Can we just take a moment to reflect on the darling charm that is beloved American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken? He's so sweet, so kind—he was even working in special education before prefabricated superstardom came calling.
Gee, wouldn't it be absolutely crazy if our pasty little pink boy was actually a big fat meanie? According to reports surfacing from the wilds of New Jersey, it just might be possible. While rehearsing with his backup choir from a local school, Aiken allegedly "berated" the kids, deprived them of a timely feeding, banned a teacher from the rehearsal venue, and then presented the school with a fake check for their efforts.
While we rush out and buy Aiken's heartwarming holiday album, do peruse the full report after the jump.
Subject: Clay Aiken
I sent the following email to everyone on my contact list yesterday. I teach English at Clearview Regional High School in Mullica Hill, NJ. It's a rural community in Gloucester County, South Jersey (about 15 mins. SE of Phila.). I initially shied away from sending this email to you because Clay Aiken threatened to make trouble for our district if we "called the newspaper." Since I've had a day to reflect, I've assumed a "fuck this little turd" attitude. Do whatever you want with this stuff...at the very least I thought you might get a mild chuckle out of Aiken pulling a musical Kathie Lee.
Backstory is here.
I have the privilege of working very closely with the exemplary kids in the Vocal Ensemble at the school where I teach. In addition to having many of them in class, I interact with them as an Ensemble chaperone and as the assistant director of the musical theater program. They are wildly talented, brilliant young people. They have performed at Carnegie Hall (and will again in May), the National Cathedral in DC, the Today Show, in a variety of venues on the East Coast and in Canada, and will be featured performers at a music educators' conference in LA in February. They are the "real deal."
Earlier this week, several members of the group were invited to perform with American Idol-also ran Clay Aiken in Washington Twp. The kids spent several hours in rehearsal and sound check for this last-minute "opportunity." In the course of the day, the following incidents took place:
*Although the students were promised photos/autographs/a little bit of face-time with Aiken, he refused all of these after two excited Ensemble members tried to take photos when Aiken entered the theater. In fact, security threatened to have the students removed from the venue. The 50 CDs that the music program purchased for signing were essentially wasted.
* Aiken was extremely terse with the students, at times berating them for reasons that are still unclear.
*The road crew refused to turn down or turn off their music so the students could rehearse the music they had only received 2 days prior.
* Aiken's people promised to feed the kids at 5:30. Once that time came and went, and the kids were starting to really fade, Ensemble staff bought pizza for the kids with out-of-pocket funds. At about 7 pm, Aiken's staff showed up with ...get ready...McDonald's Happy Meals.
* When an Ensemble staff member expressed her discontentment with the way the kids had been treated, Aiken engaged the woman in a verbal altercation. This resulted in mini-diva Aiken barring the staff member from the venue, and security escorting this very distinguished educator (a recent NJ State Teacher of the Year) from the theater.
* When the offer to sing was extended to the Ensemble, Aiken's people promised a decently-sized donation to the Ensemble. A relatively ostentatious show was made of the presentation of a check to a choir member. Later, when the student opened the envelope...it was empty.
Now folks, I have never sent anything to every single person on my contact list until now. Of the thirty kids who performed last night, I saw around 20 of them in classes today. One particularly reflective young man complained, "You know, I'd say I felt like a prostitute, but even a whore would've gotten paid. It was more like we got raped." Hyperbolic, perhaps, but still an apt analogy. Aiken got credit for including local "Claymates" on stage. The kids got a whole lotta grief and not much else.