Clay Aiken says he doesn’t have sexual urges, understands why people dislike his music

Clay Aiken remains one of the most fascinating people to come out of the American Idol franchise, and part of that is due to his simultaneous ubiquitousness and mysteriousness. Consider, for example, his vague interview with Good Morning America, where he finally cleared up questions about his sexual orientation by saying it “would not make any sense for me to” come out as gay.

As a result of that kind of vaguness, he remains infuriating to his detractors and completely endearing to his fans–and an endless source of great material for the press. On the occasion of Clay’s debut in Spamalot on Broadway, Ariel Levy profiles Clay for New York magazine. The piece is sure to make Claymates pop an artery in their necks thanks to Levy’s analysis and subtly insulting language (“quite the impressive little charity worker”; “Ahm” instead of “I’m”), but it’s also fascinating and insightful.

Among other things, Clay says he doesn’t have sexual urges (“Ah think maybe I don’t! I mean, not really. I’ve just kind of shut it off, maybe. Is that bad?”), understands those who don’t like his music (“If I went into a dance club–which I never do–and I heard Clay Aiken come on, I’d roll my eyes and get out. But you know what? I’m fine with being kind of vanilla!”), and claims he doesn’t know why middle-aged women are his primary fan base (I have a theory based on the concert I attended, but I’ll make you wait to buy my book, as soon as I finish writing it and sell it).

In her analysis, Levy argues that “playing the hick dummy is definitely part of his shtick,” and that he “is married–to his brand, his team of staff, his celebrity, self-promotion. That’s what he was trying to tell me: He’s promosexual.” She also discusses his sexuality, saying, “Perhaps Clay Aiken is not a homosexual; not every person who is sexually thwarted is in the closet. But the thing that makes Aiken seem much younger than a nearly 30-year-old man is that he insists so incessantly that he is brimming with folksy self-acceptance when he so clearly doesn’t have a clue.”

The Happy Hickster [New York Magazine]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.