From the moment that unlikely Paradise Hotel guest Dave peeled off his shirt and cheerfully announced, "I have man-boobs!" we couldn't help but love the guy. Sure, he was about as reliable an ally as the French, but come on in a sea of washboard stomachs and bulging biceps, he was like us (and how often have you ever seen a real person on reality TV?). What's more, the pro-level schemer's unrequited adoration of brainy Barbie Charla made us groan in empathy. So, as the first of what we can only hope will be many seasons of Fox's summer skank-o-rama comes to an end (in a two-hour finale, airing Wednesday night at 8 ET), we rang up the big lug to give credit where it is due.
TV Guide Online: Dave, on behalf of the pectorally challenged everywhere, I salute you!
Dave: Thank you, but I wouldn't necessarily say I'm pectorally challenged. I'm just more normal.
TVGO: Looking back, how would you characterize your Paradise Hotel experience?
Dave: To paraphrase Dickens, it was both the best and worst of times. The best was probably when I was elected king. Oh, and when I beat all those guys at tennis!
TVGO: From the start, your mouth kind of got you in hot water. Do you regret anything that you said?
Dave: (Long pause) No. I don't think I said anything that I'm particularly embarrassed about. If anything, people told me I should have spoken up more. But I didn't want to sink to the level of other people. I would rather have them dig their own graves.
TVGO: There's a strategy that paid off. Your "peers" didn't just come off like idiots, they came off like monsters!
Dave: It's really interesting when the evicted guests came back, I really was convinced [by them] that America hated me and Charla and loved them. So imagine my surprise when I came back to thousands of e-mails. It was unbelievable!
TVGO: The episodes in which the series' biggest bullies, Zack and Toni, returned were physically uncomfortable to watch. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be on the receiving end of that much hypocrisy and misdirected anger.
Dave: It was extremely difficult. After the situation with Andon [calling me out], I really did come close to leaving. But I'm glad I stayed. And I'm glad I'm back home now, where I have the support of my friends and, I guess at this point, America.
TVGO: You got that right, bro. What's it been like watching yourself pine away for Charla on national television?
Dave: That was the hardest thing for me. Normally, if you have a crush on somebody and they reject you, that's the end of it. You kind of keep moving. But in this situation, she was the person I was depending on to continue in the game, so I really didn't have a choice but to sort of swallow my pride and move forward with her as my strongest ally, despite the fact that we didn't have mutual feelings for each other.
TVGO: Which, in a way, must have been a positive thing, because in real life, after she said no thanks, you probably wouldn't have developed the friendship that you were forced to.
Dave: Absolutely. It was difficult at times, being around a girl that you liked 24/7. But it worked out okay.
TVGO: In one memorable moment, you asked, "Where's the love for Dave?" Please tell me you now know the answer to that question.
Dave: I've got to say, pre-Paradise Hotel, I dated. But America did not show me the love the way it is right now! People just hug and kiss me on the streets, I've gotten naked pictures sent to me via e-mails... It's pretty flattering. The only downside is, occasionally when I'm partying, it can be a little bit difficult. I had one girl walk up to me in a bar and, after talking to me for a while, she said, "Wow, you really are that wholesome!" It was meant as a compliment, but it's a little difficult to party when people expect you to be the nice guy. I had to say, "Listen, I'm no priest."