Hair is holding an open casting and it is plagued by crazies from far and wide who don't really want to get to Broadway, they just want attention. Thanks American Idol, now instead of auditions, we have the freak parade.

The entire cast of Hair (including sexy star Gavin Creel) is headed to London so the show's producers have to recast the whole show. They started by holding a non-Equity audition turned food drive at the Public Theater, which started this morning and still goes until 6pm (quick, grab your headshots and a canned good!). About a thousand people were there waiting for their chance to live forever and learn how to fly, but a handful were there just to get laughed at. One wild-haired hopeful warbled out of tune while galloping up and down the line trying to get the serious singers to join in as he changed the lyrics to "Let the Sun Shine" to something about the food drive.

Ever since American Idol took over the American unconscious and started airing the horriblest of the horrible tryouts, all of its other "talent contest" impersonators started doing the same thing. This is why the first month of any of these competitive shows is a huge bore. Instead of getting a chance to meet the people who will honestly be competing, we bored by a bunch of attention-starved yahoos who we're going to forget about as soon as they leave the screen. And they continue to recruit them by giving them air time each year.

Sure, some of them are compelling characters: William Hung, whose awful "She Bangs" will live down in infamy, or "Sex" the long-haired dork who continues trying out for So You Think You Can Dance year after year with his unaccomplished shuffling and thrusting. The problem is, we don't watch a talent show to see the untalented. You can get that in any karaoke bar anywhere in the world or—unless you are Kelly Clarkson—by watching yourself singing in the mirror into your hairbrush.

The hook of Idol and all its designer imposter body sprays is not seeing people in funky costumes who suck as much as we do, but that it taps into the collective dream that we can be plucked out of obscurity to a life of fame and fortune. The problem with that dream is that it requires talent, practice, and discipline, things that are in as short a supply on this planet as Unobtainium. What's the next best thing? Willful wackiness. Though everyone shows up and tells the camera that they have a "song in their heart" or some other bullshit, the woefully untalented can't for a second be so self-deluded to think that they actually have a chance at making the finals. No, they are just in it to get some yuks and quick exposure and to waste everyone's time.

And that is the tragedy about what is going on at the Public Theater right now. For all those kids who have suffered through years of dance classes, singing lessons, and desperate, desperate longing, this really is their shot at having a career on stage. For the rest of the yahoos clogging up the works and making the line longer, it's just something silly to do on a Thursday afternoon. And if you really want everyone to giggle at you and get some exposure, send a video into the next casting of Tool Academy or Rock of Love and leave the talent shows to the truly talented.

[Images by Peter James Zielinski]