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Hang the C.J. 

Welcome to the world of a karaoke king

C.J. Rouse is the undisputed God of karaoke at Mary's in East Atlanta. More recently he's set up shop at Whiskey Peach and Da Spot. He has the quick wit of a Brit, a German surname and "a lot of Native American blood mixed in there somewhere," which lends itself to an opinion on the Georgia state flag. "Something that's related to Indians should be on there because they're the true Americans."

He looks like fictional bartender Isaac Washington, the smoothest man aboard TV's "The Love Boat," and he has an unusual set of pipes that enable him to belt out an uncanny Jackson 5-era Michael Jackson. Not bad for a 40-year-old man. When introducing a singer who would tackle The Bee Gees' "How Deep is Your Love" recently, C.J. told the audience: "About eight-and-a-half inches."

In a business that thrives off people who consider drinking an endurance sport, C.J. is like a nun in a whorehouse -- sipping only water and cranberry juice into the wee hours of the morning while he mans his station in the blue-glow of a computer screen. "I think one time the bartender spiked my cranberry juice. We had a really good show that night."

C.J. has rules: Don't scream excessively or twirl the mic and don't bother the DJ unless you are certain he lost your request. But karaoke, in practice, has no bounds. "White girls sing all the R&B, black girls sing all the country, and all the men are wimpy," he said. If you have no business behind a mic, C.J. is simply too discreet to tell you. But you'll get the hint. "There are some singers that I have to go to the bathroom to get away from."

Childhood heroes: Superman and Captain James T. Kirk.

A thought on being a karaoke DJ: "The music makes me happy."

Brushes with fame: C.J. has laid tracks for "American Idol's" first-cut finalist, the almost-famous Vanessa Olivarez, and his great uncle played guitar for James Brown.

If he loves anything more than singing, it would have to be computers, which would explain why he runs his mammoth song files on a laptop. His leanings toward technology proved to be a problem a few months ago when an over-eager crooner spilled a drink on the keyboard and effectively fried it. But the multi-talented C.J. was able to fix it.

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