There is life after American Idol — even if you finish in 12th place amid whispers that you've spent time bumping and grinding at a gay strip club.
Or so it appears for David Hernandez, the Valley native living in Los Angeles who was a seventh-season contestant. Hernandez has returned to Phoenix with Motown Memories, a revue that runs through April 30 at Scottsdale's Talking Stick Resort.
Hernandez, 27, is the star of the show, which features 90 minutes of hits by The Jackson 5, The O'Jays, and other stars of Motown's peak. Though most of the female audience members appear to be twice his age, they still swoon and shriek when Hernandez works his way into the crowd at the intimate theater to grab hands and sing into their faces. And he eats it up every night, gladly meeting fans after the show.
And, as you'd expect from someone who went through the meat grinder of an Idol publicity campaign, he says the right things — like how he enjoys Motown Memories, not just because of the people but because of the classic songs he's singing.
"Motown, I think, was the era of music where the most feeling was involved," Hernandez says. "That's where babies were made."
Whom Hernandez himself would like to have babies with — and whether they'd need to be adopted — remains a mystery. Even post-Adam Lambert, he refuses to comment on his sexuality or exotic dancing.
"I think what's hilarious to me is that we are so quick to judge people — it's our human nature — but when we take a look at ourselves, we are those people. We make mistakes; we're human. There are moments in our lives where we think, 'Okay, maybe that wasn't the best idea. Maybe I could have chosen something different.' But I am who I am because of those decisions."
These days, Hernandez has put drama behind him to laser-focus on his career, auditioning for acting roles when he's not recording music in L.A. He released a Christmas album in 2009, has been on several national tours, opened for John Legend at President Barack Obama's inauguration, and recorded a new version of Miley Cyrus' "The Climb," which is currently being used by Olympic gold medalist figure skater Evan Lysacek. Plus, there are still plans for a full-length album of original songs, as well as his involvement with the touring show Ballroom with a Twist. Hernandez isn't stopping anytime soon.
"People think fame happens so quickly, and really, it takes twice as long as you'd think it would," Hernandez says. "It's a constant hustle. No one's entitled to any amount of success."
That's why, though the crowd at Talking Stick might be a little more subdued than the screaming hysteria that is Idol, Hernandez is happy to be working at a job he's passionate about — and it shows.
The concert is what you'd expect from a casino show — lots of sequins and sparkly outfits, glittery backdrops, and choreography that borders on camp. But it's also a lot of fun, considering tickets are only $20 — buy one, get one free with a Player Rewards Club card.
The show itself is a one-of-a-kind production created just for Talking Stick Resort by its in-house musical director and producer. So, although Hernandez and crew may be singing standards, the cast is able to put its own stamp on the show. For Hernandez, that meant turning what was his least favorite song in the show, The Commodores' "Brick House," into something he could sell to the audience.
"It's actually become one of my favorite numbers in the show," Hernandez says. "Own it, walk it — if you have a horrible outfit on, just act like you love it."