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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 2

Clay Aiken says he's "not cool," but still a panties magnet nonetheless


By Christopher Rocchio, 01/29/2008 

While Clay Aiken is the first to admit he's "not cool" and instead "nerdy," the American Idol second-season runner-up is still apparently accustomed to having female fans thrown their panties at him while he's onstage performing.

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"I just went on tour for Christmas, and I think somebody threw some up onstage," Aiken told New York magazine in a Sunday feature.  "I was with the Minnesota symphony, which I thought was a little out of place - panties with a symphony. But on the Idol tour? I got five or six a night. Ah mean, it was a joke. I think they collected some 300 panties."

Getting pummeled by panties while performing is even more perplexing when you consider Aiken is aware that his fan base isn't exactly young and wild.

"Don't ask me why.  Ah wish I knew. Women -- middle-aged women -- like Clay Aiken," he told New York magazine.  "Let's not fool ourselves.  The truth is? There are people like Justin Timberlake -- males who are cool on radio right now -- and then there's me. If I heard myself in a dance club? 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! It's oh-kye!"

Even if a romantic relationship did come knocking for the single 29-year-old, Aiken didn't sound like he'd jump at the opportunity to explore it.

"I just don't have an interest in... any of that at all," he told New York magazine.  "I have got too much on my plate.  I'd rather focus on one thing and do that when I can devote time to it, and right now, I just don't have any desire."

What Aiken currently has on his plate is the role of Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, making his debut in the Tony Award-winning musical on January 18 at the Shubert Theatre.  Aiken said part of the reason he chose to appear in Spamalot was to reach out to those people who are "a little more hesitant to say they're fans" of his  -- aka Claymates.

"I don't know if I'm not cool enough for them or what," Aiken told New York magazine, adding the demographic he's talking about largely consists of "gay male, straight male, young kids, even adult men." 

"You read the reviews, and everybody said Spamalot is one of the first shows that's really just pulled guys into Broadway," he continued.  "So if the Claymates and the middle-aged women show up because of me, maybe some of these guys will get there and think, 'Okay, he's not as dorky as I thought he was. He could pull off Monty Python.' So at the end of the day, the next album will come out and they'll think, 'Oh, I saw him in Spamalot, I'll give him a shot.' I hope that maybe Spamalot will do for us as we will do for Spamalot."

Aiken, who grew-up in Raleigh, NC and never even boarded a plane prior to his Spring 2003 Idol journey, is also adjusting to life in New York City for Spamalot, in which he'll appear until May 4.

"I almost cried on the first day on my way to rehearsal," he told New York magazine.  "I've never lived alone before."

While he may be new to the city, Aiken is no stranger to being recognized by strangers and said he even took Paxil for the anxiety it caused.

"I got fat on that Paxil! I gained 30 pounds. And then I stopped tookin' it... Tookin' it. Pah-leeze quote me on that!" he told New York magazine before grammatically correcting himself (sort of).  "I stopped takin' it, and I swear 20 pounds just fell off... I was always nervous in public situations, and then I went from nobody lookin' at me to everywhere I go, even if they don't come up to me, they're [he mimes whispering and furtive glances]."

Aiken added he couldn't even return to the Southern Baptist church he attended as a child without being looked at differently.

"I went back last October with my mom for the first time in five years, and it was very uncomfortable because there was people who didn't listen to what was going on; they just stared at me the entire time," he told New York magazine.  "I was like, 'This is chah-urch, people! This is God's house, not a meet and greet!'"

Despite thinking that his fellow Spamalot cast members "can prob'ly tell I'm not very bright," Aiken's work with charitable endeavors such as UNICEF tends to say otherwise, and he wishes other celebrities would follow his lead rather than making headlines for less-than-desirable reasons.

"What really freaks me out is now the kids who are growing up, if they do watch the news, it doesn't have anything to do with the world," he told New York magazine.  "So what's gonna happen? Is any kid gonna wanna be involved in public affairs?"


(Photo credit Fox)


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