CAPE ELIZABETH Millions of hearts were broken Wednesday night, and at least three of them were in Cape Elizabeth.
Ninth-grader Greg Gulino and his parents, Barbara and Len Gulino, watched with baited breath as “American Idol” heartthrob Constantine Maroulis was voted off the Fox primetime show.
Arranging the family’s schedule around the reality hit was a priority, Barbara said, because Maroulis is her cousin.
“We’re obsessed (with the show),” she said. “We don’t answer the phone.”
At school, 15-year-old Greg, who is in the Life Skills program, has become famous for keeping signs taped to his wheelchair, walker and locker that urge everyone to “Vote for Constantine ... He’s my cousin!”
Now, the family is devastated, but tremendously inspired with Maroulis’ final performance, Gulino said. She woke Thursday morning to find e-mails pouring in from friends and family in Boston and New York. A long-time college friend contacted Gulino after the show.
“She told me both her 10- and 12-year-old daughters cried themselves to sleep last night. She told them, ‘Don’t worry. There are thousands of girls across America crying themselves to sleep and Hollywood hears all of them,’” her friend said.
Gulino feels this is just the beginning of Maroulis’ singing career.
“Good things are going to come his way,” she said.
Maroulis’ father and Barbara’s mother are siblings. She said there are eight cousins on her side of family and Maroulis, 29, is the youngest.
He grew up in New York City, a member of a traditional Greek-Orthodox family, and studied voice at Boston Conservatory. To participate in “American Idol,” Maroulis left his rock band, Pray for the Soul of Betty, which recently released its first album of the same name.
Maroulis auditioned for “American Idol” in Washington, D.C., and beat roughly 100,000 other contestants. He quickly become one of the most popular “Idol” contestants among young women.
“I’m happy for you that all the female fans love you,” judge Randy Jackson told Maroulis. “I’m glad you are a good-looking kid.”
Maroulis’ pouting performances were heavily based in theatrics and eye contact with fans and the camera. He was known for swinging the microphone stand. But his fate was hinted at after Tuesday night’s performance, which the judges considered his weakest.
“I felt like I was sitting in a bar at any town in America, not really caring who the singer was and (he) was mostly high on performing and low on vocals,” Jackson said.
Simon Cowell said Maroulis had crossed from the “dark side” to the “light” when he left his rock band for the pop-music show, and his rock performance this week fell flat.
“What came across to me is a very bad imitation of the original,” he said.
Paula Abdul enjoyed Maroulis’ moves, but said this was not her favorite song because it did not showcase his vocals. Although, she too, was taken by his charisma.
“‘American Idol’ is also about the overall amazing performance,” she said. “You are the one idol that that I feel gets to every genre effortlessly, without making it look like there is any difficulty. And so, what if it’s not the greatest song. You still are an amazing performer on the stage.”
Abdul cried Wednesday night when Maroulis was sent packing.
Maroulis graciously took the stringent criticism that Idol judges are known for, and thanked each of them for their words.
Back in Cape Elizabeth, Gulino was certain the criticism wouldn’t affect Maroulis’ standing. She said his fan base was nationwide.
“He’s Greek and I’m Greek and we have the whole Greek American community voting for him because we are a tight-knit group,” she said.
An Internet fan club called the GGGs --Greek God Groupie Thread -- is just one of several that posted more than 60,000 entries supporting Maroulis.
“We are very proud of him in his final performance,” Gulino said. "We didn’t anticipate that he would be voted off. We were shocked, but we thought that he handled it incredibly graciously. It was inspiring to see, under those stressful circumstances, how well he handled himself. It can be a lesson to all of us.”