Louie Cordero grew up in Orange County, reading his mother's copies of Hit Parader magazine and listening to a bedroom radio tuned each week to the "American Top 40" countdown.
Now, under the stage name Louie Louie, Cordero is on the hit parade himself. "Sittin' in the Lap of Luxury," the first single from the 25-year-old dance-pop singer's debut album, "The State I'm In," has moved quickly to No. 27 on the Billboard pop chart.
The song, which tells the story of a gigolo who finds true romance, is the first tangible success in Louie's focused, concerted quest to make it big.
"I guess I need gratification constantly. (Stardom) is the most incredible thing that could ever happen to somebody," said the handsome, athletically built singer. "Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be on TV or in the movies. It attracted me because if you're familiar to everybody in the world, it seems safer. I don't think people know me unless they see me perform."
Louie's quest to be known began in Southern California dance clubs, where his reputation as a flashy teen-age dancer landed him the role of leading man in the video for Madonna's 1984 song "Borderline." Louie says that Madonna and her managers were the first people in show business to encourage him to sing and write songs.
He was let down by some early setbacks, but made the best of them. "I kind of like to fail," he noted. "You have to have a lot of humbling experiences, because then you know where you come from."
Louie wrote or co-wrote all of "The State I'm In," moving beyond dance-pop cliches in songs like the gospel-funk title track, a spirited, propulsive rallying cry for positive change that recalls Prince's style.
"Anybody can write a song about pushing to the groove, or moving to the beat," Louie said. "I don't think songs about sex and dancing are enough. There should be a lesson in every song."