At one point in our tango rehearsals I pulled him towards me, and he said, "When you pull me what happens is I come into you — but I weigh 190 pounds and I’m big, so the minute we connect you are going to fall backwards and be off balance. In a show, you make the illusion that you’re pushing me; if you really push me, you’re going to fall forward, because I’m heavy. And if I push into you you’re going to fall backward." So it’s like physics, basically, and a lot of it has to do with showmanship.
When I wasn’t eliminated, I thought, oh god, I’ve got to go rehearse now and learn the new steps. We’re doing the samba next week. The nice thing was Maks was so kind and lovely when we got to the studio. He put his arm on my shoulder and said, "The first thing you have to understand, Debi, is that this is not the Brazilian samba as you know it. You bring up Brazil, you bring up your friend that does it beautifully, you bring up things you’ve witnessed —this is not that. This is just a taste of the genre built into a ballroom format. I want you to let go of every ass-shaking thong moment — whatever your idea of samba is —and I want you to clear your mind. We’re going to start from scratch and I want you to just learn footwork.” He wants to stay in this just as much as I do, I truly believe. And so I’m learning how to make it less complicated. I have to alter the way I learn because of the way he teaches.
This workout with the samba, it’s like a Jack LaLanne class: I’m holding my legs in squat position and gyrating my hips and my arms are flying through the air. It’s very, very aerobic. My metabolism is burning so hard that I’m losing a pound a week. My thighs are reducing and my ribs are starting to stick out. And I really like to have a presence — I find that the bigger you are in a dance show, the sexier it looks; you really look like a woman. When you’re skinny it looks kind of hard. For my next outfit I’m trying to create hips, because I don’t have them, and I’m trying to make it soft and pretty.
As far as the other competitors go, it’s like a big love-fest. We all are discovering each other, learning about each other’s families and work things and problems and fears. Everyone is very stripped-down. Even watching Chuck Liddell look nervous has been highly interesting. To see someone like Tom DeLay, who has a stress fracture in his foot and is in a lot of pain — he and I are polar opposites in terms of what we believe in politically, and I realized I could probably get into it with him. But he’s very self-deprecating in a really dark, very cool way, because he’s been a politican for so long, and it’s sort of fascinating. I don’t dig too deep; we also don’t have that much time.
Kathy Ireland was sweet as could be and super-supportive. Mya is really lovely, quiet and contained – and when she performs she just opens up and gives it to you. I find that so captivating and beautiful; I wish I had her poise on an everyday basis. And Joanna Krupa is a lot of fun and really generous.
My partner’s breakup put a lot of stress on our rehearsals over the past six weeks, but he’s in a much better place now, and I really think that this week is going to be great for us. We’re both happy, and we have a really happy, sexy, fun dance. So I’m excited.
September 24 — The Premiere, and After
Saturday before the three-night season premiere was our first time rehearsing on the stage, which has steps. The floor was slippery, as some pro dancers like to use castor oil. I use water on the bottom of my shoes so as not to slide, per Maksim’s instructions, but I slid anyway. My shoe fell off during the foxtrot and Maksim made me continue because there is no stopping, no matter what happens. He seemed happy with me, and I went on to a costume fitting.
I was stunned to find that I had gone down a size, from a 4 to a 2, though the scale doesn’t say I’ve lost weight. I am getting too defined on my upper body and losing fat on my chest. I needed to shove in extra bra pads to make my boobs look like something.