No celeb on Dancing with the Stars appears to have as much fun as John O'Hurley. The Seinfeld alumnus, who memorably portrayed Elaine's eccentric boss J. Peterman, has learned that the fancy footwork of ballroom dancing is more of a workout than he expected. As of last week, the 49-year-old thesp had shed an impressive 15 lbs. His lovely dance partner, Charlotte Jorgensen, went so far as to tease him that if he lost 20 lbs., he'd have to wear a Speedo on the air!

Was Char's Speedo threat the reason O'Hurley was almost hurled out of competition? Or were the rumored

phone problems to blame? After yet another grueling rehearsal, the popular hoofer hooks up with TVGuide.com to talk strategy.

TVGuide.com: Hi, John. How are you?
John O'Hurley:
I'm drip-drying right now in my car.

TVG: So Charlotte gave you another tough workout?
O'Hurley:
Ugh. It is like boot camp, in all the right respects. She's the best. She is the Tiger Woods of the ballroom dancing world, and we laugh like heck. At the end of the day, we are just drained.

TVG: You look like you've been doing this forever.
O'Hurley:
I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. But no one had to start from as far back [of the class] as I did. She basically had to tie my dance shoes about eight weeks ago. I had no idea what I was doing.

TVG: Did you know what you were signing up for?
O'Hurley:
No. I thought I was going to do a comfortable little fox-trot the first week, then I'd be the first one out and that would be fine. When ABC contacted me, I said, "I'd be very happy to host it." They said, "No, we want you to do it." And I said, "I'd be very happy to host it."

TVG: It was a real nail-biter last week when the elimination came down to you or Rachel Hunter.
O'Hurley:
People think you don't need their votes because you are just going to breeze through, but as we found out last week, I need the online votes. [General Hospital's] Kelly Monaco has her very, very demonstrative soap audience, and they are plugged into ABC anyway. I don't have that. Sure, people like us and appreciate us, but nobody is showing up to vote. My audience is probably a little older and won't be [logging onto] a website. I need to motivate them. We just simply can't survive without the online vote.

TVG: Another contributing factor could be the rumored voting phone-number controversy.
O'Hurley:
I saw [a news report] that said a lot of our [voters were] dialing 888 instead of 866. I can't do anything about that. I'm sure when American Idol goes on that whoever has the local number probably unplugs their phone because they are sick of the [wrong] calls.

TVG: Do you think Charlotte's comment about your donning a Speedo helped or hurt you?
O'Hurley:
[Laughs] I think I may have dangled the wrong carrot in front of America.

TVG: Any chance you'll go through with it if you do lose those extra 5 lbs.?
O'Hurley:
I already have plans in my head of how I would play this out. I [can] reveal nothing. I know that ABC has very strong Standards and Practices.

TVG: Who do you think your toughest competitor is?
O'Hurley:
Quite honestly, the male professional Alec. [The contest] is weighted in Kelly's favor because he's going to do everything correctly and he is leading her. Charlotte can't look like she's leading me. The male professionals know the steps already. Is it fair? Not really, but that is the way it is.

TVG: Which dances are you learning for tonight's show [9 pm/ET on ABC]?
O'Hurley:
We're learning two. The fox-trot, which is the most difficult. Charlotte was No. 1 in the world in the fox-trot. I've got to lead her, and she's throwing in several of her signature moves that won her the world championship!

TVG: In addition to Dancing, you have also found time to put out a CD?
O'Hurley:
I've had so many songs in my head since I was 20 years old and taught myself [to play] piano and to compose. When people ask me how I learned to play the piano, I just say, "I didn't know I couldn't." I teamed up with Marston Smith, an incredible electronic cellist. The album is a labor of love and it is finally out in the world.

TVG: You memorably played J. Peterman on Seinfeld. Now you're partners in real life?
O'Hurley:
Yeah. I own the real J. Peterman company with the real J. Peterman. I'm on the board of directors and I own a big part of it. It's a bit like art imitating life.