LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Newly eliminated “American Idol” contestant Antonella Barba said on Friday the racy photographs that made her an Internet sensation were taken for personal use only and released without her consent.
Barba, 20, broke her silence about the latest sex scandal to hit U.S. TV’s most popular show during a conference call with reporters the day after she and three other contestants were voted off the talent competition.
Ground rules set by producers of Fox television’s smash hit prohibit participants from speaking directly to the media while they remain in the contest.
Without being specific, the former college student from New Jersey acknowledged for the first time that at least some of the photos that turned up online in recent weeks, showing her in various stages of undress, were authentic.
The photos included images of a young woman lying on her back covered in rose petals, posing in her underwear, sitting on a toilet and standing among a group of topless women at a beach, hands over their breasts. Others showed a woman performing oral sex on a man.
Online chat rooms and blogs were abuzz with “Idol” fans and Internet gawkers commenting on the photos after they appeared.
Through it all, Fox executives and producers kept silent, and no mention of the flap was made on the show until earlier this week, when judge Simon Cowell told Barba he thought she had handled herself well amid the media frenzy.
Barba said she found the controversy embarrassing and distracting but conceded that “my name is, I guess, more well known because of it.”
“The pictures that have been released of me, the ones that actually are me, they were very personal, and that is not how I intended to portray myself,” she said. “I’d rather promote myself in a more classy way.”
Barba, who advanced to this week’s round despite criticism from the show’s panel of celebrity judges over her voice, said the photos “are a part of my personal life that was exploited unintentionally and against my consent.”
A friend said Barba had some of the less-graphic photos taken for a calendar made for a boyfriend.
For now, Barba said she planned to stay in Los Angeles to pursue a singing career.
She denied being approached about posing for Playboy magazine and said she would not do it if asked. Pressed on whether she absolutely would rule out a Playboy shoot, Barba replied: “Well, you know what? Right now, I want to look at all the offers that I get and sort out what’s best for me.”