Any mention of "American Idol" this past week has inevitably been followed by some discussion of Paula Abdul's alleged sexual relationship with one of the series' season-two castaways, aspiring R&B vocalist Corey Clark.
The cornrowed Californian sat down with ABC's "Primetime Time" to bare his soul before millions of couch-coddling Americans for a special edition titled "Fallen Idol" that aired Wednesday night (see "Corey Clark Advertises Paula Abdul Affair, LP On 'Primetime' "). He opened up about his love affair with the "Idol" judge and described the vital role she'd played in his survival on the show.
On Friday morning (May 6), Clark spoke with MTV News even further about his "Idol" experience and defended his decision to spill the beans on Paula, not only on television, but in a tell-all book, "They Told Me to Tell the Truth, So ... (The Sex, Lies and Paulatics of One of America's Idols)." He said the reason he didn't own up to the May-December relationship two years ago — after he got the hook for failing to disclose an arrest record that included charges of resisting arrest and assault — was because he didn't want to have to rely on his Abdul association to further his music career.
But of course, he's changed his tune.
"Two years ago, I wasn't talking about it because, you know, this isn't the route I wanted to pursue," he said. "This is basically the last resort. I've been painted into a corner, and now I've sort of got to lay it all out in order for things to be straightened up. I've tried to move on with my life and my career for the last two years and do my own thing, and 'American Idol' and FOX, they've just been making it really tough for me to do that. So in order for me to get through all the red tape and just allow people to just get at my talent, I've got to set the record straight. And you can't set half the record straight; when you tell it, you've got to tell it all."
Clark claims "Idol" producers conspired against him to ruin his career. He says they've been blackballing him and spreading falsehoods about him throughout the music industry, ever since his dismissal from the televised talent contest. He blames those very same producers for the total collapse of a record deal he claims he was close to signing with Jive two months ago, before inking a contract with Bungalo, which is distributed by Universal.
"People aren't giving me a fair shot because of what ['Idol' producers have] been saying for the past two years about me," Clark explained. "I mean, they got contestants this year who're straight felons. And they're like, 'It's all good because they told us.' They had to, because they did something. But then they compare those criminals to me when something comes up. They're like, 'Well, unlike Corey Clark, who's a sister-beater, cop-beater [and a] liar, these guys are at least honest, and they can stay with us.' So it's like, that's what I'm fighting against everywhere I go. I'm fighting that image and portrait."
It wasn't Clark's criminal past, but the fact that he started making waves behind the scenes that sent him packing, he said. But he claims he was just following Abdul's orders. "They were trying to bully us, and they came in after we made the final 12 and were like, 'You have two days to sign this contract or you're off the show. On top of that you have to pick from these two attorneys we're going to send in, and we'll pay for them.' It was a conflict of interest. So in talking with Paula, she said, 'Look, if you can get six of your fellow contestants to stand up with you and say, "We want our own attorney, we're not rolling with this stuff you want us to do," they won't kick off the rest of the cast.' "
Clark said 10 of the other contestants got behind him to stand up to the imposing "Idol" makers. The pack then brought in a lawyer Abdul recommended to Clark — her own lawyer. Two weeks later, the producers started asking him questions about his arrest record, he said. Then they "cut the head off the snake."
"They're making it hard for me to get stuff done," he said; if he did not disclose his sexual liaisons with Abdul, the rest of his story wouldn't have been believable. "I did this to get them to leave me the hell alone and get off my back and let me go about my business. And [Paula's] the key to that, because what they're telling people I was doing while I was there was stuff she had me doing. I was doing everything she told me to do and not to do. I was a consenting adult with her. I was happy. It was wrong, and that's why we were keeping it a secret in the first place. But it was something I wanted to do."
For two years after his exile, Clark said he had no contact whatsoever with Abdul. Then she called him on April 8. She'd heard he was shopping his story around to media outlets and asked him not to let the cat out of the bag. Clark, however, agreed to speak to "Primetime." He also wrote "They Told Me to Tell the Truth," which he's selling through his Web site. But the book's not an "Idol" exposé. He said it's mostly "about my life in music," and in many ways "a tool for up-and-coming artists to basically see what I've learned in 10 years, and maybe they can pick it up in two hours and not make the same mistakes I did. It's my memoirs."
Despite the propitious timing of his revelation, Clark denies that airing the Abdul affair is part of a marketing ploy to hawk books or CDs. His self-titled debut, including the tracks "Wiggle and Shake," "Chance to Dance," "Paulatics" and "Follow That Back," which features a cameo from Kid of Kid 'N Play, hits stores June 21.
"If I wanted publicity, I could have done it two years ago when they were first trying to defame my name," Clark said.
When asked if he ever loved Abdul, Clark says he did. "There was love there. It was a relationship for like three, four months. She told me she loved me. I told her I love her. Do I still love her? No. I've moved on. Do I love her as a person? Yes. Do I care about her? Yes."
As for whether it bothers him that for the rest of his career he'll be known as that dude who allegedly slept with Paula Abdul, he seems puzzled by the notion that it would.
"What's wrong with that?" he asked. "What would you have done if she hit on you? If you were my age and Paula 'fine-ass' Abdul was hitting on you? What would you do?"