As America continues to recover from the latest season of Idol madness and all the David Cook/David Archuleta fever pitch mania, I took some time to look back at some of the Idol Alumni. There are several notable stories among many of its star studded class members but one of the most compelling stories is found among its first season’s finalists, Jim Verraros.
Jim was in the initial group of Idol hopefuls that included Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini. This first venture by American Idol was not the well oiled machine that it is now. Ryan Seacrest was not the only host back then. He had a co-host. It was what’s his name.
Jim was talented and good looking. He revealed in later interviews that he actually lost a lot of weight prior to his apperances in Idol. Verraros also knows sign language fluently. His parents are both deaf. They have never heard him sing. He has mentioned in interviews that they can feel the vibrations of his music. His understated way in which he describes his relationship and love for his parents reveals the very big heart of this young man.
In a 2005 interview with AfterElton.com, Verraros stated:
“My childhood was a lot different than most. I was raised by two deaf parents. I didn’t have that proverbial throwing of the Frisbee or the football in the yard with my father type of thing. I was busy answering phone calls for them and interpreting for them at dentist appointments and real estate closings with our family lawyer at a very young age. It’s all I’ve known. I’m not saying that I had zero childhood experiences, but the ones that are most memorable are helping my parents. I guess just the typical playground (games), hanging out on the monkey bars with my girls.”
Jim came in 9th in the finals that Idol season. What was also significant is that later on he also came out. He was the first openly gay Idol in a time when being out was not considered the wisest thing to do.
Since then he released a club music album called Roller Coaster. He also has starred in the gay comedy films Eating Out and Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds. Jim showed that he not only had musical talent but a real knack for acting and comedic timing. There is something that comes through his comedy brewed out of life experience. It comes from an honest place.
He has two films on the wings called Pizza Sunset and Butterfly, Butterfly.
One of the most enjoyable series of interviews that I have heard Jim participate in, are the ones he did for the award winning Feast of Fools podcast. His sense of humor really comes out and you get a real sense of who he is as a person. You can access those podcasts free at : http://www.feastoffools.net/ or download them on iTunes.
Jim has been recognized for his art and and has also received awards for his work in the gay community. He has been featured in different magazines and media outlets. His career is still in the making and there is so much more to come.
Jim has also returned to his American Idol roots in a way this past year by providing weekly commentary after the shows, along with co-host Penny Frulla. You can find their episodes on Youtube under Idol Chat with Jim and Penny.
In some ways, Jim is unassuming, but on a second look, you see a man who has achieved much from hard work. It has not been an easy road for him. He has talent, but he has shown fortitude and courage to be who he truly is- honestly before his public. Many celebrities have not had that courage. There is no closet for Verraros.
He may not think so, but he has done much for many who follow and look up at him. He may have only come in 9th in some singing contest, but in the game called Life, he is a winner. For a lot of us, he truly is our American Idol. Happy Pride, Jim!
Official web site of Jim Verraros: http://www.jimverraros.com/