Clay Aiken tops at Norfolk show
Fans aren't concerned about changing hairstyles and the singer's tiff with Kelly Ripa.
BY SAM MCDONALD
December 8, 2006
NORFOLK -- Clay Aiken may have placed second on "American Idol" a few years ago, but he's still tops with the thousand or so fans who turned out Thursday to hear the star sing live.
At the Norfolk Scope, followers both casual and fanatical said they're not bothered by Aiken's recently retooled image or by his run-in with talk show host Kelly Ripa.
Ripa had criticized Aiken for putting his hands over her mouth during an interview last month on "Live with Regis and Kelly."
"It doesn't make any difference to me. I love to hear him sing," said Mona Walker of Hampton. "He seems like a nice guy. Let's leave it at that."
Talk show host Rosie O'Donnell defended Aiken saying that Ripa's reaction was rooted in homophobia, although Aiken has avoided questions about his sexuality.
Several fans said they were attracted to Aiken's boy-next-door charm.
Walker was glad that Aiken has softened the new fashion statement he unveiled a few months back. "I didn't like the long-spiky-hair-down-in-his-face look. I like a clean-cut image for a clean-cut guy."
"He's so all-American," said Darlene Shearer of Norfolk.
Her friend Diane Estes said she got interested in "American Idol" because of Aiken. After he was crowned runner-up, she stopped watching the program.
"He opens his mouth and out comes magic," Estes said. "And he seems like such a nice person."
Of course, others in Thursday night's crowd were uninterested in the gossip surrounding the young performer from Raleigh, N.C.
Bill and Patty Higgins of Newport News came because they held tickets to a canceled performance of the musical "Cats." They decided to hear Aiken sing in place of a refund.
Bill Higgins had heard about the Kelly Ripa flap but considers it of no consequence.
"It's a lot to do about nothing, as far as I'm concerned," he said.