He stepped up to the microphone with a slight swagger, stared moodily at the cameras and gave his best swivel of the hips.
With women clapping, if not swooning, the mayor of Annapolis began to croon "Love Me Tender." He was feeling a little sentimental, and a little bolder after his first song provoked calls for an encore.
OK, Elvis Presley he was not. But even if the crowd wasn't screaming, Al Hopkins won more than a polite round of applause.
"Isn't he adorable?" said Alderman Terrie DeGraff, the host of the event to raise money for her re-election campaign.
DeGraff, a Republican who represents the city's 7th Ward, kicked off an upcoming slate of political fund-raisers in style. She invited the mayor and a host of other local "celebrities" to participate in a karaoke Tuesday night.
Karaoke, which is Japanese for "without voice," is the latest entertainment rage, in which the lead vocal is stripped from a soundtrack, allowing amateurs to sing along with the music. The trendy staple at many malls and beaches has become quite the vogue with Annapolis politicos.
Jan Hardesty, always on top of what's hot, introduced city leaders to karaoke in March at a birthday party for her husband, Jerry, the owner of Middleton Tavern. DeGraff picked up on the idea for her first fund-raiser and printed fliers billing "A rockin', sockin' version of Annapolis Bandstand."
It wasn't your average fund-raiser, although the crowd of 50 stood around nibbling on snacks and sipping wine. But it was a preview to a summer full of events for the 1993 election.
nTC Alderman Carl Snowden, D-Ward 5, celebrated his birthday last night with some 500 guests, who also were contributing to his forthcoming campaign. And the mayor is planning another fund-raiser since his first one, scheduled at the Eisenhower Golf Course in Crownsville, was rained out.
In a rare moment of harmony, five of the city's aldermen sang in unison. DeGraff and Snowden joined Aldermen Dean Johnson, I-Ward 2, Ellen Moyer, D-Ward 8, and Ruth Gray, R-Ward 4, in belting out "Wild Thing." The rendition got a little shaky toward the end, but the quintet pulled out all the stops for the finale.
Annapolis Fire Chief Edward P. Sherlock Jr. was billed for "Ring of Fire." But the chief, criticized earlier this year for his handling of a sex scandal that rocked the department, instead chose Frank Sinatra's "That's Life."
"Each time I find myself lying flat on my face, I just pick myself up and get back in the race," Sherlock crooned.
The only one who bashfully stepped aside was County Executive Robert R. Neall. DeGraff joked that she had invited him to stop by and sing "I Shot the Sheriff." But Neall refused to take a shot at Sheriff Robert Pepersack, who has been mired in an ongoing feud with him and the County Council.