Dancing's Chaz Bono: The Support Has Been Overwhelming
Lacey Schwimmer, Chaz Bono
Chaz Bono wants to make it clear: He has not succumbed to the Dancing with the Stars injury curse. Despite lingering knee pain that forced his partner Lacey Schwimmer to change the choreography in their quickstep, the transgendered activist and author says he is not injured — nor is there fear of him getting injured. "My doctor doesn't seem terribly worried," he tells TVGuide.com. "They're feeling pretty good right now. Nothing's wrong with them. I've been icing them and massaging, [doing] a little physical therapy." The good news is that he next has the less physically demanding rumba. See what else he has to say about his knee pain, why it's important for him to go far on the show, and if his mom, Cher, will swing by.
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I hear your mom is worried about your knees.
Chaz Bono: Yeah, she's been helping out and has been sending some of the people who work on her when she's dancing and doing her shows. Things get blown out of proportion. I didn't have an injury or a tear or a rip or a break or anything. It's just literally I'm a 42-year-old guy who's overweight and who went from not dancing to dancing hours a day.
I feel like it's just a matter of you getting more in shape because you seem to have a natural dance ability.
Bono: Well, thank you! Yeah, it's a matter of your body just kind of getting used to being pounded on all the time. It's the kind of stuff athletes go through where things get inflamed and you don't have time to let it calm down. So it's hard. You're constantly battling swelling and soreness. But that's all it is. I have [lost weight] — I think about 12 pounds or so.
What was going through your mind when you were called safe and realized you weren't in the actual bottom two?
Bono: I was just really happy. Both of us didn't want to stop participating in this, so Lacey and I were just incredibly relieved. You hope that [your fans can save you]. Also, we were one point off three or four other couples, so it wasn't like we were way below. We knew we definitely had a chance to go home, but hoped we wouldn't. We were really thrilled the fans got us through.
You scored a 17 two weeks in a row. What are you working on to bump up that up next week?
Bono: Nothing in particular. We just want to do the best job we can. Every dance has its own technique and I think each of us contestants has our own strengths and weaknesses. [The rumba] will definitely be easier for me, physically, than the quickstep. It's slower and there's no skipping, and rehearsals are going well.
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What's been the hardest part? The pounding on your knees? Learning choreography?
Bono: I haven't really talked to everyone to get a consensus of how long it takes other people to memorize stuff, but definitely for me it's a process of slowly sinking into my brain. The scary part now is we only have five days to prepare. I don't have a lot of time for it to sink into my brain slowly. That probably [is the hardest] and just the difficulty of some of the faster dances.
Who's impressed you so far?
Bono: Everybody, to be honest. I'm not just saying that. I think everyone's doing the best they can. Everybody's really nice, really easy to get along with, has a great attitude. I have different relationships with everybody, but there's not one person who I don't really like. It's going to get harder and harder the next few weeks. We have a great cast with really cool people — no diva behavior. The other night, I was sitting with David [Arquette] and Kym [Johnson]. We were all freaking out and bummed out. I felt as bad for them as I did for myself. I love David. He's a great guy, so sweet and sensitive and funny and quirky. I didn't want see either of us go home!
There's obviously been a lot of "controversy" about your participation. Has that made it difficult concentrating on the show or do you not pay attention to that?
Bono: No, not at all. I'm really good at shutting all of that stuff out, so that doesn't affect me at all. I'm having a great time doing the show and nothing like that is going to ruin it for me. It's just challenging, again, because dancing is not something I'm used to doing.
What has the reaction from your fans and the transgendered community been like?
Bono: Very, very positive. It's a lot of positive support from fans who seem to be rooting for me and enjoying watching me dance. It's been overwhelming. I'm really grateful. I think the community is just happy to have a transgendered person on a show that gets that much exposure.
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How important is it for you and them to be on the show and to go far?
Bono: Well, I want to go as far as I can. I feel — especially for transgendered youth and people who are really struggling — me being on there is hopefully going to help them and other people hopefully understand transgendered people and treat us better. I can only do my best. I'm trying to take it a dance at a time and trying to go as far as I can. Obviously the longer I'm here, the better it'd be. Already I think me being on has been helpful to the community and I want to stay as long as possible.
When is your mom going to drop by?
Bono: You know, that's up to her. [Laughs] It doesn't have a lot to do with me. She does her own thing. ... She watches. As soon as the show's over, I get pages and pages of texts from her. It's crazy.
Does she vote?
Bono: She's voting too. Everybody's voting! We've got so many people voting; it's just great.
I think everyone's waiting for you to dance to one of her and your dad's songs. Any plans yet?
Bono: [Laughs] You'll just have to wait and see!