Chaz Bono talks about his new documentary, getting engaged and dancing

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Oh, did you think we were done talking about Dancing with the Stars? Please: 

It’s great. I mean it’s really, you know, I had such a good time doing the show and the finale is — I’m really excited, because I get to dance and I don’t have to stand in front of the judges afterwards, which is the worst part of it. 

So, I can just have a good time. So I’m excited. I’ve got a rehearsal this afternoon; I had rehearsal last week. It’s great to see everybody, and it’s great to be dancing. 

It’s mentally and physically the toughest job I’ve ever done. You really can’t understand it until you do it. And I think one of the nice things about doing a documentary on OWN is that you do get a nice behind the scenes look at what it’s really like. 

But, yes, physically, I was able to have some time to do some stuff to physically get prepared a little bit, and I knew it was going to be incredibly physically challenging, but nothing can prepare you for the sheer terror of dancing live on television in front of 20 million viewers.

On Hope Solo’s controversial departure from the show: 

Hope is a friend of mine, and I haven’t had a chance to talk to her since she did the show. I can tell you that the longer you’re on, the more you get involved with it, and it takes over your life and it becomes like your whole world. So it gets harder and harder to deal with some of the things on there. 

And for me, there was always a kind of greater mission I was on as an activist and having this opportunity to let such a large number of people get to know me a little bit. That was always my goal. …I don’t know what Hope’s was. Again, I haven’t talked to her, so I’m not going to criticize any of her behavior. For me, that wouldn’t have served to my purposes. 

On the sexist, gender-normative biases of Dancing with the Stars (You will never guess who asked that question.): 

Well, I mean, again, that is ballroom dancing, you know? I know that there’s been talk about at some point maybe doing a same-sex couple, but even that within strictly the confines of ballroom dancing will put that couple at a disadvantage just physically. 

But for me, I felt fine. I mean, look, I’m a pretty traditional person and I feel clearly male, and my attraction is to females. So for me, I think it worked pretty well. I know that Carson was able to kind of get creative with some of his dances that were traditionally about tension or romance between a man and a woman and since he didn’t have that — I remember one of his dances that was about coveting his partner’s shoe versus her, which I thought was kind of genius. We were all so impressed with the creativity that he was able to bring to his numbers. 

On judge Bruno Tonioli’s critiques, which often contained insults about Bono’s appearance: 

Entertainment Weekly actually did a good article about it. Not just me, but other shows where there are judges and stuff like that. I think the judges are in a position of ultimately — and the producers and everything — ultimately this is about entertainment. And that is the first thing on their minds when they’re doing their job on the show. It’s about entertaining the audience. 

And I think sometimes that can be at odds with thinking about the contestants’ feelings, and I’d like to see it reach a way to do both. 

I think anybody who’s doing any type of TV contest at this point — and certainly on Dancing with the Stars ­ — I can tell you that from the time that I did the show, I didn’t do anything else, and it became my whole life, and I dedicated myself absolutely, 100%. 

And so, when I’m giving that much, I expect back at least being treated with some respect, because I’m putting so much into this. So I would hope that on really any show that judges would find a way to try to entertain, but also remember they’re dealing with a human being who is putting everything they can into what they’re doing. 

On his overall Dancing with the Stars experience: 

You know, everything to me was really good about the show. I love the camaraderie with all of the other cast members and the pro dancers. We were an extremely close group of people, and I definitely have made lifelong friends from doing the show. 

I loved — not always at the time that it was happening — the opportunity to overcome things that you don’t think you can overcome, both physically and emotionally. You know, it’s really invaluable when it’s over, because you’re like, “Wow, I got through that. I can kind of get through anything.”

I left definitely having more confidence in myself than when I started. I’ve talked to other people who have been asked to do the show, who have thought about it, and it’s something that I would recommend wholeheartedly to anybody. Because I do think it’s a life-changing experience, and I think if you really give into the process and you really have the time to dedicate to it, you’re going to come out of there with something special. You know, experiences really will change your life. 

On the lessons Chaz has learned from his transformation: 

It took me a long time to find the courage to just be myself and I think that a lot of people struggle with that in different forms in being themselves, or going for their dreams, or, you know, something of that nature — the job they really want to do. 

In so many ways, try to do it safe or what we think society wants us to do. And we’re the ones who really suffer for it. And so, what I got was, when I found the courage to be myself, I actually started to transition. My whole life opened up. For the first time in my whole life I’m really comfortable and happy. 

And so I think you’ve just got to let the fear go and do what you want, and be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. I guess that would be my message. Stop worrying about what other people think and just make yourself happy. 

Being Chaz premieres at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on November 27 following an encore presentation of Becoming Chaz at 6 p.m.

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