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Excerpt from Chapter 1

From On the Meaning of Adam Lambert

Adam’s detractors complain that he is all artifact, but I think those of us who have worked hard for what we’ve achieved appreciate the unrelenting work and desire that go into his effortless-seeming performances. I applaud him for re-inventing himself, for transforming himself from the sandy-haired, freckle-faced artsy character in high school into a global rock and sex god. You can follow his journey (it’s all on YouTube).

I identify with his explorations from high school “music guy” geekdom through the purpler fringes of the gay club scene, the musical theater world and finally to the platform of American Idol, which he has used so courageously and masterfully to launch himself onto the world stage. I don’t feel he has become something artificial and un-genuine. I feel he has discovered and unleashed who he really is. And who he is multifaceted, like all of us. He’s the sweet boy next door AND he’s the rock god. He’s a smart, disciplined operator AND an artist who truly pours out his heart for the world to see.

The blog posters are endearingly incoherent, the streams of consciousness of people unhinged by this unanticipated surge of hormonal excitation that is being unloosed by Adam Lambert. I’m feeling the same way, and I want to understand where this is coming from. As I mentioned, I feel a tremendous sense of identification with Adam. Through him, I am reliving my own youth, and at the same time shining a light on my life now, wondering what I may have let go along the way.

I was a geek in high school, back when there was nothing redeeming about it (no vindicating “geeks rule” slogans in the popular culture).  I was a restless goddess trapped inside a myopic school valedictorian, violin-playing science nerd. I started to free myself in senior year when I hooked up with a hippie artist boyfriend, and then become completely wild when I headed off to my Ivy League college. I dutifully attended lectures during the day. At night, I went out clubbing with a gorgeous gay man. We became a hot disco dancing couple and started living for the midnight to dawn world of the gay club scene. This was in the late 70s, when gay clubs were exhilaratingly and joyfully transgressive. This was before Saturday Night Fever came along and took disco hetero and mainstream, and of course before AIDS. It was edgy, and I felt liberated and completed.

I now look back and realize that this period was brief, but it was a defining moment. Life moved along. I had boyfriends (and now a husband) who were not into the gay club scene, or into any dancing for that matter. I gave up other things I love: outdoor adventure, budget travel in the developing world, sky diving, scuba diving, horseback riding. I dove instead into my career and family life. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband and daughters. Nurturing them and creating a rich home life for them gives me great joy. In my career I have had opportunities to do what I love, and I feel that I am making a difference in the world. I wouldn’t change a thing. But maybe I need to shake up my life a bit. That’s what I’m wondering. That’s why I’m watching Adam. (Plus, he makes me happy!)

An aside: I am of course eager to share Adam with my teenage girls and hold him up as a great role model. Sadly, they don’t get him! I showed my 11-year-old the Born to Be Wild video, thinking it was mainstream enough with an exciting beat that she’d like. Her reaction: “He’s scary! He wears makeup!” I argue with her: “He’s different. He celebrates who he is!” But no, this argument carries no weight with her. Now I realize she, and the millions who voted for Kris Allen, can’t handle Adam. He teeters dangerously close to the edge of everyone’s comfort zone. It’s just that some of us decide to take the leap and embrace it (and become like the Adamaniacs on this blog!), and some recoil. It’s too disturbing (yes, it IS!). Maybe I should have started her with “One”… (sigh) a mother’s job is never done, never perfected…

– by Juneau

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 16, 2009 9:16 am

    AWESOME post and I agree with absolutely everything you say.
    My girls *they are 8* LOVE him…. everything he does.

    He makes me happy and almost puts me in to a euphoria, crazy as it sounds. 🙂


  2. Jennifer permalink
    March 22, 2010 2:28 pm

    i showed my nieces (4 and 7 years old) the “time for miracles” video… their reactions? “he looks like harry potter” (???????) and “i’m nervous” (in retrospect, i realized that the images of buildings collapsing in a fiery maelstrom were probably not age-appropriate for the 4-year-old). and then i tried to get them to listen to his cd, but they would have none of it! i don’t get it. i *think* i would love adam no matter what age i was. but maybe i’m wrong about that.

  3. niiiiiiiiiiiina permalink
    May 26, 2010 9:01 am

    do you mean saturday night fever?

    i only ask bc i am old enough to remember the beginnings of both.

    This was before Saturday Night Live came along and took disco hetero and mainstream, and of course before AIDS. It was edgy, and I felt liberated and completed.

    • May 26, 2010 7:12 pm

      Whoops, yes, Saturday Night Fever. Thanks for catching that. I’ll go and fix it pronto!

      – J

  4. June 30, 2010 4:45 pm

    I agree with your analysis of Adam Lambert’s reinvention of himself, but then you lost me with your analysis of your daughter’s odd reaction to Adam Lambert singing Born to Be Wild and translate that as the reason for Adam’s loss on American idol. My own five-year-old nephew thinks BTBW is his theme song and dressed as Adam for Halloween. For you to conclude that Adam was not widely accepted by the American Idol viewing audience is just plain wrong. Adam was always more popular than Kris by far. Do some marketing research at somewhere like Alexia or Quantcast and you will see that traffic on their respective fan sites has Adam five to seven times more popular then Kris. Go to Google Trends state by state for 2009. Kris received more interest only in Arkansas. Marketers can tell weather interest is negative or positive and Adam had overwhelmingly positive interest. The male on male kissing photos came out at week 13 so America was voting for Adam. Kris won because 38 million votes were generated in Arkansas while Adam’s phones were blocked for three hours. It is one thing for haters to deny that Adam would have won in a fair vote but it is wrong for a big fan like you to from a conclusion not based on facts and spread false information.


  1. Juneau and Thea’s Excellent Adventure in Hollywood | On the Meaning of Adam Lambert

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