There was Frank, there was Dean and now there’s . . . Sal. After spending the summer taping “America’s Got Talent” on the West coast, crooner Sal “The Voice” Valentinetti is back in Bethpage, where he’s become a bona fide celebrity after finishing as a finalist on the reality TV show.
“It’s tough when this thing happens overnight because your head can go places. But any time my girlfriend sees my head getting too big, she takes out the needle and pops it,” says Valentinetti, 21. “I’m happy they still remember me.”
Long Islanders not only remember Valentinetti, but they have made him a hot headliner. In the wake of the competition he landed a three-show gig at The Paramount in Huntington that starts Thursday, Dec. 15.
“When the first show sold out in 12 hours in pre-sale, I was speechless,” he says. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”
The Paramount didn’t expect that, either.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” Adam Ellis, the venue’s marketing director, says of Valentinetti’s drawing power. “Clearly there’s a lot of interest in Sal out here on the Island from people who want to see him live. We are always about supporting Long Island artists. As long as the demand is there, he would be on our short list to bring back.”
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TAKING A LEAP
These shows mark Valentinetti’s jump from performing at restaurants between courses of clam casino and chicken Parmesan to packing a 1,555-seat venue for three nights. He is even holding meet-and-greets before the show for $30 a pop.
“I like to meet the people who voted for me and give them a chance to say hello,” says Valentinetti. “They feel like they know me. That kind of connection is huge.”
Valentinetti put The Paramount shows together with his manager, Tommy Trance Perniciaro, hiring the seven-piece band Black Tie Brass and a team of dancers from Seaford Dance Center.
The 90-minute show will open with an overture followed by a mix of Christmas songs with Rat Pack-era standards and comical monologues from Valentinetti about his family, Sunday sauce and “AGT.” The stage will be shaped like a V and backed by a 20-foot video wall showing clips from “AGT” and retro TV shows.
“I think people will be shocked at what we were able to put together,” says Valentinetti. “It’s going to be huge.”
Valentinetti first made waves back in June, when he sang “My Way” during his "AGT" audition and judge Heidi Klum advanced him straight to the quarterfinals. Then he turned One Direction’s “Story of My Life” into a swing standard for his first performance on live prime-time TV.
“Heidi said, ‘You go out there and do whatever you want. Because when you do you, it works and the crowd loves it,’ ” Valentinetti recalls. “That was huge and it really stuck with me.”
Valentinetti advanced to the semifinals, where he dipped back into familiar territory performing Sinatra’s hit “That’s Life,” and then came the finals. But he says he knew he wasn’t going to win.
“The second I met Grace VanderWaal, I knew that she was going to win it all,” Valentinetti says. “It was clear she had the whole competition on lock.”
He was just happy to get to perform one more time.
“I wanted to sing ‘Mack the Knife,’ because it was the first song I sang for anybody ever,” Valentinetti says. “That song is so special to me.”
These days, Valentinetti is touring all over the country, opening for comedians Jay Leno and Joe Piscopo as well as doing corporate events. He will even sing a duet of “Santa Baby” with Klum on NBC’s “AGT” Christmas special Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.
“I never knew I could dream this big,” says Valentinetti. “I never even thought it could happen.”
As for recording an album, Valentinetti says he recently met with record executive Ron Alexenburg. Songwriters have been dropping off CDs at da-Angelo Pizzeria in Albertson, where Valentinetti used to deliver pies, hoping he will sing their songs.
Through it all, one of the best comments he ever received came from the man known for having the sharpest tongue — judge Simon Cowell.
“Simon came up to me and said, ‘Do me a favor? Never change!’ ” Valentinetti says. “I said, ‘Why would I? It got me this far.’ ”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Dec. 15, 16 and 22 at The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com
ADMISSION $25-$54.50 (limited tickets available)