Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010 | 6:09 p.m.
As others swam, he plucked the guitar. He's married, but he's been proposed to — in a manner of speaking — by 10-year-old girls.
And he's a "chill" individual riding a hot streak.
Reigning "American Idol" champ Kris Allen is back for his second run at Las Vegas in as many weeks, performing at 9 p.m. Friday at B.B. King's Blues Club at The Mirage. While vaulting to the Season 8 "Idol" championship, Allen topped onstage awards-show macker Adam Lambert in a contest that drew nearly 100 million votes, the most ever tabulated on the show. Allen also is the only married winner in the show's history.
In vaulting to the title, the 24-year-old native of Conway, Ark., performed Bill Withers' "Ain't No Sunshine," Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror," Kanye West's, "Heartless." I rely on a news release for this information, because, aside from William Hung's infamous audition appearance, I've not seen a single episode of "American Idol."
Which is how the reigning champ and I started this conversation earlier today:
"I have to confess, right up front, I don't watch 'American Idol.' The only episode I've ever seen was when William Hung tried out.'"
"(Laughing) Well, the one you saw — it was a classic. I actually didn't watch it even when I was on it. I mean, I saw the first season a little bit, and (Season 6, featuring fellow Arkansan Sean Michel), the top four, I watched that."
"Did you ever envision that you would be on the show, ever?"
"No. I was not thinking, 'I'm going to try out.' It was my brother's idea to audition."
"How is Las Vegas different from Conway, Arkansas?"
"How is it not different (laughs)? I mean, they polar opposites, man. Conway is a small town. People don't come to Conway just to come. You either live there or have some reason to be there. Las Vegas has so much to do. So does Conway, but not like this."
"What's the population of Conway?"
"About 40,000, so it's not a super-small town. But Vegas is amazing. So much to do."
"The last 'America's Got Talent' winner, Kevin Skinner, is from a small town in Kentucky, and he was in the live show at Planet Hollywood. It's really coincidental a kid from a small town in Arkansas has won this season's 'American Idol,' and is now playing Vegas, too."
"I think I've seen (Skinner), yeah. He's awesome. These shows give you a chance to achieve, wherever you're from."
"What's your take on Paula Abdul?"
"The show will miss Paula, for sure. She's a staple of the show. Ellen (DeGeneres, who has joined the show's judging panel), I don't know anyone who doesn't like her."
"Especially when she dances."
"She's a fun character."
"You taught yourself how to play the guitar, right?"
"Yes, I was 13 and my dad had one. I was vegging out, and I figured I would try the guitar."
"How do you do that, exactly, teach yourself to play the guitar?"
"To be honest, it took a lot of time, every day,. My brother would go to the pool, so I thought, 'I'll stay here and play the guitar.' No one knew what I was doing."
"But by not swimming, you might have missed a chance of being a Michael Phelps type."
"(Laughs) I never thought of it that way. But those guys are pretty tall. I think I made the right choice, guitar over swimming."
"In a lot of cases, those who have not won the 'American Idol' championship have had greater success than those who have. Chris Daughtry finished fourth and has had amazing success, for instance. Is it important more important to you to win the contest, or to be on the contest long enough to reach a huge audience?"
"I think it's the latter, the exposure. Then it's all up to the kind of music you put out and the songs you put out after the show, so the audience has something to connect you to. Winning gives you the record contract, automatically, but look at Jennifer Hudson and Daughtry — Clay Aiken didn't win, even Adam. There are plenty who have done incredibly well and not won."
"Fans have been pretty kind to you since you won?"
"Oh yeah, they're chill, they're nice. They're like me in a way (laughs). They are really curious, ask a lot of questions, try to figure me out."
"What's the strangest question you're gotten from a fan?"
"The strangest? I get a lot of letters from really young girls, like 10 years old, saying, 'I'm only 10, but when I'm 18, we're getting married,' and I'm already married (laughs)."
"Speaking of that, I was looking earlier at some photos of you an your wife, Katy, that we've put up on Robin Leach's Web site. Has she ever been told she looks like Kirsten Dunst?"
"No, not her. I'll have to check that out, though. She gets a lot of Reese Witherspoon, and Amy Smart."
"I sometimes ask celebrities if they've read their Wikipedia site, and if anything is wrong in their entry. Have you done that? Is it accurate?"
"No, but now that I think of it, maybe I'll get on there and add some stuff, embellish maybe (laughs). It's my Wikipedia entry, right."
"Then you can sue yourself."
"What are we going to see in your set at B.B. King's?"
"It's going to be a pretty chill show, me and a buddy playing acoustic guitar. Cale Mills is his name, he's awesome, and we've been friends all through college. It's good to have a friend with you to enjoy all this stuff."