All right, round one is complete... the dancing, at least. Last night was all about the men, which is absolutely fine with me, especially considering this season includes an Abercrombie and Fitch model and a soap star, but can I just ask you something... Who are these guys? I don’t shop at the Fitch, don’t watch All My Children, don’t follow boxing or car racing, and couldn’t care less who owns which sports teams, as long as the Brewers take the lead back from the Cubs. The only man I know even the slightest bit about is Mr. Las Vegas, Wayne Newton. If he can rock the city of sin on a regular basis, he should have a harmless, professional, nationally-televised dance competition in the bag, right? The hair alone is reason to tune in, just to see how it stands up against all that grooving.
As the judges and hosts clearly stated at the beginning of the show, the guys have their work cut out for them. Let’s face it, those ladies the other night kicked some serious booty! I find it hard not to focus on the female component in ballroom dancing, simply because they tend to be lighter on their feet and flashier in their outfits. Regardless, I stuck to my assignment and focused my attention on the gentlemen. After all, it was their night to shine. I was pleasantly surprised by some and just a little disappointed in others (Mr. Las Vegas). I have to say, by the end of round one, I really do think a woman will be taking home with the gold.
Before I dive into each “celebrity” performance, it is necessary to point out that with each flashback, I had a new man to root for. From the top: there was no leave of absence for the soap star, who flew back and forth constantly between New York and California, but that’s not even the part that made me feel bad. He spent a good portion of his childhood in leg braces due to Legg-Perthes disease, a rare disease of the hip that affects children and has left him less than flexible. The best boxer in the world is training for a championship fight, while the two-time Indy 500 champ raced in between practices...one in which he crashed his car. Pretty boy is the youngest celebrity to ever compete on the show, basketball guy had his hip replaced seven weeks before practice began (leaving open the possibility that it would pop out mid-trot and need to be replaced again), and Wayne Newton is Wayne Newton (oh, and never made it to his high school dances).
Cameron Mathison, best known to all you day-time drama mamas out there as Ryan Lavery on All My Children, is a handsome man. Charismatic, goofy and hard-working. Yum. As far as his dancing is concerned, he was a little stiff. Dancing the fox trot with partner Edyta, the only professional to appear on all five seasons, Cameron knew his steps and spun her relatively well around the floor. He kept his head and arms up the whole time, which the judges agreed was good, but to me it seemed as though he was searching for the camera, getting ready to deliver a line. It’s not a soap opera, buddy. I think if he sticks to the regiment he might do all right. And how can you not be rooting for Edyta? The girl’s put her time in, people, and it’s time to show her, if not Cameron, some love.
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. I know that’s a reference to Muhammad Ali, but give me a break, it’s the only boxing phrase I know (and possibly the only one that exists). For being a six-time world champion, a.k.a. best boxer in the world, Floyd Mayweather is sort of a baby. His partner, Karina, who had to put up with Mario Lopez in season three, actually walked out on him in rehearsals because he complained so much. Luckily Floyd pulled it together in time to put on a “fast, furious, full-out” cha cha, dancing circles around his former self. (A few of those circles I swear he fumbled on, but apparently I’m the only one who noticed...) He and Karina were energetic, staying strong together and apart. Unfortunately, the judges thought he was a little too strong and needs to work on tenderness with his lady. After all, this is ballroom dance, not a welterweight fight. He can’t expect to go nine rounds here without a little more finesse.
I know two race car drivers by name and one by his famous wife, none of whom are Helio Castroneves, the youngest person to win the Indianapolis 500... twice, that is. I didn’t know what to expect with this guy, he’s of Latin descent (he's Brazilian), looked really good in practice and knows what it takes to win. His fox trot with last year’s winner, Julianne, was gorgeous and natural. If I didn’t know otherwise I might have thought he was one of the pros. The two dancers flowed together like they were “on cruise control,” making even the not-so-sexy fox trot worth keeping your eyes glued to. My favorite was his dip in the end... it’s a wonder she didn’t drop him! Maybe Helio will make Julianne a two-time winner, too. He made climbing the racetrack fence a tradition the first time he won the Indy 500, what do you think he'll climb if he wins this?
Holy hips! Albert Reed totally proved my statement yesterday that looks aren’t everything. (Although in this case, they most certainly do not hurt). This pretty boy, correction, chiseled, Adonis-ish, little man treat, has got some moves! You know my earlier statement about not being able to take my focus off the women? Yeah, forget that. The only reason I remembered Anna was because it was she who yanked his jacket off in the beginning of their cha cha, unleashing his hairless chest. Len said he looked like a stripper, Bruno said his crotch action was in warp drive (or something along those lines), and Carrie Ann was at a loss for words. I certainly hope there’s more where that came from...
Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, is a billionaire. He also happens to be one of the best personalities on the show. He’s fun and funny and really seems to be enjoying himself, regardless of what others might think of him. I was hoping his turn to dance would land him in the cha cha (just look at his name), but, alas, he and Kym danced the fox trot. And it was great. Bouncing, snapping, singing along, this guy was having more fun than the average overweight American kid at an all-you-can-eat candy buffet. Mark and Kym were comfortable together, the judges liked what they saw, and I think they have what it takes to stick around a little longer. He does need to work that new hip.
And then there was Wayne. And I gotta tell ya, I was really excited that they saved him and his cha cha for last (insert obvious cliche here), but when it was over, I was at a bit of a loss. Partnered with two-time Dancing champ, Cheryl, to “You're the First, the Last, My Everything,” I expected an over-the-top costume, routine, attitude, and it was just okay. The judges were honored to have such an icon on the show, but mentioned he wasn’t as aggressive as the other men and needed to work on his hip action. In Wayne’s defense, short of humping the floor (or something equally offensive/shocking), no one was going to outdo Hippy McGyrater two dancers back. Does the old fig have what it takes to get Cheryl her third win? Or will he be heading back to the City of Lights from which he came?
Tune in tomorrow to check out what I have to say about the finale. I think I know the obvious candidate who will join the ranks of not-the-winner (loser seems too harsh), but regardless of who stays and who goes, Dolly Parton will be there to sing a song, and no one’s sad with Dolly.