'American Idol's "Bikini Boy" audition was a stunt for a radio station
By Christopher Rocchio, 02/03/2010
Ty Hemmerling has admitted his impersonation of "Bikini Girl" Katrina Darrell during last night's American Idol broadcast of the ninth season's Denver auditions was a stunt for a local radio station he was working for at the time.
"They pretty much knew why I was there, and they made sure I knew that they knew -- like, 'You know why we're putting you through, don't you?'" the former KWOF-FM employee told the Denver Westword on Wednesday.
"One of the first questions they asked me on the first day was if I worked for the media. And before I could even answer, they said, 'Don't lie, because we'll find out.' So I said, 'This is what I do.'"
The 25-year-old from Denver, CO -- who sang Billy Ray Cyrus' "Achy Breaky Heart" during the Mile High City audition -- said the idea came from Amanda Lea, who worked for KWOF-FM's Jesse & Shotgun before the station ended the morning show as part of December programming change. The shake-up also ended Hemmerling's two-year employment at KWOF-FM, where he had begun as "the intern-stunt guy."
"Amanda said, 'American Idol is coming to town. Let's do something,'" he told Westword.
"And I'd done an earlier bit when I measured the snow at the Capitol lawn in a bikini -- and because Bikini Girl got so much attention the year before, they thought, 'Let's see if we can get you through as Bikini Boy.'"
Hemmerling said he borrowed a bikini from his girlfriend and attended the auditions, which were held late last summer.
"I thought I'd maybe get my picture taken in front of 12,000 people at Invesco," he told Westword before adding he kept making the cut.
"The first song I sang was Katy Perry, 'I Kissed a Girl' -- and I liked it. And they sent me through the first day. Then, two weeks later, I had to go back to another location and sing another couple of songs. That's when I did Billy Ray Cyrus, but they didn't like the song choice -- so I did Carrie Underwood's 'Last Name.' And they sent me through to the next day, and that's when I got to see the judges."
Hemmerling added producers never guaranteed he'd make it all the way to the judges.
"One of the producers said, 'I don't think you'll get through to the judges, but you'll probably get some face time,'" he told Westword.
Hemmerling eventually made it to the judges and claims it was because he agreed not to talk about it until after the episode aired.
They said, 'Keep your mouth shut. If you can do that, we'll send you through,'" he told Westword.
Hemmerling said what viewers saw of his audition "was pretty much how it went down" but claims there were some additional edited comments, including an exchange in which judge Kara DioGuardi "asked if mine were real and if she could touch them."
Since he's no longer employed at the radio station, Hemmerling said he's currently accepting appearance offers.
"I'm pretty much down for anything. Like, if you know anybody who's having a bachelor party, I'm really good at popping out of a cake," he told Westword.
Similar to the way Darrell -- the eighth-season hopeful who auditioned in a bikini but actually had at least some singing ability -- was invited back for last May's finale, Hemmerling said he'd like an invite for the ninth-season finale.
"Maybe I can squeeze out fifteen-and-a-half minutes of fame," he told Westword.