Monday, April 13, 2009

Is Adam Lambert Gay? Is Liberace Alive and Well and Living in Des Moines?

Here's a piece of old news: Much of America is consumed with the burning (and apparently very pertinent) question of American Idol contestant Adam Lambert's sexuality. To a lesser degree, America is likewise concerned with what Lambert's sexuality might mean to the American Idol franchise should Lambert be crowned the Season 8 winner.

Neither question is terribly interesting. The New York Times ran a column on this hot topic, as the contestant himself continues to perform in what looks like upscale Hot Topic apparel. The Times piece mentioned Liberace, who spent the better part of the seventies under the tabloid media glare as he feebly attempted to present himself as heterosexual. Lambert hasn't presented as anything other than someone with a poser's taste in stage attire; he'd be laughed out of the Lower Haight and probably out of the Folsom Street Fair as well. San Franciscans take their leather garb very, very seriously. But San Francisco is also home to hundreds of Adam Lamberts, only they don't sing nearly so well and their falsettos sound more like acts of kinky scrotum torture than they do the eerie banshee wail that is Lambert's gift and genius.

Lambert immediately polarized the show's fans. Fan forums took on the passionate language of political forums, with very little middle ground. In fairly short order, pictures of Lambert that linked him strongly to gay eroticism popped up, and Lambert became a new media sensation.

The question of sexuality is the same question that plagued Season 2 contestant Clay Aiken, whose attempts at obfuscating his own orientation proved that ultimately, such coeval questions are really finite ones. In the end, the question has been more important than the answer.

So what if Lambert appears onstage in a pale-pink aura? Idol fans and the media both suffer the chronic condition of being hard-wired to seek scandal, and when they find it, their nervous systems erupt in delight. In the case of Lambert, there was a lot to find. Pictures of Lambert kissing other men, pictures of Lambert in wigs, in feathers, in messy glitter eyeshadow surfaced almost immediately. There isn't much that is hidden about Lambert's visual grammar, just as there wasn't all that much to ponder about Antonella Barba's.

The truly provocative thing about Lambert is how much he has had to tone down in order to appear on America's No 1. television program. American Idol must seem like another universe to Lambert, one in which a white-bread roster of singers plays by a very specific set of performance rules. There is no crotch-cupping of the type Lambert did at an Art 4 Life benefit in 2008, there is no mincing, bumping, or grinding, and there is certainly no hint that the male Idols might have very arousable...packages.

Idol is a forum for most contestants to chase tin dreams. Unlike most, Lambert can and does sing, organically and efficiently. He might even win the thing, unless his is the most shocking elimination in the history of the series, a case scenario in which the mostly uninteresting Matt Giraud takes the title and goes on to an exciting career in obscurity.

The everyday reality of Idol is that it is a show for mainstream America. Lambert is an accumulation of many flamboyant elements, and watching how many of these are permissible on the show is a fascinating business. Tight pants are in, tongues are out. Exploring the volume of one's voice is allowed, feeling for the tumescence of one's male member is a no-no.

Lambert is the anti-bourgeois contestant whose make-believe is being heightened by the strictures of the Idol franchise. There is no greater authority on fashion idiom than the stylists who okay Allison Iraheta as a grotesque Pollyanna and lace Lambert into pants that would have had Ed Sullivan in deep spiritual crisis.

One doesn't get the sense, however, that Lambert feels in any way that he is betraying himself by playing down his more peacockish tendencies. On the contrary, he seems to have gone along with this cheerfully, even losing his radioactive maquillage in favor of simple black eyeliner and acne cover-up. Gone also are tiny shorts that left little to the imagination and anything more controversial than what would label Lambert a rock-and-roll poseur.

Still, the potential for future "misbehavior" is tantalizing, and that's what makes Lambert the show's most exciting contestant ever. Lambert doesn't look like someone who molts easily; even in his mall finery he is still in full plumage.

The question really should be: Is Adam Lambert a revanchist and what strides will he take to recover lost ground? Will the real Adam Lambert please stand up? How big is his...morals clause?


Rianna Bethany said...

I don't care what sexuality he is because he is soooooooooooo talented! his take on mad world just blew me away!!
Rianna Bethany xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ali said...

Okay. That may look like him but who says it IS him?