The Idol glam-rocker dishes on the quirks of fame, pushing boundaries and going toe-to-toe with Madonna

By Jessica Herndon
December 14, 2009 12:00 PM

ADAM LAMBERT, 27, is used to lighting up phone lines. But this time he kept the FCC busy after his controversial American Music Awards performance (à la Britney and Madonna, he kissed a guy and simulated oral sex onstage) Nov. 22. His R-rated shtick is all part of what he calls the “loud, crazy, silly, sexy, dirty, sensitive and vulnerable” vibe of his ’70s-rock-influenced debut album For Your Entertainment. American Idol‘s most outrageous finalist discusses his over-the-top shows, his taste in men and the embarrassing side of fame.

You kept your sexuality quiet on Idol, but you’d been out long before then.

I came out as I graduated high school. It probably wasn’t a big shock. I had kissed girls, but it was PG-rated. I was young and confused.

You’re single? [He and interior designer Drake LaBry split in October.]

Drake and I just realized we’d make better friends. But I adore him.

What do you look for in a guy?

He has to be attractive, but it’s about chemistry. When he touches you, you want to be, like, bam!

You seem secure now. Did you ever struggle with self-doubt?

In middle school I felt like an outsider. I didn’t have a lot of friends. I had confidence issues big-time. The only time I felt confident was onstage. My parents put me in theater at age 10. They’ve always supported me.

What’s your thinking behind your image and your live shows?

I come from theater and costumes and all that. I’m going for, like, [David] Bowie, but it’s hard. How do you do that so it works now? If people don’t like it, I’m f—–.

What about your AMA number?

I stand by my performance. I just got caught up in the moment.

What advice have celebs given you?

This summer, when things got overwhelming, I had text therapy with Katy Perry. She’d say, “Stay close to the people you love.” And Madonna told me, “Keep your eye on the prize.” I was at her house in New York. It was intimidating. Her son David answered the door. I thought, “This is so surreal.” When we talked about singing together, she said, “I’m really bossy in the studio. I’ll p— you off.” I said, “If you p— me off, we’d probably make good art.” We bantered. She was cool.

How was working with Lady Gaga, who wrote a song on your record?

So much fun. She’s pretty much a gay man in a woman’s body. She was very encouraging. She pushed me in the studio, like, “Go crazier!”

What else is next for you?

Creating a unisex makeup line. I’ve had luck in that field. But I have problem skin. I have acne. It’s a mess. It’s the bane of my existence.

Any downsides to fame so far?

I just shopped for a jacket and forgot to activate my new credit card. When I tried to charge it, they said, “It didn’t go through.” Everyone looked at me. I got frazzled, turned and tripped on a woman’s dog. She said, “Watch where you’re going!” Then I was bitchy to her. I realized the tabloids will probably say that I’m a diva, I hate dogs, I have no credit and I’ve already burned through all my money. But I’m not complaining. Giving up some of my privacy to get what I have now? It’s worth it.