July 7, 2009
Sleepless in Seattle
Hysterical in Portland
IT’S 4:15 A.M.
the morning after the fabulous July 4th fireworks spectacle over Lake Union in Seattle. I give up and get out my laptop. Old friends Bill and Dave took me to new friend Gerry’s Eastlake pad with a deck facing the city skyline and front row seats for the show. It was Gerry who had adjusted my comic sunglasses at the Red Dress Party in Portland, or I wouldn’t have had a “look” for the event. I love a man who’s there when you need him. It was the first fireworks for Bill and Dave’s daughter, three-year-old Gabriella. Her dimples and sweet smiles, as the display lit up her face, were just as delightful as the show. Afterwards the top of the Space Needle was barely visible, swallowed as it was by the smoke from the show, just like Sutro Tower in the fog. The lights of the Queen Anne hill towers blinked wanly throughout the event, upstaged as they were by one bright burst after the other. Later, there was a haze over the almost full moon.
Mount Rainier from the air; Seattle July 4th fireworks
IN LESS THAN TWO HOURS
I have to get up to catch my 7:30 a.m. train to Portland to see the first American Idol show and hang with friends. I can’t sleep to save my life. I don’t know why I’m so wired but I’ve been up since 7:00 a.m. yesterday and am not winding down. After I sunburned my cleavage in Bill’s yard, we went to a 4th of July BBQ featuring a whole roast pig, and the poor creature’s death mask was right there on the carving board with the rest of it. I thought instantly of Phoebe on “Friends” and her policy, “No food with a face,” and this was a golden opportunity to turn away and fill up on salads and Dave’s awesome baked beans. Nevertheless, I thanked them (the host and the pig) and partook of its succulent flesh. It fed dozens of people. Thank you for your life, you who were born to die. God bless.
I DON’T KNOW,
am I excited because a fantasy image of mine is about to materialize into flesh, or am I freaked out by it? Sometimes fantasies are best left undisturbed by reality.
FANDOM IS A LONELY PROPOSITION
because the feelings will never be mutual. Sure, you can meet the guy. He’s friendly and approachable, yes? You can get his autograph and picture and squeal about it all later. But your special feelings reserved just for him—not so special. You are one of millions.
You encounter some public personality—for the purposes of this column, let’s just call him Adam Lambert—who intrigues you. You like what you see. You look forward to his TV appearances. He’s exceptional, no doubt. You check him out on the web, you download his videos, and it’s clear this guy is not just talented but preternaturally so. Pretty soon it seems you know his face like no one else’s. His voice is the soundtrack of your life. Your ITunes play counts on some of his songs are in the hundreds. In your way, you love this person—his persona, his personality, his passion.
“I WANT TO CRY
every time I look at him,” wrote reader Kathy, married 44 years. “This is the first time I have ever been a fan of anybody. It is a very lonely proposition. I feel like I know Adam, and he doesn’t even know I exist. He is so sweet and gentle; you just want to be his friend.” “Every time I look at Adam,” wrote another reader, ”I want to have sex and I don’t care with whom.” You want to confess, tell him things you would say only to him, if only you had the chance, I know. You are one of millions.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO
with all these feelings there is nowhere to put? You can obsess about them, if that works for you. You can enter the underground internet world of chat boards and pour out your heart and soul and libido to a receptive audience of fellow fans in the same predicament, needing to express the confusing passion of this addiction you all share.
You can titillate yourselves unto madness. All you want to do is rave about your crush, because to those around you who are exempt from your crush, you might as well be from another planet. Will ya give the Adam thing a rest please? You keep waiting for something that will bring him back into the conversation, yes? But on the web, you are safe and can say anything you want—and people do; rather, there is nothing they won’t say.
“I CAN’T STOP THINKING ABOUT HIM,”
one reader lamented. It’s worthy of lament, a “passionate expression of grief or sorrow,” because it’s like a curse, to be saddled with “extra” emotionality for a stranger you feel intimately about and will have scant, if any, contact with, ever. Maybe, even, no one else has ever had this effect on you; maybe you have never experienced total immersion in someone’s mystique.
But that is the function and essence of fantasy. The object of it acquires the exaggerated patina of whatever you want him to be. Shia LeBeouf had this to say of his fame: “I cease to be just Shia LaBeouf. It’s Shia, this representative dude. And it’s that Shia who gets the women rushing over. It’s exciting. It’s intoxicating. But it’s not real.”
Sometimes I am just so captivated by and taken with someone who is world-class good at what he does, it’s more like amazement than romantic love, and in that way I’d say I’m in love with the incredible phenomenon of Adam Lambert. As I described it in Noir Har Har!,
IN THIS WAY
I’ve been in love with Jack Kerouac, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Brian Boitano, Howard Zinn, Yukio Mishima, people who excel at what they do and inspire me to do the same. But I haven’t been on the lunatic fringe since junior high school and Davy Jones of the Monkees! I still have their records. When love comes knocking at your door / Just open up and let it in / It’s going to be a magic carpet ride / So little girl now don’t you run and hide…
When love comes knocking at your door / Just open up and let it in / It’s going to be a magic carpet ride / So little girl now don’t you run and hide…
there was a rumor that Davy Jones was going to be drafted and this girl in my homeroom went into a panicky fit. Hysterical, she was! With her elbows up in the air and her hands covering her face, she tossed her head back and forth like she’d just gotten a telegram announcing the death of her beloved. No, no, this can’t be happening… I’ll never forget the look on the face of the guy sitting next to her—utterly confounded. What is with this chick? Jaysus.
You know the word “hysterical” comes from the Greek husterikos, “of the womb” and hustera, “womb,” and was originally thought of as specific to women and their pesky uteri. Such a thing would never fly today of course. But suddenly hysterical women have come back into fashion. They’re all over the place, it’s a worldwide cult. As soon as the codeword “Adam” passes between them, they are sisters in the suffering of love. “I’ve been on Adam overload so long,” wrote reader Rosemary, “it’s all melted into a great big pile of Adamy goo.”
Just be careful not to step in it.
YES, FROM A DISTANCE,
this all seems crazy. I looked at People’s Hottest Bachelors issue, featuring Chace Crawford on the cover. I never heard of him, never heard of his show, whatever it is. He is arranged in all manner of poses I assume are meant to be sexy. The guy does exactly nothing for me. Because I’m exempt from the crush. If someone wanted to go on and on to me about Chace Crawford I’d say Jaysus, what is with you, woman? The guy is, like, twelve! Yeah, he’s good looking, I guess. (Kudos to People, for including two gay guys [Adam and Lance Bass] with nary a mention of their orientation.)
I’M NOT A FAN OF FANTASY,
for myself. I still have to keep it real. If I want to sleep with a married man, I can’t just fantasize that he’s not married, or that he’s my husband instead; I somehow have to “fix” the marriage situation in my mind so that it makes it OK to sleep with this married man. Like his confiding to you at a party that his wife is having an affair and a divorce is impending. You’ve always known without knowing that he’s attracted to you, and you’re feeling a stronger vibe than you have before. An awkward moment of near-intimacy passes, then you go home and can’t stop thinking about him. A couple of days later he shows up at your door with more confidences. And so on. I still want to feel like I’m daydreaming about the real person.
AND SO THANK YOU, ADAM
for that generous eyedropper-full of hope you gave all us hot and bothered gals who imagine THEY will be “the lucky woman” the bi-curious you will go “further” with someday. Ha! As Danny Gokey once screeched, dream on, dream on, and hold your breath as well. Well played, Adam, but I also believe him, because as he said on 20/20, “Sexuality is universal. If something’s attractive to you it’s attractive. Sexy is sexy.” Or as he put it in Rolling Stone, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s all hot. Just because I’m not sticking it in there doesn’t mean I don’t find it beautiful.” After all, who appreciates a fabulous woman more than a gay man?
“Adam may just want to sing,” says reader Trina, “but I do get the feeling that he would be happy for all of us pre/peri/post menopausal women who may just be a bit more slippery due to his Ring of Fire, Whole Lotta Love, zipper enhancing ways.”
I’ve quoted Zoe Heller before, from Notes From a Scandal:
“I’m a 50-year-old still shocked I got caught in Adam’s riptide,” said reader Debra. If you’re not caught in it, it’s tough to imagine the urgency with which you feel yourself sucked in and pulled along.
A reader emailed to say “[my] equation of Adam to sex [in Meter-Outer of Justice], while retrospectively plain as day, allowed me to finally wrap my brain around the visceral response I have had to this man who has invaded my heart and shaken my entire being. I am a 25 year old professional and I am normally perfectly capable of keeping my emotions in check, but when it comes to Adam Lambert, I have reverted back to the 13 yr old who collected Tigerbeat magazine and gushed over every minute detail of my celebrity crushes over a decade ago.”
IF YOU’VE BEEN IN LOVE
before, once or more, though, you know the day may come when the passion will cool and eventually fade away, and, depending how it plays out, you will come to regard that person as just someone else, just another guy. You may not even remember what you saw in him. But today is not that day, because today, as in Woody Allen’s film “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” the idols jump out of the flat screen into three-dimensional human beings and get in your face. Because in about 11 hours, the shows goes on.
you’re a vibrant city—get yourself a train station that doesn’t look like a bus station. I’m on Train 501, the Cascades, due south, arriving Tukwila, Washington. And now, the conductor announces grandly, we’re approaching “Tacoma, the city of destiny!” Hmph. What destiny could possibly await me there? I’ll find out Tuesday at the second AI show, with Bill and Dave. Oh hey, they’re showing a feature film today and it is an Amtrak-style dud, the family-friendly “Monsters and Aliens.” Time to get me some sleep.
Couple hours later: still wide-eyed. Blame it on the continuous lullaby loop of “Tracks of My Tears” that Adam whispered in my ear. God it’s good to be on a train; I can never ride enough of them, and it’s been since my cross-country jaunt in January. I find them liberating; they give me a feeling of “you can’t touch me now.”
Friend Adrianne picks me up at Union Station in her blue beetle with dog Sadie in tow, a 10-year old brindle-colored sweetheart of a BoXer she and husband Bob adopted from the shelter (big points in heaven) where she volunteers. I spend the early afternoon trying to take a nap before the show but am still sleepless, this time in Portland. We hang around and make fun of Hell’s Kitchen reruns. I forget Adam for a time and remember Gordon Ramsay.
And then it’s time to leave for the show. Bob drives me and Adrianne over with Sadie in the back, enjoying her second ride of the day, panting in my ear. “Stop breathing down my neck, will ya,” I tell her. I’m digging in my bag for and answering my cell as we pull up to the curb, so I push the door open with my foot and make my entrance onto the sidewalk in front of the Rose Garden arena, where it seems that the entire line of the dozens waiting to get in, turns to stare at me.
I am wearing a black top, black cropped pants with large white and red Japanese characters on them, and my formal penquin jacket (tails), black and white zebra sunglasses, stylin’ black sandals, and a black kerchief with white Japanese characters complementing the pants, hanging out of the breast pocket. Plus at least—well, I’ll count them—nineteen pieces of jewelry: four earrings, eight finger rings, (only) two toe rings, (only) two bracelets, the one made of mah-jhong tiles and the other a leather wrap cuff, and two necklaces, one, my daily-wear silver X standing for AleXandra, the other a beautiful sterling engraved cross with double crosspieces set with garnets, and a heart-shaped tear at the bottom, which doubles as a coke spoon. Finally, the silver fox broach on my lapel, which has the word “fox” cleverly fashioned in script into its design. I had an extra ticket and was meeting the Craig’s List contact who bought it. We are searching for each other on our cells, and approaching concert-goers are giving me the once over, especially women. As Adam says, you can pull off any look as long as you believe you can.
We make our way in and are led over to and are delighted with our seats. It takes forever for the long lines to file into and fill the place up.
THE CONCERT FINALLY GETS UNDERWAY
and there is a ten-to-one countdown of the Top Ten, beginning with Michael Sarver. The sound is awful; it’s a stadium concert, after all. We’re close to the stage and the band, and it is loud. Too loud, with lots of reverb and sweeping, strobing klieg lights blinding us as they turn us yellow, then red, then green (not a good look for me). Our seats are pretty decent, as well they should be for the scalper’s price I paid, in the third row of an intimate little four-row section created immediately to the right of the stage, not level to the stage, but with a super view. Performers often came to our little corners of the stage.
Writing about it now, next day on the train, I found the first portion of the show before the intermission, idols ten through five, enjoyable as they performed, but mostly forgettable the morning after. Not to be dismissive; they all worked hard as hell and were good entertainers, more polished than I would have expected at their first big public appearance. The one I expected to tolerate, Matt Giraud (“Matt with hat,” as we called him), surprised me by being a standout (I just didn’t jibe with his vibe on the show). But I have to work my brain to think of what songs which singers sang. And I don’t want to.
featured a text-in quiz that would get you backstage passes if you won. I did not (but if you go, pay strict attention to which Ford cars appear in each of the commercials screened). Next up were the Top Four. The second half of the show was awesome. Allison Iraheta was a fireball, a bona fide star at 17, with a well-deserved record contract right out of the box. Number Three was Danny Gokey, whom I liked from the start. He too was a powerhouse, very personable and great energy. (When it came down to Danny, Kris and Adam, I thought Danny for sure, telling myself “Kris can go now,” but—hey. The voters went the other way.)
ladies, with much fanfare, exploding lights and further ado, the Rock/Sex God himself emerges out of the darkness…
Join us next time, when he steps into the light…
All American Idol Portland tour photographs copyright and courtesy of Adrianne Martin
You incredible phenomenon
That was cruel, I know
copyright Alexandra Jones 2009