend Drake LaBry broke up following that interview, after Out went to press.)

In the first half of our extended interview transcript (read part two here), Lambert gives us a play-by-play from the center of Fox’s PR storm, talks about his taste in men (hint: “pretty” is pretty important), and gets graphic about just how far curiosity can carry you.

Out: Let’s start off by talking about Lady Gaga.
Adam Lambert: I saw those pictures in Out, the Halloween pictures. They were incredible! I’m so refreshed by her. I think she’s finally taking risks. Like where are those people? You know what I mean? I’m inspired by it. I’m like, “Yeah, fuck yeah. Let’s take risks.”

We all wanted those rumors that you would take Kanye’s place on that tour to be true.
[Laughs.] Not true. It would be really fun.

Would it be the gayest tour ever?
It would probably be. The audience would be amazing, probably, at that tour. It’s really funny to me because a lot of my core fans -- people that went to the Idol concerts, and I glance at the messages boards once in a while -- there is a surprising amount of them that don’t like her.

Really?
And I’m like, but -- her way of approaching music is not that far off from what I’m trying to do. She’s doing what the club kids are doing and making it like, Top 40.

What has that inspired you to do?
Definitely just to take risks. Sonically, the actual style of her music is, like, club music. It’s not necessarily as avant garde as she’s presenting visually, but that’s what makes it so genius. It’s a song that everybody loves and she’s getting to play dress up and doing whatever the hell she wants. Which, I think, is what it should be. It’s how you interpret it.

Is what you learned on Idol applicable to the real world of the music industry?
I think so, yeah.

Do you feel like you’re having a different level of conversation with music execs?
When I stop and realize who it is that I’m talking to and what they’ve done, I’m like, holy shit. These people are powerful and they have a resume like…whew. I try to not to think about it. It’s the same way I dealt with the show. Just don’t think about the fact that there are 30 million people watching right now, just do your thing. Just stand on stage, sing for the people in the television audience, and don’t think about the cameras.

How did you manage that?
I think that what I did on Idol was me thinking to myself, OK, I want to stay on the show as long as possible, so what do I have to do to keep people interested? For me, that was kind of going into slightly chameleon-like situations where this week, I’m going to do more like this, and sound like this. I was always me, but now I’m going to go here, now I’m going to go there. Because we had different themes, and that’s what you kind of have to do. Trying to give it a through-line with me at the center of it, but playing different types of music. This week I’m not going to have any rocker style. I’m going to do Motown. I’m not going to wear any makeup, and I’m going to do my cleaned-up classic retro look. And people were like, “Wow!” And I’m like, “To me it’s not really that different. I’m just wearing a suit, I just brushed my hair.”

Watching your performance on Idol, it was almost like you were using an old-fashioned code to say, “We’re all in on this.” Tell me which parts of that were deliberate.
There was never any deliberate, like, “I’m going to hint now…” because I was never in the closet. The funny thing about dealing with all that was… [Long pause.] When those pictures came out online, I got freaked out. I was like, “Great, that’s gonna fuck things up.” ’Cause I just figured, you know, this is a national television program and people are conservative in our country, aside from L.A. and New York and a couple of other places.

I think for a lot of people, no matter how out you’ve been, you have these moments where you’re like, “How are people going to react?”
To be honest with you, it was a really weird moment, because I’ve been living in L.A. for eight years like, yeah, I’m gay. I go out to gay clubs and bars and I go out to straight clubs and bars too. I don’t think twice about it. And it was the first time since I’d come out of the closet at 18 that I had to think about it.

During the audition process, it didn’t come up? Like, “Okay, I’m going to maybe pull this back a little…”
I was just going to make it a non-issue, because to me, it really isn’t about that. It’s about the entertainment factor. And I don’t understand why it has to be about my sexuality. I’m just not going to talk about it one way or another. It doesn’t matter. And then when those pictures came out, I was like, you know what? I thought maybe I’ll just own it and say, “Yeah, I’m gay.” But I didn’t want to label myself. What I did was, I said, “I’m not ashamed of the pictures.” I didn’t do the thing that some people do and say, “I made mistakes in the past.” I didn’t want to acknowledge it as a mistake or something I was ashamed of, because I’m not.

It wasn’t like it was some hardcore sex tape that anyone, gay or straight, would’ve been kicked off of Idol for.
I was making out with my ex-boyfriend.

But that fear, that there’s a queer double standard -- it’s not always wrong.
It’s a hard thing that everybody’s gonna have their opinion about. You know? Some people in the gay community might look at it like, “You really should’ve owned that. You didn’t hide it, but you didn’t admit it and that’s weak.” My whole point is, I’m not trying to lead the fucking way for the civil rights movement that we’re in right now. I just happen to be a gay man -- and I’m not ashamed of that at all. Regardless of how I handled it, it became a huge issue. And I knew it would. So I figured, you know what, I’m just not going to label myself, I’m going to own the pictures, I’m going to get past it and just keep being myself on the show. And then I waited until after because I was finally given the opportunity. I mean, on the show, we’re not really [allowed to talk to press].

You’ve said it was your choice how to handle that. Even the most savvy gay people I know are dubious about you having that much control. How did it happen? Did you get called into a meeting?
Literally, the minute the pictures came out, the publicist for the show called me up and was like, “So? Did you hear about these pictures?” And I was like, “Yeah.” And she goes, “What do you want to do about it?” She was really cool.

This is the publicist from Fox?
The publicist from Fox, [Jill Hudson]. She was like, “You know, stuff like this has happened before, and this is usually what happens…” And I was like, “Jill, I don’t want to deny it, and I’m not ashamed of it. And I don’t want to seem like I’m ashamed of it. Because that’s not me. That’s just not how I am. But, at the same time I really want this opportunity and I want to stay on the show as long as possible. So, I kinda have to come up with a compromise.” And she was like, “Well, is it a big deal to you?” And I’m like, “No.” And she’s like, “Well, then let’s not make a big deal out of it.” And that’s what we did. She was like, “You know, own it. Tell them who you are, and just move forward.” And that’s what we did. And I’m glad that I handled it that way, because I think that had I immediately said the words and labeled myself -- you know, said “I am gay” -- I think that it would’ve been more about that, initially, than anything else. And the fact that we didn’t come out and make a big announcement or anything like that -- that doesn’t make any sense to me anyway. It’s not an announcement. It’s just, it’s part of who I am. But because our nation is the way it is, it’s an announcement. And also, there are very few gay celebrities. [Long pause.] It’s really cool, now, looking back, because I think that without saying it, and making that part of my identity, I think I allowed viewers to be more open to me. I think, had I put it out there that I was gay right off the bat, I think that people would’ve closed their minds right away.

But wouldn’t you say that it was a minority of people who were actually surprised that you were gay?
Yeah, I would hope. If somehow this can open people’s minds or whatever, then great. I’m not sitting here thinking about ways to open people’s minds. That’s the thing people have to understand.

Don’t you want to open people’s minds with your art? You’ve struck me as being an artist who has a point of view.
I do have a point of view. I may have something to say now and again. I just want people to enjoy the song and have a good time. That’s what music is about for me. It’s not so political for me. I may be the subject of something that’s so political, being that we’re in a weird time right now. And if I can indirectly open people’s minds up and get them to kind of change their views a little bit, then I’m really thrilled with that. But that’s not my mission. That’s not why I’m doing this.

You’ve talked about Idol as less of a competition and more of a platform. I’ve always seen Idol as a machine, like a political machine that can make or break --
It is!

Watching you was exciting because it felt like you were beating them at their own game.
We were all on the same page. I could feel early on that they were all on my side. They weren’t against me. They never said, “Tone it down.” They knew it was good for ratings, they knew people were into it. They encouraged it. I was like, “This is great! This could not have gone better.” They were totally supportive of what I wanted to do. They didn’t ask questions. They were like, “What are you singing? Is it well known? Are people gonna like it? Well, cool! Then go for it, man! You’re wearing what? All right!” They didn’t care.

It’s about money at the end of the day, right?
It’s about making a good TV show.

Could expectations for your album be any bigger?
I know. It’s a lot of pressure right now, and it’s gotten to me a couple times. But, I think that what you were saying -- about the show being a platform and being a machine and all that -- I think what happens is, I’m one of the lucky people that have been in the industry a little bit. I haven’t necessarily been in the recording industry. Over the past couple of years I started working on some demos and things like that and wanting to get into it. But I’ve been in the theater industry for a long time. And I’ve lived in L.A. for eight years. And when you’re in the city of entertainment, and you open your eyes and you meet people and you hear stories and you have friends that have been through this and that, going onto a show like Idol, you get it, going into it. I think what happens is that a lot of people that they get are from a small town in the Midwest, or they were a student and now they just kind of sing on the side. The whole amateur aspect of the show is really interesting, because it creates accessible personalities for the audience to attach themselves to. That’s why it looks like a machine. Because the machine has to lead them around, these amateurs that don’t know what else to do. And I think that there are some people that come onto the show that are savvy, and they get how to play the show. And I guess that was me.

Have you gotten any really good pieces of savvy business advice?
Well, I’ve been told by a handful of the producers to just be true to yourself. Just make sure that you feel like you’re at the center of this, artistically. That’s what I’m trying to do. And it’s being facilitated really elegantly. It’s a weird misconception with the show, that it’s a machine and they puppet people around. I think some people kind of end up getting puppeted because they don’t really know how to drive.

I meant more like, they get to test you and see if you can rise to the occasion. As opposed to how you came in and were like, “This is what we’re going to do. Work around me.”
Yeah, they love that, though. It’s less work for them. I think they get excited when they see someone with drive and ideas and confidence. They love that. That’s the thing about the show that people don’t get. They’re not threatened by that. That’s what they would love. They would love to get as many people like that on the show as possible. It would make for a good show.

It’ll be interesting to see this year’s show.
I hope they take some more risks. They really should.

So how are you doing with the expectation factor?
I’m just trying not to think about it. It’s like, “Just make your album, just make your music.”

When’s the last time you had a full day off?
Yesterday. Hung out with my boyfriend. Went to the beach. Just relaxed.

Let’s talk about boys.
OK.

Tell me more about your boyfriend.
You know, I try not to talk about him too much to the press because it’s like, trying to keep something kind of private. It’s surprisingly -- well, I guess its not that surprising, but it’s very difficult to maintain a relationship amidst all this.

And it’s all relatively new.
It’s a lot to ask of someone, to be able to be OK [with it].

Has he been OK?
Yeah.

Were there guys hitting on you on tour?
No. The majority of fans that I came into contact with were women. A lot of women.

But you have plenty of gay fans.
I’ve met like, three. That’s the thing that’s so funny to me -- I don’t have a good idea of who’s into me, because the only people I’ve seen are like, women.

Maybe the gay men would never have gone to an Idol concert.
That’s true, it may be the Idol thing. I didn’t think about that. You’re probably right about that.

I was surprised how affirming it felt to see you perform in a big arena, with 20,000 people screaming for you.
That’s the thing too, is that in an indirect way, acceptance is being promoted right now. That’s really, really powerful, and that’s a hard thing to have happen. Especially for a male in the music industry, quite frankly. It’s tough.

There’s a way in which both you and Neil Patrick Harris are being talked about as exceptions to the rule, to the idea that there could never be an out, gay leading man or male musical star. You both seem very confident and comfortable with who you are. But that’s not always true of your handlers. We’ve gotten plenty of push back from your management -- and many other people’s -- who say, “Well, let’s not be too gay…”
Well, you know, I think that there’s something to that, though. I think the whole magic of this moment is that I’m not alienating anybody. I’m not trying to anyway. I want as many people to feel like they can like the music. I don’t want to edit myself to the point where I feel like I don’t have integrity. But at the same time, I feel like I don’t want to alienate people, so it’s really hard. It’s almost like being a political figure. It’s like a balancing act. I feel really good about how open I’ve been, ’cause I really don’t feel like I’ve hidden anything. It’s like the picking and choosing. When is it appropriate and when is it not? One of the things that I don’t like about the gay community is that people define themselves by their sexuality -- and that’s bullshit. It shouldn’t be about that. It should be that it just so happens that you’re this or that, and that’s your sexuality. It doesn’t mean that that should dictate what your social group is or where you go out or who you talk to or what your interests are. That’s bullshit. That’s outdated.

It’s very narrow.
The segregation [from straight people] that exists in the gay community is outdated. At a time, it was necessary because we weren’t accepted. And now that acceptance is moving way forward, over the past 10 years. I think that we need to move forward too, and I think we need to kind of like, stop being so segregated and just be.

How do you describe your sexuality?
I think one of the things about the gay community that’s really interesting is that while people own their homosexuality, there is a strange aversion to letting the masculine and the feminine exist within you in a balanced way. And for me, personally, I feel I have a very strong masculine side, and I also have a very strong feminine side. And a lot of people are scared to live in that gray area. There’s boys out in Boystown that are either really fem or really butch. It’s at the extremes. I love when I meet people that are just kind of comfortable being both. And they don’t have to identify being really butch or really fem. Why? Why would you have to?

And also, if you’re one of these, then you must be attracted to the other. Are you attracted to guys like you?
I don’t even know anymore. I think when I was younger, I could box in what my sexuality was about, what’s my type and all that. But as I’ve gotten older, and just learned more about myself and the world, it’s not really about type anymore. I mean, if someone’s hot, they’re hot. If someone’s interesting, they’re interesting. If you have an energy and a chemistry with someone, then you have chemistry. Done. You can’t really define that or explain it. It just is. You just meet people and you click, or you don’t. You know? [Pauses.] Although -- I like pretty boys.

[Laughs.] What kind of pretty?
Pretty. Pretty is pretty. And I’m generally drawn to [guys who are] younger than me. Generally…but there are exceptions.

You told Rolling Stone that you had a crush on Kris Allen, and everyone went crazy about it.
Believe me, right after I said it, I was like… It turned into this thing, and I was like, "Oh God, I shouldn’t said that and now it’s blown way out of proportion."

Are you usually attracted to straight boys?
No, actually.

Kris seems like a real straight guy.
He is a real straight guy. He’s very straight. He’s just…cute.

He’s pretty.
He’s pretty. He’s a pretty boy. You know? And he’s nice. He’s a really nice guy. One of the things that I think is so refreshing and cool about him is that he’s from Arkansas -- and this is me being small-minded -- I just kinda figured that the acceptance of people like me in Arkansas is probably a lot lower than here. And he’s very open-minded to people’s lifestyles and he doesn’t judge. He’s a good guy.

To have someone who is very religious and who feels like that --
That’s the funny thing, is that he’s not very religious, I don’t know where he got that label. Danny [Gokey] is very religious.

Did they put all the boys on the same bus?
Uh-huh. Eleven of us.

Let’s talk about Michael Sarver, who seemed at first to be a religious guy who wasn’t very comfortable with you being gay. But when the tour encountered “God Hates Fags” protesters, he was all over Twitter condemning them and defending you.
He’s got a really good heart, that guy. He does. And I think that he represents a large portion of our country, good people who are just scared of what they don’t know. We didn’t even have that many conversations about it directly, but it’s just another example of acceptance. We just got along with each other. He just wants everybody to like him, and he wants to like everybody. It’s very simple, what his needs are. And I have very similar needs. We cut up all the time, backstage and on the bus. We get along great. I think what he realized was that it doesn’t fucking matter. And he got past that.

Was Danny very religious in a way that made you uncomfortable?
No, never uncomfortable. Danny’s a little bit more fundamental in his views than I think Michael is. And I don’t think his views are going to change. But it didn’t get in the way. We had a number of conversations on religion and morality. And it wasn’t for either one of us to try to convince the other, it was just to kind of learn. He was very cool with that, just having a conversation. We had some really deep conversations about God.

What did you learn?
I just got a better sense of what a very strong, traditional Christian outlook is. I don’t really have a lot of friends that are that way, so it was educational for me to learn about what that is and what the beliefs are behind it. I was raised Jewish, first of all, and I’m not even that religious. I would consider myself spiritual, kind of leaning towards more New Age ideas. I’m not like, fully hippie -- but those kind of belief systems make the most sense to me.

Have you already gotten your scandalous past out of the way?
I do feel like a lot of its behind me, and that feels good.

So you’re not waiting for another shoe to drop…
What’s funny is that in the ’70s a lot of the glam artists -- like Bowie, T. Rex, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, KISS -- they were gender bending with their image, but most of them were pretty hetero. Even though they looked really flamboyant. Bowie was the one guy that kind of made you wonder. But he was straight, right?

Yeah, I guess.
Yeah, I know, I didn’t like that either. But that’s the ’80s for you. At the heart of it, the question was, “Are they gay?” And I think it would be kind of fun to toy with the imagery of, “Is he gay?” but the other way around.

Are you toying with perception when you talk about how you could be bi-curious? Or are you generally attracted to women?
I will make out with a girl at a bar. I mean, after a couple of drinks.

[Laughing] That doesn’t make you any less gay. Get three mai tais in a gay boy and he’ll make out with a girl. Sex is something different.
That’s why I say I’m curious. There are gay guys that gag and go “eww” at the thought of having sex with a girl. I’m curious about it, because I’ve never done it.

Have you ever had any sex with a girl?
Oral.

You went down on her?
Uh-huh.

Was it gross, or it was just not what you wanted?
It was a little gross because I don’t think she was as clean as she could’ve been. It wasn’t the act of it that really turned me off. I don’t really remember. I was 18 and I was drunk. Or maybe I was 17... The point of the matter is that I would not rule it out. The idea is intriguing.

And it’s threatening.
Well, it’s threatening personally because you start identifying as a certain thing for so long, the idea of kind of going outside of that is scary because you’re like, “But that’s who I am!” Being curious and embracing that curiosity is all a part of what I’m about. You don’t have to be any one thing. You can kinda just be. Just live your life -- and play.

If you were going to pick one thing to be remembered for, so far, what would it be?
That I can sing my face off. I mean, that’s what I do. All this other stuff is part of a personality, persona thing surrounding that. I hope that people are like, “Oh, I like his voice. I like his music.”

Let’s talk about Freddie Mercury. There was a moment in the finale when you and Kris were singing Queen, and Brian May looked at you like he was going to start crying.
Adam Lambert: He’s really cool. There was some wild energy going on during that performance. And even with Kris up there. Kris was really connecting with me, too.

“We Are the Champions” was a great song choice for the two of you.
It was very cool, and Brian was a sweetheart. Yeah, that felt really good. It felt really like the progression of that -- it’s so sad, because Freddie was definitely an idol of mine. His voice, first of all, and his showmanship. Then when you really look at it, he couldn’t be who he was publicly. That was one of the things [we considered] when we decided I should just talk about it in Rolling Stone and just get it out of the way. I just don’t want to live my life trying to hide anything, or putting up a front. I don’t -- I will not do that. Too many people have had to do that in the past. It’s just so sad.

I don’t think it’s very good for your art, to put up a front.
My mentality is, if I lose some fans, fuck it. I need to be happy, too.

Do you feel like you learned how to make a music video from doing camera work with Idol?
Yep. And that’s the thing that was so funny. I walked on the set [for the “Time for Miracles” video] and the production crew were the same people that did those Ford music videos. So it felt really comfortable. We were on the show and we would always be like, “Ugh, why the hell are we doing another one of these Ford commercials? They’re so stupid.” And now I look at it and I think, you know what? That really was good training. Because I felt so comfortable and I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. When you do anything in slow motion, they speed up the music and you have to sing with it faster. And we did that for the commercials on Idol. And I think had we not done that, now I would’ve been like, “What the fuck?”

In videos for the album, would having a pretty boy love interest be too much?
I don’t know yet. I’m gonna kind of play it by ear. But eventually it would be cool to be able to do something like that.

Do people come to you with ideas that are more out there than you would have come up with? Or are you one who’s pushing them?
There are definitely creative ideas that come up, but sometimes they’re just not right. Sometimes they’re out there, but they’re corny. Camp and corny are two different things. Camp has to be done just right, or else it isn’t right. It has to be like, sophisticated. I love high fashion and theatrics and things that are really conceptual. But if you push that too far then it gets kind of self-indulgent.

That’s always the question with Lady Gaga -- how far is too far?
I think she’s smart. I predict that she will experiment and change it up a little bit. She’s got to show a little crack in the veneer for the audience to really get a three-dimensional view of who she is. I love that she’s brave enough to be that eccentric. I think it takes balls to be that out there.

Do you worry about not being brave enough?
No, I don’t worry about it. It’s more calculated than that: when do you go all the way out and when do you pull it back? It’s like how it was on Idol for me. Musically and visually, you have to do both, highs and lows. You have to do [something] crazy and over-the-top and then you have to strip it down and do something sensitive.

I have to say, I didn’t really expect to see someone on Idol tour jerking off a mic stand.
You know what was really funny about that -- a woman came up to me in the autograph line and was like, “This is a family show. You need to make this more appropriate.” And I looked at her and said, “I don’t need a lecture from you.” I kinda smiled and she was like, “But there’s little girls in the audience.” I said to her, “They probably don’t know what I’m doing. You do. They don’t know what I’m doing. They just think I’m playing with my mic! They don’t know that I’m jerking off. They don’t get that yet. Come on! And, if they do, then…sorry.”

They didn’t learn it from you.
Hopefully it will facilitate a conversation. And it’s not different from what Elvis and Michael Jackson did in their day. Relatively speaking.

Tell me about working with Linda Perry.
She’s great. I remember she said to me at one point, “Its funny, I’ve never worked with a gay guy before.” She keeps it real, and she also has a ton of artistic integrity. It’s not commercial with her. She doesn’t want it to be what everybody else is doing. She loves thing that are different and out of the box.

Do you feel like there is more room for you in a rock genre?
Yes and no. Because, yes, I can sing a rock song. I love rock music. I love drums. I love the sound of a guitar. I love thinking this track is going to be played at a bar where people are drinking and having a good time and wanting to feel sexy. That’s what this song is for, to make you feel hot. It’s not deep, necessarily. But sometimes you should just have fun.

It’s nice to meet a gay man who enjoys drugs that aren’t meth or coke.
I stay very far away from those things. It’s funny too because I remember after that [Rolling Stone] article, my mom was like, “I don’t know if you should have said all that stuff about drugs, Adam. You know there’s a lot of kids…” And I said, “But that’s life, that’s real.” I just wanted to be careful that it didn’t turn into a fucking pageant. It doesn’t have to be goody two-shoes. I’m not. I can fake it sometimes. Maybe. There is an element of responsibility. I’m not a jackass. There are kids exposed to things. I don’t want to fuck up some kid’s life or something, or make a parent's job really difficult. But at the same time, it’s like --

What are you doing that would do that?
I don’t know. To some people, me being sexual is really offensive because I’m gay. They’re like, he’s being really gay. And I’m like, actually, no, because there’s no other guys up here. I’m just being sexual. And male sexuality is frightening to America. Female sexuality -- it might not be the best example of it, but it’s all over the place. Overt female sexuality might be degrading. It might not be the most feminist type of sexuality, unless you look at it like the woman’s in control, so she’s got the power. Sexuality is just -- people are so freaked out by it. The double standard is that a woman can get away with it but a man hasn’t been able to yet.

How famous is too famous?
I don’t know. I really think it’s relative. The hardest thing to do in this situation -- but the best thing to do -- is to not take it too seriously. By doing that you don’t let it run your life and freak you out. It’s all kind of ridiculous, if you put yourself outside of it and try to look at it as objectively as possible. It’s all ridiculous. The whole thing. It’s crazy. It’s hilarious. It’s funny. It’s great. It’s really positive. And when you start letting the pressure get to you -- our job as entertainers is to not let the pressure get to us. Our job as entertainers is to be like, OK, I’m just going to keep doing what I do. And obviously I’m being an idealist right now -- but I kind of have to be, or how else am I going to last?

Can you go back to Burning Man?
I hope so. I’ll just wear disguises. Fame doesn’t freak me out, and I can handle it. But sometimes out in public there are people that just are so rude. Like, people are really cool about it and they’ll come up to you and they’re just like, “Oh, hey man, I really liked you.” It’s brief, it’s sweet, it’s genuine. But some people freak out. And I’m like, "Why are you freaking out?" I don’t get that mentality. I’ve never felt like that about a celebrity before -- except maybe Madonna. When I met Madonna my heart was racing. That’s my one experience being star-struck. And I told her, “I’m freaking out.” And she said, “Why?” And I said, “Because you’re fucking Madonna.”

But there are kids who feel like that about you already.
But even though I was star-struck [about Madonna] and freaking out, I internalized it. And I made sure that I didn’t make her feel uncomfortable. And some people, it’s like they just don’t get that.

Or they don’t respect themselves in that situation.
It’s a boundaries issue. They feel like because they know you and they like you that you owe them something. And it’s a difficult situation because I do owe them something, with Idol. They voted. If it weren’t for people out there voting for me, I wouldn’t have made it on the show. So I do owe them a lot of gratitude, I do. But I think that that's what I owe them -- gratitude. I don’t owe them to come join me for dinner when you’re coming up to me in this restaurant and I’m trying to eat. “No, you can’t sit down. No, you know what, I’m actually trying to eat dinner, can we take a picture another time?” It’s just about boundaries, and respect. It’s the one thing about being famous that’s difficult to adjust to.

What are you doing to stay sane?
I haven’t been going out that much. And I miss it a little bit, but I’ve been busy. I was definitely a night owl before all this. And when I go out and do errands, I’m literally like, I’m going to put on a baseball cap and sunglasses so that I can just do my thing. It’s not that I don’t like people coming up to me or appreciate the genuine sentiment. I’d just like to be left alone a little bit. No one can prepare you for that.

Is that the thing that’s changed the most?
Yeah. Because at the heart of me I’m the same guy doing the same thing on a larger scale. I’ve always been an entertainer. But it’s just, the lack of anonymity. It’s going to sell the album, but it takes away from your personal life. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think it’s a fair trade. If that’s what I have to sacrifice for getting what I want, then fine.

How do you balance that mainstream success with having come from a community of performers who are much more underground?
There are tracks on the album that are artier and weird and experimental. And there will be things on it that are more mainstream and commercial. I like both kinds of music. I understand why you have to have both kinds. It’s kind of like what Lady Gaga is doing. She has huge commercial success but what she’s doing is wild and out there. I think there’s so many different elements that go into a persona and entertainment. If one of my songs sounds commercial, hopefully I’ll be able to create a visual that’s different, to give it a whole new twist.

Do you feel a responsibility to do that?
Yeah. Because I don’t want to be generic. I want to give people something to look at and talk about it. When I did “Ring of Fire,” which was a classic country song that I turned into this psychedelic Middle Eastern thing, I loved the way it turned out. And I loved what I was wearing. That was probably the most me, just as far as my taste goes and the kind of stuff I like. It was very Burning Man. And it was very polarizing. Some people loved it, and just as many people were like, "Ugh." I think there’s going to be some stuff on the album that does the same thing. And I hope that it does have a strong point of view. I don’t want to be bland. That is the last thing I want.

Are you worried about that?
No. But the big business of the music industry, if it’s not navigated properly, can end up making you bland. It’s all about mass appeal.

Who are your biggest allies?
The producers. Linda and I have had a lot of great conversations. Same with Greg Wells. They’re both very pro creative/artistic vision. Other allies are my friends that get it, that know. People that I did The Zodiac Show with. People that I’ve been performing with for years, that I did theater with. They get it. They get the line between integrity and commercialism. Big theater is like that. I was in Wicked! That’s a perfect example of a great piece of musical theater, but it’s also very, very finely constructed to have mass appeal to women, mostly. They knew their demographic. It’s totally calculated, but it is good. That’s kind of the way I look at what I’m trying to do. Something that does have mass appeal, and does have commercial appeal, and will be successful, but at the same time, it has quality. I definitely straddle the line -- I’m a business person, but I’m an artist.

How do you balance that yourself? How do you go home and chill out?
It’s been hard because I don’t compartmentalize as well as I’d like to. So I tend to be thinking a lot about the music. But the relationship has been very helpful, as an escape in a way.

And you get to see each other enough?
Yeah? I mean, we didn’t for a while because I was on tour. But now we’re in the same city. We’re both busy, but it’s definitely better.

You’ve talked in other interviews about how much falling in love for the first time changes you.
It really does change you, though, you know? But this is only the second relationship I’ve had in my entire life, and I’m 27 years old.

What did you learn about yourself from the end of that first love?
What you realize is that when you fall in love, especially for the first time -- the first major relationship that you have where you’re with somebody for a long time -- is how much of an impact somebody can have over you. And how much they can shift who you are, both in your own discovery of yourself and how they rub off on you a little bit. That was weird for me. I always thought of myself as extremely independent, and I do have a lot of independence about me. But when it comes to love, I have to fight codependence a little bit. I get a little clingy, I think, and it’s very out of character for me. So it becomes very confusing, because I’m like, wait, I’m usually fine. But all of a sudden, I’m like [waves hands] "Ahhhhh."

Like it’s easier to walk in and talk business.
Oh yeah. That’s something I actually said to him yesterday. I said, "You know, it’s funny. I’ve figured out a lot about life, and I have a lot of life experience, but I don’t know shit about love."

What was the wall you hit with him?
Sometimes it’s hard to, like, be a boyfriend for somebody, because you don’t know what that means. What does that mean? Especially if you haven’t been in many relationships. And being in the gay community, we don’t grow up with any role models for that. We don’t know what we’re supposed to be. And I think that’s funny because there’s so much -- again, it’s something that’s being evolved out of, but in the gay community there’s so much promiscuity. It’s socially accepted in the gay community to be promiscuous. It’s like, oh, we’re both men, we’re supposed to want to fuck all the time and cheat on each other. And it’s OK, open relationships are fine because we’re all men. And I’m not judging that, but I don’t think that’s for me. I don’t think it’s emotionally healthy.

Then you have to balance that with being away so much, being on tour.
So who knows, you know? The other thing that’s really hard is that you have to decide whether or not you have the focus and the energy to give to the other person. That’s a difficult thing, too. And who knows what the future could hold with that. I might have to say, “You know, this is how much I love you, that I have to let you go. I can’t give you what you deserve right now, so this isn’t going to work.” Hopefully it works. I want it to. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Out of the love I have for him, I don’t want to neglect it. [Sighs.] God, I can’t believe I’m saying all this. I think we put all these expectations on relationships and create this idea of, oh, this is how it’s supposed to be, because this is what all these other relationships that I see, that’s how they are. I think it’s really hard but really necessary to be like, but what are my needs? And what are your needs? And that’s our relationship. And that’s the hardest thing, because no one tells you how to do that.

And you don’t have all these other models. Not that they necessarily fit so well for straight people.
No, but there’s more of them. Even in the arts, a lot of art is about love and relationships, and there’s a lot of hetero art about it. But when it comes to the gay community, there’s just not a lot. And some of it’s so -- I have such a love-hate relationship with the concept. Like, I can only watch Logo for a couple minutes. It’s a little too --

Well, if it’s not good, it’s not good.
Yes, if it’s not good, it’s not good. That’s the best way to put it. I think when you’re more impressionable it’s more important. Like, seeing gay movies was important when I was young. But they were horrible. It’d be nice to see a movie about gay people that was well acted.

What else do you want to talk about?
I don’t know. [Long pause.] My job is to make this look easy and fun. That’s the illusion, the vibe I’m trying to create for people to feel. That’s what I want to do as an entertainer, create a mood that rubs off on people. This is scary, and it is a lot of work. And I’m OK, I’ll be fine. But, wow, this is a lot. And I hope that people are compassionate about that. I took a chance, stepped my life up a little, have some opportunities, have a little money, and I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing the best I fucking can, you know? - Out Magazine


Discography

Albums:
"For Your Entertainment," Nov. 2009
1. Music Again
2. For Your Entertainment
3. Whataya Want From Me
4. Strut
5. Soaked
6. Sure Fire Winners
7. A Loaded Smile
8. If I Had U
9. Pick U Up
10. Fever
11. Sleepwalker
12. Aftermath
13. Broken Open
14. Time For Miracles

Singles:
"Time For Miracles," Oct. 2009
"For Your Entertainment," Oct. 2009
"Whataya Want From Me," Nov. 2009

Music Videos:
"For Your Entertainment," Nov. 2009
Link to view: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid10172910001?bctid=53718047001

Photos

Bio

Some say his voice makes their ears bleed. Others swear he's the next Freddy Mercury, that he'll revolutionize pop music. However they feel about him, no one can ignore Adam Lambert. He started out like so many others - as a young man with a dream, waiting in line with hundreds of thousands of others to audition for the eighth season of the hit TV show "American Idol." One year later, he's releasing an album that in its first week trumps releases by established artists such as Lady GaGa and Rihanna.

Adam first made waves on "Idol" with his rendition of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" during a country-themed week. Instead of singing the song in its traditional style, Adam wrote an original arrangement to give it a fiery new sound. Some thought it was genius while others were offended - former "Idol" contestant Clay Aiken bashed the arrangement publicly. But one thing was certain: Adam had gotten America's attention - and from that week on, people across the U.S. couldn't wait to hear what Adam would bring to the table next. In addition to "Ring of Fire," Adam brought new life to songs like Smokey Robinson's "The Tracks of My Tears," Michael Jackson's "Black or White," and "Mad World" by Tears For Fears. His unique arrangements and crazy vocal range brought him to the season 8 "Idol" finale, where he got to perform with 80s glam-band KISS and the remaining members of Queen.

The media has been unable to ignore Adam. Immediately following his success on "Idol," Adam appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine and took his cover story as an opportunity to officially come out. He made it very clear, however, that he is serious about being a performer, and that he does not want his sexuality to be at the forefront of his career. "I'm trying to be a singer, not a civil rights leader," he said. Adam has also been featured on MTV News, on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and in countless other media outlets.

Adam joined the rest of the top ten "Idol" finalists in a tour across the US. Though he didn't win the title of "American Idol," Adam's exciting, sexually-charged tour performances earned him more headlines than any other season 8 contestant. For example, after the "Idol" show in Boston, the Boston Globe ran a review by Joanna Weiss with the headline "It's Lambert who rules the stage for Garden 'Idols' party." KansasCity.com proclaimed in a headline that "No. 2 Adam Lambert is No. 1 at Sprint Center," and the Boston Herald maintained that "On a stage full of Idols, Adam Lambert is the only star."
Throughout the duration of the tour, Adam kept a close relationship with his fans through his official Twitter (@adamlambert). He often hosted "Twitter parties" on the road, during which fans would tweet questions and he would try to answer as many as he could. As is common with artists who achieve fame through "Idol," Adam realizes that his fans are in many ways responsible for bringing him the success he enjoys today, so it is very important that they feel connected to him.

After the "Idols" tour, Adam recorded and released a promotional track for the highly anticipated action film "2012." The song is a power ballad titled "Time For Miracles," and has been called the "Don't Wanna Miss A Thing" of the new millennium. The music video for the song was released exclusively through MySpace Music on October 21. Lia Vollack, president, Worldwide Music, Sony Pictures Entertainment, said of the video: "Adam's video is remarkable. It's a great companion to Roland Emmerich's film -- we're thrilled that Adam is a part of this motion picture."

One of Adam's more recent triumphs was the release of his debut single, "For Your Entertainment." Released just in time for Halloween, the song is an undeniably catchy dance jam that will leave the listener humming for hours on end. Ann Powers of the LA Times said of the track: "The first single and title track from Adam Lambert's soon-to-be-dropped debut album couldn't be more of an announcement. 'For Your Entertainment' strides into the room, snaps its fingers and declares 2010 the year of Our Gorgeously Airbrushed Overlord."

Most recently, Adam has been out and about promoting his debut album, “For Your Entertainment.” He has co-written several of the songs on the album, alongside hit-makers such as Linda Perry, Ryan Tedder (of OneRepublic), Lady GaGa, Pink, Dr. Luke (Katy Perry), and Claude Kelly (Britney Spears, Kelly Clarkson). The album's eye-catching cover - which features Adam with blue hair and decked out in Bowie-esque makeup - made waves among journalists, fans, and haters alike. Adam himself calls it an "homage to the past," a deliberately campy and ridiculous ode to 80's glam.

Over the past few weeks, Adam has performed and made appearances on several major television shows and events including the 2009 American Music Awards, CBS’s “The Early Show,” The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Late Show With David Letterman, and The View. M