Benjamin Glaze’s audition for American Idol didn’t quite go as planned.
The then-19-year-old Enid, Oklahoma, native was featured on the premiere episode of ABC’s reboot of the singing competition, where he hoped to take the next step in his singing career. Instead, Glaze made headlines for receiving a surprise kiss from Idol judge Katy Perry.
The viral moment occurred shortly after Glaze introduced himself to the judges panel. When Luke Bryan asked the young singer if he had ever “kissed a girl and liked it” -- a reference to Perry’s 2008 single -- Glaze admitted that he hadn’t. “I have never been in a relationship, and I can’t kiss a girl without being in a relationship,” he explained.
Perry then called him to the judges table and asked for two kisses on the cheek. On the second attempt, she surprised Glaze at the last moment, turning to kiss him on the lips. Now, several months after the audition, the singer is opening up about the encounter that left him feeling “a tad bit uncomfortable.”
“Would I have done it if she said, ‘Would you kiss me?’ No, I would have said no,” he recently told the New York Times. “I know a lot of guys would be like, ‘Heck yeah!’ But for me, I was raised in a conservative family and I was uncomfortable immediately. I wanted my first kiss to be special...I wanted to save it for my first relationship.”
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Though the kiss went viral, and was tweeted about by Perry and used in ABC’s promotions for the new season of Idol, Perry has faced some backlash from fans in light of the Time’s Up movement and increased dialogue surrounding sexual impropriety.
“It was a forced sexual act,” one viewer replied to American Idol’s tweet: “Imagine if this was from a male judge."
However, Glaze said he’s had time to reflect on the moment since his audition, which was filmed in October, and told the NYT that he does not feel he was sexually harassed. In fact, the now-20-year-old singer was happy the talked-about moment got him more screen time and recognition for his career aspirations. “So in that way,” he said, “I’m glad she did it because it’s a great opportunity to get my music out.”
And, he said, he’s still saving his real first kiss for his first relationship. “[My friends] agreed with me that it didn’t really count,” Glaze noted. “It was lip contact versus a romantic situation with someone you care about. That’s what a real first kiss is.”
ET has reached out to Perry’s reps for comment.
See more from the new season of American Idol in the video below.