Bikini Boy’s appearance on American Idol was a radio station stunt

Last night’s final American Idol 9 audition episode in Denver, at least before the audition clip show tonight, included “Bikini Boy” Ty Hemmerling, a man wearing a bikini. The judges left immediately when he started singing, leaving him to stand there and literally scratch his ass (watch it below).

But this wasn’t just a person auditioning in a wacky costume; showing his bits in a bikini was a bit, a radio station stunt, one the producers knew about. Hemmerling worked for 92.5 The Wolf in Denver and calls himself the station’s “intern-stunt guy,” although he went on to host his own show, at least until the station changed formats.

“One of the first questions they asked me on the first day was if I worked for he media. And before I could even answer, they said, ‘Don’t lie, because we’ll find out.’ So I said, ‘This is what I do,’” he told Westword. “They pretty much knew why I was there, and they made sure I knew that they knew — like, ‘You know why we’re putting you through, don’t you?’”

He got the idea because he’d previously done a bit in a bikini. A co-worker told him, “‘American Idol is coming to town. Let’s do something.’ And I’d done an earlier bit when I measured the snow at the Capitol lawn in a bikini — and because Bikini Girl got so much attention the year before, they thought, ‘Let’s see if we can get you through as Bikini Boy.’”

Ty also said producers promised him he’d see the judges if he promised not to play their game: “I wasn’t able to talk about it until after it aired. They said, ‘Keep your mouth shut. If you can do that, we’ll send you through.’”

Bikini Boy speaks!: Ty Hemmerling on his revealing American Idol performance [Westword]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.