Adam Lambert shocked and surprised the American Music Awards Sunday night with what some viewers deemed a "lewd" performance of the title track of his newly-released debut album, "For Your Entertainment."
The "American Idol" runner-up pelvic-thrusted his way through the four-minute, S&M-themed routine, taking time out from singing to grope a female dancer, kiss a male musician and, most shockingly, shove a male dancer's face into his crotch, in an act that simulated fellatio.
The raunchy stuff was apparently added to the live broadcast, and the routine, at the last minute, and the network said yesterday it was caught by surprise. The simulated sex act was edited out of the videotaped version of the awards show that was transmitted three hours later to the West Coast, but the rest of Lambert's performance remained intact.
Lambert reacted to the edit, telling the Los Angeles Times, "It's a shame. Female entertainers have been risqué for years. Honestly, there's a huge double standard . . . It's 2009, it's time to take more risks. It's about entertainment. People want to be surprised. It's too bad that people are so scared."
The edit wasn't enough to hold back a tidal wave of upset viewers who've complained to ABC about the sexually charged stage show. More than 1,500 complaints were logged by the network on the day following the broadcast.
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The television watchdog group Parents Television Council also said it had heard from upset members.
"They're outraged," said Timothy Winters, president of the PTC. "They just can't believe the nature of the content, the explicit nature, and how much graphic content there was."
Winter said it seemed artists who appear on music awards shows are constantly competing to push limits.
"These programs are wholly unsuitable for children now and it's pathetic, given the amount of economic support that children and teenagers bring to the industry today," he said.
In a statement, Dick Clark Productions executives and show producers said, "Due to the live nature of the show we did not expect the impromptu moment in question."
A source, who was in attendance at the AMA rehearsals, said that the sex act was not one of the dance moves that had been rehearsed. "It wasn't there; it did not happen," the source says.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.