We’ve seen the “glammorific” costumes that Adam performs in on his Glam Nation Tour. While they’re something beautiful to behold, the way they compliment his eyes, his style, his body (okay Carol, let’s not get carried away here!) have you given thought to the meaning, if any?
***JUST ADDED: Adam included a tour through his wardrobe on the VH1 Posted series video below. Although he talked about the A as the “running theme of the show” he didn’t let on any meaning. But there sure was a smile behind the words!
Surely there has to be something behind the letter A that adorns the opening number top hat and back of the vest he wears later in segment three of his show. Is it merely a case of branding? I don’t think so. Other than his tattoos, I don’t see Adam sticking to any one visual – he’s too much about change. Is it ego? Nah, we’ve never seen any sign of topside inflation from this magnificent showman. But still, there has to be something there. Nothing happens by accident. And why the color red? I know it crossed my mind immediately that it was a Scarlet Letter. But what “indiscretion” was it referring to? I came upon the following explanation on another site and was really entertained by it. The article was posted by NoAngel, but I don’t know if that’s the author. I hope it gets you thinking too!
~ Carol, Glamb #7 ~
A is for Adam.
Simple. Unless the Adam is Lambert, and the A is huge and sparkling in antique script on a top hat. In scarlet. Get it?
Okay, so I didn’t, at first. I blame sensory overload. The night of the concert in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was an explosion of Purple fringe! Lasers! Acoustic Aftermath! Bare feet and sultry moves and Ring of Fire, omg! And oh yeah, Adam likes to splash his initial around- cool! An “A” on the back of his vest, and his dancers’ costumes, and LP’s drum. In all the glitz and flash at the beginning of the long-anticipated Glam Nation Tour, Adam’s message to us may have been overlooked.
But something finally nudged my mind, and when it hit me, I geeked out, because seriously, I stan Adam for a hundred different reasons, but his clever, creative brain just ~does things to me. So bear with me as I look a little deeper into the symbolism of Adam’s scarlet letter.
For those who haven’t read the novel since forced at exam-point to do so in high school, the abridged/nutshell version of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 classic The Scarlet Letter: Hester Prynne is a young woman sent to colonial Boston by her husband. For years, she waits for him to join her, and when he doesn’t, has an affair with another man. Discovered, she is imprisoned, and once released, is forced to wear a bright red “A” (for adultery) on her dress, marking her as a sinner. She lives quietly on the outskirts of town and over time, she comes to embrace the letter, and even to wear it proudly. She decorates it in gold thread, and refuses to remove it even when given permission to do so. The meaning of the letter itself changes, and many townspeople, who have come to respect Hester, come to believe it stands for “able.”
In the novel, Hester was judged by her community as a sinner and forced to wear a label of her shame. Her offense: she defied the rules and dared to be a sexual being. She could have sunk down under the punishment and let it defeat her. She could have left town and hidden her identity. Instead, she stayed, and through her suffering, she gained insight and wisdom and strength of character. She did not deny who she was or what she had done, and through her quiet courage, turned a label of shame into a badge of honor.
So what does all this have to do with Adam? What was the crime that Adam committed?
He defied the rules and dared to be a sexual being. Gifted with the closing number on the 2009 American Music Awards, he gave an unabashedly sexual performance, sending conservatives into a tailspin and provoking 1500 of them to release their pearls long enough to set righteously trembling fingers to keyboards and write half-coherent letters of outrage to the FCC. Because for some “Americans,” gay is a-okay as long as it’s subtle and asexual, but when it’s “in your face,” the children are evidently at risk.
Adam’s sin was that, right from the beginning, he refused to be neutered. “I’m a sexual person,” he has said unapologetically, and at the AMAs he gave an overtly sexy performance befitting a sexy song. Something that no out gay male had ever done before on national prime-time television. His punishment was swift. Cancelled performances, a media storm, outcry from all sides.
At least Adam had the support of the gay community after the AMAs, right? After all, Aaron Hicklin of Out Magazine had just publicly exhorted Adam to “find [his] own path,” to not be afraid of being “too gay,” and to “not mess this up.” “This” being the pioneering path that Adam was charting as the first major-label recording artist to be out at the beginning of his career. Unfortunately, the gay community was far from unanimously supportive after the AMAs, and it took GLAAD a dishearteningly long time to speak out on his behalf against ABC. Many in the LGBT community fretted that Adam’s over-the-top behavior had set back years of hard-won progress. So apparently the advice to Adam to find his own path actually meant, “tread carefully down this narrow safe road we’ve defined, so you don’t freak out the straights with the idea of gay sex…”
And Adam’s fanbase? As devoted as they are, even some of his most ardent fans wrung their hands in fear over the career implications of the AMA furor. To this day, the performance sparks fierce debate among Adam’s fans, with many proclaiming it a travesty and an anomaly. They are quick to explain that it isn’t “The Kiss” or the simulated oral sex that they object to, but rather they hate that Adam was “threatening,” “angry,” and “uncontrolled” on stage. Never mind that the words (“Can you handle what I’m ’bout to do? Cause it’s about to get rough for you…”) suggest that this isn’t a pretty love song. Clearly, many fans are uncomfortable with an Adam that is sexually aggressive, and prefer a softer edge.
In the days following the AMAs, Adam was given many opportunities to apologize for that night. It would have been so easy for him to say, “I’m sorry” or “I shouldn’t have done what I did.” Forgive me, I fucked up, I’ll never do it again, I promise I’ll be good…
Instead, Adam owned what he did on that stage. To one and all he claimed it as his performance, his emotions, and his interpretation of the song. He weathered the backlash and the anger from foes and friends alike with class and dignity. Recently, Adam has spoken of the anxiety and pressure he felt in those days, when he wondered if he had ruined his chances of success. But all we saw back then was his grace under fire as he asked us all to consider ‘what do we want from him?’
Not a question with an easy answer. Naturally, those of us who love Adam and wish him success have many opinions about how he should go about his career. There are those who want OTT Adam- as much flash and glitter as possible; more is more, and screw those who can’t handle it. Others want Adam to tread more lightly- build his fanbase by appealing to a wider audience, and gradually introduce them to his brand of glam without freaking them out. For every person who loves out-and-proud Adam, there is at least one who would rather not have his sexuality “shoved down their throat,” a turn of phrase that makes one wonder about the fantasies these folks spin in the privacy of their own heads.
Consider also the fact that Adam came to national attention through American Idol, and many of his fans are devotees of the show. This is a program that celebrates the Cinderella story, wherein a wide-eyed, talented nobody is plucked from obscurity and gifted with fame and fortune. American Idol watchers like their contestants wholesome and humble and malleable. Smart and opinionated? No thanks. Openly gay and sexual? Not so much. Clay Aiken, anyone?
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that “no man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without getting bewildered as to which one may be the true.” This is what Adam means when he speaks of being true to himself and being an “open book.” He could have taken a safer route, either by keeping his sexuality ambiguous until he was well-established in his career, or by airbrushing his gay so as not to offend the fainthearted. But Adam has continued to be unabashedly himself. A man of many facets, Adam has shown us his vulnerability and earnestness when a song calls for it. And when the song and the setting is sexy, Adam brings on the sexy, whether it’s a feverishly hot performance at Rock My Town, or rocking a studded codpiece at Sydney’s Mardi Gras, or trading sensual licks with Tommy on tour.
So what about that “A”? It could stand for the AMAs. For Adam’s sin. For the two-dimensional label that so many were eager to attach to him, and the storyline that people seemed so ready to write: A fallen Idol who failed to live up to the hype and who failed to stay in the safe little box. Nearly every interview and article, to this day, is another opportunity for that scarlet letter to be branded onto Adam yet again. Lest we forget.
Instead, that “A” stands for Adam. “It’s me, I’m a freak…” Adam shows us that he is in charge of his own identity, and thus in control of his destiny. Rather than apologizing for the past or pretending that it didn’t happen, Adam accepts and embraces it as a part of himself. Recognizing that the AMA performance will be attached to him for some time to come, he brings up the reference himself, with a wink and a dash of glitter.
By placing the scarlet “A” front and center on his top hat and wearing it at the beginning of his concert, Adam tells us that he is unashamed of his debut performance, or of his sexuality, or of being a sexual person. The “A” becomes a mark of pride. Adam has walked through the fire and come out stronger than ever. And just as Hester gilded her letter and made it into a sign of her own strength, Adam has taken what some have called his “sin” and through the catalyst of his own character, transformed it into a symbol of honor.
So yes, as it turns out, A is for Adam.