"Idol" loser Danny Noriega stayed true to self

Fri Mar 7, 2008 7:21pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Danny Noriega, the flamboyant California teen controversially voted off TV talent show "American Idol," on Friday shrugged off his early departure saying he was glad he had remained true to himself.

Noriega, 18, failed to make it to the final 12 contestants on the No. 1 U.S. television show on Thursday night, sparking outrage from devoted fans and an Internet debate that he may have been a victim of homophobia.

Noriega declined to directly address the subject of his sexuality in a conference call with reporters on Friday, saying it was a private matter.

But he said it was important "to be yourself."

"I definitely was really, really different," he said.

"You can't please everybody and I guess the majority of the voters just didn't like me. That's that. I can't change myself for anybody. It's so important to be yourself in this competition," he said.

The teen was admired by many viewers for his sarcastic back chat with British judge Simon Cowell, who called one of his performances "grotesque."

But he also stirred controversy because of an old YouTube Christmas video message in which the heavily eye-linered Noriega wished Santa Claus would rape the mothers of viewers. Noriega dismissed the video as "so, like, forever ago," saying he made it when he was into acting.   Continued...

<p>Finalists (L-R) Carly Smithson, Kristy Lee Cook, David Cook, Ramiele Malubay, Jason Castro, Michael Johns, David Hernandez, Chikezie, Amanda Overmyer, Brooke White, Syesha Mercado and David Archuleta pose at the American Idol Top 12 party honoring the finalists in the 'American Idol" television reality series in Los Angeles, California March 6, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>