TV Article

Frenchie Toast

Booting Frenchie from ''American Idol'' isn't fair. The decision to eliminate one of the show's strongest competitors isn't just hypocritical -- it's bad TV, says Liane Bonin

Frenchie Davis, Nikki McKibbin, ... | DOUBLE STANDARD? Frenchie's past got her booted, but ex-stripper Nikki was allowed to compete
Image credit: Frenchie: J. Viles
DOUBLE STANDARD? Frenchie's past got her booted, but ex-stripper Nikki was allowed to compete

Booting Frenchie from ''American Idol'' isn't fair

In what has become a grand old reality TV tradition, yet another starry-eyed competitor has been exposed as a cash-starved hoochie. Frenchie Davis, the singer with a plus-size figure and an even larger talent, was eliminated from the semifinals of ''American Idol'' after acknowledging that she posed for topless photographs four years ago. Davis may be off the show for hitting such a low note, but it's Fox and ''American Idol'' who are the real losers in this round.

Granted, Davis picked a lulu of a smut purveyor when she decided to strip down: The website that hired her allegedly passes off their models as underage (Davis was 19 at the time her photos were taken). But Frenchie's hardly the only reality star to scratch around for her 15 minutes of fame in the gutter:

''Joe Millionaire'''s Sarah Kozer frolicked in fetish films, ''Survivor'' winner Brian Heidik did soft-core porn, and even last year's ''Idol'' finalist Nikki McKibbin proudly admitted to stripping for spending money (what, there were no open fry-cook positions at Burger King, people?). For Fox, the proud producers of such refined fare as ''Man vs. Beast'' and ''Joe Millionaire,'' to turn up their noses at a skeleton in Davis' closet is like Michael Jackson critiquing sister LaToya's nose job.

Davis' exit isn't simply disappointing. It also takes the fun out of what was fast becoming the most irresistible ''American Idol'' smackdown ever: packaging versus talent.

So far, some of the most impressive competitors have fallen outside of MTV's beautiful-people norm. Davis, Patrick Lake, Kimberley Locke, Ruben Studdard, and Clay Aiken (both Locke and Studdard have gone on to the next round) all are refreshingly different looking than the current crop of cookie-cutter shapes in the top 40. But with her neon hair, glitter eye shadow, and damn fine pipes, Davis aimed the biggest, loudest raspberry at what we've been told ''the public'' wants in their pop idols: a passable voice, canned dance moves, and six-pack abs.

If Davis had made it to the top three, who knows what ripples it might have caused in the increasingly ho-hum music world? Would a record exec pass over a second-rate Britney wannabe for a (gasp!) really good singer? Okay, maybe that's getting carried away. But Frenchie, we're gonna miss you.

Do you think Frenchie should have been voted off ''American Idol''?

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Originally posted Feb 17, 2003