As you probably already know, Chaz Bono, transgender son of Sonny Bono and Cher, is a contestant on the fall’s new season of Dancing With The Stars, premiering this Monday night. The reason I assume that you know all about this is because some people are loudly complaining that Dancing With The Stars has crossed over a serious line of decency by inviting him to participate on their show. A group called One Million Moms has launched a protest against ABC, saying that “ABC has spun out of control” (worst pun ever, One Million Moms). They demand that ABC replace both Bono and Kressley with appropriately Christian dancers Until Dancing With The Stars replaces Bono, says One Million Moms, the show will not have the support of the Christian community.
One Million Moms claims to have hundreds of thousands of signatures of support, but that seems fishy, considering that they have all of 567 followers on their official Twitter account, and 34,796 “likes” on Facebook (and I’m willing to bet twenty bucks that a good chunk of those “likes” came from people who thought the name “One Millions Moms” sounded cool and clicked “like” without bothering to see what the fan page actually is). In fact, the whole protest seems fishy to me. It bears mentioning that One Million Moms is an offshoot of the American Family Association, a right-wing fundamentalist group that the Southern Poverty Law Center has officially classified as a hate group. One Million Moms claims to be protesting the show’s inclusion of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’s Carson Kressley as well, but Dancing With The Stars has included out queer people in previous seasons, as well as allies who openly advocate on their behalf. It all sounds like good old fashioned hateful transphobia to me; the show’s inclusion of Bono was so seemingly awful and atrocious to these people that they finally felt compelled to do something about the horror of it all.
All of this got me thinking: since he’s the first Dancing With The Stars contestant to have drawn massive protests, could Chaz Bono really be the most dangerous person that Dancing With The Stars could possibly book as a dancer on their show? No offense to Chaz, but he seems kind of bland to me, a little out of the Dancing With The Stars norm. He’s always wearing a suit and yammering on about politics, plus he has really boring hair. He has never had a sex tape or a raunchy reality show. In fact, I have never seen Chaz Bono in a hot tub, period. Is he really the end of the line, the type of hell-raising dude who has finally inspired a million (or a few hundred, whatever) women to shout, “Enough!,” raise up their online petitions, and fight back against the corrupting youth oppressor that is Dancing With The Stars?
I decided to spend a couple of hours researching all of the contestants who have appeared on Dancing With The Stars, investigating their pasts and seeing what sorts of scandals I could dig up. The research wasn’t all that deep; basically, I hit up Wikipedia for answers just like any other lazy person would do. I figured this project would take me two hours, at most.
Writing down everything past Dancing With The Stars contestants have done that most fundamentalist Christians would likely frown upon took up two entire afternoons. I took eight typed, single-spaced pages of notes, three of which are about the scandals of a single contestant (who is not, I should mention, Chaz Bono). I am at a loss as how I am to condense this mess down into something that is palatable. Should I do a top ten list? No, that’s not extensive enough. Should I clean up the notes and leave the information as it stands? No, you don’t have all fucking day to read the War And Peace version of Dancing With The Stars notes.
I came up with some basic criteria in order to decide what makes a “scandal” worthy of inclusion. I am leaving out all abuse of drugs and alcohol. For one thing, I think our culture is finally beginning to understand that addiction is a disease, rather than a selfish indulgence worthy of scandal status; for another thing, it means that I get to toss almost two pages of notes. Awesome. More criteria: all scandals have to have happened before or during a contestant’s appearance on Dancing With The Stars; after all, One Million Moms couldn’t have protested something retroactively. I’m only trying to be fair here.
I should mention that I pass no judgment on any of the contestants or the behavior that I’m listing. I do not judge anyone for following the directives of their own moral compass, so long as they don’t commit crimes that hurt other human beings (although there are plenty of those here). However, it appears to be the job of fundamentalist Christians to pass judgment on everyone around them. The purpose of this project is to hold a mirror up to the face of One Million Moms. Unfortunately for them, as far as Dancing With The Stars is concerned, it sounds like they’ve missed a lot of protesting opportunities.
Like I mentioned before, Dancing With The Stars (which shall henceforth be referred to as its popular antonym, “DWTS”) has had plenty of gay participants. (I mean, it’s a friggin’ dancing show. What do people THINK is gonna happen?) Judge Bruno Tonioli is openly gay, and has appeared on all thirteen seasons of the show. Past contestants Margaret Cho and Lance Bass are openly bisexual and gay, respectively. Past contestants Kelly Osbourne and Michael Irvin are among the many DWTS alum who have actively campaigned for LGBT rights, and this season’s Kristin Cavallari has been a prominent participatant in California’s NOH8 campaign for marriage equality in that state. Past contestant Marlee Matlin played a lesbian on The L Word, which means she has had more R-rated gay sex on TV than any of the contestants who are actually gay.
DWTS has also hired a lot of people who like for us to see them with their clothes partially or fully removed. Host and former winner Brooke Burke has appeared nude in Playboy, and former host Samantha Harris did an FHM cover. Dancer Karina Smirnoff appeared nude in Playboy over the summer. Among past contestants there are nineteen covers and/or spreads in Playboy among ten different women, as well as some online spreads. Additionally, two Playboy Playmates have competed on the show, and each woman has done multiple Playboy spreads and covers (Shanna Moakler and Pamela Anderson). At least three participants made sex tapes that were made public (Pamela Anderson, Kim Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson). One contestant (Willa Ford) was in something called the Lingerie Bowl, which I assume isn’t a very Christian sporting event at all. Audrina Patridge took nude photos that were leaked. Joanna Krupa was a Frederick’s Of Hollywood model. Nicole Scherzinger is a Pussycat Doll (although I admit, I’m still not entirely sure what that is), and Margaret Cho is a burlesque dancer. And finally, Gilles Marini reps for the menfolk by having done a full frontal nude scene in the Sex And The City film.
Speaking of sexy daliances, there has been plenty of controversial sexy behavior amongst DWTS contestants. Jerry Springer famously left the Cincinnati City Council after having been caught with prostitutes (and, of course, there’s that classy talk show of his). Lawrence Taylor has a long, storied history of canoodling with prostitutes. After 2 weeks of marriage, Ali Landry left contestant Mario Lopez because he had supposedly cheated throughout their six-year relationship, even during their honeymoon. While married to Vanessa Williams, photos were published of contestant Rick Fox kissing another woman. Besides being an avowed atheist, contestant Penn Jilette holds a patent on something called the “Jill Jet,” which is designed to provide, uh, pleasure to women while they hang out in hot tubs. Margaret Cho is on the board of Good Vibrations, a famed sex toy store based in San Francisco. Even though she’s the daughter of fundie Christians’ favorite lady, former contestant Bristol Palin DID have sex out of wedlock, resulting in teenage unwed pregnancy. Of course there’s Lil’ Kim, whose (awesome) music has been called “gangsta porno music” by C. Delores Tucker. And finally, some guy I’ve never heard of named Michael Catherwood wrote a parody of a song called “Hey There Delilah” named “Hey There Vagina,” which was played constantly on KROQ. (No, seriously, he actually did that.)
George Hamilton was famously friends with Imelda Marcos, the wife of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos. After Marcos was removed from power, it was discovered that he also had business connections with the Marcoses. In 1990, Hamilton was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal racketeering and fraud case against the Marcoses that was centered around the theft of Philippine government money.
In 2003 on his radio show Loveline, DWTS contestant Adam Carolla called Hawaiians “dumb,” “stupid,” “inbred,” “retarded,” and some of the “dumbest people we have.”‘
Former contestants Shannen Doherty and Ashley Hamilton upheld the sanctity of heterosexual marriage by tying the knot after having known each other for two weeks, then divorcing five months later.
Former contestant Kate Gosselin is Kate Gosselin.
Former contestant Steve-o was a cast member of Jackass, which many parent groups blamed for numerous deaths and injuries of children who attempted to recreate the stunts on the show. Some of Steve-O’s most memorable stunts include trapping himself inside of a helmet that another cast member was repeatedly farting into, snorting a line of wasabi, and pouring a beer into his rectum via a beer bong. He was arrested for public urination (twice!) and for stapling his scrotum to his leg. (Jesus loves that kind of thing!)
There are plenty of other scandalous DWTS contestant incidents that I could mention, but in the spirit of keeping this piece relatively brief, I won’t. I will leave out the myriad other criminal charges and convictions, raunchy reality shows, rap albums, unsportsman-like conduct, and Scientologists. However, I would be erring gravely if I neglected to mention former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who resigned after he was charged with criminal money laundering in connection with an investigation for campaign finance violations. He was eventually found guilty of these charges and was sentenced to three years in prison. But wait! After this snazzy photo of DeLay dancing up a storm on national television, there’s more, bullet points-style!
*His nonprofit organization received a one million dollar donation from Naftasib, a Russian oil firm, allegedly in order to secure DeLay’s yes vote on an International Monetary Fund bailout for the Russian economy.
*In 1995, shortly after securing the Republican majority in Congress, DeLay, then-Senator Rick Santorum, and Grover Norquist suggested that K Street lobbying firms would not receive an audience with members of the Republican party unless they removed Democrats from key positions within those firms. In 1999, DeLay was (privately) reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee after pulling a bill off of the floor that was connected to the Electronic Industries Alliance, supposedly due to the fact that they had recently hired a former Democratic Congressman, Dave McCurdy.
*After repeatedly criticizing Fidel Castro and Cuba and strongly supporting the US trade embargo against Cuba, DeLay was photographed smoking a Cuban cigar while traveling abroad on a government-funded trip to Israel. Time published this photo in 2003; while it was legal (although hypocritical and certainly frowned upon) at this time for American citizens to consume Cuban cigars while traveling abroad, it was officially banned by the US government in 2004.
*The next one is so ridiculously bizarre and fucked up that I’m just gonna cut and paste it verbatim from Tom DeLay’s Wikipedia site, because I have no idea how to reword it.
During the Texas redistricting warrant controversy, several Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives went to Oklahoma to prevent the House from establishing a quorum of members, thereby preventing the House from acting on any legislation, including a proposed redistricting plan. Although not a member of the Texas legislature, DeLay became involved, by contacting several federal agencies in order to determine the location of the missing legislators. DeLay’s staff contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for assistance in tracking down a plane that one of the legislators was flying to Oklahoma, an action that the FAA believed to be a result of safety concerns about the aircraft. A review by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that a total of thirteen FAA employees spent more than eight hours searching for the airplane. Members of DeLay’s staff asked theFederal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to arrest the missing Democrats. The FBI dismissed DeLay’s and his staff’s request as “wacko”. DeLay also contacted United States Marshal and United States Attorney‘s offices in Texas, as well as the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center, an agency that deals with smuggling and terrorism.
U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Connecticut) requested an investigation into DeLay’s involvement in the requests, and asked that any White House involvement be reported. The House Ethics Committee admonished DeLay for improper use of FAA resources, and for involving federal agencies in a matter that should have been resolved by Texas authorities.
*DeLay was largely behind the government involvement in the Terri Schiavo case, calling an emergency session of the House in order to pass a bill allowing Schiavo’s parents to petition a federal judge to keep her feeding tube from being removed. He was accused of endorsing violence against the judges who had ruled that her feeding tube be removed, saying, “The men responsible [for Terri Schiavo's death] will have to answer to their behavior.” Eventually, DeLay publicly apologized for this statement after he was accused of inciting violence against the Supreme Court of the United States.
*On the other hand, in 1988, DeLay consented to ending life support for his comatose father. (So, you know, whatever side you’re on here, Tom DeLay has done you wrong.)
*DeLay allegedly committed perjury in a civil lawsuit; information contained within his congressional disclosure forms support this accusation. DeLay and the plaintiff settled out of court, but the plaintiff maintains that if DeLay’s congressional disclosure forms had been made available to him during the civil suit, he would have pursued criminal charges as well.
*DeLay allegedly received numerous gifts from Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for favors tied to Abramoff’s various clients. Some of the legislation that DeLay allegedly tabled or voted against on Abramoff’s behalf include: a bill banning forced abortions (I shit you not!), sweatshop labor and erotic shops in the Northern Marinara Islands (they were an Abramoff client); an extension of US labor and minimum wage laws for the Northern Marinara Islands that had already been passed in the Senate unanimously; a bill restricting internet gambling after some of DeLay’s travel fees were illegally paid for by eLottery, Inc. and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (both Abramoff clients). A week after his PAC received a sizable donation from the Mississippi Choctaw, he co-signed a letter sent to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, demanding the shutdown of a different Native American tribe’s competing casino.
*In his 2007 book No Retreat, No Surrender: One American’s Fight, DeLay compares liberals to, among other things, Adolf Hitler and white supremacists.
*In August of 2009, DeLay was one of the first prominent Republicans to give credibility to the Barack Obama “birther” conspiracy theory, appearing on Hardball and demanding to see President Obama’s birth certificate. He was on Hardball to promote his upcoming Dancing With The Stars appearances.
Oh, but wait. Who am I kidding? Fundamentalist Christian right-wing dickheads LOVE this guy, and would never have started a grassroots movement to forcibly remove Tom DeLay from Dancing With The Stars. They LOVE the perpetuation of the birther crap, because it lends further credence to the bizarre theory that Barack Obama is a secret foreign-born Muslim, and therefore must be impeached from office. And they LOVE when people compare liberals to some of the worst human beings that our world has ever produced, although they rarely have the guts to do it themselves.
And this, you see, is why this One Million Moms movement is a load of bullshit. These hypocritical mothers are up in arms over the fact that a transgender guy is daring to dance across their television set, because they’re convinced that his presence in their living rooms will terrorize our children. There are numerous past contestants with extremely raunchy Google Image searches that are easily accessible to children who are curious about the pretty dancing ladies on TV. A past contestant is or was buddies with a woman whose husband murdered thousands of innocent people and embezzled billions of dollars from the government that he ran. One of their absolute favorite past contestants is a guy who refused to outlaw forced abortions simply because he was paid not to. For twelve seasons of contestants like these, none of the One Million Moms lifted a finger to a keyboard in a display of protest. No, the real damaging threat to our families, they say, is the incredibly boring, bland, nice guy next door strutting around the stage in a tuxedo, all because he happens to be transgender.
It’s great to know where your priorities are, One Million Moms.
Am I unintentionally omitting any salacious scandals involving past or present Dancing With The Stars contestants? Let us know in the comments.