Tag Archives: America’s Got Talent

Nick Cannon visits Bayside children’s hospital for fundraiser


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Nick Cannon is giving St. Mary’s Hospital a dose of talent.

The comedian and host of “America’s Got Talent” recently became a board member of the children’s hospital and on Thursday he stopped by the Bayside facility to kick off a fundraiser.

“I visited a few years ago and hanging out with the kids really touched me,” he said, speaking at St. Mary’s. “Now I’m officially Dr. Cannon on the board.”

After that visit, he decided to join the board to help raise money for the thousands of severely disabled children that the hospital serves. The event,  A Tribute to Nick Cannon. started in the hospital on Thursday morning with guest musical performances by finalists from “America’s Got Talent” — Quintavious Johnson and Sons of Seredip. Miss. USA 2014 Nia Sanchez also visited during the event. The event will continue into the evening when Cannon and the other performers will be in Times Square with the children for a performance.

“I’m taking over Times Square,” he said, harkening back to “The Nick Cannon Show” where Cannon “takes over” various things like family or the military to make things better or set them right. In one episode, Cannon even takes over a hospital.

The hospital’s children sat in the lobby as various performers sang to the children about being comfortable with yourself even if you’re not perfect and other themes that resonated with the children.

The acoustic guitar-wielding duo Alternate Routes also performed for the children. Cannon introduced all of the groups and singers.

“The obstacles [the kids] had to overcome makes me feel like my problems are so small,” Cannon said. “The history of this place really drew me in.”

The hospital, which opened in 1870, relies on fundraisers for a large part of their funds, according to the hospital’s spokeswoman Maxine Mitchell. The staff are constantly treating the patients with various forms of physical therapy and musical therapy. But since Medicaid, the insurance most of the kids have, doesn’t cover such treatment, they depend on philanthropists and fundraisers to keep these programs running.

“A lot of our programs are strictly funded through event’s like today’s,” Mitchell said. “We’re very lucky to have someone like Nick Cannon join our board.”

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Queens ‘Glamazons’ to release new single


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Tina Jensen (photo by Noxie Studio Photography) / Kenya Morris (photo by Julianna Rusakiewicz)

Two Queens women are trying to sing their way to the top, proving that pop stardom comes in all sizes.

Astoria resident Tina Jensen and Kenya Morris, of St. Albans, are members of The Glamazons, a group of four sexy and voluptuous songstresses.

Formed in 2001, The Glamazons started performing in New York City clubs, but found national fame in the second season of “America’s Got Talent” in 2007, when they made it to the top eight.

Now, the original members are no longer performing with the group. Current members Jensen, Morris, Emma Craig and Megan Allen have been together for about one and a half years and will be releasing their first original single “Movie Star” on Tuesday.

“It’s a feel-good celebratory song,” Jensen said.


The 29-year-old always knew she wanted to be a performer growing up, but imagined herself in musical theater rather than singing pop songs.

At 18, she left Minnesota for New York City, where she studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and moved to western Queens seven years ago.

Though professionally she pursued musical theater in New York, starring off-Broadway, at home she would always sing pop songs.

“Growing up it was theater because I felt accepted in the theater,” she said. “I never thought I could be a pop star because I wasn’t a size zero.”

Jensen would also sing pop songs at competitions in New York City clubs. Around two years ago, it was at one of those clubs that she heard about a competition to be in The Glamazons. After six weeks of vying for a spot, she made it into the group.

Morris, 20, was in the same competition as Jensen, though she didn’t win.

The New Jersey native discovered The Glamazons through Twitter, where she connected with Meryl Sherwood, the group’s founder. Sherwood, who still works with The Glamazons, saw a YouTube video of Morris singing and encouraged her to enter the competition.

Later, Morris filled in during a Glamazons show and was then added as a permanent member in May 2013. The timing was perfect, Morris said, since she had recently moved to Queens to be closer to her grandfather.

“This is what every boy and every girl dreams of,” she said about their single coming out.

Singing was the easy part for Morris, who has been showing off her vocal talent since she was a young child. But she never had any formal dance training before The Glamazons.

“I was slow picking up the pace of everything but now I’m on the ball,” she said.

Jensen grew up taking dance lessons. Her biggest hurdle was showcasing her body through The Glamazon’s sexy moves.

“I’m finally able to embrace who I am and celebrate it,” she said.

The Glamazons have always been about more than just the music. They are also about body positivity and self-acceptance.

Photo by Julianna Rusakiewicz

The Glamazons, from left to right: Emma Craig, Megan Allen, Kenya Morris and Tina Jensen (Photo by Julianna Rusakiewicz)

Growing up, Morris would look at popular singers and think, “Can I really do this because I don’t see as much of me in the limelight?”

“I want the audience to feel inspired,” said Morris, who works as a plus-size model. “I want them to know that you can be any shape or size.”

But their message goes beyond body issues.

“It’s not just about your size. It’s about anyone who has been told no before,” Jensen said.

The Glamazons’ new single “Movie Star” will be available on iTunes on Oct. 14. The group also expects to release a music video for the song on Nov. 1. It will be available on their website, on YouTube and potentially as a free release on iTunes.

Next, they have plans for an EP.

Jensen, who, in addition to her theater work, is also a plus-size model, hopes The Glamazons can be her full-time gig one day.

“We may be broke and have to live in the street in Queens,” she said. “But we are going to keep performing with the group and spreading our message until we can no longer do it.”

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Forest Hills opera singer competing for America’s vote on ‘AGT’ this week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC


A Texas-born, afro-sporting woman who enjoys football and mixed martial arts is not who most people imagine when they think of an opera singer.

That viewpoint is exactly what Forest Hills resident Olanna Goudeau is trying to prove wrong.

Goudeau, 32, and musical partner Ashley Renée Watkins, 29, will be singing for America’s vote Tuesday night in the hopes of spreading opera to a larger audience and winning $1 million.

“People feel [opera] is not accessible and not familiar to them,” Goudeau said. “We kind of want to be ambassadors for the art form.”

The singing duo, Acte II, is one of 48 acts that made it to the season nine “America’s Got Talent” quarterfinals, where they get to appear live at Radio City Music Hall and compete for viewers’ votes.

The ladies received yeses from all four judges, Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel, in the NBC show’s season nine premiere on May 27. They were so impressed that Acte II was selected to go straight through to the live performances, bypassing a second audition in front of the judges.

Mel B surprised Goudeau with the exciting news at her Queens home.

“I was completely shocked,” Goudeau said. “I didn’t say hello or invite her in.”

Before making it to the reality show stage, Goudeau’s love for singing started in church and with gospel music. As she grew older, she was introduced to classical music. But her focus on singing and opera as a career came in college.

After switching from a computer science major to music, she thought her program would focus on jazz music, since she was attending Dillard University in New Orleans. But to her surprise, she learned the classics and her passion for opera was born.

It was also at Dillard that she met Watkins, but they didn’t become friends until Goudeau was working on her master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma and Watkins was one of several Dillard students the school hosted following Hurricane Katrina.

They grew closer when they both were a part of Opera New Jersey one summer. The idea for Acte II started as way for them to find more singing opportunities in Europe and to do a concert tour.

“We enjoyed singing together,” Goudeau said. “So we were like, why don’t we make this official?”

The name and the group came to represent more.

“We wanted to make our own opportunities,” Goudeau said. “It’s like a second phase in life.”

The same weekend they were set to have their first concert, at the First AME Church: Bethel in Harlem, where Goudeau is currently an artist-in-residence, “America’s Got Talent” was holding auditions.

“We were so nervous that [the judges] wouldn’t accept opera,” she said. The pair both had their “afros out” and dressed like “everyday people.”

The judges not only accepted the art form, but were surprised by their voices.

“That was a moment and that was your moment,” Mel B said, adding that the performance made the hair on her arms stand up.

On Tuesday they will need to garner the same reaction from viewers. And Goudeau, who moved to Queens six years ago to pursue her New York City opera dreams, is asking the borough to vote for one of their own.

“[My family has] embraced Queens so much. I just feel so comfortable here. It’s such a community,” she said. “I hope Queens people vote.”

To watch Acte II perform live on “America’s Got Talent,” tune in on Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 9 p.m. To find out how to vote, visit www.nbc.com/americas-got-talent/vote/methods.

UPDATE: Acte II was eliminated in the Wednesday, Aug. 6 episode of “America’s Got Talent.”  To watch Acte II’ s Tuesday night performance, watch the video below. For more information on the singers, visit acteii.com.

 

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WATCH: 93-year-old Rockaway man pulls pickup truck with teeth for ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judgement Week


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Eric Liebowitz/NBC


Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein proved on national television that he is still young enough to pull a pickup truck with his teeth, but was it enough to get him to the next round of “America’s Got Talent”?

In his second appearance on the NBC reality competition show Tuesday night, the 93-year-old tugged the approximately 5,000-pound vehicle along with his younger brother in the front seat and judges  judges Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern, and host Nick Cannon in the back.

“I’m here to prove that i’m the world’s greatest strongman—agewise or otherwise,” Greenstein said before performing for the judges.

EMS was standing by in case something happened to Greenstein. Mandel asked him if he was alright after he seemed out of breath following the stunt, but EMS personnel said the second-generation strongman had a good heart rate.

During the show’s season nine premiere on May 27, he used his choppers to pull a 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it. The feat earned yeses from Klum, Mel B and Mandel, and another audition during Judgement Week.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

That same sentiment may have been felt after his second performance, and on Wednesday’s episode he was not chosen as one of the 47 acts to perform live at Radio City Music Hall.

“It doesn’t disappoint me. I love doing it and I’ll keep on doing it as long as I keep going,” Greenstein said after learning he was cut.

Throughout the Judgement Week auditions, the judges kept expressing that it was a competitive season.

Greenstein was up against several impressive variety acts, some of which made it to live shows, including a man who performs feats of strength, 26-year-old JD Anderson.

If he had gone further in the competition  Greenstein would have liked to have tried to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years. But he’s happy to have just honored the legacy of his father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom.”

“I got my message across and that was my father’s memory,” he said.

Greenstein was not the only Queens resident to appear on the show this season. Roger “Rogue” Quan, a Briarwood magician who owns Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst, received four yeses from the judges on the July 1 episode. Though he did not make it onto the Judgement Week episodes and was not selected as one of the finalist for the live shows, Quan is thinking about auditioning for another season.

“I was really disappointed,” Quan said. “I already prepared my next four acts. Maybe I’ll try again next year.”

 

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Mini-documentary features ‘remarkable stories’ from Queens magic shop


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Michael “Six” Muldoon


America already knows he’s “Got Talent.” A new mini-documentary is now showing how one Queens magician has helped a pair of local tricksters and countless others through his shop.

“The Magic Man,” a six-minute film recently released on YouTube as part of Bacardi’s The Untameable Series, features Rogue Magic and Funshop on Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst.

The store is owned by 35-year-old Briarwood magician Roger “Rogue” Quan who appeared on the July 1 episode of “America’s Got Talent,” and also owns Rogue Magic Bar & Theatre in Rego Park.

Quan opened the store in 2000, and in addition to selling tricks, the business became like a sanctuary for local youngsters.

“I pushed these kids. If they needed money, needed a place to stay,” Quan said, he helped them out. “I created another family and they helped me out.”

Two of those people’s stories are the focus of “The Magic Man” — Ridgewood resident Michael “Six” Muldoon and Brooklyn native Devonte Rosero.

Both men have made careers out of magic after dealing with personal struggles.

At a young age, Muldoon, now 25, coped with having a sixth finger and weight issues. His Maspeth house burned downed when he was 11 and his parents separated around that time.

Muldoon found magic at about age 13, and bought his first trick from Quan’s store.

“It kind of became an addiction after that,” said Muldoon, who eventually started working at the shop.

Quan not only helped give Muldoon the confidence he needed, but also his stage name — ”Six.”

“He gave us a place to connect, to be open, to find ourselves,” Muldoon said.

After Muldoon nearly died from a ruptured spleen at 18, and was looking to give back, Rosero, who had just met the founder of Magicians Without Borders, suggested that Muldoon work with the organization.

Today, the two are still involved with the group, which travels to more than 30 countries “using magic to entertain, educate and empower.”

They also both started System 6 Magic, a company that produces playing cards and DVDs, and have each become accomplished performers and entrepreneurs.

Though he became interested in magic at an early age, in his teen years Rosero, now 24, started associating with local street gangs.

After landing in the hospital, Rosero received a call from Quan, whose shop he used to go to four or five years earlier, urging him to try out for a magic competition, he recalls in “The Magic Man.”

“If Rouge had not called me, I would be in jail or dead,” Rosero said.

The mini-documentary is not the first time Quan’s magic shop and some of the people it’s helped have been captured on film.

A full-length documentary called “The Magic Men,” featuring Rosero and another local magician, Miles Thorn, was screened at the Woodstock Film Festival in 2013. The film’s producer is trying to get it distributed for full release in New York City, according to Quan. He believes it may have been the reason the filmmakers behind the Bacardi piece came calling.

The aim of the Bacardi series is to tell “remarkable stories of irrepressible spirits from around the world.”

Some of that spirit is summed up in how Quan answers the question about why he does what he does in the documentary.

“Why do I do it? Because I want people to believe. That’s what magic’s all about.”

 

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WATCH: Queens magician performs staple gun Russian roulette on ‘America’s Got Talent,’ wows judges


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC


Queens magician Roger “Rogue” Quan took his chances with one out of four loaded staple guns on “America’s Got Talent” Tuesday night and four out of four judges loved it.

The Briarwood resident and owner of  Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst performed his staple gun Russian roulette routine on the July 1 episode.

Judge Mel B acted as an assistant, loading one industrial staple gun and shuffling it with three empty ones in a bag. Then, using her “woman’s intuition” she had to pick the three empty ones out of the bag and fire each of them at his temple.

“Do not trust me,” Mel B said as she was about to choose the third gun.

But Quan did trust her, and it was empty. Then, with the fourth gun, he stapled a photo of himself into a piece of wood.

The “dangerous magic” trick as Quan described it rendered Mel B and fellow judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern nervous during the performance and impressed at the finish.

But most importantly it left them wanting more.

“I haven’t seen anything like it. I thought you were fantastic. I want to see more of you,” Klum said.

“You entertained us. It was a great presentation. After seeing that I can’t wait to see you again and that’s how this works,” Stern said.

“It was the most fulfilling moment of my performing career,” Quan told The Queens Courier.

Quan is now slated to appear on Judgment Week later this month, where it will be decided which 48 acts will compete in the live show.

 

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Queens magician to perform on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC / Below photos courtesy of Roger “Rogue” Quan


Will Briarwood resident Roger “Rogue” Quan be able to work his magic on the “America’s Got Talent” judges this Tuesday night?

The 35-year-old owner of Rogue Magic and Funshop in Elmhurst will appear on the July 1 episode where he will perform a “dangerous magic” act.

Quan is not only aiming for the reality competition’s $1 million prize, but also hopes the show will help him become a world-known performer.

His passion for magic started when he was 6 years old and saw David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear.

“After that I guess I got bit by the magic bug,” Quan said.

He was soon asking his family to buy him magic tricks, reading books on the art and started performing for whoever wanted to watch, even charging for the shows.

Growing up in Queens, where he lived in Jackson Heights most of his life, magic was just a hobby for Quan.

Following college, the art major had several jobs, but “nothing made me totally happy but performing,” he said.

Quan then took to the streets to sell magic tricks out of a backpack and perform. He later moved the operation to his parent’s home, where people would also come to learn from him.

But Quan knew he needed a proper space and in 2000 found a Rego Park bookstore that had a counter he could use for his burgeoning business. After seven months, the store had to close down, and he decided it was time for his own store. But it wasn’t easy to find someone who would rent to a young man with a magic shop.

He eventually found an affordable space at his current location at 85-08 Queens Blvd., and opened his store in August 2000.

“I was like the king of Queens,” Quan said, describing his business when it first started.

With the Internet and competition from other stores, business is much tougher for his magic shop today, he admits.

“As technology progresses people have seen the bigger things in the world, and magic is pushed aside. It is hard to really impress people nowadays.”

In addition to selling magic tricks, magic performance DVDs, spy equipment and costumes, his store also provides magic classes, entertainers for hire, and has magic and comedy shows.  But he is now trying to transition the business into more of a magic school.

He also has another venture, the Rogue Magic Bar, which opened inside of Panda Asian Bistro in Rego Park this March. The bar, which is about “bringing Vegas to Queens,” features magically-served drinks, magic shows and other entertainment.

As Quan tries to promote his businesses, he is trying to boost his magic career, and “America’s Got Talent” could be his way to do it.

Friends and family were telling him to try out for the show for a long time, but a tweet from the show, saying they were looking for unique talent like him, finally persuaded him to go for it.

“I’m not a very competitive person,” he said.

Quan does everything from close-up to stage magic, including card tricks and illusions with levitation, but excels at magic that has an element of danger to it, which he performed for “America’s Got Talent” judges  Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel and Howard Stern.

“I really enjoy the danger magic because of the way people react. It’s priceless,” Quan said.

Quan is not the first Queens resident to appear on “America’s Got Talent” this season.

Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein , a 93-year-old Rockaway man, performed his strongman act on the season nine premiere last month, where he earned three out of four yeses from the judges.

To see how Quan did on the July 1 episode of “America’s Got Talent,” click here

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman moves on to next round of ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Rockaway strongman Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein pulled off enough yeses from the “America’s Got Talent” judges to earn another appearance on the reality competition show.

The 93-year-old was featured in the NBC program’s season nine premiere Tuesday night, where he pulled a Plymouth station wagon with his teeth.

He impressed judges Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel with his strength, but judge Howard Stern said no.

But three out of four was all Greenstein needed to go to Judgment Week, where he will audition again, and the judges will determine which 48 acts will compete in the live shows for America’s vote. Judgment Week will air in July.

Greenstein, wearing a “Mighty Atom & Sons 1940” t-shirt, in honor of his father, the first “Mighty Atom,” who became renowned for his strongman act, both shocked and amazed the audience when he revealed his talent.

“You might say I have been carrying on his legacy,” Greenstein said during an interview for the show.

Though he never made a career out of his strongman act like his father, Greenstein performed as a hobby, after doing shows during WWII all over the country.

“My dad would be very proud to see me doing things like this,” Greenstein said. “I hope the judges think of me as something extraordinary, especially at my age.”

In his younger days, he would bend iron bars, break chains and pull vehicles with his hair and teeth.

“The hair is no more, so I am still pulling with my teeth,” he said.

Greenstein said, even at 93, his teeth are all his own.

He used those choppers to pull the 3,500-pound station wagon, with his 84-year-old brother, his brother’s wife and his “lady friend,” inside of it.

With cheers of encouragement from the New York City audience, he towed the car a full-vehicle length and impressed the judges.

“That’s amazing at any age,” Mandel said.

But Stern turned him down because he felt Greenstein “needed more showmanship.”

The comment elicited boos from the audience and even host Nick Cannon.

Greenstein said in his next appearance he wants an open-back truck with about 20 to 30 people in the back of it.

If he goes further in the competition, the strongman told The Courier he would like to bend iron bars across the bridge of his nose, something he hasn’t done in almost 40 years.

“I feel with my mental capacity I can do it.”

 

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93-year-old Rockaway strongman to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Don’t let his age fool you.

At 93 years old, 5 feet 4 inches tall and 140 pounds, Rockaway resident Mike “Mighty Atom Jr.” Greenstein can pull a car with his teeth.

He will show off his feats of strength on the Season 9 premiere of “America’s Got Talent” next week.

The grandfather of three and great-grandfather of two is a second-generation strongman.

His father, Joseph, the first “Mighty Atom,” was a Polish immigrant who came to Texas and started working in the oil fields in the early 20th century, where Greenstein was born.

But, Joseph, with a belief that strength was also built from mental ability, a philosophy he passed onto his son, later started performing as a strongman, and became renowned for his act.

Greenstein, along with his four brothers, trained with his father, but he didn’t perform himself until he joined the service during WWII.

After his father performed for the men at a camp in North Carolina where Greenstein was teaching aviation, he was asked if he could do a strongman act.

Remembering his father’s training and borrowing his equipment, Greenstein agreed and continued the shows at other camps and in area towns to raise money for war bonds.

“I enjoyed entertaining and enjoyed the applause,” he said.

Greenstein never made a career out of the act like his father, and went on to be a mechanic for Trans World Airlines and a wedding photographer, but continued to do strongman shows on the side.

Part of his act would include putting chains around his chest and breaking them, lifting weights by hand and his teeth, and bending them across the bridge of his nose. One of the feats he still performs today is pulling cars and trucks with his teeth, which he says are “still his own.”

In recent years, the senior citizen’s strongman abilities have garnered attention through the media. After finding out about his skills, “America’s Got Talent” came calling, and Greenstein went out for an audition.

During the season premiere, at 8 p.m. Tuesday on NBC, he will show off his car-pulling skills in front of judges Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel.

Hosted by Nick Cannon, the reality competition showcases a range of performers, from singers to dancers, to jugglers and magicians. The winner receives a $1 million prize.

“As I grow older I enjoy it more that I can still do certain things,” Greenstein said.

“There is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”

To see how Greenstein did on the “America’s Got Talent” season premiere, click here

 

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‘America’s Got Talent’ comes to Queens


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

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“America’s Got Talent” came to Queens College on August 14 to film the act of Slackwire Sam on the college quad. President James Muyskens (standing) joined judges (left to right) Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Melanie Brown and Howie Mandel.

 

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Win front of the line passes for “America’s Got Talent” auditions


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

AGT

Ready for your shot at $1 million? NBC’s top-rated summer series “America’s Got Talent,” is heading to New York City to continue the nationwide search for season eight contestants with auditions on February 1 and 2 at St. John’s Center Studios (570 Washington Street, Manhattan).

Three lucky residents from Queens can enter for a chance to win “front of the line” passes, allowing them to skip the long audition lines.

Click here to enter.