Kimberley Locke became a part of the national consciousness when she was a finalist on season two of TV's "American Idol," finishing third to Clay Aiken and eventual champion Ruben Studdard. She's since parlayed that result into being a successful entertainer, combining careers in music ( including the smash single "8th World Wonder" ) ; television ( "Celebrity Fit Club," co-hosting "The View" ) ; and modeling/endorsements ( Jenny Craig ) . She also has become quite the gay icon, and was slated to perform at Chicago PrideFest Sat., June 28.
Windy City Times: When I prepped for this interview, the first thing I came across was a YouTube video of you performing in your underwear for hundreds of men. What was going on?
Kimberley Locke: I was on a Princess cruise, which was an all-gay cruise, back in October. It was right when I was in the middle of doing "Celebrity Fit Club." Of course, every night there was a freakin' party; it was the epitome of "party ship," OK? That night, there was an underwear party. So I had bought this cute little dress, but then I thought, "Everybody else is in their underwear"their tighty-whiteys, spandex and all that stuff." I was probably one of 20 girls on the cruise.
Of course, when I'm around my gay boys, I know I feel safe; I know no one's going to hurt me. So, I said, "Fuck it," and I let these two guys who I had been hanging with come up and take off my dress. But, you know"everything ends up on YouTube.
WCT: That's so true. I remember reading about Beyonce falling down the stairs during a concert and then asking fans to not put it on YouTube. Good luck with that.
KL: Honey, I saw that on YouTube. Everybody saw that one, right?
WCT: You're from Gallatin, Tenn. What is that city like?
KL: Hmmm â€¦ what is Gallatin like? Gallatin is like Mayberry [ from TV's "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Mayberry, R.F.D." ] . It's probably a little bigger than Mayberry, but when I was growing up, it was very small. Everybody knows everybody"it's one of those towns where everybody knows your business.
WCT: I know what you're talking about. [ Locke laughs. ] I was born in a small southern town. However, that southern food is great.
KL: Oh, yeah. Every Sunday after church at mama's house"it was the real deal. I'm supposed to go home [ soon, ] and my mama thinks she doesn't have to cook anymore because everyone's out of the house. She thinks she's on vacation"but not when I'm home. [ Both laugh. ]
WCT: Are you a good cook?
KL: I am, actually. I don't get to do it very much, but I love to cook. I love to be in the kitchen"especially now that I've lost weight. I'm always looking for a healthy way to make my favorite meals. When I'm home, I love to go to the grocery store, and cook.
WCT: You mentioned your weight loss. It's been 40 pounds, right?
KL: Yes, and I just came back from a run; I'm training for an October marathon [ the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. ] . It's over 100 degrees in New York today and I just ran three miles"and I thought I was going to die. It's nasty [ out here ] ; it was even hot in the shade.
But I have lost 40 pounds, and running the marathon keeps me motivated and keeps the weight off. Now that I've lost [ the weight ] , I don't think I'll gain it back, but you always have that five-pound play in your weight. I'd like to lose another 10 pounds but I've already lost 40, so I'm not going to stress over it. I was watching Tyra Banks the other day and she said, "I fluctuate between [ dress sizes ] 6 and a 10." I said, "Hallelujah. Me, too!"
WCT: I read so many reports of people who become a bit too carried away [ with losing weight ] .
KL: It's easy to do that, though. It's easy to become obsessed with it. I've had to put myself in check a couple of times: You want to weigh yourself all day, every day"and that's not [ healthful ] . When I'm really trying to lose weight, I weigh myself when I wake up, because that's my true weight; then, I don't worry about it. [ However, ] most of the time, it's just once a week.
Another thing is that, when I was really dieting, I'd like to weigh myself because I'd like to see what foods trigger my body. Everybody has a trigger, whether it's sweets, carbs or something else; my body has a weird reaction to salt and carbs like those found in bread. Alcohol is another [ trigger ] . A lot of people have the same triggers, but you have to figure out how to balance [ them ] .
But it's easy for people to become obsessed"especially when they start losing a little weight. You're like, "Aw, shit â€¦ " [ Interviewer laughs. ] Then your body plateaus and then you become frustrated.
WCT: There are a lot of [ temptations ] out there"like macaroni and cheese"but I do try to work out every day.
KL: I love that, though. [ Gay men ] are so fit. You know what to do to get your bodies; when you say, "I'm going to do it," then you fucking do it. That's something to be admired"but the funny thing is that you all are drawn to big women.
WCT: Well, we're drawn to fierce women.
KL: OK"fierce women who happen to be big. [ Laughs ] I just did L.A. Pride and I was inspired seeing all those hard-bodied boys running around.
WCT: When did you first realize you had a gay following?
KL: Immediately after "American Idol." It was bizarre. I don't know why or how"it is what it is. At first I was curious about it; then I let it go"now I have three or four fan bases. The performances for my gay fans are the jobs that are the most fun 99 percent of the time. The gay community just wants to have a good time, and I feel so comfortable in my own skin I give them a good time. They let me perform, and they don't judge me. I don't get a lot of the bitchiness; a lot of the fans are genuine. How often do you get to stand in front of a group who accepts you for who you are?
Most fans are [ cool ] ; that YouTube clip you mentioned popped up on Perez Hilton's Web site and some people were being mean. Then I realized, "This is not your fan base." These are just bitchy queens who don't have a life, and they probably don't like themselves.
WCT: Speaking of someone [ people might view as ] a "bitchy queen," can we discuss Dustin Diamond for a second? [ Note: On "Celebrity Fit Club," Diamond bad-mouthed Locke most of the season. The situation culminated in an extremely heated exchange where he called her a "loser" and a "nobody," and she labeled him "two-faced" and "backstabbing." ]
KL: He's not a queen"he's just bitchy. [ Both laugh. ]
WCT: So I take it you two haven't kissed and made up?
KL: Oooh"honey, please; he wishes he could kiss me. [ His attacks ] were unnecessary. I never figured out what the deal was, and I didn't try to. I'm the kind of person who, if you cross me once, I'm just done with you. One of the things on the show that got me so upset was that I was trying to stay poised and be a good representative for not only women, but Black women as well"but it was hard because I wanted to rip his head off a couple times.
WCT: Of course, I have to ask about "American Idol." What I want to know, though, is if you caught this past season [ which David Cook won ] ?
KL: I thought this past season was very boring. I was very unimpressed with most of the contestants.
WCT: I'm still wondering how Jason Castro made it to the final four.
KL: He's cute; that's all. He looks good in a pair of jeans"you gotta give it to him. But he was as dumb as a box of rocks.
WCT: Yeah, and that's usually how I like "em [ Locke laughs loudly: "I love that!" ] , but not on "AI."
KL: It'll be interesting to see what they do next year. I'd like to see them go back to the basics and stop giving them so much in the beginning. It's like they have nowhere to grow to. Make [ the contestants ] sing the track; when you have a 20-piece band behind you, anyone can sound good.
WCT: It might be interesting if they incorporated a little choreography.
KL: Hmmm. But those people"did you see them in the finale?
WCT: Yes. Poor Brooke White â€¦
KL: They looked a mess.
WCT: You've covered a lot of songs. Who would you want to cover your songs?
KL: Oh, God. Who? I don't know; I hadn't thought of it that way. I think that, since a lot of my songs skew country, I'd like to have a country artist sing some of my songs. When my first single came out, they thought it was Shania Twain.
WCT: You're coming to Chicago â€¦
KL: It'll be my first Pride in Chicago. Are there some motorcycles involved in the parade?
WCT: There's a group called Dykes on Bikes.
KL: Ooooh"I think I'm riding with them. I actually love Chicago as a city. I haven't been able to spend a lot of time there. I was there when I toured with Dave Koz; it stopped in Chicago but we were only there for a day. My mom and a couple of friends came in and we went shopping. But I have a pizza date coming up"and I LOVE me some pizza.
To find out more about Kimberley Locke, see the fan site www.kimberleylocke.org .