Katherine Jenkins, Mark Ballas Katherine Jenkins, Mark Ballas

We have never seen this much skin. This season, Dancing With the Stars is as much a battle of the delts and pecs as it is a rumble for the best heels and toes on the ballroom floor.

Sometimes going topless, or nearly topless, works. Sometimes it doesn't. It didn't help former sitcom star Jaleel White, for example, whose open shirt during the Dance Duel Tuesday night couldn't save him from elimination. 

But on Monday night, even pro Mark Ballas, who says that going shirtless "isn't typically my thing," dispensed with his shirt for the rumba with classical singer Katherine Jenkins. "It was a classical piece, which was set in Greek times," says Ballas. "We Googled pictures of Greek warriors and not many of them had shirts, so it made sense."

It also may have made sense because actor William Levy, Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver and pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy were getting ready to drop their tops for the Team Paso Doble.  Whose brainchild was that? "It was me and Maks," says pro Cheryl Burke. "We were like, 'This is all we've got. We gotta do this. We have three beautiful men. We'll dance for three-quarters of the routine with clothes on, but in the cape section, for 20 seconds, no shirts.' It wasn't throughout the whole routine. That would've been an overload. But it was 20 seconds of pure beauty."

"I was just hoping that people would scream when we took our shirts off," says Levy. "Because if not, it would've been embarrassing.  I said, 'Can you imagine if we take off our shirts and they don't scream?'"

"I couldn't even hear the poor opera singer," says Burke. 

"I thought it was appropriate, the way the teams were put together," says Chmerkovskiy. "It was a total coincidence, but it was fitting. Because this season is all about pleasing the fans, anyway."

Look at those three guys," says pro Kym Johnson, admiringly. "They had to take off their shirts.  I think they would've been foolish not to."

"It may be a slight advantage," says pro Chelsie Hightower, who partners Disney star Roshon Fegan. "Sex sells. We all know that. And there are a lot of buff guys here." 

But are they playing fair?  "Everything's fair," says Driver. "And it worked out." Says his partner, Peta Murgatroyd, "We had the three hunkiest guys with the best-built bodies. So we knew it was going to be a crowd-pleaser."

"I'm not hating on them for that," say White. "It's all good." But, says pro Tristan MacManus, "There's more than a dance competition going on here. In the end, it's a show and it's what people want to see. In professional competitions, you wouldn't necessarily see a top off, but there's lots of open tops. And you have to be appropriate about it. I felt that in the partnership that I was in [with ousted Motown legend Gladys Knight], it wasn't appropriate. If you want to see somebody take a top off, you don't necessarily have to watch this show." 

Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!