William Hung, the twenty-one-year-old American Idol reject who has become world famous for his herky-jerky, supremely weird and oddly alluring version of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs,” is a virgin. Celebrity being what it is these days, you’d think some hussy would have gotten him seconds after his celebrated January 27th Idol appearance, but so far he has managed to remain pure.
“When it’ll happen, nobody knows,” he recently said, sitting patio side at a cafeteria on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley, where he is a third-year civil-engineering student. He thought about this a little more, and then, in a voice quite loud enough to draw some attention, he said, “It all depends on meeting the right person, but I would prefer to get married before engaging in sexual activities.”
This makes Hung a bona fide dweeb, of course. And Idol hanging judge Simon Cowell may have said, “You can’t sing [and] you can’t dance,” and Hung may have been unpleasantly skewered on Saturday Night Live, and certain cruel newspaper folks may have written, “[He has only] enough talent to fill the knapsack of a gnat.” But he’s taking it all in stride and used it to springboard onto the Ellen DeGeneres Show (“I gave her a big hug”), Entertainment Tonight (“Incredible!”) and Dateline (“They were OK”).
“OK, so I’m not famous for the right reasons,” he said. “I’m infamous, a joke. It doesn’t make me feel good, because I’m a genuine person, but I don’t let it get to me, because I am who I am.”
Among other things, Hung is Chinese, moved from Hong Kong in 1993, doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t swear (“Though sometimes I do use the phrase, ‘What the heck is going on here?'”), flosses after he brushes, plays the Pokemon trading-card game every Sunday, will break into song on a municipal bus if so requested, has recorded an album (The True Idol, featuring “She Bangs,” another Martin hit “Shake Your Bon Bon” and Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is due April 6th on Koch/Fuse), and is planning to sue the bad people no doubt making a mint from sales of unauthorized Will Hung dolls. Furthermore, you won’t find him spiking his hair anytime soon, nor fixing up his buck teeth. “I’m always going to be,” he said, “just me.”
At around this time, a sociology major named Lauren — extremely cute, wearing shades and tight jeans — eased over and said, “I wasn’t listening to everything you just said, but I did overhear some things that were actually pretty profound and that I really respect. There are similarities to how I feel about myself — the fact that you don’t want to create a superficial image for yourself and that you have standards.”
“I can’t be anybody but myself,” said Hung, and a few moments later the couple were seen walking around campus, just the two of them, alone, him maybe having just met the right person a little sooner than he had thought.