“The X Factor Australia” has left one hopeful singer scarred after auditioning from the show. Michael Maiolo claims he was humiliated in the show after the judges – Ronan Keating, Kyle Sandilands, Natalie Imbruglia and Guy Sebastian – laughed in his face and called him “weird.”
Michael was just 22 when he decided to audition for the Channel 7 singing competition show in 2010, hoping to try his luck at stardom. However, it turned out to be a disastrous decision for him.
According to him, he was given little freedom in how he would present himself in the show; he wasn’t even given a lot of options in what he would be singing.
Michael, who is gay, was told not to disclose his sexual orientation, and to say that he was better than everyone else on the show. He was also given just two song options to practice for his number in front of the judges.
Contestants who audition in front of the judges have already passed two preliminary rounds prior. After Michael successfully went through both stages, he was asked to complete a “gruelling” questionnaire and pass a half an hour interview with a staff member.
“This time came to decide what song I would sing in front of the judges,” he recounted to news.com.au.
“The producers had given me two options: Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Heaven’ and Ronan Keating’s ‘If Tomorrow Never Comes’; I was told to practice these and that I would be contacted by phone in the next few days to find out when and where the recording of the judges audition would be.”
He did not want to sing Ronan’s song because it represents being in love with a female and was already recorded by one of the judges. However, he was told that he didn’t have a choice. He would have to sing whatever was picked by the executive producers or he would not be able to compete.
“I was also told it would be favourable to not disclose my sexual orientation until I was well and truly ‘safe’ in the competition.”
If Michael came off as arrogant during his audition, he claimed it was because he was instructed to act that way.
During an interview with a staff member, he was asked why he had the “X Factor,” but his answer didn’t convince the interviewer.
“He did not like my responses so called cut to the camera then told me that I need to sound convincing to the camera that I have the X Factor and that I am better than everybody else in the competition. I advised him that this isn’t my character and that I wouldn’t like viewers to perceive me this way.”
That wasn’t the worst part, though. During his actual audition on air, he saw Natalie “whispering in her fellow judges’ ears about me, then looking back at me, then laughing.” He was abruptly stopped while singing, and was booed by the other contestants’ families in the audience.
“The judges then called me ‘weird’ and ‘uncomfortable to watch.’”
Kyle, Natalie and Ronan were so mean in judging him that Guy had asked them to stop.
When his audition footage was aired, Michael was flooded with negative and bullying comments from viewers who found him “horrible.” He was threatened by strangers, and even his friends had left him. The professional singing reputation that he had spent years building also went down.
It was such an awful experience that he had been prescribed antidepressants from multiple doctors. He only thought to reveal his story now after he read about the 12-year-old girl who cried in front of the camera after she failed to turn the judges’ chairs at “The Voice Kids” audition.
He said, “I hope more and more people can come forward with their stories to show cruel viewers of these shows can be and the power of destroying lives on national television; I feel very passionately about this.”
Michael’s story came after Aussie rocker Dan Sultan blasted reality singing shows such as “The X Factor Australia” and “The Voice Australia” for humiliating their contestants.
“I think these shows are set up solely for humiliation and making money (from viewer vote) phone calls,” Dan told Confidential. “They do it under the guise of art, but it’s not art.”