June 26, 2009
I’m a beautiful subject
Wanna see my smilin’ face?
I MAKE A BEAUTIFUL COVER
On the cover of the Rollin’ Stone – Dr. Hook
BUT FIRST, A MOMENT OF SILENCE
From axfile “Where’s the Fire, Taurus?“
Safe passage, Michael…
IN THE FLESH,
granted, I have not yet seen him, but speaking of icons past, present and future, my Adam Lambert fever is down to about 98.8, half a degree margin of error, but hovering around normalcy. I still have the Portland-Tacoma-Oakland American Idol trifecta to experience, so I reserve the right to change my tune. And still I make the rounds looking for the ballyhooed Rolling Stone with him and the python. It’s all over the place but anywhere I look. Their website says it’s on the stands, but wherever I go, Lady Gaga is still bubbling forth in the pink. Even Fog City News, magazine central, is behind the times. It’s enough to drive one gaga!
It’s OK. I probably shouldn’t look at it. I’m on a restricted calorie, portion-appropriate Adam Lambert diet. The key is, as it always is, moderation. I simply will not allow myself to binge on him day and/or night. But an occasional rich dessert of Snake à la Lambert is a harmless indulgence, yes?
As Adam himself said, “O.M.F.G.! Thank you, Rolling Stone!”
Photo c. Matthew Rolston for Rolling Stone (fair use for illustrative purposes)
WHAT IS MORE BEAUTIFUL
I once again ask, than a beautiful man? Four beautiful men. Four times as. Standing in front of the Gough St. Walgreen’s magazine rack—the first outlet in all of San Francisco, to put out the Adam-on-the-cover Rolling Stone, I am assaulted with no less than four specimens of male pulchritude: dear Adam, some young Danny-Glover-looking singer named Maxwell on some mag named Uptown, George Clooney on Esquire, a “mix-‘n’-match” cover which oddly peels off to reveal Barack Obama and/or Justin Timberlake underneath (huh?), and the pièce de résistance, Mr. Johnny Depp, who never, ever looked better than he does on the cover of Vanity Fair. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. I haven’t said it for a while and it’s overdue: I love, love, love men.
Hoochie Mama, Matthew Rolston, my hat’s off to you. You can have my hat. You did exquisite justice to Adam. What a beautiful, rich, revealing portrait. His pose, so provocative, yet his face, so vulnerable, almost virginal. Yes, virginal. He’s a virgin in the Garden of Eden—the snake hasn’t gotten to him yet. He’s at the threshold, on the verge of so many things. The black lines of his clothes form a kind of an X, and X marks the spot. That’s exactly where he is, on the spot where his life could go in any direction. There are sparks of light in his eyes.
WHAT IS THAT EXPRESSION
on his face? There’s a lot going on there; it’s quite mysterious, with the subtle uplift of the chin. I’d call it guarded expectation. Like a willing virgin venturing into uncharted territory—beckoning but with an undertone of fear. His arms have an attitude of surrender, and he has laid himself out flat, as if to say, I have opened myself to you; “please be gentle.” He called the photo “risky-sexy,” a mix of “I’m a sexy rock star” and “I have a python on my crotch.” All sex is risky. There’s always something at stake. (I love the plain cotton ticking with coarse blanket thrown over it. Yeah, let’s just do it down and dirty on this cruddy mattress right here on the floor.) I do hope fame is gentle with Adam, because he has a gentle soul. You can hear it here. [Adam singing “Dust in the Wind”] Sweet and pure and kind to break your heart. May he stay forever young.
Adam said he thought of the snake for the cover because “there was an idea that [he] had about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, this whole concept of Adam, and the fruit of knowledge. The idea behind the Adam and Eve thing is questioning the concept of morality and what’s right and wrong. I think it’s an interesting debate.”
THIS IS THE WORD
I’ve been searching for—innocent. He’s an innocent on the world stage for the first time. Please be gentle! He has not yet eaten of the fruit of knowledge—all the fame, money, glamour and their consequences that may accrue to him in his lifetime—but the snake is dangerously close, the devil’s minion and his attendant worldly temptations aimed right at his crotch. His eyes are sultry, but I sense a hesitancy about the mouth. Hesitant, unsure of what lies ahead but wanting it, still he maintains his posture of challenge, arms and legs open wide, because he has nothing to hide. And if to you, that which he doesn’t have to hide is wrong, it’s your problem.
Yet your problem was his problem. Why should an entertainer in a singing competition have his sexual preferences scrutinized? Can you get more invasive? No one else was asked to step up to the mike to proclaim their proclivities. Everyone else was rubber-stamped safe for consumption. It was Adam who held the tantalizing apple. “It shouldn’t matter,” he said in RS. “Except it does. It’s really confusing.” A sad state of affairs.
THE TANTALIZING APPLE
In the myth of Tantalus (whence comes “tantalizing”), he cuts his son up and offers him at a feast of the gods. His punishment is to be tantalized, “now proverbial for temptation without satisfaction…[for eternity] to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches. Whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised his intended meal from his grasp. Whenever he bent down to get a drink, the water receded before he could get any. Over his head towers a threatening stone.” (Wikipedia)
Such is the lifeline of celebrity. Keeping that tantalizing apple out of reach. Proferring to us something that we cannot have. We reach for it, we may get close, but always it recedes before we can grasp it for ourselves; because once we had the apple, apples would cease to be tantalizing. We needn’t desire them anymore.
The knowledge that Adam and Eve gain from the forbidden fruit is knowledge of their nakedness, knowledge of good and evil. If you believe, as I do, that original sin, inherited guilt, judgment day and punishment, are the biggest load of crap to ever come down the turnpike on a flatbed, you wouldn’t think so much baggage could come with one little bite of an apple.
After all these millenia, mirabile dictu, it turns out that hey! There’s nothing actually wrong with the fruit of knowledge! You may call it forbidden, says Adam, but I embrace it and welcome it. It’s delicious. Have some! The fruit of the tree of life is knowledge of yourself. And when you have knowledge of yourself the tree bursts into bloom in a riot of flowers and fruit. And as Adam has said all along, “I know who I am,” and there’s nothing evil about who I am. So bring it on, snake. I can take it. You can’t tell me anything I don’t already know.
Pythons aren’t poisonous! They have two rows of teeth in their upper palate, with which they pin their victims down, then coil around them and constrict them to death. See? All that evil ol’ snake can do to you is suffocate you! Throw it off, people, it’s squeezing the life out of you.
ADAM: I AM GAY. SKY: I AM BLUE.
That was the Associated Press take on the “well duh” “news” that Adam came out in Rolling Stone. I just now got an email, subject line: I am gay. It’s from Lt. Dan Choi, set to stand trial for being gay. Well, for talking about it, anyway. I thought they called that freedom of speech. The court will decide whether or not to discharge him for “moral and professional dereliction” under the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “I will try to prove,” he says, “that it’s not immoral to tell the truth.”
One fine day no one will have to stand trial because of who they are. Lt. Choi is moving us closer to that day. Someday it will not be controversial to ask or to tell–there won’t be any question to ask. Was not Adam on trial for being himself, with a jury of millions of Americans watching his every move past and present? And they all had a vote as to what happens to him. How would you like it if what you do with your dick or your twat were a topic of household conversation and endless fascination in the underground internet world of fandom, where every last picture and reference to you is scouted out and broadcast to the world, with handmade art and collages? How frustrating to be distracted by all this when all he wanted was a showcase for his talent. He was discriminated against by the media. They singled him out to harp on and harassed him for being gay. But welcome to the world of celebrity! People will now be earning a livelihood making Adam’s business our business. See my column “Got Sex?” for further details.
I sent Adam a silk Twilight Zone tie I had around, because that’s how I think of the demimonde where the “different” folk dwell, the ones off-kilter from the ways of the world, shuttling, often awkwardly or uneasily, between darkness and light, day and night, dusky shadows and the soft blue luminescence of sky, the closet and the pride parade, never firmly in one world or the other. (I’m a Rod Serling junkie.) The Twilight Zone is also one of imagination and creativity. You have to be pretty crafty and ready for challenge to live there. You may have to run for your life. You may have to stand trial for telling the truth.
THANK YOU, LIVE TV!
Though the King of crotch-grabbing has left us now, our tragic archangel Michael, I still marvel over how Adam got away with as much he did on America’s most G-rated stage. Adam sliding his hand down over his dick in “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” is the most erotic move to ever escape the censor’s scissors, simply because of the context. It’s like the guy with no pants on his back porch I passed on the train: did I just see what I saw? The lad likes to touch himself. “I like it too!” as they used to say on the Irish Spring commercial, and he does so repeatedly, most exotically during a pelvic grind in the KISS segment. Something so blatant could only have been left for the finale. As he said in the RS article, “I’m going to glue rhinestones on my eyelids, bitch! That’s right, American Idol in platform boots. You ain’t voting anymore.”
But people will continue to vote, with their dollars, or depending on what’s current, or just in that fickle way of theirs. As a celebrity, he will always be up for scrutiny (as in this column) but at least it will be on his terms. Luckily, the guy’s a raving exhibitionist.
HEY HEY HEY!
“Satisfaction” was one of his first “top 36″ early performances, which makes it extra gutsy to me. We weren’t used to him yet. To my eye, he never looked better, head-to-toe black, shaggy relaxed hair, working that supple mouth, flinging his neck chains around. He’s got some head, neck and shoulder moves to rival any finger-shaking head-swaying “Girl!”-spoutin bee-yatch out there.
He strides onto the stage and immediately adopts a challenging stance, thumb in his belt loop, as if to say, “This is what you can expect from me,” and makes good on his early forecast of “I will surprise you.” Then he gives the camera/us the once over, coyly shifting his eyes down to size us up, and back up to confront us: “I know what you want. And I have it.”
THAT’S WHAT HE SAY!
Idol alumnus Michael Johns marched onto stage early on, opening “Don’t You Forget About Me,” (I haven’t) with the attention-getting “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!” (Take notice!) “Satisfaction” closes with the lyric “Hey Hey Hey! That’s what I say!” Adam has made his statement to the masses, which is simply:
HERE I AM.
Here I am, said his run on the show, and here I am, says the Rolling Stone cover. He even sings, “here I am” in “No Boundaries.” Would you be comfortable with yourself on that cover? Flat on your back, limbs akimbo, your core exposed like a kitten waiting for a belly rub? I’m trying to picture myself on that mattress (yes I know everyone is). I’m talking as an international billboard of who you are. Your life on a magazine rack. What would your portrait look like?
I tend to think Adam doesn’t like to be over-analyzed (as in this column; he’s just a singer!) but this Rolling Stone cover is way provocative—and what is that he means to provoke? He has said, “I want to upset people, I want to make people think, I want to keep people interested.”
Mission accomplished, hotdog.
It’s worth looking at again.
Snake à la Lambert sounds good for tonight
copyright Alexandra Jones 2009