Bad cell phone service. Militant taxi drivers. Sudden fan encounters. Those are just some of the obstacles that threatened to derail TV Guide Online's interview with American Idol's afro wig-wearin', Hercules-squealin' Rickey Smith. The native Texan — who got the boot on last Wednesday's show — phoned us yesterday morning as he was leaving his hotel in midtown Manhattan to run some errands. In the midst of all the chaos, we quizzed Rickey on such hot topics as his surprising elimination, his post-Idol plans and the answer everyone wants to know.
TV Guide Online: You gave one of your better performances last week. Were you surprised you got voted out?
Rickey Smith:
I was shocked, because... (He begins to break up.)

TVGO: I'm losing you... (And suddenly, silence.) I've lost you. (At this point, the Fox publicist puts me on hold while she attempts to reconnect with Rickey. The Titanic theme goes on, and on, and on for approximately three minutes, until...)
Rickey:
Hello?

TVGO: Oh, that's better. Let me start over. Were you shocked you got voted off the show?
Rickey:
I was shocked, because I thought it was one of my better performances. But it's okay. I know I went out there and did my best. And this is just a stepping stone for many more things to come, hopefully.

TVGO: Any theories as to what might have happened?
Rickey:
No, I have no idea. (Rickey can be overheard giving directions to a taxi driver.) 14 Park avenue, between 54...Cabbie: 410 Park?Rickey: Yes sir!Cabbie: Ah, you said 14 first!Rickey: No, I'm sorry. It's 410. (He returns to the interview.) Hello?

TVGO: I'm still here. I had asked why you thought you got voted out.
Rickey:
I have no idea why I didn't make it through this round, but you know, I went out there and did my best. And I got good comments from every judge.

TVGO: What did they say?
Rickey:
They said, "You were robbed!"

TVGO: Many of our readers wrote in wanting to know where that whole "Hercules! Hercules!" thing came from.Rickey: It came from the movie The Nutty Professor with Eddie Murphy.

TVGO: What prompted you to say it?
Rickey:
I don't know. I was just happy that I made it to Hollywood. I was just excited, and the first thing that came out was, "Hercules! Hercules!"

TVGO: Do people pester you on the street about it?
Rickey:
(Laughing) Yeah. People were like, "Come on, say it for me!"

TVGO: Do you regret ever uttering those words?
Rickey:
No, but I didn't want to wear it out, because some people criticize you for the good things you do. A lot of people said, "Oh, he's corny." But it was meant in good fun. I was just happy to make it.

TVGO: Who was the little boy crying in the audience the night you got eliminated?
Rickey:
My little cousin.

TVGO: How's he doing now?
Rickey:
He's doing great.

TVGO: Did you give him a big hug afterwards?
Rickey:
Oh yeah, I gave him a great big hug.

TVGO: What's next for you?
Rickey:
I'm going to wait until the show ends and hopefully, go on tour with everyone. And from there, I'll see what my options are. Hopefully, I'll have some good job offers.

TVGO: I heard that you were contacted by a celeb. Which one?
Rickey:
Busta Rhymes called. He said, "Don't let this get you down. You did a great job."

TVGO: Something else our readers are dying to know is... (More taxicab chatter...)
Rickey:
(To cab driver) Is this 410?Cabbie: Next block!Rickey: Oh, the next one? Thank you. (Back to interview.) Okay, go ahead.

TVGO: Where are you en route to Rickey?
Rickey:
I'm trying to head to this bank so I can start up an account.

TVGO: Are you planning on staying in New York?
Rickey:
No. I'm leaving today. I'm just trying to get a bank account established pretty quick.

TVGO: Are you going home to Texas?
Rickey:
I'm headed to Kansas. I'm doing a concert with Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent... all of them. It's in Wichita, Kans., tomorrow. I don't know much about it. It just got set up, and they asked me if I wanted to do it.

TVGO: Are you going to perform?
Rickey:
Yeah. I think I'm going to be opening up for them.

TVGO: Wow. Okay, now back to the question everyone wants to know the answer to... (We're interrupted again by a sudden fan encounter inside the lobby of the bank.)
Rickey:
(To fan) I'm doing great, honey! Thank you! (The publicist asks Rickey to finish the interview before proceeding any further inside the bank.)

TVGO: Do you get recognized a lot?
Rickey:
Yeah, but I love it. These are good people.

TVGO: I just have one more question and then you can get back to your errands. A lot of people really want to know if there's any hanky panky going on in the American Idol house. Is there?
Rickey:
No. Nothing's going on.

TVGO: Bummer!