We admit it: At first, we didn't really get Charla. Although she was among the hottest of the sunbathing beauties on Fox's summer skin parade, Paradise Hotel, the loner seemed adrift in the game and, therefore, a likely candidate for early eviction. But as the weeks (and weeks and weeks!) dragged on, she worked out a buddy system with fellow outcast Dave, and together with sly pin-ups Keith and Tara, they forged a powerful alliance that withstood everything from muscle-head Zack's crude manipulation to bipolar body builder Toni's over-the-top tantrums. And, by God, we also figured out our heroine. We finally got her! She wasn't pulling a Garbo at all, she was just waiting for some folks to show up with whom she could share more than sex on the beach the drink, that is, not the act. Now, as the guilty pleasure airs what we're sure will be its "shocking" finale (Wednesday at 8 ET), the founder of Team Barbie is ready to talk turkey with TV Guide Online about the men in her life and the life in her men.
TV Guide Online: Hi, Charla. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I promise it will be quick and painless.
Charla: Be nice to me! I'm a virgin [at Q&A sessions]! You're my first!
TVGO: Not to worry, I'm very gentle. Now then, since you've been home, have you been enjoying watching Zack and Amy and all the other psychos on tape as much as we have?
Charla: I laugh. When Zack is talking about me or talking about Braveheart, it's very entertaining to me. I get a kick out of watching him. I'm not, like, bitter, and it doesn't hurt my feelings.
TVGO: (Sarcastically) He and Amy had such an incredible bond. How come nobody told her that when she wasn't looking, he made out with you and Amanda and Kavita and...
Charla: Well, I can't speak for other people, but it's not my business. That's for her to find out when she watches the show or if Zack wants to tell her. (Laughs) Maybe he just likes different people.
TVGO: Funny, he never seemed like the affectionate type. Anyway, if there's one thing you could say to the bullies you left behind, what would it be?
Charla: Wow. (Pauses) I'd tell them to just, you know, not be so judgmental and to look in the mirror. Basically, they need to learn to accept other people and not be so critical. They think that they're God, and they're not.
TVGO: Maybe they'll realize the error of their ways now that they're back in the real world.
Charla: (Laughs) I don't think so. Those people will probably dislike me for the rest of their lives, and I'm fine with that. It's a big thing, for everybody. This changed me for the rest of my life in a great, amazing way. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
TVGO: Even though you got attacked by a pack of rabid hypocrites? Caramba.
Charla: People ask me, "Would you do it again?" and I say, "No. Once is enough." But I would recommend that anyone do it if they're open to change and handling all that harsh criticism for so long.
TVGO: I don't know if anyone can handle that much harshness for so long. But let's talk about something nicer: Keith.
Charla: I knew you were going to bring him up!
TVGO: It seemed like you were interested, but then nothing happened. What was the deal? Was he more interested in Tara?
Charla: You're so bad! Um... no. I just had fun, you know. We flirted, and that was really the extent of it. I mean, I hadn't flirted with someone in months! It was fun. I missed it!
TVGO: Months? What about Matt?
Charla: Shut up! (Laughs)
TVGO: Come on you can't BS me after we all saw you and Matt getting along so very well on national television.
Charla: Okay, there was Matt, too. But see, there's a dry stretch between Matt and Keith, wasn't there?
TVGO: Yeah, okay, I'll give you that. Are things better for you now that you're home?
Charla: Oh, yeah. I love just opening my refrigerator. You don't even know how lucky you are that you can open the refrigerator and say, "Hey, I'm going to cook dinner for myself tonight." Or drive your car and put gas in it. I mean, TV! I'll watch an infomercial now! "Whoa, this is good!" We had nothing [at the hotel]. People ask, "Why were you so bored?" and I say, "Hello?! Give me stimulation in my life! Not, like, a bar and a pool!" After three weeks, I was like, "Okay, this pool is only three feet deep. I'm getting bored."
TVGO: Hard to believe you could get bored with Dave around 24/7. And hey, speaking of him... I get the impression that viewers were rooting for you to give him a chance, you know, since he was so smitten. What would you like to say about that?
Charla: Hmm. What do I say about Dave? I just talked to him on the phone today. But we're just really good friends, and he's known that from day one. I honestly didn't know [he had such a big crush on me]. (Laughs) I know that sounds really naïve, but for a while, I had no idea that he was doing the things that he did. And then when I watched the tapes, I said, "Are those my thongs? (Laughs) What are you doing, Dave?"
TVGO: From what he told me, he's pretty much over you now.
Charla: Yeah, he said something to me like, "I can do better than you."