Shawn Johnson and Mark Ballas
If you cringed when the Dancing with the Stars judges' called for more naughtiness in 17-year-old Shawn Johnson's dances, imagine how she felt. Will she be more naughty now? Find out her answer, as well as her thoughts on the dance-off and what she and "sister" Lil Kim have planned off the dance floor.
TVGuide.com: I have to say it was really nice to see you in a dress instead of a leotard.
Johnson: I know! I love it! I mean, what girl wouldn't like those dresses? They're gorgeous. It's exciting and Mark [Ballas] designs my dress every week.
TVGuide.com: Do pros usually do that?
Johnson: Some of them do. Mark's very hands-on on the whole thing. He's got a vision and he wants it to be perfect. He'll sit down with the person and he'll be like, "This is exactly what I want. I like this fabric and this cut." I mean, it's impressive! I was very shocked.
TVGuide.com: You got good scores the first two weeks. How would you rate your performances?
Shawn Johnson: I thought I did pretty good. The waltz was fun and we worked really hard on that for a while and I just was ready to go out there and do it. That was harder because you have so much adrenaline and stuff and it's such a smooth dance that it's hard to contain yourself. Whereas the salsa, you can use that adrenaline to kinda go crazy. I have the foxtrot next, which is a slow dance.
TVGuide.com: The judges said they wanted you to be more naughty, which I thought was weird. What were you thinking?
Johnson: I was a little bit shocked. I mean, ever since I've gotten to the show, the one thing everybody has said is, "We want to keep you young and look your age." So when they said that, I was like, "Well, I don't think I'm allowed to!" [Laughs] But Mark said we're not gonna go for naughty.
TVGuide.com: Did they forget you're 17?
Johnson: I dunno! It was weird.
TVGuide.com: How were you feeling going into the first elimination?
Johnson: Oh, I was nervous! [Laughs] I mean, the scores have a little to do with it, but it's really about the votes. When you're under that red light, you get so nervous. I was just glad they called my name second. I really had no idea who it was gonna be. Some people could've gotten higher scores than others, but a lot of people have a following. Steve [Wozniak] and Belinda [Carlisle] were both so sweet and lovable that you really had no idea. You become a family. We've been together for five weeks and got to know each other. Belinda was working really hard and loving every minute of it, and it was really sad to see her go.
TVGuide.com: Do you like the addition of the dance-off?
Johnson: Uh... I think it could go both ways. It's a little harsh, you know, just kinda putting the bottom two through more than is necessary. But also, if you make a mistake in your dance the night before, it gives you a second chance to perfect it and higher your score, so it could go either way.
TVGuide.com: What do you think of everyone now after two performances?
Johnson: Gilles [Marini] and Melissa, of course, were amazing. Steve-O didn't get to dance [the salsa], which was disappointing, but we got to see him rehearse a few times and his dance was amazing. We all wish he could've performed it. Ty [Murray] — I was so excited for him! He made a few mistakes the first week and he was so nervous going out. He was like, "They don't give out zeroes, do they?" [Laughs] We were like, "Aww." He's just a sweetheart. I'm just really happy to see him get through. Holly [Madison] is so much fun to be around, and so is Melissa. They're just a bundle of energy. I love it.
TVGuide.com: There's a lot of talk about Melissa's dance experience and whether or not that's fair. Do you think it's unfair?
Johnson: I honestly don't think I can give an opinion, just because I'm not a cheerleader or a dancer or anything. I don't know how it would transfer over or what experience she has. I don't know. I'm a gymnast and all I know is I can flip and that doesn't help anything. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Are you comfortable in heels yet?
Johnson: [Laughs] I'm getting there! It was definitely hard to begin with and it's still hard.
TVGuide.com: Is that why you tripped on the stairs the first night?
Johnson: [Laughs] Yeah. I'm clumsy! I thought I was gonna fall. It was scary, but Mark caught me. Everybody trips on the stairs and I broke the ice this season. I'm the first one to trip so everyone's like, "Oh, thank God it's not me!" I'm like, "Oh, whatever. I got it, guys."
TVGuide.com: Did that rattle you at all for your performance?
Johnson: A little. When I got down, all I remember was the trip and I totally blanked on anything else. It's funny because Ty also tripped that night and now we have a little ongoing joke: "OK, if I trip, you have to trip." [Laughs] But I guess we should really try not to trip!
TVGuide.com: You said you and Lil Kim are really tight. What have you been doing?
Johnson: We're going out to lunch this week. We haven't really had time to do too much because we were getting ready for the show, but we talk a lot during the shows and during dress rehearsals. Who would've thought? [Laughs] She said we're gonna take the tall ones down!