Benjamin Glaze went on singing competition American Idol in the hopes of scoring a spot on the reality show. Instead, the then-19-year-old got a kiss on the lips — his first kiss ever — by judge Katy Perry.
Glaze spoke to The New York Times and admitted to the publication that he found the kiss “uncomfortable.” The interaction took place on Sunday night during the series’ season premiere.
He never consented to the kiss from Perry, and said he would’ve refused had the famous singer asked permission in the first place.
“I wanted to save it for my first relationship,” he said. “I wanted it to be special. Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said ‘no.'”
“I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!'” he continued. “But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special.”
(For clarification, he also added that he didn’t feel sexually harassed by Perry in the audition.) Glaze told the publication that he’s not counting Perry’s unwanted kiss as his first kiss anyway.
“It was lip contact vs. a romantic situation with someone you care about,” he said. “That’s what a real first kiss is.”
“Have you kissed a girl and liked it?” American Idol judge Luke Bryan asked during the audition, referencing Perry’s 2008 song, I Kissed a Girl (and I Liked It).
“No, I’ve never been in a relationship. I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship,” Glaze answered.
Perry, who looked like she was offered a challenge, asked incredulously, “Really?”
“Come here,” gestured Perry as the other judges (including Lionel Richie) encouraged them. Glaze hesitatingly walked over to Perry.
“What, on the cheek?” Glaze asked before he kissed Perry on her cheek.
“You didn’t even make the ‘smush’ sound,” she said, ordering Glaze to give her a second kiss on the cheek. When he went to kiss her, Perry quickly turned his head and kissed him on the lips. Glaze, visibly shocked and smiling, fell to the floor.
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The judges celebrated and high-fived one another, and Bryan asked Perry, “Did you get him?”
“Yeah I got him,” she replied.
“Katy! You didn’t,” Glaze exclaimed, smiling. “Well, that’s a first.”
Glaze ended up being cut from the show, and Perry joked that her kiss was what impeded his performance.
“I think you were a bit rushed and I think that’s because I sped up your BPM of the heartbeat,” she said.
In the current climate of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, the ill-gotten kiss sparked a lot of dissent from Idol audiences. Most people who weighed in believed the kiss was wholly inappropriate, and some postulated that if Perry were a man, she’d be in some serious trouble, and probably out of a job.
Others called for an end to the double-standard in society, saying that any sexual harassment is sexual harassment, no matter if perpetrated by a woman or a man.
For her part, Perry tweeted a GIF of Minnie Mouse pulling Mickey Mouse in for a kiss. She has not addressed any of the public backlash.
Representatives for ABC also haven’t commented publicly on the incident.
(You can watch part of the audition in the video, top.)
— With a file from Jesse Ferreras