An Unwanted Kiss on ‘American Idol’

An American Idol contestant says he was “uncomfortable” after Katy Perry kissed him on the lips without asking during his audition.

Oklahoma musician Benjamin Glaze, 19 at the time of the audition, started his routine by jokingly mentioning that his job as a cashier meant he could meet “cute girls.” After a question from judge Luke Bryan, Glaze said, “I have never been in a relationship and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship.” Perry asked him to come over and kiss her on the cheek, and he complied. When she asked him for a second kiss, she kissed him directly on the lips. He asked for some water before moving on to his audition song, Nick Jonas’ “Levels.”

The new season of American Idol is the first since the show’s reboot. After 15 years on Fox, the show has made the jump to ABC and is being judged by a panel of all-new celebrities: Ms. Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. The Perry/Glaze kiss was featured heavily in advertising for the new season, with the footage appearing in TV advertisements and on the American Idol social media. The show even featured a photo of Glaze on their Twitter

But after the kiss was aired as part of American Idol’s season opener, Glaze expressed some discomfort with it in a New York Times interview. “Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he said. “I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special.”

Perry’s kiss was subject to media scrutiny; in a post #metoo world, many thought Perry should have asked for consent before kissing Glaze. But Glaze took to Instagram on March 14th to explain that, while he might not have chosen the kiss, he didn’t believe it was sexual harassment. “The way certain articles are worded is not done by me, and my true intentions are not accurately represented in every article you read about the situation,” he wrote. “I am not complaining about the kiss, I am very honored and thankful to have been apart [sic] of American Idol.” He went on to say that he should have performed better “regardless of the kiss,” and that he didn’t want to “cause strife or anger.” He ended by thanking everyone who had followed him on his musical journey.

In his Times interview, Glaze also mentioned that he has talked the event over with friends since it was filmed in October.  “They agreed with me that it didn’t really count,” the musician said. “It was lip contact versus a romantic situation with someone you care about. That’s what a real first kiss is.”

Glaze also mentioned that the whole incident has garnered him publicity. Though he did not advance on to the next round on Idol, the kiss put his name in national headlines. “So in that way,” he told the Times, “I’m glad she did it because it’s a great opportunity to get my music out.”

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