Transgender activist Chaz Bono made a graceful exit from the ballroom Tuesday night, but didn’t hide his anger when it came to the judges’ critiques of his dancing, calling comments comparing him to an animal “disrespectful.”
“I got a lot of references from him [Judge Bruno Tonioli] about things that would indicate the fact that I’m overweight, you know, a roundness. I was called a basketball, a penguin, an Ewok, and I just didn’t appreciate it,” Bono said today on “Good Morning America.” “If you want to critique my dancing and give me some constructive advice so I can try to improve the next time that I’m there, that would be great. But I don’t really know how to be less penguish, and so I kind of took offense to that.”
Tonioli compared Bono to a penguin after his Broadway-inspired “Phantom of the Opera” tango this week, and previously to a “little Ewok” dancing with Princess Leia.
Bono said on “GMA” that he believed he was penalized by the judges for being an overweight man versus an overweight woman on the show. His professional partner, Lacey Schwimmer, took issue with the judges’ inconsistency and agreed that the animal comparisons were simply “unnecessary.”
“It’s hard to take this competition seriously when the judges are so inconsistent,” she said on “GMA,” “At the same time, we went out there and did what we needed to do and did it well and had a great time doing it.”
Bono, 42, was the low scorer of the pack with 19 points out of a possible 30 for his tango. He and World Cup star Hope Solo had both been in jeopardy, but Bono received the lowest in combined audience and judges’ votes.
Bono and Schwimmer aren’t the only contenders who have taken issue with the judges’ criticism.
Pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy, whose dance with Solo got bad reviews from judge Len Goodman, lashed out at the judges Monday night, causing an uproar for telling Goodman to “get out” of the business and for calling “DWTS” “his show.
Chmerkovskiy, who appeared on “GMA” today, stood by his comments about the judges, telling Robin Roberts that he has “nothing to apologize for.” Read the full story here.
Bono diplomatically weighed in on the controversy, saying, “Everybody has the right to speak their mind.”
Six stars remain in the competition, including Chmerkovskiy’s partner, Hope Solo, actor David Arquette, reality-TV personality Rob Kardashian, actor J.R. Martinez, former talk-show host Ricki Lake and TV host Nancy Grace.
Who does Bono think is the best dancer?
“J.R., all the way,” Bono said and Schwimmer echoed.
“I love everybody on the cast. … For me, it can’t be about personalities because I love everyone. So I have to pick who I think is the best dancer and for me it’s always, from the beginning of the competition, been J.R.,” he said.
For Bono, his “Dancing With the Stars” journey has been a period of personal growth and bonding with his famous mom, Cher, who rooted for her son and rallied her supporters on Twitter throughout the competition.
“This was something my mom and I could really have common ground on because this is something that she knows what it feels like to go out and perform in front of an audience,” Bono said.
“This experience really exceeded any expectations that I had and was something that will probably forever affect my life. It gave me a confidence in myself that I didn’t have before and a physical awareness, and a knowledge that I can do more than I thought I could, and I get through a lot.”
To watch Chaz Bono’s journey on the show, head over to abc.com for the video highlights