After six weeks of increasingly tense competition, Chaz Bono was eliminated from ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." The 42-year-old transgender son of Sonny & Cher entered the competition under a cloud of controversy and curiosity. He soon complained of knee problems and difficulties dealing with weight and age, but a "Phantom"-inspired tango with partner Lacey Schwimmer proved to be his undoing.
Some emotional friction erupted after Monday night's performance when Bruno Tonioli said Bono looked like a "little penguin." Cher chimed in on Twitter, and Schwimmer told Access Hollywood that she thought the "judges particularly don't like him, or how he looks, or his personality, or how he does things better than a lot of people on the show...." Chaz said being called "several different animals by one of the judges" was disrespectful.
Judge Len Goodman said he did not appreciate Tonioli's penguin comment, and that he loved Chaz Bono, but that his performance was not as good as other contestants on Monday. "The know what they're up against. This is the 13th Season. If people haven't got the gist of what's coming, then they want to get a life." Goodman was also referring to the week's other low-ranked contestant, Hope Solo, who seemed to grow tired of never performing well enough for the judges. Her partner and choreographer Maks Chmerkovskiy had a bit of an outburst Monday after hearing Goodman's criticism.
After the elimination, Chaz said (E! Online):
"I came on this show, because I wanted to show America a different kind of man. And I know that if there was somebody like me on TV when I was growing up, my whole life would have been different. So I dedicate everything I did to all the people out there like me, and especially the kids and teens who are struggling. You can have a wonderful, great life and be successful and happy.''
His superstar mother, Cher, took to Twitter once again to express her support and "vent" her dismay (Twitter / Cher):
"I Have Got 2Hold my TEMPER ! MY Tears R OK ! Congratulations Chaz I'm SO PROUD OF U ! This was YOUR Quest...& u Followed your Star But your mom 'could cut a bitch' ! Thank u Carrie Ann 4 your Gentility u r beautiful inside & out ! To the Gentleman?I didn't know who u We're b4 which I guess is a blessing ! Going Home is Fine but why insult him b4 he Goes! Maybe Rudeness & Flapping Arms take the place of TALENT ! As for the Older Gentleman ....every Show Needs A Grumpy Old Man !"
Tuesday morning, Bono and Schwimmer spoke with George Stephanopoulos of Good Morning America. Bono said Tonioli's comments about his weight were out of place, possibly because he's an overweight man and not a woman (ABC):
"I got a lot of references from him 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.... I don't know how to be less penguinish, so I kind of took offense to that."