|Birth name||James Conrad Verraros|
|Born||February 8, 1983|
|Origin||Crystal Lake, Illinois, United States|
James Conrad Verraros (born February 8, 1983) is an American singer/actor and native of Crystal Lake, Illinois who is most notable for being one of the top 10 finalists in the first season of American Idol. Because he was raised by deaf parents, he is fluent in American Sign Language.
On September 6, 2009, Verraros married his boyfriend Bill Brennan in a small ceremony in Illinois.
Verraros was born on February 8, 1983 in Crystal Lake, Illinois. His father, Nicholas, and mother, Debbie, both lost their hearing, after contracting German measles as infants. Verraros was raised to be fluent in American Sign Language. As a child, he carried the responsibility of interpreting for his parents - an experience that has shaped his relationships, as he has often related with people older than himself, more than he has with others his own age. Reflecting on his childhood, Verraros has said, "I had to do things like hold phone conversations and discuss things with doctors and even real estate agents. I had to become well-versed not only with sign language but with people skills as well...I didn't have time for bullshit."
Around the age of twelve or thirteen, Verraros realized that he was gay. Although he did not come out publicly until after adolescence, his sexual orientation was apparent to classmates, who bullied him during middle school. In response, he developed a more masculine appearance: "I changed my image. I wore a lot of baggy jeans, I gained weight, and it was fine for a while." He also sought help from the school psychologist. High school marked a more significant improvement for him - he became active in theater and went on to attend Monmouth College on a theater scholarship.
Upon later transferring to Columbia College, he struggled to find acting opportunities. Insecure about his image, he began working on his weight and became a vegetarian. Over the course of two and a half months, he lost eighty pounds. Some people thought that he developed an eating disorder, and in retrospect, Verraros has said that he probably did.
While attending Columbia College, one of Verarros' friends suggested that he audition for the first season of American Idol. Although Verraros was primarily interested in acting, he saw the opportunity as a good way to gain experience and tried out for fun. Attempting to stand out, he chose to sing "When I Fall in Love" by Nat King Cole, rather than a pop song. He was nineteen at the time and attended the Chicago auditions. All three judges enjoyed his performance and sent him through to the Hollywood rounds.
During his audition, Verraros signed the lyrics to his song. The show heavily focused on his parents' disabilities. According to The Advocate, some people speculated that Verraros was helped in the competition by sympathy votes.
Verraros reprised "When I Fall in Love" for the Top 30 semi-finals. Simon Cowell lambasted the performance, saying, "I think if you win this competition, we would have failed." Season one co-host Brian Dunkleman has since recounted overhearing the judges that night say that they were going to "nail Jim." After the performance, Verraros was offered reassurance by Dunkleman, who has said that he was then approached by the show's executive producer, Nigel Lythgoe. According to Dunkleman, Lythgoe took him backstage during the commercial break and raged against him for not further demoralizing Verraros.
Originally, both Verraros and Kelly Clarkson wanted to sing "Get Ready" for Top 10 Motown week. Verraros won a coin toss, but then realized that much of the song called to be sung in falsetto, which he was uncomfortable with. So he switched to "Easy", a song that he was unfamiliar with. The judges once again criticized his performance. That week was a double elimination, and Verraros received the second fewest number of votes, resulting in a ninth-place finish for him, ahead of EJay Day.
|Episode||Theme||Song choice||Original artist||Order||Result|
|Audition||Auditioner's Choice||"When I Fall in Love"||Nat King Cole||N/A||Advanced|
|Top 30||Contestant's Choice||"When I Fall in Love"||Nat King Cole||2||Advanced|
|Top 10||Motown||"Easy"||The Commodores||7||Eliminated|
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Verraros released his album Unsaid and Understood (2004) through the indie label Red Queen Music - Sound Axis. It won the 2004 Outmusic Award for Outstanding New Recording - Debut Male.
The album was revamped and picked up by Koch Records and released as Rollercoaster (2005), Verraros' mainstream debut, which garnered several dance floor hits, including the Top 25 Billboard Hot Club/Dance Chart hit "You Turn It On." The album was produced and co-written by Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Gabe Lopez and features four songs co-written by American Idol finalist Angela Peel. The album had a limited release deal through Koch Records.
On May 27, 2009, Verraros released two new singles "Touch (Don't U Want 2)" and "Electric Love" from his third album Do Not Disturb. Both songs were produced and written by Gabe Lopez.
As an actor, Verarros is a star of the 2004 gay-themed comedy Eating Out directed by Q. Allan Brocka and produced by Ariztical Entertainment, as well in the sequel, Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds. Verraros was considered for a role on the here! series Dante's Cove. Verraros has appeared four times on The Feast of Fools podcast - once in November and December 2006 and twice in January 2007.
Prior to competing on American Idol, Verraros kept an online journal, in which he was open about being gay. The Advocate, an American LGBT-interest magazine, discovered this journal and contacted Fox with a request to interview Verraros. One day later, the journal was deleted. Verraros publicly came out to the magazine in a January 2003 interview. He commented that the website was removed because Fox did not want him to gain an unfair advantage over the other contestants - the network had feared that people might vote for him on the basis of his sexual orientation. Verraros was open about his sexuality with the other American Idol finalists, whom he described as being very supportive. He came out to his mother and sister before auditioning for the show. However, he did not come out to his father until the time of the American Idol tour.
Another LGBT-interest magazine, Out, listed Verraros as one of 2002's Most Intriguing People. Verraros participated in the 2005 Los Angeles and Chicago Gay Pride parades. He also participated in a Kansas City pride parade with American Idol season two third place finalist Kimberley Locke.
In 2005, Verraros met Bill Brennan through Myspace. After learning that they only lived twenty minutes away from each other, the two of them decided to meet in person. Four years later, on September 6, 2009, they married each other in their home state of Illinois - despite gay marriage being illegal there at the time.
- American Idol Season 1 (2002) – Himself
- Eating Out (2004) – Kyle
- Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds (2006) – Kyle
- Another Gay Sequel: Gays Gone Wild! (2008) – Priest
- Copacabana (2013) – Flavio/Suzie
|Unsaid and Understood
|Do Not Disturb
- Ulrica Wihlborg (September 7, 2009). "Jim Verraros's Dream Wedding". People Magazine. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- Charles Mount (March 19, 1982). "Deaf and mute, she's seated on jury". Chicago-Tribune. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
- Jim Verraros. "Interview with Jim Verraros". Punk Globe Magazine (magazine). Interview with Ginger Coyote. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
- Andrew Davis (March 17, 2004). "An 'Idol' for All: Verraros". Windy City Times. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- Bruce C. Steele (January 21, 2003). "A teen Idol's dreams". The Advocate. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- "Biography". jimverraros.com. Retrieved July 30, 2014.
- Jay Laird (November 15, 2006). "Jim Verraros on "Eating Out 2 - Sloppy Seconds"". edgechicago.com. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- Verraros, Jim (December 26, 2007). "FOFA #417 – The Jim Verraros Comedy Hour" (Audio interview). Interview with Fausto Fernós; Gregg Shaprio; Marc Felion. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- American Idol. Season 1. Episode 1. June 11, 2002. Fox.
- American Idol. Season 1. Episode 3. June 18, 2002. Fox.
- Adam Todd Brown; Brian Dunkleman; David Huntsberger; Jeff May (2014). Life After Reality Television (Podcast). Cracked.com. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- American Idol. Season 1. Episode 10. July 16, 2002. Fox.
- American Idol. Season 1. Episode 11. July 17, 2002. Fox.
- "Idol gossip". The Advocate. September 3, 2002. Retrieved July 27, 2014.
- Lawrence Ferber (April 6, 2005). "Jim Verraros: Rollercoaster Life". Windy City Times. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- "Jim Verraros interview with PrideDC.com". dc.gopride.com. Archived from the original on July 22, 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- "Jim Verraros Joins ChicagoPride.com for Pride Parade". chicago.gopride.com. Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved September 24, 2014.
- Gina Serpe (September 9, 2009). "Idol Alum Jim Verraros Ties Knot With Boyfriend". E Online. Retrieved July 27, 2014.