Hopes For The Queerest American Idol Ever Are Dwindling By Rob Wolfsham / Sunday, March 1st, 2009
Right out of the gate, this could have been the queerest American Idol season ever, but at some point between Ryan Seacrestâ€™s awkward gay banter with a v-necked Simon Cowell and Nathanial Marshallâ€™s â€œOlivia Newton-Johnâ€ headband, it veered into a bloodbath for homo-tastic hopefuls.
With Idol it doesnâ€™t matter whoâ€™s actually gay, because weâ€™re not rooting for people or who they actually are, weâ€™re rooting for images, vibrations of air, and Ford-sponsored production, edited down to tug heartstrings and idealize the gooey residue of Americana that is Top 40 music.
I knew there were high hopes for gayness when my mother pleaded with me to catch this season’s Idol. I taught her how to DVR the show and came down for a visit. Together, we watched through early Februaryâ€™s â€œHollywood Week,â€ watched in horror I should say at the first sign of trouble as Alex Wagner-Trugman (right) and his Hot-Topical-goth pal Cody Shelton were ripped apart in a heart-wrenching â€œitâ€™s you or himâ€ sing off. Alex won, but wept tears for his fallen comrade. My mother observed that they would make an adorable couple:
â€œWould Cody be the girl?â€ she asked with naÃ¯ve curiosity.
â€œYes mom. Cody would be the girl â€¦ but itâ€™s over for them now. Itâ€™s all over.â€
Cody didnâ€™t even give Alex a goodbye hug. Eventually, Alex, who remarked in a bio clip â€œI used to sing in the closet,â€ was eliminated from the Top 36.
Then we watched as widower Danny Gokey filled the void of spousal loss in the form of beautiful and black Jamar Rogers. Their bromance, punctuated by hugs and constant man pats, was too much for Coca-Cola and Fordâ€™s vision of America. It would not be tolerated. Jamar was cut. But Danny will continue on to bedazzle audiences with his Robert Downey Jr. meets Seth Rogen looks and his endless array of rectangular Versace spectacles. Expect him to make the Top 5, pending a total meltdown.
As the show continued, my mother grew bewildered by the unreasonable ascent of self-aware mockstar Nick â€œNormanâ€ Mitchell (left). But I rooted for him because his alter-ego, Norman Gentle, is unabashedly queer with his nerd-drag, sexually noxious jaunting and narcissistic delusions.
Norman Gentle is the love child of Gloria Gaynor, Steve Urkle, and Jerry Lewis, complete with baggy eyes, wristbands, and Tron Man glasses. While raping And Iâ€™m Telling You Iâ€™m Not Going by Jennifer Holiday, Gentle pointed to Simon and threw in the lyric: â€œBut I gotta make them love me, the one at the end, heâ€™s the hottest to me!â€ Queerness confirmed.
But heartbreak! Simon observed after the vamping: â€œArguably one of the most atrocious performances weâ€™ve ever had at this stage of the competition.â€ Norman, in petulant anger cried â€œWell it takes one to know one, sassy pants!â€ topped with a hairy-thigh-revealing kick in Simonâ€™s direction. In the end Nick/Norman was voted off the plexiglass island, which is a shame because I liked his absolute â€œThis show is fucking bullshitâ€ style.
Then comes hyper-emotional queer-punk Nathaniel Marshall (top shot center). My mother loved Nathaniel, so I knew he had gay cred. During his stay on the show Nathaniel broke into tears maybe forty-eight times (in direct competition with Tatiana Del Toro for the crazy card), but thatâ€™s just a guess. After Nathaniel performed an acceptable rendition of Meat Loafâ€™s I Would Do Anything For Loveâ€¦ But I Wonâ€™t Do That Simon remarked homophobically, â€œNathaniel, I think you probably would.â€
â€œThat was really mean!â€ my mother yelled at the TV.
Yes, Nathaniel looked ridiculous, but I gotta stand up for my brethren in the face of school-yard teasing like that. Either way, he too was eliminated. I realized then that this was a bloodbath. I had the same sinking feeling I had election night 2004 as state after state was filled with Republican red. American Idol suddenly felt like an oppressive last vestige of Bush-era politics. Am I being melodramatic? Yes. But only because Nathaniel and his headband rubbed off on me.
But then thereâ€™s also the phantom queer-type that we need to discuss. And you know who I’m talking about. Ricky Braddy (right), almost completely non-existent for the last two months until his Top 36 performance. Despite being one of the first Idol contestants this season to have his own fansite, the show brushed over him, mostly likely because he was too subdued and un-dramatic (â€œour temporary homos need to be crazy like Nathaniel Marshall!â€). In the end, his plucked eyebrows, teased faux-hawk, tight girl jeans, and affection for Anoop Desai pushed him into an uncomfortable innuendo for America. He was eliminated, brought back in the wildcard round, and eliminated again. A double causality. After his last performance of Stevie Wonderâ€™s Superstition, Randy said he was â€œself-indulgentâ€ which we all know is coded language for â€œyouâ€™re a vain homo.â€
Itâ€™s not just Season 8. American Idol has never been kind to the appearance of queer. Remember Season 7 and our openly gay comrade, eye-rolling pixie Danny Noriega? He went out in a burst of flames after Simon Cowell said everything about his appropriate, lisping rendition of Soft Cellâ€™s rendition of Gloria Jonesâ€™ rendition of Tainted Love was terrible. Gee Simon, did you not stop to think for a moment that Noriega was merely accentuating the Ã¼ber-mo of â€˜80s synthpop glamfag Marc Almond? Are we not even allowed to own up to our real gay idols from the ghost of pop-culture past?
Now, in an already bleak Season 8, I beg of you, American Idol, give me hope. From parting clouds, give me a ray of sherbet light to bring us queer and joyâ€¦
Whatâ€™s this? Adam Lambert (left)?
One-man cabaret? A history of purple hair? Scarf-wearing make-out sessions? Trips to Burning Man? Adam Lambert â€¦ you are our only hope for the queerest American Idol ever. Not only because you possibly have America-topping talent (evidenced by your unstable yet other-worldly performance of Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones) but you know how to repackage your theatrical self into something current that teenage girls (red state and blue state) will salivate over. Randy articulately observed, â€œYo dawg, check it out dawg â€¦ you are like Robert Pattinson from Twilight meets My Chemical Romance.â€ I hate both those things, but itâ€™s the most mainstream-sanctioning compliment Iâ€™ve seen a family member get in a while.
However, I feel like Lambert is in danger since Votefortheworst.com unearthed his queer-criminating photos (uhm, right). Teenage girls and homophobic soccer moms might see through the veil of his man-in-black masculinity and screw him because of some collective â€œhe would never fuck meâ€ rage.
The other boring, America-safe guys who made it to the Top 13 are at least rendered completely forgettable in the rainbow shadow cast by Adam Lambert. But I know if his popularity holds, they will sanitize, coach, and airbrush him into heterosexual oblivion. Thatâ€™s Americaâ€™s American Idol, cleansed like the Cleaver family.
Thereâ€™s a Q&A with Lambert on Idolâ€™s website, the kind of Q&A where the contestants get to yammer about their personal lives. One of the questions for Adam is: â€œWhatâ€™s your proudest moment?â€ Adamâ€™s response: â€œFalling in love.â€
The lack of elaboration is deafening.
Rob Wolfsham hails from the glorious suburbs of Lubbock. You can get to know Rob (and Lubbock) better by reading his blog Lubbock Blows. And then order up a copy of his debut Cleis Press’ debut: Boy Crazy: Coming Out Erotica.
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