Jessica Shaw
March 16, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Has Mario Vazquez gotten more mileage out of quitting American Idol than he had if he would have stayed? The show itself is certainly milking his departure for publicity. Executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick gave a press conference Tuesday at which they said Vazquez’s reasons for quitting really were strictly personal (”We’ve made him a promise not to reveal what they are,” Lythgoe said), and that they didn’t include a competing record deal, since the former finalist is bound by a noncompete clause in his Idol contract until August.

Back home in New York, Vazquez’s media tour continued on Tuesday, including a stop at David Letterman’s Late Show, where he read a Top Ten list of the supposed reasons he left the contest. (In a nice meta-joke, he read just seven items, the last of which was, ”Screw it — I’m quitting this too,” then walked off.) He also spoke to EW’s Jessica Shaw, where he debunked more rumors about his decision, acknowledged disappointing his fans, and plotted his future career.

Dude, what happened?
It was a very hard decision on my part. Very hard. It came down to intuition, you know, that gut feeling with things. It broke down to essentially the competition just wasn?t for me.

Why not?
Because of reasons I?d like to hold private. There were so many different things. Personally I felt like the competition wasn?t right for me.

What?s the craziest rumor you?ve heard about your quitting?
Something about me joining P Diddy and the Big Family. I?m not going to comment on any of that. Rumors are crazy. If you come into this business thinking everything is always going to be okay, people are going to eat you up. You?ve got to expect rumors. If there weren?t any rumors, it would be boring. Plus, I?m from New York. I?ve got tough skin.

So you?re not a porn star?  Or a gay porn star?
Oh, my goodness. I?ve never done anything of the sort.

What about the rumor that Nikko Smith?s dad [Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith] paid you off?
Rumors are gonna be there. Personally, I didn?t feel it was right. My mother taught me to believe in my gut feeling and just take a step back and look at the big picture.  The [producers] at American Idol were disappointed, but they fully respected my privacy on the issue.

Have you talked to Simon, Randy, or Paula?
No, unfortunately. I would have liked to speak to them, but because of different issues I wasn?t able to. I?m sure I?m in their thoughts and they?re in mine as well.

Were you thinking it wasn?t right for you all along?
I enjoyed every moment of it, but it was one of the things I was thinking about. People have a right to change their minds.

Do you feel like you let your fans down?
Sometimes I feel like I let down my fans. They were expecting me to go the distance. For that I do feel kind of bad. I?m sympathetic. But my priorities are in check and I do what is best for me. You have to look out for yourself.

You?ve been everywhere since you quit — Letterman, Regis and Kelly. Is it going to be tough getting used to life without all that?
Who says it?s without it? I?m always aspiring in my career. I have always wanted to be a musician and successful one at that. Just because I left American Idol doesn?t mean it?s the last you?ve heard of Mario Vazquez.


So the rumors that you signed another recording contract?
They?re rumors.

At least say they?re false and end the speculation.
I?m just going to keep it as rumors. Rumors are rumors. They?re going to happen.

When will we be seeing Mario Vazquez again?
I hope in the near future. Some things I can?t talk about. In general, I always want to pursue singing. That?s my love and passion. I hope the public will take me in when the time comes.

(Additional reporting by Gary Susman)

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