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Arizona ‘Idol’ was once Phoenix stripper

Adult club owner: ‘He had the look and the type that people like’

David Hernandez

David Hernandez

“American Idol” contestant David Hernandez once entertained audiences by removing his clothes instead of singing tunes, a manager at a male strip club in Phoenix told The Associated Press.

The 24-year-old finalist from Glendale, Ariz., once worked as a stripper at Dick’s Cabaret, appearing fully nude and performing lap dances for the club’s “mostly male” clientele, club manager Gordy Bryan said Monday.

“He had the look and the type that people like, so he made pretty good money here,” Bryan said.

It’s not clear whether a history as a stripper could disqualify Hernandez from the competition. In 2003, finalist Frenchie Davis was dismissed because of her appearance on an adult Web site; but last year, Antonella Barba remained in the competition after racy photos of her surfaced on the Internet.

Fox spokeswomen Jill Hudson did not immediately return telephone calls seeking comment Monday.

According to Bryan, Hernandez steadily worked at the club for three years until September 30, 2007.

“He never renewed his licensing with the state, so he hasn’t been on my roster since then,” Bryan said.

Bryan said 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 club because of his participation in “American Idol.” Hernandez has never been referred to as a stripper or former stripper during the Fox singing competition.

Rumors of a stripper past — along with photos of a scantily clad Hernandez working as a bartender at gay nightclub Burn — were first posted last week on VoteForTheWorst.com, a site that encourages “Idol” viewers to vote for “the bad and truly entertaining contestants.”

“It was like moths to a flame,” said VoteForTheWorst.com founder Dave Della Terza. “As soon as I posted that, we started getting 10, 20 letters every single day from people saying, ‘Yeah, he’s a stripper in Phoenix.”‘

Terza and other members of VoteForTheWorst.com community scoured MySpace, Photobucket and other social networking and photo sharing sites to find information and images of Hernandez. Terza said he contacted the club to confirm the Internet chatter, but they never got back to him.

“They said they couldn’t give me a statement before talking to their lawyers,” said Terza.

Hernandez, who originally auditioned for “Idol” in San Diego on July 30, 2007, is in the Fox singing competition’s top 16 contestants. Last week, he earned rave reviews from the judges after his performance of The Temptations’ “Papa Was a Rolling Stone.” He is scheduled to perform with the other male contestants on Tuesday’s show.

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