From the first moment Jason Brock appeared on screen for “The X Factor” auditions, it was endearingly obvious that he was unlike any other contestant.
His glam-goth outfit and jet-black coif, wide smile, and amusingly incessant nervous chatter practically screamed I’m an original! The judges got it as soon as he started belting out a rafters-rocking version of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.” They loved the performance and performer.
Brock, a technical support associate from San Francisco, relished the glowing feedback and exclaimed on camera, “I’m going to win.”
Other performances followed. While the judges continued to be impressed by Brock as a singer and a personality, his wardrobe and the songs selected by his coach, LA Reid, got low marks. He was eliminated from the competition in the second week of live shows.
Spurred on by the experience and his love of music, Brock continues to entertain audiences. He will perform Friday in Palm Springs during a party at Skylark Hotel, the newly restored property once known as Camp Palm Springs (see event details below).
Prior to his first visit to the desert city, Brock shares with Desert Outlook what he learned from performing on television, getting grabby with co-host Mario Lopez and pursuing his dream as an openly gay musician.
What did you learn about being a performer from your experience on the show?
I learned that even when you think you’re doing fantastic, some people (Simon Cowell) won’t like it. But I also learned a lot more about how to perform on television — like looking at cameras and staging. I knew nothing about making a TV show like “The X-Factor” before, even though I have had plenty of theater and performance experience.
From your first appearance on the show, you made it known you were gay by mentioning your boyfriend. What was the reaction to your being openly gay?
Well, the Advocate wanted to interview me pretty quickly — that was cool. Many people compared me to Adam Lambert, which I think had to do with being gay in part. But there was never a negative reaction –oh, except on my YouTube videos. People said mean things about my sexuality there all the time — still do probably.
How will you know you’ve made it as “Mr. Entertainment” (nickname on the show)?
Well, I’ll know I’ve made it when I have a Grammy, a Tony, an Emmy and an Oscar. Yes, that’s my goal.
Who is your favorite diva?
Tina Turner, Anita Baker and Patti LaBelle are three of my favorites. It would be hard to say who is best and I idolize many other divas, too.
It was funny when after a performance you asked co-host Mario Lopez if you could pinch his butt. What, if anything, did he say to you about it later?
He said off-stage that he loved it. He is a good sport and nearly a friend. I’ve been a guest on his radio show and he tweets me fairly regularly. Oh, and I met his wife last week and apologized for harassing her husband. She just said “I love it!” And for that I love her — and Mario. They are totally chill people.
What have your former tech support co-workers said about your appearance on the show?
They are so happy for me. Everyone has been cheering me on, and I really appreciate the support. In fact, I have a New Year’s Eve cabaret at 7 p.m. in San Francisco and the CEO of my former employer is coming with his wife.
What will you perform at the Skylark Hotel event?
I’m going to do a couple of songs that I did on the show — including the most famous one I did, “New York State of Mind.” And you must hear my rendition of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.” You’ll never forget it.
Aside from performing, what are you looking forward to doing or seeing in Palm Springs?
I’m probably going to see my friend, Tom Orr, who’s doing his show, “Dirty Little Showtunes,” in town. Also, I keep hearing that as soon as I get off the plane that I’m going to feel an almost magical sense of relaxation. I can’t wait. Seriously, every gay guy I talk to tells me that Palm Springs is like their favorite city. So, I can’t wait to fall in love with it, sit by a pool and have a cocktail.
IF YOU GO
What: Skylark Hotel restoration party, featuring Jason Brock, Raja Gemini and more. Refreshments provided by The Crazy Coconut and hosted bar by Stoli Vodka.
When: 5-9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28
Where: Skylark Hotel, 1466 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs