Debi's Farewell to "Dancing With the Stars"

I had a blast-now back to my day job.

As told to Kathy Heintzelman
The crowd loved how Debi shook it, but her samba with Maks didn't carry them to the next round.
Photograph: Photo by: (c) Adam Larkey/American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. (ABC)

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September 30 —"Oh, No, We’re in the Red!"

On results night, I wasn’t nervous initially because I felt really good about our tango. There was a lot of passion and fire and pushing away and coming back, and Maksim and I have that as people in our personalities — mercurial and strong but still really liking each other — and I think that served us. We scored highest of all the tangos, and I know I’m not the best dancer but I’m definitely not the worst. All of a sudden, though, Maksim goes, "Oh no, we’re in the red" (there’s a red light they put on you or something; it’s lingo I’m still not familiar with), and I’m like, what is he talking about? Then it dawned on me: Omigod, it’s between me and Kathy Ireland! I’m still on stage and I’m about to be eliminated!

Last week was probably the worst week on the show for me. Between the muscle tear in my neck and the press and my partner — we really were fighting. I didn’t think that the behind-the-scenes video package reflected how deep it really got. Even Maksim said, "This is bad, you’re crying," and I thought, well, then, don’t make me cry. I’m not stupid; it’s not coming naturally to me.

To top it off I was also PMS-ing. I have two days out of the month where if you’re really nasty to me, I’m confrontational, I’m going to snap, give it back to you, and probably start crying. I warned Maks about that when we first started working: "If we make it any further, I just want to warn you that every three weeks there are going to be a couple days in there that are a little bit bitched out." And that was last week. So thank god that’s over with.

Maks’s way of teaching is very difficult, and although I thought it would be good for me I don’t know if it is. Because I get insulted, and I’m trying not to take it personally but when someone’s that impatient with you, no good comes out of it really. It’s difficult for me to be open to hearing him, or for my brain to accept it.

So I kicked the camera crew out and we had a sit-down behind closed doors. I think he got where I was coming from. We really like each other as people, and I feel like I’ve been put into his life to inspire him in some strange way, him being a younger artist and a person who’s growing. I’m older than he is and I’ve lived through many things. In the mix of it all, we were able to have a conversation and get our points across. I think he had an epiphany finally, as did I: Try to smile, be quiet, focus more, be a better student.

He was worried, as was I, about our video package. Because he’s known as sort of the bad boy, and he doesn’t want to look like an asshole; and I’m known as an actress – and I was called a drama queen the other night on the floor – and the thing is, I’m not even being dramatic. If America’s going to like me, they have to see the humor in some of my mistakes, as opposed to seeing me fall apart. Some of the people at Dancing With the Stars have said, "It’ll hurt you if you guys aren’t getting along, in terms of what you’re learning or people not liking you or not liking him." I felt like the package was sort of a downer. But the good news was it did show growth and progression.

Because of my neck, I was working extra hard to hold my "frame" during our performance. When you break frame, the balance falls off;  the feet follow the head as opposed to flowing with your partner’s. At one point I almost screwed up but my foot magically went with his legs; I managed to keep our bodies together, which is a testament to the hard work. Once you separate, you’ve blown it.

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