Monday, July 10, 2006

Smells Like Fresh Laundry

It won't be long before the promotional machine is in full swing for Clay's new CD. I'll be happy if we get articles as good as the one in Elle during the Measure of a Man promotion. I must admit while it was my favorite article, it has my least favorite picture of Clay. Namely this one:

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It is definitely artistic, but to me it does not look like Clay at all. I will say one thing though, even Chipmunk Clay looks sexy. It's the wrong kind of sexy for the real Clay though. His is a more earthy, innate sensuality. He does take some pretty pictures. I can't blame the photographer for wanting to make art of Clay's face. This one is reminiscent of Vermeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring", just the masculine version:

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What can you say about the eyes, lips, nose, cheekbones, other than "perfection".

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The whiff of fresh laundry is in the air. We can thank Alison Glock for giving us the phrase, "Clay Aiken smells like fresh laundry". Those six little words had people sniffing or wanting to sniff Clay for months. The View even had the Guest Host's father, who was a perfumer, give a sniff test. Clay was a good sport through something that could have been embarrassing.

View the "Sniff" video here with the bonus of Clay singing "Invisible"

Clay has much to thank Alison Glock for. Not only did we get the fresh laundry remark, but she did write some very nice things about shell pink plump lips. I guess Clay must have like her since he worked with Alison on "Learning to Sing" the following year.

The one thing that strikes me in reading through the Elle article is how young Clay sounded. Clay has matured so much in three years, physically, emotionally, mentally. He has seen the world, experienced the good and bad aspects of being famous, waded through the music business with his core ideals intact. I expect the next in-depth interview to reflect his growth not only as a musician, performer, and entertainer, but also his growth as a person.

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Here are some excerpts from "Aching For Aiken" by Alison Glock, Elle Magazine September 2003.


Clay Aiken smells like fresh laundry. It's the first thing you notice about him—that he's well-scrubbed, radiant in his cleanliness, a walking, freckled dryer sheet. The second thing you notice are his lips, which are plump and ripe and shell pink. Much has been made about his hair—the whole flatironed, geek-hipster red nest of it all—but little, too little, has been made of his lips, perhaps because most of the world has only ever seen them contorted and trembling in song


His fans range from Diane Sawyer (who admitted to a serious Clay crush on Good Morning America ) to Neil Sedaka, who cried on camera when Aiken covered his hit “Solitaire.” “His voice is incredible--the pitch, the tone,” says Sedaka. “I think he'll be the new Frank Sinatra.”“So much has happened in the past nine months that I haven't had time to think,” admits the 24-year-old, from the back of the van that's shuttling him from New York City to a concert appearance in Hartford, Connecticut. “Honestly, last night I was sitting in the hotel room crying for about an hour. I had to call someone back in Raleigh to wake them up because I needed to talk. Certain things have just hit me.”


Standing over 6' tall but weighing only 145 pounds, Aiken appears recessive, unintimidating, a gentle giant who consistently drives women between the ages of 16 and 60 into a frothy lather of lust. In addition to the Rolling Stone cover, there are the requisite Web sites devoted to all things Clay, run by women who call themselves Claymates and shilling everything from Clay coffee mugs to Claytionary (stationary embossed with his face). And then there are the panties. “I got seven one night,” says Aiken with a giggle. “And last night, I got five thongs and two Depend diapers. One had a note attached that said, 'Clay, we love you too, from your older fans.'”That women are so moved by his presence that they hurl their undergarments onstage as if he were Elvis mystifies Aiken: “Ruben always jokes with me that I could have any woman out there. He says, 'You need to hook up with somebody before you leave the tour.' But I try and explain that that's not what this is about for me. The reason women like me, I think, is because I don't threaten them. I realize Ruben's right, I probably could”—he pauses, blushes—“you know, but I respect women more than that.”He wrinkles his brow, then shakes his head. “I am extremely flattered. There are some gorgeous women who are, quote, in love with me. But I think taking advantage of that is wrong.” Besides, Aiken is a man who takes sex seriously. “I was raised by my mother and grandmothers, and a lot of what I am is because I wanted to be different from my birth father. He was a womanizer. When I had to go visit him, there would be a different woman over every time. I
thought that was really tacky.”


Aiken pulls me aside. He wants to show me the tour bus, something I was told was off-limits to reporters. Aiken disagrees and confronts a tour manager.“Ned, you're a lying sack of crap. Don't lie to the lady in front of me.”“I guess I forgot,” Ned says sheepishly.“You didn't forget for squat. Now we're going to have to have a fight. That burns me up.”Aiken turns to me and says through his teeth, “You know what? You are so going on that bus.”Aiken is nothing if not chivalrous. Considerate. Polite. He's the guy who asks you questions and actually listens to the answers—and even asks follow-up questions hours later, thereby proving that he finds you worth his attention. And he notices things. Like that the empty Burger King bag is rattling at your feet on the floor of the van, so he picks it up. Or that the air conditioner is too cold, and turns it down. It's this empathy and inherent graciousness evident in every press appearance and performance that leads many men to speculate that Aiken is gay (he has denied it) and even more women to say, Who cares? “I don't think people know what to do with me,” Aiken says. “I'm interesting because they don't know what to do with me.”The American Idol bus is less bus than nightclub. There are black leather lounge chairs, plasma TVs, marble floors, a neon-trimmed alcohol-free minibar, and beds with privacy curtains. As we open the back lounge door, Kimberley Locke (who came in third) lifts her head from the couch.“Cla-ay,” she whines, “I'm having a crisis. I need you. I need you now.”Aiken apologizes, then steps inside the lounge, says, “What is it, honey?” and shuts the door. Outside the bus, the other Idol girls walk around in skinny jeans and mascara, alternately complaining and striking poses like on MTV. In time Aiken emerges, apologizes again, then sits down with the crew for a dinner of peanut butter and jelly and a glass of, yes, milk. He playfully scolds a staff member for swearing. Idol Kimberly Caldwell (the sixth Idol to get the hook) joins the table wearing a handwritten T-shirt that says QUIT STARING, I'M HER.

While she picks apart a cinnamon bun, Aiken tries to articulate his ambition.“Am I going to turn into a diva or try to make sure I do something valuable with my influence?” Caldwell chews and looks off into the distance. “That's why I'm starting a foundation for individuals with disabilities. [His charity, named the Bubel-Aiken Foundation, is named for the woman who encouraged him to try out for the show.] I would be more than happy to do this for three years and have enough clout to make a difference. I don't need to win a Grammy.

Still, there are some people who would say I've turned into a diva already.” Caldwell laughs. Aiken proceeds to give an example of the last time he went to KFC. “It was half an hour before closing, and they said they were out of chicken. It's KFC—how can you be out of chicken? So I'm starving and probably crankier than I should have been, and I said, 'You don't have any chicken in the building anywhere?' And she said, 'We have some wings that are kind of warm.' I said, 'I don't want wings, I want chicken.' And she maintains that she doesn't have any, so I say, 'You can't tell me that every morning you go out and kill some chickens and make it fresh. You know you've got chicken back there, so why don't you go back into the kitchen and cook it up?'”Now the whole table is laughing.“The point is, I would have said the same things before American Idol, but I wouldn't have been considered a diva. I just would have been considered myself.”“Where did you learn to sing, Clay?” Caldwell asks, flipping her shoulder-length extensions behind her neck.“At church, like everybody else.”“I learned at a bar,” scoffs Caldwell, pushing back her chair and heading to makeup. Aiken looks around, lowers his voice, then whispers, “I'll bet she did.”

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At 3:54 PM, Blogger Hotforclay said...

AHHHH!!! Those eyes can kill with one look!!! We better get some good pics with the next CD!!!!

At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved that article and the pics so much!

Allison got it!!

Your blog is great! I am so impressed! How do you find the time??


At 7:52 PM, Blogger Chardonnay said...

Enjoyed the read and the pics! And it was so much fun to revisit the Elle. Chipmunk Clay.. now that's funny. Great job!

At 2:14 PM, Blogger The ConCLAYve-Nan said...

That View clip makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. Such fun!

At 9:26 PM, Blogger Sarah Joy said...

Wow, I didn't even remember reading some of those things!! I guess I have to dig out the Clay box and see if I have that magazine. Seems I need to re-read it!!

And I agree with you - I'm not a big fan of these pictures. Now don't get me wrong, I don't think a bad picture of Clay really exists - but this one is just not him. He's sexy in a geeky sorta way, not sexy in a playboy sorta way like these pics are trying to portray!

Great blog!

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Diamond said...

That is probably my favorite Clay article - I still have that Elle and look through it every once in a while.

I must admit that I love the "chipmunk" Clay picture - it's sex-ay! It's the reclined position he's posing in, it's like he's just waiting for someone (*coughmecough*) to jump into his lap.


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