Karaoke King of D9

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…”

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Let’s hope D9 voters are smart enough to see that any attention paid to Pegram should be of the negative variety.  Larry Pegram is an offensive hate monger who cloaks his bigotry in the language of “morals” and “values.”  Hate is not a Christian value.

    • The mere fact that some of the more fringier liberals enjoy mischaracterizing Mr. Pegram and his work (“Larry Pegram started the Values Advocacy Council, an uber-conservative, ‘Christian values’ organization whose main mission is vilifying gays and lesbians,” according to the Democratic Underground site), hardly constitutes any valid reason not to consider his candidacy.  Certain elements within society believe its innately illegitimate for anyone who doesn’t share their worldview to even seek public office, let alone hold it, and thus when anyone tries to do so, a series of silly, childish, narrow-minded little epithets like “hate monger” and “bigot” are thoughtlessly and reflexively trotted out, in the hope they might scare people into voting against their best interests.

      Larry Pegram is supposed to be San Jose’s answer to Mussolini because he supported Proposition 8…just like nearly 53 percent of the voters of this state.  I know that my District 9 neighbourhood joined the majority of the California electorate in supporting Proposition 8, and I strongly suspect the whole of District 9 did so as well.  Sounds like Larry Pegram is a good fit for our district.

  2. Also, I think Harry Mavrogenes might be a bit surprised to read that Don Rocha is “redevelopment chief.”  Mavrogenes is the Executive Director of the SJRA.  Rocha is a development officer and not a part of executive staff.

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