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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 7

'Idol' producer: David Hernandez's stripper past won't make difference

By Christopher Rocchio, 03/05/2008 

David Hernandez's previous employment as a male stripper apparently isn't grounds for the American Idol seventh-season semifinalist to be disqualified from the competition.

"No, it won't make any difference," Idol executive producer Ken Warwick told TV Guide when asked if Hernandez's past would impact his present place on the show.

"The truth is, we're never judgmental about what people do to earn a living. They've got to put food in people's mouths. We've had strippers on the show before. Nikki McKibbon was one in [Season] 1. We're never judgmental about people who do things like that. If it were some sort of heavy porn, then maybe we'd have to take action. But certainly not on this."

The 24-year-old from Glendale, AZ worked as a male stripper at Dick's Cabaret, where he appeared fully nude and performed lap dances for the establishment's "mostly male" patrons, the Phoenix club's manager Gordy Bryan confirmed on Monday. 

Warwick said he wasn't aware of Hernandez's former job before it was reported.

"But the truth of the matter is, it wouldn't have made any difference," he told TV Guide.  "There are a lot of people I know who'd love to have the opportunity just to make a better living by taking their clothes off."

Hernandez worked "steadily worked" at Dick's Cabaret for three years until September 30, 2007, according to Bryan, who added he believes the Idol hopeful stopped working at Dick's because of his upcoming participation in the show.  Hernandez initially auditioned for Idol at the show's San Diego auditions in July and was selected as a Top 50 Hollywood Week contestant in late November.

Warwick said regardless of Hernandez's work as a male stripper, he's proved he belongs in the competition.

"I mean, David Hernandez, whatever you say, is a nice guy," Warwick told TV Guide.  "And he can sing. He's got a great voice. He deserves to be there, as far as I'm concerned."

Warwick added he hadn't seen Hernandez prior to the Tuesday TV Guide interview, which also occurred before the Idol 7 Top 8 male semifinalists took the stage live during last night's performance episode broadcast, which saw Hernandez sing "It's All Coming Back to Me" by Meatloaf.

"The thing is, at the end, the public will make the decision anyway," Warwick told TV Guide about Hernandez's fate.  "If there's a stretch of the public that thinks, 'Oh, dear, he was a male stripper, so I'm not going to vote for him,' then that's the luck of the draw. If the public doesn't like him, then they'll get rid of him."

That's exactly what happened to Antonella Barba during Idol's 2007 season, when the semifinalist was at the center of a provocative photo scandal. Idol producers said they had no intentions of disqualifying her from the competition and she was subsequently eliminated by viewer votes on the cusp of becoming a sixth-season Idol finalist.

In 2003, second-season Idol semifinalist Frenchie Davis was disqualified over nude pictures she posed for at the age of 18, in which she simulated solitary sexual activity for a kiddie-porn website.  Despite a petition to reinstate her into the competition, Fox stood by its decision to disqualify Davis.

"There's an enormous difference between working as a topless dancer and a stripper and someone who's posing on a website geared to men's fantasies toward underage girls," an source close to the show said at the time of Davis' disqualification.

That same logic was apparently used when dealing with Hernandez, according to an Idol source who spoke to Reuters despite being unauthorized to discuss the situation publicly. The difference between Hernandez's situation and that of Davis, according to the source, was that Idol producers felt her case crossed a line since she appeared on a website "purported to feature sexually explicit photos of underage girls."

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