Adam Lambert: The Out Interview

11.12.2009

By Shana Naomi Krochmal

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?

Tags: Interviews, Music
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