“How do you think the release of this video will affect the sales of your upcoming album?”
“I haven’t given it much thought, really. I leave sales up to management and the label,” Derek responds with ease.
It’s a sunny spring afternoon in Miami Beach when Derek Mendiola, the gay Marine whose career exploded in 2005 after he won a nationally televised singing contest, sits down for press interviews on the terrace of the Tides Hotel overlooking Ocean Drive. With his third studio album to be released within a week, he has done nothing but press during his short visit back to his hometown.
“I see. And when was the footage taken?” Mr. Guilfoyle probes.
“How is that relevant to this interview?”
Craig Guilfoyle, staff writer for X Weekly, ignores Derek’s objection to his line of questioning. It has been less than a month since a sex tape featuring Derek and a former boyfriend leaked and the singer has yet to comment publicly about it.
“Were you aware that you were being filmed?”
“Look, my job is to sell my record, not your magazine, so feel free to write whatever you want about anything else.”
Guilfoyle smirks. “It’s funny you mention record sales because there are some who say that you leaked the video yourself to make up for the poor performance of your first single. Would you like to address that instead?”
Derek’s mouth is shut, his jaw popping with agitation. He looks away from the table where they are sitting toward the tourists walking down Ocean Drive. The sun could not be any brighter, the air thicker. Derek wishes he could enjoy being back home. He turns back to Guilfoyle, who is waiting for an answer.
“Wow, so someone leaks a five minute video of me taking it up the ass and suddenly civility goes out the window?”
“Are you saying you had nothing to do with the release?” Guilfoyle asks.
This is the final interview Derek has scheduled for the day. He considers stonewalling until their time is up, but decides to ignore the advice of his publicist and engage.
“When’s the last time you had sex, Mr. Guilfoyle?” Derek asks.
Guilfoyle rolls his eyes. “Mr. Mendiola, if you don’t want to address the sex tape that’s fine, but you have to understand that it’s my job to ask these questions. I’m giving you the opportunity to set the record straight here.”
Derek looks at Guilfoyle in disbelief. “Sorry, but it’s not my job to tell you what you wanna hear.”
Guilfoyle laughs. “Do you really think I flew here from LA to jot down some talking points from your publicist about your record?”
Derek looks away for a few seconds then turns back to Guilfoyle, who is sitting quietly across the table waiting for a response. “I’ll tell you what. If you wanna capitalize off my exploits, you have to give me what I want first.”
“I don’t have to give you anything.”
“No, you don’t, but I have something you want. So, we can either sit here in silence until our time is up or you can play along.”
Guilfoyle looks at Derek with consternation. He is tempted to get up and leave, but he can’t go back to LA without an exclusive. “What do you want?”
Derek laughs in satisfaction. “I want you to suck my dick.”
Derek erupts into laughter. “Relax, Bro. I’m only kidding.”
“Well what the fuck do you want, then?”
“I want you to answer all of the questions I ask you. I will match every one of your answers with an answer of my own.”
Guilfoyle looks at him for a few seconds. A smirk slithers onto his face. “Okay, but I ask the first question.”
Derek reaches over the table and shakes Guilfoyle’s hand. “Shoot.”
“Did you leak your own sex tape for publicity?”
“No, I did not,” Derek says, matter-of-factly. “My turn.”
Guilfoyle begins to think he may have gotten the shorter end of the stick. “Go ahead.”
“Well, I’m assuming that you’ve seen the video in its entirety – you know, for research – and I’m curious about what you thought of my performance.”
Guilfoyle shakes his head the way a parent would when their teenager acts up. “I think you looked desperate.”
Derek laughs. “That’s not a review of my performance, Mr. Critic.”
“I agreed to give you an answer and I did. Now it’s my turn,” Guilfoyle responds.
“Were you aware that you were being filmed?”
“Yup,” Derek offers. “Have you ever had sex with another man?”
“Oh come on.”
“That’s not an answer, my friend.”
Guilfoyle is ready to wrap up. Derek’s admission is good enough to make his editor happy, but now he feels personally violated. “No, I haven’t. Now, how does it feel to be more famous for a tape of you being sodomized than for all of the mediocre songs you’ve recorded over the past few years?”
Derek is taken aback by the aggressive turn Guilfoyle has taken, but he doesn’t let on. He giggles, rubs the inside of his thigh, and looks up at his adversary. His initial inclination is to dodge the question with a sarcastic response, but he decides to play along instead. “Honestly, I mourn for the people that value voyeurism over art. More so, though, I loathe the people who perpetuate this false paradigm by sensationalizing things like celebrity sex tapes while ignoring matters of social importance.” Derek pauses. As much as it pains him, he decides that he will give Guilfoyle the true story just to get it off his chest. “I made that video with my boyfriend of five years the weekend before I left for my first tour in Iraq. I wanted him to have it while I was gone since we would have to spend the next year hiding our relationship from the military.” Derek wants to leave it at that, but he realizes that he has not addressed the leak. “We broke up a few months ago and I didn’t even remember that tape existed until I got a call from my manager about it a few weeks ago.”
Guilfoyle sits across the table without reacting. He knows celebrities to feign sincerity in interviews for their own purposes and can’t help but remain skeptical.
Derek is ripping a white cocktail napkin and staring at the pieces of paper piling up next to his sweaty glass of lemon water. “I’m sure the truth will put your readers to sleep, so feel free to print whatever you want. Call me a nympho, call me shameless or out of control, whatever sells… I really don’t care.”
The lack of eye contact lets Guilfoyle know that he has gotten all that he will get out of Derek. “I think I have all I need here. Don’t forget to check out next week’s issue of X.”
“I don’t read X,” Derek says. He walks down the front steps of the art deco hotel without acknowledging Guilfoyle again.
Crossing the street toward Lummus Park, he takes off his shirt, revealing his tan torso. He has a USMC tattoo on his vascular arm, a six pack and a platinum crucifix hanging around his neck. Within seconds, he is lost in the flashes of cameras and crowds of tourists.
A few days later, Derek is back in Los Angeles rehearsing for the countless performances he would give on most of the major networks when his publicist, Geraldine Micheals, calls.
“I’m gonna take five,” he says, and steps outside to take the call.
“Great news, D. You look fabulous on the cover of X this week. I just picked it up on my way to the office. Those abs… Hot!”
Derek wonders what angle Guilfoyle decided to take with the cover story. “What about the review?” he asks.
“Right, right. Before we talk about that let me ask you a question: what exactly did you say to Guilfoyle during the interview?”
Derek freezes like a kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. “Why?”
“Well, he doesn’t seem to like you very much, so I’m gonna assume you didn’t stick to the talking points I sent you earlier that day.”
“The guy wouldn’t shut the fuck up about the tape.”
“Oh God, please don’t tell me you hit him, Derek. I’m running out of excuses for you here. I mean, we love publicity, but you can’t be portrayed as violent anymore. The public will turn on you and move onto a less aggressive bad boy. We discussed this last time, remember?”
“I didn’t hit him.”
“Well you must have done something to set this guy off. He did everything but post a picture of himself taking a shit on your CD. I mean, it’s not like anyone is gonna actually read the review, thanks to the photo spread, but Jeez. He went for the jugular.”
“Well, I don’t care what that low life thinks about me,” Derek says. He hears another phone ring on Geraldine’s end.
“That’s good, Honey. I’ll let you get back to rehearsals, then. I have New York on the other line. Ciao, Caio!”
“Bye.” Derek walks over to the black SUV he came in and pulls his laptop out of a gym bag to check out X online. He knows that he could have handled the interview better, but he had hoped that his sincerity would show the guy that he was a normal person just like everyone else.
Mendiola Delivers Another Platinum Bomb
Review by Craig Guilfoyle
It comes as no surprise to most that the release of Derek Mendiola’s latest musical endeavor, Shut the F**k up and Listen, coincides with the leak of another, less artistic, Mendiola release. I was asked to sit down with the star to discuss the new album in Miami.
Unfortunately, it seems that Mendiola was not as interested in discussing the record as he was his sexual exploits. And after hearing the record, which Z Entertainment made sure did not leak prior to its release date, I understood why.
This album follows the same formula for pop mediocrity as Mendiola’s previous lackluster attempts: a single with beats from the latest ‘it’ producer, a mediocre cover of a song made famous by a female vocalist and nine or ten album fillers. The material that Derek presents would not have been acceptable as a B-side by any other male vocalist. However, every other make vocalist out there does not have the media coverage and Internet notoriety that Mendiola does.
It is clear that the success of his music can only be attributed to people’s fascination with his public indiscretions and the media coverage that follows. Hardly a news cycle goes by without mention of his antics. His music, however, generally slips under the radar.
I feel it is beneath the integrity of this publication to actually dignify the record with more than one star. I would not give it a single star if it meant that someone would opt out of buying another album to give this one a chance. There are dozens of truly gifted musicians who cannot break because every entertainment news outlet is too busy vying for more news about Derek Mendiola, the celebrity.
If Mendiola really wanted to make a decent record, he would take from all of these sensational experiences we are forced to hear about ad nauseum and express himself through music, not his sexual dalliances. Being a celebrity and having decent sales opening week with a minimal investment in marketing should not green light an album like this.
I refuse to review another Derek Mendiola album until he decides to take music seriously and put out material worthy of its distribution, not only because it liberates me from throwing away another forty five minutes of my life, but because he represents everything that makes pop music reprehensible to anyone with an ear.
Hey Derek, why don’t you shut the f**k up until you have a decent album to release?
After reading the review, Derek sits on the black asphalt of the parking lot and takes in everything that Guilfoyle wrote. His first inclination is to get him on the phone and challenge him to say all of that to his face, but then he remembers what Geri told him about fighting.
Derek closes his laptop and grabs his mobile phone. He wants to call Geraldine back and figure out how to go after Guilfoyle, but he realizes that going after his critics and creating yet another public spectacle would only play into his game.
He opens the computer instead and re-reads the review. Derek has spent most of his career fighting for the opportunity to release his own songs, but his label insists on having him stick to formulaic pop written by up-and-coming producers to please his young fanbase. He has never felt more alone and frustrated both personally and artistically.
He closes his computer again, and instead of reaching for a phone to call the media, he grabs his guitar. He begins to strum the chords that speak to his soul – none of which appear on any of his records.
His five minute break from rehearsal is almost gone and the idea of going on every network to perform songs that mean nothing to him makes him want to run away from the whole thing and get a job at a VA hospital, writing music on his guitar in his spare time. Then he remembers the contracts he has signed with labels, concert promoters, radio stations, agents and management. His sadness quickly turns to anger.
Before going back into the rehearsal space, he places his laptop in the middle of the parking lot, picks up his acoustic guitar and begins to smash his computer with it. Still somewhat intact, he grabs the laptop and hurls it against the white exterior wall of the building, chipping some of the plaster and shattering the computer screen. His guitar strings are broken, so he rips them off and uses the neck of the guitar to smash the body until he is standing above yet another mess.
“Yo, we need you back onstage, Bro,” his tour manager says, completely ignoring the shards of wood and silicone chips that surround the star.
“Alright,” Derek says calmly. Before going back in, he kneels down and sorts through the pieces of his laptop until he finds the hard drive. He walks back to the SUV and places it in his gym bag, then walks back into rehearsal. “Can you have somebody clean that up before I’m done with rehearsal, please?”
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