By Albert Samaha
By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
"You're not going to do anything with it. What are you going to do with it? You know in like two years it's going to be obsolete, so you might as well give it to me."
"Oh totally. There is potential for me to give that to you. There's potential."
"Show me your brand-new phone."
Maroulis held his up.
"Look! A BlackBerry. You don't need this piece of crap," Hamboussi said, referring to the free phone he wanted.
Maroulis seemed to be feeling embarrassed now and said in a quieter voice, "I like to have everything."
"What?" Hamboussi laughed.
"I'm OCD. I just like to have all my shit."
"I have a cheap Nokia phone. Look!" he said, placing the sad-looking phone on the counter. "I should have a nice, dope phone if I'm going to be the webmaster. Wait till you see the new design."
Finally the subject was dropped and Hamboussi took out a joint for them to share.
"I mean, whatever," Maroulis said as he took a drag off the joint, "if people think that's so terrible that I like, ooo . . . took a puff off a little joint. You know, I'm a fucking artist."
"Bill Clinton did it," Hamboussi said and simultaneously laughed hysterically and coughed. At around midnight, the two left the apartment after Maroulis sprayed it heavily with Lysol air freshener. Maroulis's driver was waiting for them and they sped off to Stereo.
"I've paid my dues." That is a phrase Maroulis employs often to explain that he is not a loser like the other American Idol losers. He believes the show merely helped him achieve the kind of success he deserved and would have perhaps reached on his ownif it were not so impossible to break into the entertainment industry as an unknown. His dues-paying includes a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater from the Boston Conservatory of Music, an apprenticeship at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, and a lead role in the international touring cast of Rent. He has also worked as a bartender and, right before joining American Idol, he rented apartments to "cute I-just-got-out-of-college girls" as a real estate broker. "And I was good at it too," he said. Another indicator for Maroulis that he is not a loser is that he was recently invited to appear on MTV's TRL, the day before the night out at Stereo.
Maroulis was going on the show to plug The Wedding Singer. He was wearing tight blue jeans with ripped black leather pockets, cowboy boots, and a white T-shirt that said "Decidedly Underdressed."
Maroulis had been excited to be there until he was told that the segment he would be doing would involve his mimicking the dance moves of three '80s music videos: Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark," the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian," and David Lee Roth's high kick in "Jump." This seemed to Maroulis to be an insensitive move on MTV's part, as millions may recall that he fell on national television when trying to make one of his famous rocker kicks at the camera during a Fox news segment about American Idol, or so he presumes.
Maroulis sat on a red velvet couch and watched TRL VJs Vanessa Minello and Susie Castillo on the large-screen TV. "Oh my gosh," Maroulis said. "Did they say me? They're like, 'We know he can sing, but can he move to some '80s music?' I'm like, Great, I'm going to fall on my ass again on national television." Maroulis had three guests in his entourage that day: a publicist from New Line Cinema, which did The Wedding Singer, and The Wedding Singer's composer Matthew Sklar and co-writer Chad Beguelin. They all laughed at his remark.
"I think I can say safely that these are the two hottest VJs ever on MTV," he went on, studying them on the monitor. He nervously fluffed his hair, cracked his knuckles, and began warming up his voice with some singing. After TRL he was going around the corner to the Hard Rock Cafe to sing for a live radio broadcast with members of The Wedding Singer. Maroulis then left the greenroom to dance in front of the two hottest VJs, a very enthusiastic studio audience of teenagers, and millions of viewers. When he returned to the greenroom everyone assured him he looked cool, even though this was obviously a lie, because no one on earth could walk like an Egyptian and look cool at the same time.
As Maroulis left MTV wearing Gucci aviator sunglasses, he briefly pouted for two paparazzi, who snapped several photos. He then climbed into a sedan to drive to the Hard Rock Cafe, even though it was only a couple of doors down. During the 90-second drive, Maroulis checked his BlackBerry, which was beginning to quickly fill up with messages from friends who had just seen him on TV.
He continued obsessively reading e-mails as he entered the Hard Rock Cafe's greenroom and took a seat on one of the black leather couches. Maroulis changed into his light-blue Wedding Singer T-shirt to match the six other cast members, who were there to help him perform his only big musical number in the show, "Single," a song about living the good life as a bachelor. Maroulis continued checking his BlackBerry and talked to a friend. He began to grow agitated as the consensus from family and friends was that his hair was in his face on TRL. But Maroulis had tried to put his hair in his face on purpose, he said, to hide the side view of his double chin.