Now the women are throwing bras at him. They come zooming up from every which way. Here comes a pink feather boa. Lambert picks it up and swings it around his head. When a brightly colored beach ball arrives, he gives it a swift, hard kick into the crowd. Not a girlie kick, either.

Outside after the show, 16–year–old Cara is waiting in front of the stage door with about a hundred other teen girls and their moms. "He's sexy as helllllll," she says. "He's a fucking badass."

"Adam Lambert is the perfect man," sighs 15-year-old Jennifer.

The next day, Lambert sets out for a walk around Chicago. He's reluctant to go at first because, he says, "they will mob . . ." And they do. In their own polite way, because they're Midwesterners. They want to praise and congratulate him and take pictures with him. "I voted for you!" they tell him.

"There's a feeling of entitlement [with the fans] because they voted to get us where we are," he says, just a trifle irritated. "But you know what? I am responsible for what I created on that show—you voted for what I created, and thank you, but I created it, you didn't."

A beefy guy in a sweatshirt and aviator shades approaches.

"Big fan," he says, opening his arms for a hug.

"Oh, right on," says Lambert, allowing himself to be embraced.

"I thought it was you!" says the man, squeezing Lambert close.

"Yeah, it's me," says Lambert, gently extricating himself.

It would be hard to miss him. Lambert is wearing an outfit that looks like Johnny Rotten's closet had an orgy with Prince's dry cleaning. "Nobody tells you how to do this—there's no handbook for, like, insta–fame," he says as we walk away. "I'm just trying to be nice and responsible."

At a quiet Italian restaurant, he discusses the phenomenon of his "jock" appeal. "Maybe it's the thing of being, like, confident in who you are, which cuts across the lines of gender and sexual orientation," he says.

Or maybe the jocks just like the way he sings—and Lambert intends to keep it that way. "I just want to entertain," he says. "I don't want [my music] to be a political or social thing right away. Eventually I would love to mess with that, but it's a tricky, tricky road. There's a part of me that's a businessperson and part of me that's an artist, and the artist wants to push buttons and break boundaries, but the businessperson goes, 'Well, that doesn't really sell albums.' I don't want to alienate a bunch of people who would otherwise be into what I do."