False idols

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I don't watch this shit. As much as "American Idol" might seem like the perfect fare for my bon-bon wind down, the idea of "Endless Love" being massacred by somebody merely as old as Diana Ross' 13th silicone implant elicits thoughts of Lionel Richie's hair juice and, well, gas. I'll take the opiates, you can have the masses.

For me, it's all about the entrails, anyway: the big girl who might or might not have starred in her own pornographic escapade; the skinny boy who might or might not have beat up his sister; and Justin, who lost to trailer-trash Kelly Clarkson because his hair was big and he was a girl.

Regardless, "American Idol" has captured the fascination of a really boring nation. Funny, then, that I should be tooling my way to the Florida Mall concourse (OK, parking lot) for a Saturday afternoon display of "American Idol" failure. The folks of Coca-Cola and/or Simon Malls have crafted a situation in which cast-offs from the two seasons of the mega-show can mingle with hopeless hopefuls in some Spencer Gifts, fiber-optic bliss. And we're bombing Iraq.

Anyway, here in the press area, my eyes are rolling swiftly into the back of my head. The two chosen pundits for the false-idol auditions are shuffling their feet and oozing nervousness. This is hell.

"What are you singing?" I bleat to the boy choice, some Latino named R.J. who might think about shaving his lip.

"'I Want It That Way' by the Backstreet Boys," he grins, proudly. Not sure why.

"And you?" I grimace towards a spiral-perm that is probably a girl.

"'Vision of Love' by Mariah Carey," she 1989s. "I hate the new Mariah, but that's my favorite song"

"You treated me kind ..."

She stares, eyes folding.

"Sweet destiny ..."

They close.

"And your name?"

"Andria," she falls with her eyelids. "With an 'I.'"

My life hurts.

But probably not nearly as bad as the lives of those shunned by the "American Idol" promise, desperately holding their names to the sky in hopes of some mighty wind that will carry them into blind universal consciousness.

And if you're gonna have a name, it might as well be Ejay Day.

"I like your hair." Ejay Day sings my tune.

"Um, I like your shirt," I lie. "It seems a little warm for all that."

"It is," he sweats.

Ejay's sporting a post-goth, hand-gripping, long-sleeve, striped thing underneath a T-shirt that reads "Lost Cat." He's gay, obviously. And his makeup is fermenting. "So how did this happen?" I sympathize. "Is this some 'American Idol' penance?"

"No, no. I'm not on contract with anybody," he signs. "They call 'American Idol,' and then 'American Idol' decides the people who they want to do it."

"And ..." I fall asleep. "Are you continuing on with your 'career'?"

"Yeah, I'm recording," he vocodes. "'Come Into My World' is my big number, and I'm just trying to push that. But it's done."

"Do you miss your 'American Idol' home?"

"Without a doubt," his makeup runs. "I miss Paula and Randy."

"Say something mean about Simon," I bait.

"Simon's a dickhead," he glory holes. "Is that OK?"


Also present, representing this year's model, is Charles Grigsby, voted off a scant two weeks ago but maintaining his pop momentum with the ever-lucrative mall-parking-lot circuit.

"Baby, I'm lovin' it," he calls me baby (swoon). "Never in my life did I expect this."

Charles is quite the deal, apparently, with lined-up girls in jean shorts all cooing to his every move. I'm very lucky to talk to him. Really.

"So you were booted off, I understand," I understand.

"Two weeks ago," he glares. "This was actually planned a week after that. Well, it was probably planned before that, but I'm the last one to find out about anything."

And I'm the first.

"And are you happy with your 'American Idol' association?" I stop understanding. "Is it fun?"

"Crazy, crazy," he crazies. "And anybody that's trying to go out, I encourage them to do it. 'Cuz, like, I wasn't gonna go, but if I didn't go, it would have been the worst regret."

Worse than a Saturday afternoon mall performance in Orlando? Say it isn't so.

"And your feelings on Simon?"

"Simon's cool. Well, see, I know him." He slept with him. "What you guys see, it's not what is. Simon's cool."

"And, here, two weeks after you matter, what happens now?"

"Oh, I got mad offers," he offers, madly. "And it's funny, 'cuz it's not through 'American Idol.' It's other sources, and stuff like that. I went to some parties out in Hollywood and I kicked it with all the stars, you know, all the celebrities. Got their business cards."

Ooooh, business cards. I think I have a few of those.

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