Former Christian music singer Katy Perry rides faux bisexuality up the charts

Being a gay icon isn't easy. Judging from the tried and true examples of celebrities that have inadvertently amassed grandiose homosexual appeal, it doesn't appear to be all bunnies and sunshine.

Being a gay icon isn't easy. Judging from the tried and true examples of celebrities that have inadvertently amassed grandiose homosexual appeal, it doesn't appear to be all bunnies and sunshine.

Let's look at a few examples of persons still relevant, despite career missteps. They each boast courageous yet frightening fashion efforts and have quite possibly spent a small fortune on body enhancement: Morrissey, Madonna and Cher.

Ostensibly, in order to achieve iconic status, one must do the following: first, one must relinquish one part of his or her name or chose a monosyllabic, phonetically-spelled verb to use in place of a name.

Second, one must ride of wave of perennial reinvention throughout an entire career so as not to allow blandness or staleness to infect the frenetic fan base.

Your sex life must be atypical, either becoming completely asexual or publicly involved with circus freaks a la Sandra Bernhard.

Finally, there must be a physical feature that caricatures your entire essence, be it a coned bra and platinum pin curls, an outrageous pompadour or perhaps a glittered-out vaudevillian Pocahontas outfit.

Katy Perry apparently has an innate knowledge of gay iconography. While just starting her career, the 23-year-old songstress has all the makings of future homosexually-infused superstardom.

She has already has addressed the main tenets of her fledgling iconography by changing her name (originally Katy Hudson), adorning pin-up style hair and dress and releasing her sonic anthem of sexual experimentation, "I Kissed a Girl."

"Once you're a gay icon you kind of get a stamp in the history books," Perry says "It's like a Japanese fan base; it just doesn't go away."

The single debuted at No. 76 on the Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in April. Since then, it has dominated MTV's TRL and national radio waves — not to mention Ladies' Night at every gay bar from Cincinnati to San Jose — leaving lips everywhere aquiver with the lyrics "I kissed a girl and I liked it/The taste of her cherry ChapStick."

However, her introduction to the charts proved rocky. Her 2008 record, One of the Boys, left many titillated, but also made some uncertain of how to digest her album's point of view.

The first single was "I Kissed a Girl," followed by "Ur So Gay," (a song even Madonna professed to enjoying), sparking allegations that Perry is promoting the gay lifestyle and subsequent promiscuity.

But Perry describes the song as merely cheeky, not meant to promote anything but her own honesty in her songwriting.

"The song is about the beauty of a woman and just trying it," Perry says. "I think it's a cute song about girls being curious."

The song is based on a girl crush she had while in her teens. While she never kissed the song's subject, she says she would have if given the chance.

There aren't complex themes behind her music, Perry says. The listener won't find subversion in her lyrics.

"Really when it comes down to it, I just wrote ("I Kissed a Girl") because I kissed a girl," she says.

Before she began kissing girls, Perry lived a different life. The daughter of two pastors, the church was the vehicle that introduced her to music. As a child she began by singing at church and listening to Gospel music. In her teens she became a minor Christian music star as Katy Hudson. However, she has not forgotten her roots; she has just moved around the soil a little.

"I think that I'm really happy to come from where I came from," Perry says. She and her family are still very close. Even her first tattoo was the name "Jesus" on her wrist when she turned 18.

"I'm glad that I have my gospel roots and I still very much believe in God," Perry says. "That's me."

Her parents weren't surprised by anything on the album and they are very supportive of her career. However, preachers and rock stars don't always see eye to eye.

"I think that (my parents) have different perspectives on things, but I think a lot of times kids grow up and have different perspectives from their parents," Perry says. "They're glad I'm not strung out and doing centerfolds."

As if Perry's iconic status-in-the-making wasn't already assured, a respite in the tabloids may have cemented it. A widely covered celebrity feud erupted last spring between celebrity blogger Perez Hilton and musician Lily Allen, ostensibly over Perry herself.

"It wasn't that bad," she says. "It was one of those things where things are started for you."

Perry is aware that high-profile altercations are part and parcel in her industry.

"I think people sometimes just try to get people involved in two games and see if they react," she says. "I've lived in Hollywood for seven years and I've seen a lot of that bullshit."

"I have the opportunity to kind of take a lesson in how to keep your head out of that stuff," she adds.

At present, Perry's relatively short career (and icon status) is nothing compared to her rivals. Many have the longevity, the resources and the stamina to lasso in gay men and women (and also straight people) for decades. They have proved their worth by modeling themselves after what they perceive others might want of them. But Katy Perry is not going to do that and that may at some point extinguish her rainbow torch. But she might just be a better artist by continuing to produce her diary-esque records about her open-book life.

Give her a decade.


KATY PERRY performs as part of the Van's Warped Tour, stopping at Riverbend Wednesday. Buy tickets, check out performance times and find nearby bars and restaurants here.

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