By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated October 25, 2002 11:00 AM

Is this really how Kelly Clarkson got her start?

As New York temperatures dipped into the low 40s Thursday, thousands of aspirants — many with exposed midriffs — crowded the streets of the Financial District for their chance to try out for the second season of FOX’s “American Idol,” the show whose winner becomes a household name and the holder of a lucrative recording contract.

Auditions were held inside the temperate — and formerly staid — Regent Wall Street Hotel.

Not that every wannabe even made it inside, The New York Times notes. Because of the enormity of the turnout, organizers started dispersing bracelets Wednesday night to designate who would — and would not — get in the door.

By the time the tryouts started at 8 a.m. Thursday, all 1,800 bracelets were long gone, said the paper.

Some who didn’t make the cut broke into tears. Others were defiant. “I will not leave here,” Shandy Monte, 17, told The Times as cops patrolled the street and urged the disappointed to go home.

One young woman, hoisted above the crowd by friends, angrily belted out Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and was joined by a chorus of voices, said The Times, which noted that the normal Wall Street crowd seemed baffled by what was going on.

The tryouts were expected to continue through Saturday.

All told, there will be auditions in seven cities, culminating in about 150 participants being flown to Los Angeles in December in anticipation of the show’s second season premiere in January.