By Lisa de Moraes
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Aparticipant in a CBS competition series once worked as a stripper at a club in New York City, performing for its mostly male clientele!
Oh, sorry, wrong file. That was Gypsy Rose Lee, a "What's My Line?" panelist off and on between 1950 and 1967.
Let's start again:
A participant in an NBC competition series once worked as a stripper at a club in New York City, performing for its mostly male clientele!
Drat, still the wrong file -- Gypsy Rose Lee again, only this time on "Hollywood Squares" in 1968 and '69.
Ah -- here's the one we're looking for:
The Associated Press reports that a participant in Fox competition series "American Idol" once worked as a stripper at a club in Phoenix, performing for its mostly male clientele!
In its article, the River City Ladies Auxiliary Dance Committee, er, the Associated Press, further writes that David Hernandez has never -- that's right, never! -- been referred to on the "Idol" competition as a stripper or former stripper.
No word on whether Hernandez ever read Chaucer, Rabelais or Balzac.
Furthermore, the AP wrote, astonishment wafting from the page, a "person close to the show who is not authorized to comment publicly and asked not to be identified" says there are no plans to remove Hernandez from the competition "despite the semifinalist's past."
The Fox network -- great guys but lacking the broader vision -- refused to comment, saying only, "We don't comment on the personal lives of the show participants."
But "Idol" Executive Producer Ken Warwick was scheduled to be interviewed by TV Guide for a cover story the day the Stripper Scandal broke and was quizzed on Hernandez's r¿sum¿.
"It won't make any difference," he told TV Guide, which put the exchange on its Web site, because news this big you don't hold for a weekly magazine.
"The truth is, we're never judgmental about what people do to earn a living," Warwick added.
He noted they've had strippers on the show before, mentioning Season 1 contestant Nikki McKibbin. "If it were some sort of heavy porn, then maybe we'd have to take action. But certainly not on this."
And, of course, it's true: Stripping is legal in Phoenix, according to The Washington Post's intrepid looker-into of things, Meg Smith.
In the city of Phoenix, you need a license to take your clothes off, which you get from the city clerk for 21 bucks. You must provide your full name, current stage name, height, weight, hair and eye color, date of birth and a digital photo -- but one taken by the city, thank you very much, Smith reports.
TV Guide was having none of this live-and-let-live nonsense, pressing Warwick in re whether he was aware of Hernandez's "past" before it was reported.
Warwick laughed and said it wouldn't have made any difference. He knows lots of people who'd love the opportunity to make a better living by taking their clothes off, he said, and "if the public doesn't like [Hernandez], they'll get rid of him."
So TV Guide put it to The Public:
"Indeed, the big question is: Does Hernandez's stripper past matter to you?" It added: "Let's get to the naked truth. . . . How do you think David performed in the immediate wake of his stripping scandal?"
* * *
But wait -- there's more! Yesterday, in the second installment of its "David Hernandez: Stripper Scandal" report, the Associated Press's Tabloid Bureau broke the story that no finalist has ever been portrayed as openly gay during the first six seasons of "American Idol." In its shocking new report, the AP quotes former Idolette Jim Verraros, who came out after he was a finalist in the first-season competition: "I'm not here to name any names, but I feel like there are some definite possibilities for this to happen this year." He added, "Do I think it'll happen? I don't know. I hope it does."
Now that's the kind of reporting we've come to expect from the Associated Press!
"Over the years," the Shocking New Report continues, " 'Idol' has devoted plenty of screen time to participants' personal lives," including asking "intimate questions of the contestants."
Its evidence? Those beauty-pageant questions we've come to love and mock on "Idol" -- like this week's "What was your most embarrassing moment?"
Anyone who thinks those are "intimate questions" clearly has not watched one second of "Moment of Truth."
Anyway, the story continues:
"Every season, blogs and message board users endlessly speculate about the sexuality of contestants," the AP says, having now worked itself up into a state of complete overstimulation:
"Online clues hinting at their sexual orientation often emerge. But," the story scolds, "Fox and 'Idol' producers have never addressed such rumors or depicted openly gay finalists as such on the show or on [its official Web site] AmericanIdol.com."
This week, the story continues, a video of "flamboyant" current semifinalist Danny Noriega lashing out against Santa Claus hit the Internet.
That's right, flamboyant and hates Santa Claus!
Another video of Noriega, wearing a do-rag while he sings Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" and raps about being gay, was posted on YouTube, the story continues.
(Actually, in that video, he rapped about eating cereal -- Cheerios, to be exact -- out of a bowl while watching " 'SpongeBob SquarePants' in the [expletive] house.")
At the end of the video, he explains he's got his do-rag cause he's a "[expletive] [gay slur]." And, to be completely clear, Noriega also observes in his rap that you eat hay for dinner because you look like a horse.
By this point the Shocking New Report has exhausted itself. So it's time to quickly recap the "David Hernandez: Stripper Scandal" story and wrap things up with what's called a "kicker" in the news business -- some really punchy ending, this one delivered by former Idolette Verraros:
"Regardless of whether or not a contestant is gay, the talent is there. That should always come first and foremost."