Gay Times March 10 - Issue 378
Jamie Tabberer settles down for a chat with American Idol’s Adam Lambert. They were both in their PJ’s, dontcha know.
When nattering with a bona fide American idol like Adam Lambert, a West Country twang like mine can be problematic. “How is my British accent working out for you Adam?” I ask the 27-year-old pop star, in my best attempt at Queen’s English. “Does it remind you of Simon Cowell’s at all?”
More from Gay Times March 10 - Issue 378
“No,” he replies nonchalantly. “Yours is MUCH cuter than Simon’s…”
I laugh, stutter an indecipherable response and then cough. Not sexy. We’re 30 seconds into our interview, and I’ve already been rendered speechless.
But if his reputation is to be believed, Adam’s ability to shock doesn’t come as a surprise. The handsome singer – who finished second in last year’s season of American Idol, far and away the most watched show on American TV – has always known how to provoke a reaction in people, most notably with his powerhouse voice.
Regrettably, though, it’s the negative reactions he sparks inadvertently that generate the most headlines. From his forgivable penchant for guyliner (don’t pretend you haven’t been there), to his opinion-polarising album cover, to his controversial performance at last year’s American Music Awards (in which he kissed and groped a male member of his band, inducing thousands of complaints to TV network ABC) it seems Adam can’t bat a mascara-clad eyelash without offending somebody. The irony being, of course, that Adam’s really not shocking underneath it all. In fact, he’s a just a normal guy who –shock, horror! – is actually WILLING to talk about his sexuality. Adam Lambert: we applaud you.
“It catches me off guard,” he admits, recalling the AMA nightmare. “In my circle, and in a lot of the underground clubs and performance spaces in Los Angeles nobody thinks twice about it, they love it. Then I gave what I thought was a harmless performance and everybody jumps down my throat about it. And I’m like ‘Sorry, I didn’t realise it was going to be that big a deal.’”
Hostility escalated when the (actually ace) cover of Adam’s space-themed debut album leaked days later. On it, Adam’s brave sense of style is epitomized – he appears in full make up, with electric blue hair and a pout to rival Victoria Beckham’s, looking like a character from the 80s movie Tron. And if a female artist had pulled the exact same pose…
“…With the soft focus, and the retouching,” he agrees, “nobody would have said a word. I’m glad you like it, but you’re the minority. Here in the States a lot of people are really uncomfortable with it, which is hilarious. But Tron is a great movie!
“I just think you guys in the UK are way further ahead in terms of tolerance,” he adds. “It’s really interesting. In the UK and in Europe proper, it’s less of an issue because people are more comfortable with their sexualities And not just the gay thing, but even playful things, like the concept of androgyny. That is something that generally many Americans are uncomfortable with. Mixing masculine and feminine stereotypes together and playing with it, people get suspicious about it.”
But weeks later, Adam answered his critics when For Your Entertainment sold 200,000 copies in its first week on sale, charting above new releases from Rihanna and Lady Gaga, albeit outsold by a certain Scottish lassie…
“I know, if only it weren’t for Susan Boyle!” Adam laughs. “I’m happy for her success, but that album is terrible. Wild Horses is the one that made me laugh the hardest. I just died when I heard it, I was crying with laughter. It was the most horrendous, sacrilegious treatment of that song!
“Still, when my album charted, it was validating. I was feeling bit attacked, like I had to vindicate something. I thought: ‘Wow, look what I did.’”
And one hell of an album it is too - unashamedly electropop, and featuring big name collaborations such as Pink, Linda Perry, and even Muse front man Matt Bellamy.
“I love Muse,” Adam enthuses. “I’m a huge fan and I think Matt’s voice is beautiful. I was beside myself when I heard they were willing to give up the song for me. It’s called Soaked, which here in America means wasted, or drunk.
“I love the song; lyrically I feel I can relate to it. From a dark place, it’s about that viscous circle of going out and trying to fill a void by getting laid, but doing it by getting wasted in a bar and going home with somebody. That’s what it’s about for me. I’ve been through that: I’m 27 years old and I’ve lived a life where I was looking for something… for meaning, or love, but looking for it in the wrong way.”
He may not look 27 (“the make up helps”), but it’s just as well he has a decade on many of his contemporaries.
Read the whole thing, including Gaga Chat, in our new issue which costs just 385 pennies, which is about the price of a Rimmel Eyeliner, but definitely much cheaper than an Urban Decay one