His dim star fading even then, William Hung performed for the grand opening of a Planet Tan in late 2004. I know this happened because I was there. Though my nose subconsciously wrinkles remembering it, I regret nothing.
There’s no good justification for why someone goes to something like this. It’s like a pioneer family going to watch a stagecoach fire, or finding out someone who had a toilet mishap on national TV is going to willfully shit themselves in front of a brand new tanning salon. Sometimes you give in to the screeching primate side of you that wants to eat bad food and watch traffic collisions. And it was free when I was in college, and barely had rent money. Don’t imagine that was lost on me.
But even larded with rationalizations, it was a pretty sad way to spend a Saturday morning. Hung’s public persona, his very raison d’etre, was his ability to suck the air out of a room through the power of horrible singing. Seething black hole of talent that he was, the act of singing for hundreds of hours and projecting that voice to crowds started shaving off his voice’s worst and most feeble qualities. By the time Hung appeared before the crowd in Addison, Texas, he’d gone from Herald of the Apocalypse to Well-Fed Karaoke Guy. He wobbled around onstage to scattered applause, flanked by unpaid volunteer dancers, and sang under an overcast sky. After a few minutes the energy of the crowd was subdued. People shifted, and started to disperse or look for bathrooms. I left to get breakfast with my girlfriend. Hung released a Christmas album, then scampered back into oblivion. I hear he’s offering his services as an inspirational speaker, and wonder what kind of crowd that would draw these days.
Update: In an example asserting that there is neither mercy nor pity for past memories, this news struck today: at least for a few perilous minutes, he’s back.