Luxe Life Blog
Photos: Maria Menounos vows to reach ‘DWTS’ finals despite injuries
TV darling Maria Menounos admits that she’s so badly injured from her run on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” that by all rights, she shouldn’t still be on the show, and while in Las Vegas over the weekend, she had to use an electric scooter to get around.
“My partner has started calling me Grandma,” she laughed. “The doctors told me I shouldn’t continue dancing. They ordered me to stop. But I refused, even though I am in so much pain,” Maria confessed before rehearsals off-Strip for tonight’s double dance of the samba and Viennese waltz ahead of Tuesday’s double elimination.
Maria was with her pro partner Derek Hough celebrating the launch of Bud Light Lime’s margarita-flavored alcoholic beverage “Lime-a-Rita’ poolside at Mandalay Bay appropriately at a Cinco de Mayo party Saturday. Our thanks to Bryan Steffy for our exclusive, sizzling-hot photo gallery.
Even though the couple is affectionate, Maria told me not to read “big new romance” into their close-zone togetherness. “I will be forever in debt to Derek because this has been the best experience of my life. We are together, but not together. When you are touching each other while dance rehearsing eight hours a day, it’s natural we look affectionate to anybody watching us. We’re just very comfortable together, and Derek has brought out the very best in me.
“However, I will admit when this season is over, I am going to stalk him because I want to continue dancing with him. If he gets a new partner for the next season, I’m going to be in his trunk and take her place!”
The brunette beauty explained to me that some nights, the duo has had to rehearse until midnight or 1 a.m. because of her daytime duties with “Extra”: “It is long. It is tough. It is crazy hard work, but I won’t stop. I’m happy to be in the game, and I don’t want to go home.”
Last week, Maria and Derek became the first team this Season 14 to score a perfect 10 points apiece from each of the judges, Len Goodman, Carrie Ann Inaba and Bruno Tonioli. It sent them to the top of the leaderboard, making them new favorites to beat frontrunner mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins and pro partner Mark Ballas.
“If we win, I will feel like Rocky Balboa,” Maria smiled. “If I lose … I don’t want to even think that will happen. I actually felt when we got the perfect 30 last week that we’d already won. I’d never danced before -- even in school. No lessons, no anything, until I started on this show. So I think I have already achieved far more than I ever dreamed possible.”
But she admits that it’s taken a terrible physical toll on her. Maria explained that she has fractured two ribs and has to dance strapped up -- also, three toes on her left foot and two on her right are broken! “It’s so bad I can’t even wear flip-flops. My whole equilibrium is off. It’s a comedy that I have to use an electric scooter to get from my suite to the pool. But I’m not giving up now when we’re so close.
“I have to wear an air bandage blown up around my legs and feet. I’ve had to dance with my feet taped up. Last week going to bed, I even put a hole in my feet from the scissors cutting the tape. But my feet feel as if a thousand needles are sticking into them, so I never felt it. Next morning when I took the tape off, it ripped the skin right off my feet, and there was the hole. But I’m like a fighter; I’m gonna keep going!
“I never knew I had this strength. I learned it from my dad. He was diabetic. He’d get in a coma it was so bad, but he refused to ever miss a day of work. He’d rip off the IVs if he had to get to work. I guess I inherited his genes. We Greeks are strong. We don’t give up easily, and I guess that’s why I’m a beer girl. I love this Bud Light brand, and when we’ve finished rehearsals, Derek knows exactly what I want to drink. I can really be the host of a party!”
Maria also admitted that none of her friends thought she’d progress this far on “DWTS”: “Even Jimmy Kimmel bet against me making it this long,” she laughed. “Derek laughed at first that he’d get an early vacation after four weeks, but I just don’t give up easily. Each week before the show before Gladys Knight was eliminated, the two of us would pray together to give us the strength to soldier on. I miss her. She’s such a quality lady and became Grandma to all of us. We really miss her -- especially me because now I have to pray quietly by myself to get through the broadcast.
“Tonight’s show will be the toughest of them all with two new dances and then a double elimination, but I’m not giving in.”
Derek, who sported swimming trunks to show off his trim physique at Mandalay Bay, commented: “I have never seen such tenaciousness in a partner before. She is just incredible, and I don’t even know where she gets the strength to continue on with these injuries. She was certainly brought up the right way and not to ever quit. She has earned every accolade so far, especially last week’s perfect 10s. She truly deserved them, and we’re going for that disco ball harder than ever. Even with the injuries, she is totally capable of being right there in the finals.”
Incidentally, Derek is juggling new offers and doesn’t know if he’ll be back for Season 15. “I haven’t been asked yet anyway,” he said. “So we have to wait to see what works out with what else I could be doing this fall.”
Maria, who looked stunning in her bright lime-green bikini, had the last words: “I’d never danced before. Now I never want to stop.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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