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Believe in Zero

Believe in Zero

January 22nd, 2009 at 1:10 pm | posted by Margaret McDonnell

Our friends at UNICEF just passed along this great blog post written by Clay Aiken. Enjoy!

I’m Clay Aiken, and I am a UNICEF Ambassador.

The U.S. Fund for UNICEF is proud to be a partner of ONE. ONE has mobilized millions of Americans to speak up about the importance of tackling global poverty – saving and improving lives around the world.

I’ve had a chance to see many wonderful children, full of laughter and hope, in even the poorest places around the world. And I’ve seen the incredible work of UNICEF to help those children and their families survive and thrive. But I have also seen children sick and dying from lack of basic nutrition and medicines. And I cannot forget that despite UNICEF’s work, 25,000 children die every day, mostly from preventable causes. I believe that number should be “zero”– no child dying unnecessarily.

All of us can help to save children’s lives – individuals, nonprofits, corporations, and governments.

So I am asking President Barack Obama to launch a Presidential Initiative to Accelerate Child Survival. And I am asking YOU to join me, by signing a petition to the President.

ONE supporters care about helping the most vulnerable people on our planet. Please join me in telling the next President of the United States that Americans want him to make global child survival a top priority. For more information and to sign the petition, go to:


-Clay Aiken, UNICEF Ambassador



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Clay Aiken is No "Idol" on the Golf Course

Clay Aiken is no 'Idol' on the golf course

It's ironic that Clay Aiken hosted a golf tournament for his Bubel/Aiken Foundation that helps send kids with disabilities to camp. Because the former American Idol contestant has no idea how to play.

''My game is wicked,'' Aiken admitted from the Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens Monday. ``I just tip the ball in. I don't have the patience. I think my handicap is like 7,000!''

Mini-golf is a different story.

''I could impress you with that,'' said the 30-year-old crooner. ``But let's be honest: Any sport that involves windmills isn't real.''

Though Aiken has little patience to even watch Tiger Woods' game (``Unless you get a hole in one, I'm like, gotta go!''), he's passionate about the tourney's cause. Before making it big on AI, the North Carolina native was a special-ed teacher.

The flagging economy didn't hurt turnout to the $500-a-head Golfing for Inclusion event. ''I hated to ask for money now,'' said Aiken, who just wrapped a Broadway run of Spamalot. ``We were worried.''

But for the price of admission, golfers got to hear him sing such classics as I Can't MakeYou Love Me, When a Man Loves a Woman and Unchained Melody.

The out-and-proud Aiken didn't have much time to hang out in South Florida. He's a dad now (Parker, with the help of surrogate mom/pal Jaymes Foster, was born in August). Though he admits Foster's the one who's getting up for nighttime feedings.

''It's a team effort, sure,'' he said. ``But she's the mom and obviously doing more of the work.''


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Fascinating Queers: Clay Aiken: Measuring the Man

Fascinating Queers: Clay Aiken: Measuring the Man

Submitted by admin on Tuesday, 27 January 200920 Comments

by Lorette C. Luzajic

It’s easy for the pink brigade to heap criticism on people who have skeletons in the closet, because closets are for clothes. But here in post-Will and Grace America, we of the free to be you and me generation might take it for granted that full disclosure is imperative. I’m among those fruit flies who subscribes to the less popular opinion ‘in your own time.’ Must identity always be a political act?

Unlikely sex symbol Clay “Gay” Aiken, American Idol’s favorite nerd, had every right to find himself, in his own time. That said, no one was surprised to see the flaming headline on People Magazine: “YES, I’M GAAAAAAAAAAAAY.” But sashay out in style he did: Clay may be the only person in all of history to come out while holding his brand new baby in his arms.

Though there’s something vaguely disconcerting about a queenybopper who reminds us of our Grandma, I applaud Fakin’ Aiken for taking his interesting timing. Clay knew he didn’t owe a sea of strangers one iota of kiss and tell, but he did owe the truth to his son. In fact, he did come out to his mom years ago.

No one could’ve known that kingdoms of Claymates would erupt the moment the lovable nerd took off his spectacles. To this date, Clay is the most successful male Idol contestant of all, including the ones who actually won. Ruben who? I confess to being sucked into the American Idol franchise, never to escape, by the shy redhead alone. He blew me away with “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” That big ol’ voice was just gorgeous, darling, and it made a Clayymate out of me. What a sweetheart- go on, doll, pour some sugar on me! But like a hot potato, I dropped my crush on this cute little special ed teacher as soon as he began recording- not sure what I was hoping for- maybe jazz standards? Vocally, it was out of sight, but the slick schmaltz that oozed from the sparkling Idol machine was the kind of thing they fight over at the senior’s centre, and that’s where I sent my copy of the lad’s first album, Measure of a Man. Was it any real surprise that he moved on to singing Richard Marx covers?

But just because some of us prefer a little edge- or at least a beat- from our torch balladeers, doesn’t mean we should all point and jeer because he’s queer. So we can’t stomach Clay’s sop pop or the festive jingle of his Christmas creations. Still, there’s something refreshing about a southern Baptist who leaves the safety of his flock to set his own rules. Here’s a born-again Christian who doesn’t get married to hide his love away- instead he sires a son with his best friend, Jaymes Foster, a 50 year old woman, and comes out blazing. Now that’s panache. He could have spent God’s call picketing women’s clinics or joined god hates fags dot com. Instead, he tuned out the noise, tuned out the boys, and set out to follow Jesus’ example- working with poor and needy children, using his newfound riches and clout to make a big difference.

Yes, what most people don’t know is just how much this rebel belle does for needy kiddies. In fact, it was the former Raleigh choirboy’s work with an autistic child named Michael that led him to his fame as runner-up on the second season of Idol, because Diane Bubel, the boy’s mother, encouraged Clay to try out. Today his primary charity is the Bubel Aiken Foundation, helping intellectually challenged children in dozens of ways.

Who knew that our favourite Strawberry Fruitcake is also an ambassador for UNICEF? Clay helps raise funds and awareness to get kids all over the world into the classroom. His participation in a tsunami relief telethon helped raise ten million bucks. He helped out with the South Asian tsunami as well. Fearlessly, he worked in dangerous northern Uganda, helping kids called “night commuters.” These night runners flee their towns to avoid being kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army, an armed and dangerous militant terrorist insurgency. The guerrilla army’s aim is to establish a theocracy based on the teachings of their leader, Joseph Kony. They use tactics of murder, rape, kidnapping, sex enslavement, and torture, in Sudan, Uganda and the Congo. In one horrifying incident, they hacked into pieces the bodies of 45 Congolese Catholics.

Clay had a busy year prior to baby Parker’s birth and his concurrent un-closeting in September of 2008. He was in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan helping give polio vaccines and visiting schools. He rushed to Mexico for Christmas, not to vacation at his Riviera villa or check out the hot tamales, but to help kids who were affected by major floods. He’s worked with Malaria No More.

In Africa, he was in Somalia, currently one of the most dangerous countries in the world. He learned that there are only 350 doctors there. “The lack of a permanent central government has contributed to Somalia’s status as one of the poorest and most volatile countries in the world. Decades of civil conflict have shattered social structures and exacerbated poverty,” Clay wrote for his UNICEF blog. “A Somali child’s chances of surviving to adulthood are among the lowest of children anywhere in the world…What disturbs me most about this terrible situation for children is that most of the world has ignored it. Millions of children live in fear and poverty—where is the outrage?” Then it was on to more goodwill hunting in Kenya. After the 2008 elections there, political upheaval caused terrible violence. “Everywhere we went, there were the charcoaled remains of homes, schools and shop,” he writes. “We drove for hours and everywhere we went, we saw people trying to get their lives restored.”

Yes, well, that was just UNICEF. Three years ago, then-President George Bush (yuck) appointed the spitfire as advisor for the Presidential Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. So Clay was helping the former prez and the Department of Health and Human Services with program and service issues for those special kids he loves so much. He was also part of America’s Promise Benefit, Toys for Tots, and a spokesperson for fellow redhead Ronald McDonald’s House Charities. In his “spare time,” while performing on Broadway with Monty Python’s Spamalot shtick, he raised money for Equity Fights AIDS. Plus, only two days into the new Obama era, Clay’s already petitioning for presidential back up to save kids from malnutrition. But whatever happened to his studies? Millionaire or not, he finished his coursework while touring so he would still get the degree he started in special education.

Somewhere between today and Idol 2003, on top of all this charity work, Clay has released five albums, (like ‘em or not, and millions do!) toured the world singing, created numerous television specials, appeared on dozens of talk shows, and written a book called Learning to Sing. AND of course, all that was preamble to his cuddliest creation, baby Parker.

So what’s the deal with this gaybe anyhow? Certainly, the media jump all over anything less than traditional in the great hunt for scandal. Coming out with your brand new baby in your arms makes amazing copy, but I think it also makes for amazing family. Best friends don’t have to break up. Talk about family values. Clearly, nothing in Clay’s unusual persona is about keeping up appearances. Despite all the cruel online jokes about the sperm basted bastard looking like Gollum, baby mama Jaymes knows that Clay’s genes ARE exactly what she wants: he won’t bellyache about babysitting or diapers or whether she’s getting too fat. He’s proven this from the beginning with his time and money, looking after the sick and the poor and the disabled. Unlike many mothers, she can be sure Dad’s prepared to put a child first. (And yes, the child was conceived through artificial insemination.)

I admire most those who turn a stereotype upside down when it really counts. And kudos to Clay for refusing to be the kind of Christian we are all used to and sick of. Unlike the other kind who are always pointing fingers at Tinky Winky or unwed mothers for causing the fall of society, he’s out in the world doing the work his Saviour commanded him to do- feed the hungry, visit the sick. It’s certain that he is privately contending with struggles of faith and community as he forges ahead into his own brand of family values. I say that takes tremendous pluck and a heart filled with love. On the other hand, he isn’t interested in being a queer stereotype either- the poor dear is rather fashion unfriendly even if he is gal’s best friend. And he came out in his own sweet time, for his own reasons, without bowing to public pressure. Plus, Clay wasn’t exactly a diva while getting his Versace good and dirty in the war-torn Middle East. No wonder he’s been voted the most loved reality star of all time! But Clay isn’t so sure he deserves the adulation. He told People Magazine that he regrets being too busy to do more!

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ew.com (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider column)

Clay Aiken to Appear on "America's Next Top Model"

Clay Aiken to appear on 'America's Next Top Model'

Feb 4, 2009, 09:11 AM | by Lynette Rice

EW has learned exclusively that American Idol's season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken will participate in an acting challenge with the ladies -- and serve as a guest judge on the panel -- in an April episode of America's Next Top Model. Ciara will also stop by for a photo shoot that week but -- ah, who cares! Claymates set your Tivo now! The series' 12th cycle kicks off Feb. 25 on The CW.


Clay Aiken Takes On Modeling Job

Clay Aiken Takes On Modeling Job

ET confirms "American Idol" runner up Clay Aiken is returning to reality television and this time he's helping out on the runway.

The singer will be guest judging on "America's Next Top Model" and participating in an acting challenge with the contestants.

This season of "Top Model" begins Feb. 25 on The CW and Clay is set to guest star on an episode in April 8.

Posted February 05, 2009 10:33:00 AM

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Broadway Bears Raises Over $150,000 for BC/EFA; Spamalot Bear Is King

Broadway Bears Raises Over $150,000 for BC/EFA; Spamalot Bear Is King

By Andrew Gans

February 17, 2009

For the second consecutive year, the Spamalot bear — signed by former "American Idol" finalist and Spamalot star Clay Aiken — raised the most money at the annual Broadway Bears fundraiser, which was held Feb. 15 at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill on West 42nd Street.

The Spamalot bear brought in $16,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Broadway Bears XII — hosted by Bryan Batt — earned a total of $152,116 for the charitable organization.

Other top money-makers were Alan Strang with Nugget from Equus ($10,000), Glinda from Wicked ($7,000) and Growltiger from Cats ($5,500). Lorna Kelly was the evening's auctioneer.

The yearly event features a host of teddy bears dressed as famous Broadway characters, many autographed by the original stars who wore the original (human-sized) outfits. Among the bears that were auctioned this year included Sir Thomas More from A Man for All Seasons, Be Our Guest Eggbeater from Beauty and the Beast, Gabriella from Boeing-Boeing, Growltiger from Cats, Nugget with Alan Strang from Equus, Mama Rose "Some People" from Gypsy, Mama Rose "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy, Mimi Marquez from Rent, Sir Robin from Spamalot, Wendla from Spring Awakening, Glinda from Wicked and Elizabeth from Young Frankenstein.

Last year's auction, also hosted by Batt, brought in $127,000 for the charitable organization. The Spamalot bear — signed by Clay Aiken and David Hyde Pierce — was the top-selling bear, bringing in $17,000.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS is the nation's leading industry-based, nonprofit AIDS fundraising and grants making organization. By drawing upon the talents, resources and generosity of the American theatre community, BC/EFA raises funds for AIDS-related causes and other critical illnesses across the United States. Since its founding in 1988, BC/EFA has raised over $150 million dollars for critically needed services for people with AIDS and other serious illnesses.

For more information about Broadway Bears XII or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, visit the BC/EFA website at www.broadwaycares.org or call (212) 840-0770, ext. 268.


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Clay Aiken Leaves Record Label

Clay Aiken Leaves Record Label

By David Caplan

Originally posted Friday February 20, 2009 06:30 PM EST

The rumors started when his likeness was removed from his record's Web site and now Clay Aiken is setting the record straight: the former American Idol has parted ways with RCA Records, Aiken's rep has confirmed exclusively to PEOPLE.

"We were unable to come to terms in a recent contract negotiation, and decided that it was best to move on," the rep, Cindi Berger, said Friday.

The buzz about Aiken's exit was fueled earlier this week when his picture disappeared online and Billboard, citing unnamed sources, reported Friday that Aiken, 30, had been dropped by the label.

According to Billboard, Aiken’s 2008 album “On My Way Here” sold just 159,000 copies in the U.S., compared to his 2003 debut album, “Measure of a Man,” which sold 2.78 million copies.

Aiken ended a stint in January in the Broadway run of Monty Python’s Spamalot, and told PEOPLE in December that he looked forward to returning to his native North Carolina with his son Parker, born Aug. 8, following the show. "I want to spend time with Parker," Aiken said. "He's still uber-dependent. I'm ready for him to start talking. I'm ready for a little action!"

Aiken also said he was looking forward to some downtime: "We'll take a little bit of time, we're not quitting or anything, we're just going to take it slow for a month or so and recollect once I get back," he said. "I may never have any free time once Parker starts walking and talking!"

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Buble/Aiken Foundation Golf Tournament a Big Success

The article is on page 32 of the magazine, page 34 of the pdf file

Bubel/Aiken Foundation Golf Tournament

Big Success by Glenn R. Swift, Photo by Alicia Donelan

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation's Second Annual Golfing for Inclusion tournament was held at Mirasol Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens on January 26. By all accounts the event was asmashing success.

The Bubel/Aiken Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 2003 by pop singer and American Idol star Clay Aiken and Diane Bubel to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities in activities with their non-disabled peers.

"Our goal is to bridge the gap between young people with special needs and the world around them," said Aiken. "We support communities with inclusive programs and help to create awareness about the possibilities that inclusion can bring."

Long before his leap to fame and fortune with American Idol, Aiken found his interest in special education while directing YMCA children's camps as a teenager. By age 20, he served as a substitute teacher at Brentwood Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina for a classroom of students with autism.

Two years later while attending college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), he took a part-time job as an assistant to a boy with autism. It was this child's mother, Diane Bubel, who urged him to audition for American Idol.

Interestingly, Aiken initially developed the concept of the Foundation as a project to complete credit hours needed for graduation from UNCC. Aiken began working on the organization and setup of the Foundation during the time that he was competing on American Idol and touring over the summer.

After receiving $50,000 in donations to the as-yet non-existent organization, Aiken decided to follow through and make the organization a reality.

On July 28, 2003, just two months after the end of the blockbuster show's competition, Aiken announced the creation of the Foundation.

"I first became involved in working with children with disabilities in a roundabout way at the local YMCA, but from the beginning I became very aware of the problems facing the organizations that were trying to help the kids. Most programs were understaffed and underfunded, and I felt strongly that these kids deserved better."

Thanks to Aiken and a host of committed coworkers and volunteers, thousands of children with disabilities of all kinds are getting the assistance they need to become happy, productive members of society. "We are paving the road for a world where young people with developmental disabilities are totally immersed in all that life has to offer. The desegregation of programs, jobs, services and educational opportunities will benefit children with and without special needs. We will break down barriers that divide by helping families obtain the services, support and financial assistance that makes full inclusion possible. We will work to educate the public and motivate society to move toward full inclusion as a way of life."

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Clay Aiken, T.R. Knight to Present at GLAAD Awards

Clay Aiken, T.R. Knight to Present at GLAAD Awards

Originally posted Wednesday March 11, 2009 07:00 PM EDT

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation just added two presenters to its 20th-annual Media Awards celebration: Clay Aiken and T.R. Knight.

Aiken will present the Excellence in Media award to Tyra Banks, recognizing her commitment to featuring lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on both her talk show and America's Next Top Model. Knight will present the Vito Russo Award to Suze Orman, the best-selling author and CNBC financial guru.

GLAAD's awards will be handed out March 28 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. – Mark Dagostino

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Exclusive chats with Clay Aiken, Phil Donahue, Parvez Sharma, Simon Doonan and more at the GLAAD Media Awards

Exclusive chats with Clay Aiken, Phil Donahue, Parvez Sharma, Simon Doonan and more at the GLAAD Media Awards

by Brian Juergens

On Saturday evening I had the opportunity to check out the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards here in NYC and speak to a few of the honorees, nominees and guests on the red carpet. A heady mix of boldface names, longtime gay allies, out-and-proud celebrities and creative types, the affair was a whirlwind of activity.

Yesterday I posted a bit of my chat with Van Hansis and Jake Silbermann of As the World Turns, and today I'm posting a bunch of chats I had about GLAAD and gay visibility in media in general with stars like Phil Donahue, Clay Aiken, Darryl Stephens, LZ Granderson, Neil Giuliano, Parvez Sharma, Simon Doonan and Jonathan Adler.

We'll have more tidbits to come in the next week as we roll out a few features here on the site, so be sure to check back for more ... and in the meantime enjoy what these fine folks had to say.

Clay Aiken

AfterElton.com: Did you ever imagine five years ago that you'd be here tonight presenting at the GLAAD Media Awards?

Clay Aiken: You know, I don't know. I don't plan my life out in advance. So it's great to be here and to be part of an event and an organization that does what GLAAD does ... I don't know where I'm gonna be next week, much less what I was doing 5 years ago.

AE: Have you been watching Idol?

CA: No, haven't watched it in years. The season where Fantastia won was the last one I watched regularly.

AE: There's a contestant who's doing very well this season who has been the subject of lots of speculation on the Internet in regards to his sexuality. As someone who's been through that, do you have any advice on making through the experience?

CA: I wouldn't have any advice for one person in particular. I think it's important to be yourself, and you have to be authentic and you have to make sure you're not trying to be something you're not. I don't know who you're talking about, but anybody who's on the show has to be authentic and sing things that are true to themselves. You know, don't try to be a pop star if you can't sing this type of music. Do what comes to you organically, and that generally helps people.

AE: Did you feel it was a "no gay zone" while you were there?

CA: No, not at all. No. Not at all. Everybody who's ever worked on the show who I've worked with in the past knew before I made any announcement or anything, so it's always been a very embracing environment over there.

When asked if he thought America was ready for an out American Idol, he replied, "Well, they've been pretty nice to me."

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