A new kind of contestant representing Queens is hitting the stage tonight during the season premiere of America’s Got Talent.
Ira, a 32-year-old Astoria native and singer, is competing on the reality competition show, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary season and kicks off Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on NBC.
Along with his tunes, one thing makes Ira stands out from other competitors: he’s a puppet.
According to Ira, he grew up in Astoria and lived there for about 29 years before deciding to make the move to Los Angeles with his mother, who wanted to chase her dreams of being a singer. However, the dream then became Ira’s and after just singing as a favorite pastime, he decided to take it to the big stage.
“I thought it would be a great platform to not only share my singing with the world but also profess my love for Mel B,” Ira said about the decision to audition for “America’s Got Talent.” “I think she’s the most beautiful thing.”
During his performance, in which you never see the puppeteer who gives the puppet life, Ira will show the audience his love for classic rock songs.
He chose a song specifically for the former Spice Girl Mel B – who judges the show together with Howard Stern, Heidi Klum and Howie Mandel – and hopes it will be enough to get the yeses he needs to make it to the next round.
The Astoria native, who says he loved living in the western Queens neighborhood, said he enjoys living in Los Angeles because he doesn’t have to be outside waiting for the 7 train anymore but still is competing in honor of Queens.
“I hope all my old friends in Astoria are watching and rooting for me,” Ira said. “I’m kind of doing it for them and my mom and Mel B.”