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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

Introduction

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.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. MidnightWhispers permalink
    January 26, 2010 1:28 pm

    XENA, once again you reach out and hit the nail on the head with your intrepetation of WWFM vid. My interpretation was the same as yours but in mine; I had Adam playing both parts–the Rock Star who was overwhelmed by everyone and then playing the guy left in the shadows, longing for the quiet days of when he had Adam to himself. This video reaches out and touches me in so many ways. I can feel Adam’s pain, frustration, sadness and longing for that special someone to just stop and pay attention and give back the love that is being offered. And I can also feel the pain, frustration and resentment of being pulled in so many directions that you don’t know which way to turn ‘cuz no one will give you five minutes peace to just be you because your life is not your own anymore. I love the way that this vid was made to show both sides and yet to have only Adam in it. Did we really need anyone else in it? LOL I think not!

    I also wanted to say that I am a fan of yours and love your blogs that you so eloquently write because you seem to voice the things that so many of us feel. And thanks for having the courage to put your thoughts and ideas in a public blog for us to read because that takes courage in itself to do it. From one writer to another, thanks for all that you do and share with us!

    • January 27, 2010 12:48 am

      Need a nickname for you – is Midnight o.k.?
      You are so nice! and too kind with your compliments, especially from a writer! Where and what do you write?

      I thought a lot about your version and just watched it again – probably the fortieth time! I watched FYE over sixty times before I finished my story. I was an emotional mess for the last few days from watching WWFM over and over finding something, pause, rewind – over and over, but I love to find the minutist details and work with them.

      I think the woman director was genius and Adam should work with her a lot.

      Hope you keep posting comments here – love to read comments, even though I am slow to reply sometimes. It depends on what I’m working on in my head.

      Warmest regards

      Xena

  2. katesistergood permalink
    January 26, 2010 10:18 pm

    Xena, well done. I defer to your brilliance.
    The sadness of the video, along with Adam’s admitting to recent loneliness on Oprah give me, and all of the fans who feel a personal connection to him a sad realization of what stardom and public scrutiny really mean.

    The song’s title “Whataya want from me” begs the answer “Dear, sweet boy, we want you to be happy, to be fulfilled, to be loved and to sing with joy “

    • January 27, 2010 12:01 am

      Thank you Kate! I thought he did an amazing job in the video, feeling vulnerable sadness with temper and power showing from time to time.
      X

  3. lisai permalink
    January 27, 2010 1:21 am

    Ah, I used to know a lady who called me Mona Lisa….. shaking my head, glad it doesn’t happen now. Smiling though… that happened in crowded buses every time she embarked. There was no escape, there was only that one bus. She’d look around and yell out in her Italian/Greek heavy accent, “Hello, Mona Leeza”. I would be so embarrassed and feel like a freak…. enough of me except to say I can understand Adam’s pain.

    To be different, to not know what the people around you expect of you and when you finally think you’ve got it, they move the bar…..

    Beautifully written Xena. I can see Adam entreating the camera – his lover, his fans… I think the focus changes for the two.

    To the lover …. here I am, I’ve made it with you, I still need you and want you, don’t go, what do you want me to do, stay by me, I miss us… come back to me, oh welcome…

    To the fans … here I am, I’ve made it with you, why do you send mixed messages, what do you expect of me, you wanted me risque, you wanted me sexy, you wanted me loud, isn’t that what you wanted.

    Let’s as fans just love Adam for whatever he does. Show the quality of a true fan and bless him and wish him well on any part of his journey. He’s an amazing guy, with angelic looks and a voice to melt your heart… I’ll still be there for you, Adam. For many years to come…

    • January 27, 2010 1:46 am

      Thank you lisa, your advice to fans is perfect. Yesterday, I was outside the Much Music studios, standing in the cold rain, my formerly perfect hair falling and frizzing. I had gone to present a copy of our book to Adam as a birthday gift, if I had an opportunity, but he came outside on a platform only briefly and when he did, the darkness lit up. I have met I think only two other people who radiated luminosity and one was Lady Diana. I am sure that in a ballroom full of people, all eyes would be turned to her. Adam is the same. My daughter got some good photos, which I will post here with a little story.

      Today I’ve been thinking about the “qualities of a good fan” and try to set a good example here on our blog. Defending Adam when needed, but never in a personal attack, always respectful. His future is secure and we should always be relaxed and get the most from our Adam experiences. This is why Juneau and I and so many others write, it brings deeper layers of enjoyment up to the top, making the pleasure of the experience last longer and feel fuller.

      Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we’re inspired to something more creative and imaginative. J and I wrote everyday from June 3rd to mid September and the result was our book. There is everything in the story of our personal journeys, to be open to new experiences, to different people, music, culture and more! And this, this is the result, the two of us sharing something we found through Adam. Isn’t it great? I have so much to be thankful for.

      Love hearing from you, please write again.
      Xena

  4. MidnightWhispers permalink
    January 27, 2010 1:39 am

    Awww, XENA, thank you for the sweet compliment and comments back! I’m a self-published romance writer ONLY because I can’t get a book agent to believe in me. I’m not a cookie cutter writer and refuse to be placed in a box and told what to write when I have my own ideas! So I have that in common with ADAM because he also refuses to be put in a box and labeled as a certain genre! I have read alot of your posts but always felt a bit insecure about leaving an opinion BUT somehow all of that changed with ADAM’s AMA performance and I started being alot more vocal about posting on websites.

    I truly love ADAM in an entirely different way than maybe the everyday fan because I feel a connection with him. You have my email addy so if you’d like to know more about that connection, email me and I’ll go more indepth with it but it has to do with my book that I am currently writing. I have a passion for writing and also love to read other writer’s creations whether it’s on a website blog or a book.

    I am also going to buy your book on ADAM and so are several others on ADAMOFFICIAL. I belong to the KITCHEN KNIGHTS on AO. Last summer, Terri who set up the KITCHEN Thread actually knighted us. Since I am the “resident” rock star romance writer, I was dubbed The SAGE of the KITCHEN KNIGHTS! Cool huh? You should come visit us in the KITCHEN the next time that you’re on AO! We’d love to have you join us!

    And I meant what I said about you being such an eloquent writer with your thoughts and ideas about ADAM which is so refreshing to read! I will be coming back to your blog so keep up the awesome work! LOTS OF GLAMBERT LOVE & HUG! And I really would love to chat with you in an email if you want to email me. I’m also on Twitter as ZANECMIDNIGHTW–it wouldn’t let me use MIDNIGHTWHISPERS for some reason and OH you can call me MIDNIGHT or just MW! HUGS!

    • January 27, 2010 1:55 am

      MH, I think there are many of us who have broken out of the boxes and galloped away – including Juneau and me! Soon, we won’t be much of a mystery anymore and more people will find out some surprising things about us. This should give you confidence.

      I do know about the Kitchen Knights – didn’t you make a tribute video? Your group and ours, who write on wowowow are very similar and since opening our Salon doors, have discovered many other groups.

      Anyone who has a closely knit Adam fan group, who have soothed pains and sorrow and popped cyber champagne for celebrations will identify very closely with our story. And this is really thrilling.

      While we haven’t published them here, our book has lots of fantasy stories including one that has become rather infamous, about a game of Scrabble.

      Can’t wait to hear from you after you read the book and will email.
      Love
      X

  5. January 27, 2010 10:36 am

    Dear Xena!

    What a beautiful interpretation of one of the more insightful videos that we have all seen in quite a while. I think that anyone viewing WWFM will have their own analysis of it, and you have placed one more unique spin on it.yourself.
    At first, I thought that Adam was portraying both characters, that of rock star, and also the person behind the camera itself – longing for the days of some semblance of peace, quiet and normalcy,without being picked systematically apart by various people wanting to possess a part of you. It made perfect sense to me, as I am sure Adam does feel this way at times. We have seen and heard this first hand when the paparazzi scream at him, “Adam, turn left”, “Adam, turn right”, “Adam, give us a big smile”, “Adam, who are you dating now”?, and so on and so forth. The video was so beautifully done, and seeing Adam in it just makes it all the more fascinating to watch – he really doesn’t need any acting lessons – he did beautifully in this; can you imagine him on the big screen?!

    I also envisioned a lover in the video on the other side of the lens, who Adam is imploring to stay and not to leave him, that they can work it work; that when love is strong enough between two people, there is nothing that is insurmountable, and this, to me, is what Adam is attempting to convey to his lover. I also saw myself in this video for a short time, but I would never,ever leave Adam for any reason in the world, so that version did not hold up too long.

    The video does such a wonderful job of showing what a meteoric rise to fame can result in – total loss of anonymity, constant public scrutiny, and never ending rumors and innuendos concerning your private life; this cannot be fun or amusing in any sense. Kudos to both Adam in this video as he does a wonderful job of showing angst, furor, vulnerability, and the downside of fame – he is also an extemely good actor (if he was in fact, acting), and the woman who made this video is genius herself.

    I have come to the conclusion that perhaps, we, as avid fans of Adams’, should keep in mind that as much as we adore and love Adam, that he also is a private citizen and not only Adam Lambert, Rock Star, who is entitled to a slice of privacy and dignity, and does not need for us to constantly monitor his every move. As fans, we can enjoy, idolize, and love Adam as much as we can, but we are not entitled to know his whereabouts 24/7. Let’s all be cognizant of the fact that Adam needs a little solitude and confidentiality regarding his life – I think that would make Adam adore all of his fans just a little more than he already does.

    Xena, have I ever told you that youdo such a magnificent job on this blog as well as on the other; I enjoy your insight and opinions on all matters Adam, and alwsys look forward to hearing “what Xena would say” about any subject where our Adam is concerned. Xena, you ahve become a constant in my life – thank you!

    XO & Hugs,

    DeeDee

    • October 19, 2012 11:18 pm

      Yeah, I had a dream about him where he expressed that he will give us as much as he possibly can but when it’s time for “me time” he wants that to himself. It was very powerful the way he commanded that in the dream, by just saying “ok, now some privacy please”. His lover represented that privacy. But then again he makes it so difficult to know boundaries because happiness is something that shines forth, and blurs the boundaries, and he’s the one who’s tweeting everything in the first place – “off the grid, my ass” in his words. Still, that inner sanctuary is where all the art we love comes from, and it has to be allowed. But this doesn’t happen through any of our own feelings of guilt – we can only give him that privacy by being completely balanced within ourselves, as well. Knowing that every choice we make is in service to the best state the Universe can be. This is hard.

  6. lisai permalink
    February 16, 2010 1:52 am

    I have to let you know that I was helping a teacher with her computer at work today (i’m a mac technician) and we were wanting to check her internet connection and show her how to use a downloader that I installed. I said “Lets just go and look up my favourite singer in the whole wide world”. I typed in Adam Lambert You Tube and she said… “Oh that’s the guy with the wonderful voice. My husband and I loved him on idol”. So I brought up For Your Entertainment. She said her husband always thought he was gay and leashed. He wondered what he would be like unleashed. My perfect opening to show her some of his Zodiac stuff….. so I went to Crawl thru Fire and A Change is Gonna Come. She was in awe. Couldn’t wait to get home and show her husband.

    She’s the first teacher I’ve given my website address to so she can watch and look and maybe join. Now I have someone at work who can understand and maybe join me in my obsession. Yay.

  7. merrie permalink
    February 24, 2010 10:09 am

    Love the picture, you did the song JUstice.. Excellent writing can’t wait for my BOOK!!!!!!!!!

    • February 26, 2010 1:52 pm

      It is such hard work to watch Adam’s videos fifty times or more, to catch everything possible! But, worth the effort.

  8. annehedonia permalink
    April 17, 2010 5:13 pm

    Xena ~ Whilst looking for something else here, I happened upon your article about the WWFM vid (I sheepishly admit to not having known of your existence at that time. …always late to the party). It reminded me of how very much I LOVE the vid. Your interpretation makes it even richer, if that’s possible. Your attention to detail was impressive and important. Another “helper” in that dept. was the “making of” vid. Very revealing!

    Around this time, I recall Adam opining that he was not an accomplished enough actor to make a guest appearance on an episode of “Glee” or “Gossip Girl”. Pish-tosh! He seems like a perfectly beautiful natural talent to me (so what else is new?)

    I also understand that the making of the video for “I I Had You” is underway. … and I wonder if the “observer/ participant out of frame” approach might not be used again, but in a very different way. Hummm… it’s doubtful – Adam seldom does the same thing twice.

    Anyway, the vid inspired a poem, of sorts. Some of these are stream-of-consciousness things that pop out fully formed. I’m not vouching for the quality. But this was inspired by those scenes in the landscape, lit by a blue-grey light. Really, it has little to do with Adam. It’s a mixture of speculation and recall of a former RL experience:

    Blue Garden Prayer
    January, 2010

    If one day I should meet you
    Walking in the blue garden
    Slate walls slick with rain

    Please ~
    Allow me first to see
    Our commonality –
    Papyrus flowers bent with tears
    Hold back the impulse
    To use this vulnerable moment
    To possess your beauty,
    Cool-hued mist obscuring the reality
    That we are at once
    Forever one
    And separate

Trackbacks

  1. Equilibrium – Better Than I Know Myself video « On the Meaning of Adam Lambert
  2. Adam Lambert’s FYE – Five years!! | On the Meaning of Adam Lambert

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