LOS ANGELES - David Hernandez's stripper past didn't come back to haunt him on Tuesday night's "American Idol." Hernandez's three-year stint as a male stripper wasn't even mentioned during the live telecast, which featured the 24-year-old from Glendale, Ariz., performing a rendition of Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back to Me Now."
However, acerbic judge Simon Cowell did mutter something about stripping, off camera, immediately after the song ended.
Randy Jackson called Hernandez's singing "pitchy" but said he had a "big ol' voice." Paula Abdul raved that Hernandez had some of the "best vocals." And Simon Cowell said it wasn't as good as last week, but Hernandez had secured himself a place in the finals.
On Thursday, 16 semifinalists will be narrowed down to the final 12 contestants.
Other than Cowell, no one alluded to Monday's news that Hernandez worked for three years in Phoenix at Dick's Cabaret. There, he would appear fully nude and perform lap dances for the club's "mostly male" clientele, club manager Gordy Bryan told The Associated Press on Monday.
It apparently wasn't Hernandez's "most embarrassing moment" either. (Contestants had to 'fess up about theirs during the show.) In a taped segment before his performance, Hernandez said his red-faced moment happened when he discovered he had "a pea-sized booger" in his nose following a photo shoot.
Fox and the producers have declined to comment about Hernandez.
In 2003, semifinalist Frenchie Davis was dismissed from "Idol" because of her appearance on an adult Web site, but Antonella Barba remained in the competition last year after racy photos of her surfaced on the Internet.
Third-place finisher Nikki McKibbin from the first "Idol" season briefly worked as stripper before the show, according to Joe Cannizzaro, president of McKibbin's record label, Chenoa Music. Like Hernandez, McKibbin wasn't dismissed from the show when her history as a stripper was publicly revealed - nor was it disclosed on the show.
Dick's Cabaret manager Bryan told the AP he was aware that Hernandez was a vocalist, but that Hernandez never sang at the club. Bryan said he now believes Hernandez stopped working at the strip club on Sept. 30, 2007, because of his participation in "Idol."
On a video posted on AmericanIdol.com, Hernandez said he broke the lease on his apartment and lived out of his car before auditioning for "Idol." And, when asked in a Q&A posted on the site which talent would he would most like to have if he couldn't sing, Hernandez responded: "Dancing! I'm horrible at that."
AP writer Erin Carlson in New York contributed to this report.
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