Former councilman-turned-evangelical Larry Pegram is getting a lot of attention in the District 9 council race, while the candidacy of Robert Cortese, the second cousin of County Supervisor Dave Cortese, has not been getting much press. Which is somewhat surprising, since the 37-year-old Cortese is a nationwide star on the karaoke circuit.
Known near and far as the “The Grand Wizard of Karaoke,” Cortese has been manning the deck at at Bamboo 7 in San Jose’s Japantown since 2001. He is also famous for having invented the “AutoKDJ,” a comuter program beloved by karaoke jocks. He’s been quoted in the New York Times on the ancient Japanese art of singing along with pre-recorded music.
While he has not released any position papers on outsourcing or public-employee pensions, he has said publicly that his favorite song is “Yes, We Have No Bananas.”
Cortese can be found “KJing” at Bamboo 7 several nights a week. He notes that one of his proudest achievements was reprogramming the bar’s karaoke machine to be more “unbiased.” Apparently, all karaoke jockeys are not created equal, with many establishments favoring the young, short-skirted and fall-down-drunk over the dedicated, serious karaoke connoisseur. Cortese’s system takes a balanced, mathematical approach to song/performer selection. And that he says, makes him qualified to represent District 9.
One hitch in his plan is that cousin Dave has already publicity endorsed redevelopment chief Don Rocha, his former chief of staff. Though they share great grandfathers, Cortese says when Dave found out he was running, he told him “Sorry, I’m already endorsing Rocha.” Proving that blood isn’t thicker than vodka.
Dave hasn’t responded to Fly’s call for comment, by the way, but Rocha says Cortese “reaffirmed his commitment,” adding “I would hate to be in that situation.” Oh well. Perhaps Bob and Rep. Mike Honda (an avid karaoke enthusiast) can get together and have a sing-off? Fly recommends a personal juhachiban (karaoke favorite), Fergie’s “Fergalicious”...sing along now: “Fergalicious, definition, make them boys go loco…”