It’s All Clay Aiken’s Fault: From Chicken Soup For The American Idol Soul

Excerpt From Mary Baust
American Idol Fan

If you had told me four years ago that my life was going to be changed forever because of a TV reality show, I would have told you that you were crazy. But here I am, fifty-eight years old and telling you exactly that.

It was Season 2 of Idol. I hadn’t watched the first season and had no plans to watch the second, but my father-in-law was a fan and had convinced my husband to take a look. So one evening I was upstairs peacefully working on a scrapbook when out of nowhere I hear my husband laughing hysterically downstairs. I continued working, trying to ignore my husband’s ever-more-boisterous appreciation for whatever he was watching until finally I couldn’t stand it anymore. I went to see what all this was about, and as I sat down and proceeded to watch the parade of talentless singers march across the screen, I, too, began to laugh out loud.

As fate would have it, that night as I was sitting and watching American Idol for the very first time, a geeky-looking young man from North Carolina stepped up in front of Randy and Simon (Paula was ill that day). I shook my head, made a wisecrack to my husband, and braced myself. Then he began to sing. When he was done, I turned to my husband and said, “That’s him. He’s the winner. They don’t need to audition anyone else.” That young man was Clay Aiken.

I was hooked. I followed the audition process each week, and was in shock when Clay was sent home, but my dismay turned to delight when he was called back for Wildcard Night, and was eventually chosen as one of the twelve finalists. Each week I would watch the show with eager anticipation of what he was going to sing, how he was going to look, and what he was going to say. I wept during “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” and loved him even more when he messed up the words to “Vincent.”

I was so absolutely certain that he was going to be the winner that I didn’t even start voting until the last few weeks. On the night of the finale, I voted nonstop for hours–undeterred by the frustrating busy signal–trying to get in as many votes as possible, but, as we all know, there weren’t enough to declare him the winner. I was devastated. How could this have happened?

During the weeks that followed, I found myself in a state of withdrawal. I hadn’t realized how listening to this young man sing for a few minutes each week was the “fix” that kept me smiling for the other 158 hours.

When summer arrived and the American Idols Live! tour was on the road, although there was a show only fifty miles away, I didn’t go because I was afraid to make the trip alone and couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Still being in my state of “withdraal,” I decided to “Google” Clay. I was amazed at the number of sites devoted to him and started checking them out. It was on a fan’s site on the Internet that I first saw Clay’s performance during the American Idols Live! tour. Once again I was amazed by him — he wasn’t just a singer, he was a performer, and one who held the audience in the palm of his hand. Right then and there, I made the decision that if the opportunity to see him live were ever presented to me again, I would overcome my fear of traveling alone and would be there no matter what.

One day I was searching the Web and I saw a site that frankly scared me a little. It was called the “Lecherous Broads for Clay Aiken” or LBFCA for short. Nonetheless, I checked it out and that’s how the purple pages of “the Broads” became my Internet home. The pages were written with intelligence and wit by women who loved Clay Aiken. They loved Clay Aiken the singer. They loved Clay Aiken the man. They loved Clay Aiken the hottie!

It was such a relief for me to realize that I was not the only fifty-something out there who had feelings that had snuck up on me about this young man. We took pride in his accomplishments just as we would if he were one of our own kids. But when he was performing, the feelings that we had were far from motherly. I would become a fifty-eight-year-old teenager–yelling and screaming like a fifteen-year-old! Except now, I had credit cards, a house, and no curfew!

But the most wonderful part of this whole experience for me has been the relationships that I have formed with the other Broads. I remember the first concert I went to. It was in Philadelphia for the Independent Tour, when Clay was co-headlining with Kelly Clarkson. A group of Broads was meeting for dinner before the concert. I sat at the table reserved for the group, and as each one arrived, there would be screams, smiles, and hugs, as if we were greeting long-lost friends. A few days later, I attended another concert in D.C. and took my mother-in-law. Once again, it was dinner and hugs and laughter and even presents. Afterward she told me that although she enjoyed the concert, she was overwhelmed seeing the sisterhood she had witnessed among all of us Broads.

The friendships that have formed in this group are real, true, lifetime friendships. These are women who not only chat online but call each other on the phone, send cards on birthdays and holidays, and share pictures and stories of their families. Some of these women are as young as my daughters and some older than myself. They are from every corner of the United States. They are rich and poor. Some are overcoming hardships and some are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. But they are all kind, caring women who have one thing in common: we love Clay Aiken. What other performer has had this amazing effect on his fans? Clay said very early during the American Idol experience that what he wanted most from life was to make a difference. I think he got what he wished for.

So if you’re ever at a Clay Aiken concert, and you see a group of wild women, wearing purple, and probably even a feather boa and some outrageous beads and hats, and looking like they are having the time of their lives, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re seeing a group of Lecherous Broads. If you ask them why they’re having such a good time, they’ll tell you, “It’s all Clay Aiken’s fault.” It’s his fault that we met, his fault that we travel all around the country (often alone!), his fault that maybe we spend a wee bit too much time on the computer, but most of all, it’s his fault that we are having the most wonderful time of our lives.

(Reprinted with permission from Chicken Soup for the American Idol Soul: Stories from the Idols and their Fans that Open Your Heart and Make Your Soul Sing).
Sabung Ayam