Adam’s Mona Lisa Smile WWFM
What do You Want From Me? What Can we do For You?
26 January 2010
Xena’s back-story for the video
Paramedics have said I will make a full recovery, thanks for asking. This heart-searing video brought on the vapors, Brad* retrieved the smelling salts and plumped the cushions on the chintz chaise for my recovery. A waft and sip of my special medicinal potion consisting of one part Grand Marnier combined with one part cognac in a Baccarat snifter, helped. More than one is dangerous, as I learned when the barkeep poured me a generous serving in the bar following the Syracuse AI concert. I was attempting to soothe my disconsolation at being abandoned by HRH post-performance. Losing all control to a hedonistic expression of my sorrow, I tried to cheer myself with crude imitations of Adam’s chest pumps and hip thrusts, however without the necessary biological accoutrement, they were not especially effective, nor interesting.
I thought that I had bribed all witnesses to this event, however one recently tracked me down through Twitter and so I have to admit that yes, the woman dancing in the bar in Syracuse was Xena. I was teetering on the brink of insanity and Brad was not there to stop me, Juneau was in another city and the fellow Glambertinae with whom I travelled, were too amused to care. However they won’t say anything as we have their antics on film.
Back to my story for “Whataya Want From Me?”
Cantiello, love ya, but I disagree with your take on the WDYWFM video. This is not Adam as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a new personality with each costume or set change. Some interpret the video as a message to fans, to the industry, but there is no audience and the few fans who are there, form a gauntlet through which he passes with a smile, to the limousine. While we have imbued the lyrics with that meaning and Adam agrees with it, this interpretation came long after the song was written and recorded. This is a “supertext” to the original story as it played out in the lyrics, which is fair, but I will be purist here and stick to what we see to accompany the song. It is rich enough.
There are only two people in this story, a heartbroken, confused and frustrated star and you or me or whoever is looking through the camera – “we” – the lonely star’s lover. The lens is our eyes and Adam talks, pleads, yells, gestures, cries and sings, to us. There is no third person which is a brilliant creative decision. Had there been another character – the yoyo lover, cyber posses of Adam’s fans would have formed around the world to track down this guy and well, probably Tweet him to insanity.
No, it had to be just us, we are the guy sheepishly tiptoeing in after being out all night, then walking back out, packing a bag, slamming the door, yelling back, sitting with arms crossed in the back of the limo, sulking because Adam has to go to another business-related function after his performance, and not straight home. How many more hours are we going to suffer as a voyeur to our own lover’s life?
How can we not be moved by that carefully lit profile, drawn in reverse silhouette, brooding Apollo carved in alabaster, hesitant looks, not connecting? We sigh with resignation, that black mood expression of his is too painful, we look away.
That’s it for us – when we arrive at the hotel, the star gets out of the car to a horde of papps and fans who are the Greek chorus of his life now. To us, they are the sirens beckoning him to rocky shores, to him they are the sound of love, reassuring him that indeed he is the star and they think he’s beautiful. So do we, he’s the only one in the world who still thinks he’s a “freak”. What does he mean by that? Expecting we will follow, he doesn’t look back and the mass folds in behind him. No one notices someone else in the back seat, so we stay put and the driver takes us to a friend’s house.
Whose apartment is this? Sparseness – is it evidence of a very new and brief relationship or a longer one where two lives barely intersect anymore, with an air of impermanence and it’s reflected in the lyrics “Just keep coming around”?
Earlier today, our lover gathered the courage to demand answers of us. Rationalizations and recriminations are tossed back and forth, we’re both easy targets to hit today. Time to face it, air it, make the explanations for our distance, the wall between us.
“Why are you leaving now, when I need you close to me?”
“I know I’m messed up, but it’s still me, the guy you fell in love with the moment we met!”
“I still feel the same about you, but things can’t stay the same forever, can they?”
“You are never here for me anymore and I need you”
“Wouldn’t have mattered before, I’d have let you go, but now I can’t”
“But I’m sick of being an afterthought in your life, behind all your work”
“How did our lives get so complicated?”
“Just stay and we can work it all out”
“It’s all so rushed, I’m breathless”
“I have my own future to think of too, my career”
“I promise not to let you down if we can just try to work it out”
The spare kitchen counter is littered with dead food containers, empty sake bottle, a couple of faded and wilted roses, so long neglected, most of the water has evaporated and what’s left has turned an almost putrid chartreuse. Can this relationship recover or has it expired? Can it be nurtured back to life? The kitchen still life challenges the idea.
Then he realizes something – he needs us, not just anyone beside him, but us “you could save my life”.
We’ve been out all night, quietly unlock the door and tiptoe into the bedroom, to our lover asleep with our pillow beneath his head, disheveled bed covers and not from a night of passion. Tossing and turning, unable to settle down with our place in bed empty, he grabs our pillow and shoves it under his head, our scent reassuring and unsettling at once. His face serene, a look we’ve not noticed in quite a while. No time for serenity in our lives, for feet-up on the sofa with a movie on a rainy day, a bottle or two of Chianti to share. Box of tissues for the sad ones.
This sterile apartment needs a fireplace or something to warm it up, even a carpet, some life, some plants. It’s all hard surfaces, even the sofa has hard angles and corners. It’s virtually black and white, flat and two dimensional.
We’ve only come back to pack some clothes, while he paces, pleads and finally demands. We are deliberately deaf to his pleas. If we slow down and listen, we will weaken and in a few months, the scene will replay itself, only worse. What will he do for the rest of the day? We can’t leave him like this, so we call a friend to come and keep him company, but got voicemail.
But no one shows up and he’s restless, uncomfortable, can’t read, can’t watch TV, loose ends and the courtyard, in dusky, somber light is painterly, Monet’s Giverny gardens in foggy spring, small sprigs of yellow light, including a few lemons, glimpses perhaps of possibilities, the lemons are the only clear sign of life and growth.
Just a couple of snapshots remain, staring at them, feeling regret, does not animate them to life, wistful sadness. Finally the release, but the tears won’t raise the wilted roses to stand on their own.
We are feeling the loss of the sound of the key in the door when we would arrive home, anticipating the evening’s round of parties and clubs with our close circle of mutual friends. Now, formal invitations arrive along with limousines, black ties, red carpets and shiny shoes. We miss the dress-up parties and all-night clubbing, then spending a glorious day in bed, maybe out for late lunch at the market.
The story is interspersed with performance clips where the pain continues, with the same argument, the same demands, building intensity as the music climbs, perfectly expressed with eyes, voice and drama. He lunges at us, music crescendos, face fills the screen.
His voice slides into our heart, our soul and we are overwhelmed with loneliness and loss, from what have we walked away? Who are we leaving behind? We’ll find a way, we’ll work it out, he’s worth it, he’s our freak, our best friend, our lover.
We walk into the lonely bedroom………. What do we want from you? Your love and just to know what we can do for you.”
Flash of the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile – did we see that? Replay/rewind/replay………………. But wait, who is the fading figure in the courtyard?
Adam, it is we who should be asking “What can we do for you?”
*Brad is Xena’s manservant who is devoted to Xena, Juneau and Adam, whom he adores. For Brad, boys are always welcome, but girls, not so much. No one can set-up a Scrabble game like Brad. From On the Meaning of Adam Lambert
Xena is a writer, policy analyst and commentator who has an opinion on everything, and co-author with “Juneau” of the book, On the Meaning of Adam Lambert – order at www.adamlambertbook.com or Amazon.com.