Monday, February 01, 2010

How It Started - My Americas's Got Talent Adventure I

I think it was 2005 when I received an email from America's Got Talent Sharon Nash inviting me to audition for the show's first season. How they got my name and email address, I don't know. I figure it may have been from somewhere I worked in Dallas or the Internet. I was working at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and that was a stormy employment relationship. I was not happy there so the temptation to go to Dallas was overpowering. I mentioned the email to my co-workers when I got it and they gave me a "yea right" look. This amused me because it was typical of the response I got from most people whereever I happened to have a day job.

I responded to the email and chose my preferred day to audition. At that time, we were able to make an appointment with a specific audition time. It was great because I would not have to stand outside waiting with those responding to the "cattle call".

My car needed repair. A radiator, I believe. If I fixed the car I would have no money to drive or fly there. Lack of money when I need money is a prevalent on-going theme in my life. After mentioning in a mass email to my joke receiving friends, a dear friend in Dallas came through. He works for American Airlines and magically managed to get me passage on stand-by. I arranged for some PTO, completed all the required paperwork for the show, arranged to stay with my friend Robert Hutchens in Oak Lawn, chose a song, packed, and my friend Jenny, neighbor and friend from North Beach drove me to the CC Airport. We got lost. After finding our way, she dropped me off. I was on time but there was an issue with the plane so I would have to wait for the next flight along with a whole class of students who were flying up to the Metroplex to compete in an event I cannot recall. We waited for some hours and finally we were all able to board. We flew direct so the flight lasted probably no more than an hour. When we arrived, I took a cab (can you say $70) to Oak Lawn Dallas, stopping to shop for a few things at a neighborhood convenience store I used to frequent when I lived there. It was owned by a very nice family from Nepal and it was great to see them. They asked about Gomez, one of my chihuahuas who used to come with me on my little shopping trips. They would dote on him whenever they saw him.

I made my way to Robert's place. He was at work. So after I found the hidden key, I made a bed for myself on the couch and slept as best I could as my mind was racing and my internal dialog would not stop. At some point, Robert came home, I met his friend Chris who was visiting from St. Louis, briefly said our hellos and he and Chris left me to cut some zzz's and went to his room to sleep and I dropped off again.

It seemed like a moment before it was time to wake. I got up, showered, dressed, put on a face and after Robert and Chris got ready, they drove me to the Hilton in North Dallas for the audition.

I chose Cucurrucucu, an old Mexican song, as my song to audition. I thought that being full of passion it would go beyond language barriers and since it required much skill to sing convincingly, would set me apart. The song is of lost love. A man loses his woman to death and he can't sleep, can't eat, and drinks endlessly. Every time he hears the coo-ing of a dove, he believes it's his lost love calling after him. It's a beautiful song I've loved since childhood.

I exited the car and in a tired daze walked to the Hotel entrance where there were about 25 people milling about. I was asked by someone with a badge if I had my paperwork and I said yes. They escorted me in and I found myself before another table. I presented my ID and my paperwork which was inspected and approved. I was told to take the stairs to the second floor and was told where the vocalist auditions were held. I hate stairs. I was met by Nigel at the foot of the stairs. I shyly said hello as I recognized him as Simon Cowell's business partner. I did take the time to notice what a tall and handsome guy he was. I slowly made my way up the stairs and made my way to my area. We sat in chairs lined up by the outside wall and all of us were quietly singing to ourselves and primping. We had 90 seconds to prove we were worthy.

One by one we were called in. I looked across the huge second floor as I waited my turn. I saw belly dancers, flying acrobats, River dancers, tap dancers, ballet dancers, jugglers, cheerleaders, and other choreographed dancers. I looked across the other direction to see what seemed like way too many people with guitars. They, too, strummed quietly and practiced with their singers.

Finally, it was my turn. I entered the audition room and stood on an X before a table of 3 judges and a large TV camera. The process was explained to me and I told them my age, name, residence city, and name of my song. I was told to start and I did my song for 90 seconds. I did okay. I hit all my notes and remembered all the words and sang a capella. Sharon Nash asked me what "Cucurrucucu" meant and I explained about the man who lost his lover and the sound the dove makes in Spanish. I never knew doves spoke English and Spanish. I was thanked and told I would be notified in 2 months if I made it to the show.

As I walked down the stairs to leave, I was stopped by Nigel. He asked if I was the one who sang in Spanish and I quietly admitted, that yes, I was. He then said they wanted to hear more. I was kind of stunned at this point. He guided me to another huge room filled with cameras and another large group of artists. I stood where they told me and watched a whip-cracker who used a whip to cut paper into increasingly smaller squares. Then he used 2 whips. He did all kinds of "tricks" with his whips and I wondered what chance I had competing with that. I then met a comic who claimed he was Carlos Mencia's cousin. I guess he could be, but how would I ever know?

I was directed to stand on another X in front of another big camera and did my song again. Again, no missed notes or forgotten lyrics. But I remembered I closed my eyes as I sang in some parts. It's a bad habit. I was thanked and this time, was told I would hear in a month and a half if I made it. I smiled and thanked them for the opportunity and walked outside to an even bigger awaiting crowd. More strange and diverse acts were gathered. These were people who hadn't completed their paperwork or were making calls or who know's what.

I called Robert who quickly picked me up. We ate Chinese food at a new place on Lemmon Avenue. We gossiped and caught up and before long it was time to go to the Airport. He dropped me off as I recalled the events of the last two days and pondered what would become of my job where it seemed they were just looking for reasons to hate me. This was the beginning of every job that's gone wrong in the Coastal Bend for me.

When I arrived in CC, dazed from the events of the trip, I took a taxi to work where I figured I could take a bus home. My boss, Mario Montelongo was stunned to see me and said I had to leave. I didn't understand why. He said they had sent me a letter telling me I was on administrative leave as they were investigating my job performance. I was stunned. I am a picky, skilled, overachiever who had taught HIM many computer skills he was lacking. I called my friend Marty to see if he could pick me up. (Marty was later murdered that year.) He picked me up and I told him all about my trip as we made our way to North Beach where we were neighbors.

While I was on administrative leave, I had my car repaired. It was cheaper than I thought it would be. I was later fired from A&M CC for no reason. They denied my application for Unemployment Benefits. I appealed and won. And with the back-benefits I was paid, bought the computer I am typing this blog on.

And that's how I started my America's Got Talent Adventure.

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