By PATRICIA SHERIDAN // Mar 2, 2011 06:18PM

He came in second on the second season of “American Idol,” which propelled singer Clay Aiken to No. 1 with his fans. It’s been eight years since he was “discovered” on the popular television show and in that time the 32-year-old from Raleigh, N.C., came out as a gay man, became a dad and starred on Broadway in “Monty Python’s Spamalot.” His memoir, Learning to Sing; Hearing the Music in Your Life, published in 2004, became a New York Times best-seller. Aiken currently is on his “Tried and True” concert tour, which includes a stop at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.Here’s some of what Aiken had to say in a recent interview:Question: Has fame been everything you expected? Clay Aiken: I didn’t fantasize about being famous, that’s for sure. I never thought in my life that I was going to be famous. I never thought I wanted to be famous, and some days I still think I don’t want to be. [Laughs] So I don’t know that I had any preconceived notions of what fame was going to be. Limos and parties and whatnot. That’s not really what it looks like most of the time. I’m boring, anyway.[Laughs] I don’t know that I knew what to expect when I auditioned for “Idol.” I don’t know that I knew what to expect when it was over. I have been surprised — regularly. I still find myself going, “What is going on in my life?” And it’s been eight years now. So I would answer that, no, it hasn’t been what I expected. Q: Did it change you emotionally in any way? CA: Initially, I think it probably made me a little more jaded, unfortunately. After eight years of doing it, it becomes the new normal. I don’t think I’m jaded anymore. I don’t think I’m skeptical. I think I’m wiser. I would say that I’m still somewhat cautious, but I think I got a little bit of wisdom that I wouldn’t have gotten if I’d not done this job. Now it’s just my life, and I know how to traverse the perils of it.  Q: From the very start you appeared at home in the spotlight, but what about your friends and family? Were they ready for your fame? CA: It’s interesting that you say that because I’m not. … I like performing, but I don’t like being in the spotlight when I’m not on the stage. If I’m performing, I enjoy it, I appreciate it. I can get into it. As soon as the camera goes off, the lights go off, the curtain comes down, I’m almost reclusive.Q: And I would imagine doing this kind of interview would be uncomfortable. CA: Oh, yes. Four years ago, I would constantly be worried about what I was going to say or [how it would] be interpreted. I realize in life I’m going to mess up — plenty of times now. That’s why I say there’s a certain wisdom that comes with it. I realize I’m going to screw up a lot, and I need to stop being afraid of screwing up. If something happens in an interview now … I just say I’m not talking about that. Next. (Laughs) And I don’t care. Q: Last year, bullying in general, and anti-gay bullying in particular, was getting lots of media attention because of several student deaths resulting from it. CA: I went to [Washington] D.C. with GLSEN (Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network) to unveil a bill that Sen. [Al] Franken (D-Minn.) and Sen. [Robert] Casey (D-Pa.) … had presented to help stop bullying. To make sure sexual orientation was included in the federal guideline. Sexual orientation and gender identity were not included, so teachers were not empowered to stop it. I got bullied plenty. I still get bullied. We live in a society now where it’s just OK. It’s much more accepted whether it be comedians who make it OK to pick on people because they make it funny or the message boards or comments on a news article. Since there’s anonymity involved, people can say the nastiest things. People would be remiss to think that there was a lot of bullying and gay young men and women were committing suicide only last year. It’s been happening for years and years. I think it’s important that people pay attention to it. It happens everywhere. Kids get cyber-bullied all the time, and I think there needs to be more attention drawn to that type of thing, too. We just need as a people to stop being jerks.Scripps Howard News Service

Well this is one of the things I found on Clay. I wouder when he’s going to come out with some new music. I really miss Clay. 😦