This Is Constantine Maroulis. He Wishes You Knew That.

In which an American Idol runner-up tops it all by blow-drying his chest

Maroulis's life changed forever—or at least for a while.

But then, almost as quickly as they'd been mentioned, the modeling offers were withdrawn. His sitcom never got past the script stage before ABC passed on the project. He's no longer represented by Creative Artists Agency and says he's had offers from other agencies. Even Pray for the Soul of Betty broke up. A gossip website, tmz.com, which once reported on Maroulis as a rising star, was now noting with sarcasm the fact that he was soon scheduled to perform at a Greek-food festival in Dallas.

Maroulis was upset most recently by the headline "Even Losers Can End Up on Broadway," which apparently ran atop an Associated Press story about him in a Pennsylvania newspaper. The article reported on the trend of bringing American Idol runners-up to Broadway to boost ticket sales and included as a prime example Maroulis, who joined the cast of The Wedding Singer, a 1980s-set musical based on the Adam Sandler film about an unlucky-in-love wedding singer, at the beginning of September.


image
Maroulis alongside the one man in America who spends more time with a blow-dryer than he does, Ryan Seacrest
photo: Freemantle Media
At 11:15 p.m., in the back of the Chrysler heading to his Gramercy Park apartment, Maroulis began checking messages on his BlackBerry and making phone calls to friends to set up plans for the rest of the night.

His first call was to Alex Krug, a close friend who works as a consultant for the clothing line Stryker, which specializes in T-shirts with hip graphic designs and ironic sayings that Maroulis described as "urban chic." He put Alex on speakerphone.

"You sold a bunch of tables? Where? At Stereo?" Maroulis asked.

"I think so," Alex said.

"To who?"

"I have no idea, bro. I just woke up from a nap. People are like, 'Wake up, let's go get motivated. I'm coming to see [your show] tomorrow at two o'clock.'"

"Cool. Well, I'll see you in a little bit."

Maroulis was going to meet Alex at Stereo, a club in Chelsea where he always gets the A-list-celebrity treatment on arrival. He never has to wait in line, his entourage gets a regular table, and a cheerful server brings free bottles of Grey Goose vodka and Bud Light all night long, in return for Maroulis's regular presence.

When he pulled up at his apartment, his best friend, Michael Hamboussi, was waiting for him. Hamboussi was the drummer of his former band. Back when Maroulis was on American Idol, Hamboussi had told an Associated Press reporter, "The reason why he's doing American Idol is for the band, not for anything else." Hamboussi now serves as the webmaster for constantinemaroulis.com. He wore a brown beanie cap, a white collared shirt, and a blazer. His most distinctive feature is his goatee, which is combed into a small braid on the end of his chin.


Maroulis rents a tiny one-bedroom on the ground floor of a 10-story building on East 26th Street. It has a tiny kitchen, a bathroom, a living room with a navy-blue futon and an entertainment center, and French doors that lead into the bedroom, which only has room enough for his queen-sized bed with a puffy white comforter thrown on top. The walls were blank white except for a poster that said "Yankees vs. Cubs, Wrigley Field, World Series, 1932" in the kitchen. His hardwood floors were bare. On top of his entertainment center sat a pile of collectibles arranged as a display. They included a toy car featuring the band Queen (still in its box), an R2-D2 doll, a Yankees talking bottle opener (still in its package), a snow globe of Broadway from the year 2000, numerous buttons each with a different American Idolfinalist on them (including one of himself), a Constantine Maroulis Street Team button, and a Prince and the Revolution seven-inch record. The only framed photo was one of him; Bo Bice, the first runner-up of American Idol Season Four; and Scott Ian of Anthrax doing devil horns with their hands. He also had about 20 books, including 14,000 Things to Be Happy About, The Yankees Fan's Little Book of Wisdom, a book about the musical Rent, and two biographies of Jim Morrison.

While Maroulis sat on a stool at his kitchen counter and checked his MySpace page for new e-mails on his laptop, Hamboussi was playing around with the new Chocolate cell phone and MP3 player Maroulis received in the mail as a gift. Maroulis was looking at photos of himself online and complained that unauthorized shots of him taken by a Broadway photographer were being circulated. This was driving him nuts because they accentuated what he considers to be his double chin.

"It's so annoying to see it again and again and know you could have controlled it," he complained to Hamboussi. "How does someone like Angelina Jolie deal?"

Suddenly Hamboussi noticed that Maroulis had another brand-new cell phone sitting unopened in a box, which he also got for free.

"You should give me this phone," Hamboussi said.

"No," Maroulis said, quickly and definitively.

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