It was the conversation he could only have with us.
"Right after the finale, I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, 'I'm going to wait for Rolling Stone, that will be cooler,' " Lambert said. His patience paid off with a cover story in our latest issue (check out exclusive video of his cover shoot), and here, in his own words, more from Vanessa Grigoriadis' conversation with Lambert — his true thoughts on his Idol experience, his future in music and why he refuses to hide his sexuality.
On why he auditioned for American Idol:
I looked at the music business, and realized it is nearly impossible to make it with the way it is right now. No one is going to take a chance with an artist who is somewhat out there. The only way you have a chance being looked at by a label right now is if you are what everyone else is. So I realized that I wouldn't be taken seriously as a recording artist unless I had a huge platform. I saw that and I knew that Idol was the only thing that would do it — if it worked.
On Kris Allen and Allison Iraheta:
[Kris Allen] has a good heart and a good spirit. He's so mellow, he's so kick-back. He and I have a lot of love with Allison Iraheta: It felt like this kind of sibling thing. Just good energy, the three of us together. Kris and I both got very protective of her. We encouraged her to pick up the guitar and take risks musically. It always felt very positive ... good karma, you know? Kris doesn't need any advice, clearly. Even though he's really kick-back, he's got a very strong sense of self in a non-aggressive, non-intense way. It's cool.
On his early attempts at songwriting:
My songs were like campy, sexy electro, like Peaches and Goldfrapp. I can look back now and realize I wasn't very good at it. I was trying to put in way too many words. I was trying to be way too melodramatic and serious, you know? It's like what a junior high student does with poetry. But over the course of a couple years, I started really trying to listen to what worked out there in music, like hooks — and realized that less is more. The simple idea is better in a song.
On life after Idol:
I'm hopeful. I have a great opportunity right now. There are a lot of people who want to work with me that I really respect. And hopefully it works. I'm not cocky because I've seen a lot of guys come off this show and bomb, so I recognize that I could crash and burn. But if I play it safe, it's not going to work, so I might as well go for it with the same intention that I had on the show.
On where he wants to go musically:
I want to do something that has theatricality, a nod to the glam rockers that I love, but is also contemporary. It's not all going to be happy-go-lucky because I think it's important to explore other emotional parts of yourself as an artist, but there's a time and place for it. I would love to work with Madonna. I'm a big fan. I just want to play dress up and be fabulous. When you're a kid, you do the make-believe thing — you play dress-up and pretend. That's the child mentality, and I feel like if you're an adult and you can adopt the child mentality to something cool, that's what being a "rock star" is. It's just playing. It's Halloween. It's make-believe. It's fun. And who doesn't want to do that? That's the kind of music that I want to make — music that encourages people to play make-believe, escape and have fun.
On experiencing discrimination:
A few years ago, I did a musical with Val Kilmer, The Ten Commandments at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. I was finally personally awakened, wearing nail-polish, feeling attractive and comfortable in my own skin for the first time. We'd go out sometimes with Val, and it was the first time I'd ever been around a celebrity — it felt really fabulous. One night, we hung out at his house and Sean Lennon came over to jam with us. I was like, John Lennon's son? This is the coolest thing I've done in my life. But I had a lot of problems with the people putting on the show. One day, the director pulled me aside and said, "Can you turn it down? The producers are a little uncomfortable. It's a little too ... gay." I was like, "Um, are we doing a musical here? I'm sorry, there are fags all over the place, dude." It was very upsetting.
On making his sexuality public:
There are so many old-fashioned ways of looking at things, and if we want to be a progressive society, we have to start thinking in a different way. There's the old industry idea that you should just make sexuality a non-issue, just say your private life's your private life, and not talk about it. But that's bullshit, because private lives don't exist anymore for celebrities: they just don't. I don't want to be looking over my shoulder all the time, thinking I have to hide, being scared of being found out, putting on a front, having a beard, going down the red carpet with some chick who is posing as my girlfriend. That's not cool, that's not being a rock star. I can't do that.
"Wild Idol: The Psychedelic Transformation and Sexual Liberation of Adam Lambert" is on newsstands now.
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