By Anna Merlan
By Albert Samaha
By Tessa Stuart
By Anna Merlan
By Roy Edroso
By Carolyn Hughes
By Chuck Strouse
By Albert Samaha
"My sister can make me feel more like shit than anyone," he said, apropos of nothing.
A tanned Donny Osmond, wearing a black leather jacket less biker-friendly than the one Maroulis wears, appeared at the door. Osmond, who is currently appearing in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, was to perform after the Wedding Singercast, and Maroulis stood up to give him a hug.
Osmond hung out and joined in the discussion among the cast members.
"Carrie Underwood never warms up in her life," Maroulis said of the fourth-season Idol winner. "She's got like a really powerful instrumenta really supported sound. Never a voice lesson. She's just like drinking a soda before she goes on and then she goes out there and wails like 'Independence Day.' "
Maroulis's assessment intrigued Osmond. "Well, how old is Carrie?" Osmond asked.
"She's like 23 or 24 now," Maroulis said.
"That's why she can do it."
"Exactly. In a little while it will change."
"I'd hurt my voice if I did that," Osmond said.
"Bon Jovi now warms up hours before and after the show every night, you know?" Maroulis said.
Osmond had nothing to say about that.
Across the room, one of The Wedding Singer's female producers winked at Maroulis. "Are you excited?" she asked.
"For what?" he said, confused. "For this?"
She walked over and sat next to Maroulis on the couch.
"Yeah," she said.
"I'm always excited to rock," he said
After the performance Maroulis was picked up by a black Cadillac Escalade. As it drove down 42nd Street, Maroulis thought he saw someone he knew and rolled down the tinted window for a better look.
"Hey! Yo! Yo, man!" he shouted and waved at the guy on the sidewalk, who didn't look up.
"What the fuck is his name? He went to the Boston Conservatory. I forget his name." Maroulis waved a little more, to no avail. "He'd freak out if he saw me right now." But the man never looked Maroulis's way, and the Escalade continued down Broadway, its passenger left unnoticed and alone.
Maroulis won a rabid fan base during American Idol and keeps almost every letter, trinket, teddy bear, drawing, and photo he was ever given in his parents' basement in New Jersey, which he calls his own "little Graceland." One of his favorite possessions is a homemade booklet with his face on the cover that has poetry written by his fans. On one page, accompanying an onstage photo of his boot was a poem titled "Ode to Your Favorite Boots." It began like this:
He's put many miles on those soles
almost worn out the heals and toes
although he's now a lot more rich
don't think he's ready to give 'em the pitch
"One day when I'm unemployed and miserable," Maroulis said as he showed the poem to a visitor, "I can always look at that stuff and hopefully feel a little better about myself and what I once did and my contributions to society." But for now, he is staying busy with his career. After The Wedding Singer, Maroulis will continue working on recording his solo album, which he plans to release on his own label next year. He can be seen at the moment on five episodes of MTV's Little Talent Show as a singing judge. He hopes to soon join the cast of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, which is currently running Off-Broadway. He says he is also working on a documentary about his life that he claims will feature some "pretty substantial" celebrity appearances, though he won't identify them. "You'd be surprised at who watches Idol," he said.
Maroulis still struggles to understand why he was voted off American Idolso early, seemingly at the peak of his popularity. He said he believed he was going to the top and had friends close to the show who told him he was getting so many votes he had nothing to worry about. Not one for conspiracy theories, however, Maroulis mostly blames himself and wonders what he could have done differently. Throughout the show he had tried to show a progression and said he even held his talent back a bit in order to appear as though he were improving.
"I showed different layers," he said one day, as he was walking down 45th Street. "I showed I could do any style. I had different looks and took risks. I would go with eyeliner one week and my hair different and a great outfit. And everything matched. I coordinated everythingnot just the clothes but the style with what I was doing. If I was crooning one week I had on a great suit. If I was rocking, something else."
The song he had planned to do the week he ended up being voted off was U2's "Beautiful Day." But the day before he was to perform he was told the song wasn't cleared, and he had to go with a song he didn't know, "How You Remind Me" by the rock band Nickelback. "My mistake was trying to go back to that rock thing and people didn't respond too well," he said.