2 min

Pushing the envelope of sexual expression

Adam Lambert hits the nail on the head


By now you’ve heard about and likely seen Adam Lambert’s performance of the title single from his debut solo album, For Your Entertainment, at the American Music Awards (AMA) on Nov 22.

It was hot, drenched in SM imagery and oozing with raw sexuality. Among the highlights, Lambert led one of his backup dancers around stage on a leash, seemingly ground the face of another into his crotch and kissed the crap out of his straight male keyboard player on live network television.

Of course he did all this with barely 10 square inches of his own skin exposed.

He gave the finger to the television camera and at one point burst though a mirror positioned to reflect the faces of the live audience. The guy’s a poet. And it seems almost like he’s finally earned his way through his vanilla-flavoured obligations to American Idol and is free to finally be himself again. It must be very liberating for him.

And he knew exactly what he was doing at the AMA.

“There’s a big double standard, female pop artists have been doing things provocative like that for years, and the fact that I’m a male, and I’ll be edited and discriminated against could be a problem,” he told Access Hollywood before the show.

And sure enough, the director cut to a wide shot of the stage momentarily a second after Lambert locked lips. And the simulated oral sex, but not the kiss, was simply cut out of the AMA rebroadcast for the west coast.

Fourteen million people were watching the show on ABC and the network reported on Nov 23 that 1,500 of them, a piddling number of bellyachers, complained about the performance.

As soon as it was available, the following morning, I downloaded Lambert’s album. I listened to it twice as I walked the really long way to work. It’s great. Get it.

Check out the video For Your Entertainment. And just listen to those lyrics: “There’s no way you’ll ring the alarm. So, hold on until it’s over.”

The day before Lambert’s performance, Xtra’s Marcus McCann reported that the Canada Border Services Agency disrupted the Ottawa instalment of the Inside Out film festival by seizing copies of three films bound for festival audiences.

Of course all this while Xtra’s Toronto edition sports a steaming and provocative cover image of freshly minted Titan porn star Ryan Russell. Just check out the comments on that story on for a sample of the bilious reaction from some readers, most of whom should really know better. We’ve had a handful of angry letters from others who whinge that their children may suffer permanent eye damage and chronic moral uncertainty should they happen to see it.

But pushing the envelope of sexual expression is easily worth it. It’s not just for the buzz and promotional value as in Lambert’s case. It’s not simply that Inside Out earned national coverage for the fledgling Ottawa festival and in the process that CBSA looks like a pack of damn fools. And it’s not merely that the Russell issue of Xtra is positively flying from boxes. It’s also the right thing to do.

You see, when gay men don’t exercise their prerogative to express their sexualities openly, when they don’t grind up against the boundaries of uptight and conservative societal norms, it begins to erode. We use it or lose it.

Besides, it’s sexy, people dig it.