Stacy Francis, one of the Top 12 finalists on “The X Factor” U.S. in 2011, has been the subject of a lot of debate and controversy over how truthful she has been about her past. Her first ex-husband has now come forward (for his first interview since the controversy began) to deny that he is the abusive ex that Francis has discussed in her “X Factor” interviews.
Francis, 42, has been married more than once. Her first marriage to music producer/musician Michael Sandlofer, 41, was annulled in 2000 after less than a year of marriage. They had dated for four years before getting married, and they did not have any kids together. Her second marriage (to a man whose identity has not been made public) ended in divorce. She is the mother of a 3-year-old son and an infant daughter.
In interviews televised on “The X Factor” U.S., Francis described being in a relationship with a man (whom she did not name but whom she said was an ex-husband) who abused her and constantly told her that she was too old to try to make it big in the music business. She said she was in the relationship with the man when she was in her late 20s to early 30s, which is the same period of time that she was in a relationship with Sandlofer. Francis claimed that this man pushed her around and told her that she had no talent. She also said that while she was in this abusive relationship, she lost faith in herself.
(Click here to watch Francis’ televised “X Factor” audition interview.)
Gossip blogger Perez Hilton has been her most vocal critic in the media. He has written several scathing articles about Francis in which he has called her a liar for giving conflicting stories about how much she has really worked as a singer in the past 20 years.
Francis has publicly denied many times that she ever lied about her past experience, which has included roles in Broadway and West End productions. From 1989 to 1995, she was also in an all-female singing group called Ex-Girlfriend that released two albums on Reprise Records. (Ex-Girlfriend reunited in 2008, and the group released a third album in 2010 that flopped.) Francis, who is a Scientologist, was also hired to perform at the 2004 birthday party for Tom Cruise, who is the world’s most famous Scientologist.
In an exclusive interview with The Village Voice, Sandlofer said that he is not the ex-husband whom Francis has been describing as her abuser. Sandlofer also denies Francis’ allegation (which she made in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter) that he has been conspiring with Hilton to ruin her reputation. Hilton has also denied this allegation.
Sandlofer told The Village Voice that when he first met Francis, she was already an experienced performer:
“She had done several stage shows. She had sung backup to Chaka Khan. She was a seasoned Broadway veteran.”
Sandlofer described Francis as ambitious, talented, and attracted to his family’s stability because she came from a broken family in which she was not raised by her biological parents.
“The true story is that she wasn’t raised by her mother, but by another woman who was in her 80s. To this day her biological mother won’t tell her who her biological father is. She could have told that story, but I guess she leaned a different way …
He also stated that one of the reasons why his marriage to Francis ended was because he left her after she cheated on him with the man who would become her second husband.
“I took my car away, and I left her. I had given her a ring that was appraised for more than 60 grand, and I didn’t ask for it back. I left her a furnished apartment. I only took the car and went back to my family. That was it. I totally supported her. Did we have pissing matches? Like anyone else. But I never laid a hand on her. None of that. And her story, her people, keep changing their story, that it was physical or verbal abuse she went through.”
According to The Village Voice, Sandlofer and his current wife have been married for the past 10 years, and they have two sons together. In the Village Voice interview, Sandlofer said that after his marriage to Francis ended, their contact with each other was mostly cordial. However, he wanted to do the interview to clear his name because people think that he is the abuser that Francis keeps saying was one of the reasons why she lost faith in herself.
“I hoped she hadn’t been abused, and I assumed she was talking about someone else. But the talk online keeps pointing at me. I think it would be a legal issue for her if she used my name publicly. I hope she doesn’t do that. I have to defend what I know. And I know how serious domestic violence is, and I’m not with that. To be potentially accused of that is gross.”
As for Francis’ chances of winning on “The X Factor,” Sandlofer had this to say:
“I know where it’s going to end up. Unfortunately for her, she’s not going to win, and she’s not going to be one of those artists who don’t win and still end up huge. She’s made it to the top 12. There’s true talent on there that supersedes her. But I’m glad she has a fan base. If she had told her story the right way from the beginning, and hadn’t talked about me in a totally false way, I would have been happy for her. I love her voice for the stage, but is it good for what they’re talking about it, a pop star? She’s wonderful on Broadway, but I’m not sure how else to put it.”
Sandlofer also defended Hilton’s harsh criticism of Francis:
“I appreciate that Perez Hilton is sticking to his guns. He’s not saying she’s a bad singer, but she’s lying about her story. The original story from the trailer was so misleading. She seemed to be saying that some guy had abused her and left her with two kids. So people were asking me, did I abuse her, and did I have two kids with her? It was confusing.”
“The X Factor” U.S. executive producer/judge Simon Cowell has told the media that the public “could care less” about Francis having previous experience as a singer and that the show has no rule that bans contestants who have had past record deals or extensive experience in the entertainment business. “The X Factor” U.S. judge Nicole Scherzinger, who is Francis’ mentor on the show, has also dismissed the controversy as something that does not affect Francis’ eligibility to be on the show.
“The X Factor” U.S. is a contest for solo singers, duos and groups that are currently unsigned. Contestants eligible to be on “The X Factor” U.S. must also be at least 12 years old, legal U.S. residents and legally able to work in the United States.
Sandlofer admits that he has mixed feelings about how Cowell should handle the controversy over Francis:
“Part of me says, who cares what Simon thinks, but on the other hand, should he allow someone to lie about something so serious as domestic violence? Ultimately, though, Stacy is responsible. She’s the one dishing the story.”