DANCING WITH THE STARS is back live tonight with another round of great dances.  After a scary week last week that saw Misty May-Treanor pull out of the competition with an injury and his own near brush with elimination, Rocco DiSpirito spent a few minutes with me, talking about why he’d like to stay, why people should vote for him, and (because he’s a chef and we can’t let him go without asking about good food) what food he compares to “edible cashmere.”


Every season, I think “oh they’re not going to top last season” but this year, I’m hooked again.

It’s crazy, right?  I think Cloris is a lot of fun.  Warren has his own kind.  It’s a great group of people.  And then they throw a chef in just to mix it up!


How did you get involved in it?

They called my agent, and they passed it on to me.  At first, I wasn’t sure.  I told my mom and she said she’d disown me if I didn’t do it.


What is the typical week like for you, doing the show?

It’s 100% rehearsal.  I’m 100% focused on this thing. Every waking minute that I have, every minute that I’m not eating, or doing press for the show, I’m learning how to dance.  It requires a level of focus that I haven’t had to stir up in about 25 years.  That’s to dance at the level that I’m dancing.  Can you imagine what the other guys are doing? [laughs]


Did you ever have dreams as a child of being a dancer?

I grew up in the 70s and I watched my sister go to clubs and I always thought I was a dancer.  Who knew?  I guess free-styling in a club isn’t the same as ballroom.  There is a big difference.  When you have to actually move your feet to the beat of the music instead of doing the Elaine from Seinfeld.


What has been your favorite dance so far?

I think it’s the Latin dances for me.  The samba that’s coming up Monday feels really good, the Mambo felt really good.  I think being able to do some solo stuff, and some freestyle stuff, without having to hold a frame, and sit within the framework of a very formally arranged dance works with me.


Is Karina a tough partner?

Karina’s one of the most magnificent dancers that I’ve seen in my life, not that i’ve seen a lot, but she is simply extraordinary.  The things she can do with her body, the way she moves it, can make you cry.  She’s been super patient and kind and generous.  Part of the reason I did this, because in my career, in my field, when you’re told “Einstein will teach you physics, and Michael Phelps will teach you how to swim,” you say yes.


Is there any good natured ragging on each other, because of the competition aspect?

The competition portion of this is really all about the production of the show.  We aren’t really in competition with each other, I don’t think you could even call it good natured competition, competition isn’t what we’re thinking about.  We’re all in it to have fun; I know most of us have come into this with a good sense of humor.  I know that I said to myself from the beginning, and I still feel this way no matter what happens, I’ll be happy.  This is all gravy, this is all an extra Christmas gift under the Christmas tree.  There’s nothing to complain about or be unhappy about.


Did you know anybody going in, or this a whole new bunch of people meeting up?

For the most part, I didn’t know anybody.  I didn’t know a single soul.  All new friends.


Are you able to chat with the judges at all away from the competition?

We are kept separate from the judges.  There’s even sort of an unwritten rule that if you see them in the hallway, don’t make eye contact.


What other stuff do you have coming up?

The TV show I shot before I started this, called ROCCO GETS REAL premiered on Saturday on A&E.  It’s called ROCCO GETS REAL, it’s a hybrid cooking reality show.  The book I wrote came out this week.  It’s called “Rocco Gets Real.”  It’s about what real people do at home and how to get people who think they can’t cook, to cook.  So that’s what’s happening with me otherwise.


Do you have a favorite dish that you like to prepare?

Favorite dish to prepare is risotto because people love eating it.  I think that cooking is the nicest thing you could do for another person and when you make them risotto, you really show how much you care for them because risotto really takes focus, and time, and effort.


I have actually never had it, but I hear how great it is, all the time!

Risotto is a dish made from rice, it’s a short grain rice. You cook the rice in a flavored stock until it’s very creamy.  It’s like edible cashmere.  You know how cashmere feels on your body?  That’s how risotto feels on your palette.


So it’s a dish anyone can make.  I find that I’m one of those people who just hopes they can pull something edible together when I get in the kitchen.

Then you need my new cookbook!  It relies on shortcut foods, a lot of convenience foods out there are really good. And why do all the work when you don’t have to?


Is there anything else you want to let fans know?

I’m 100% focused on this.  It is something that makes me very happy to be a part of.  I’d like to continue to participate and learn and advance every week and honor the commitment they’ve made to me so far. The only reason I’m on the show up to this point is because of the fans, and I would like to reward their faith in me, moving forward. I’m having a great time. And if you don’t vote for me, Karina will be unemployed.


  • Paul

    Although Rocco seems to be a gentleman and a scholar, he is not the most talented dancer. I think he has improved week over week more than other contenders so hopefully he actually will come back this week even stronger than the previous. Without Misty May’s injury we would not be able to even see his performance at all this week. I am looking foward to the show tonight!

  • Mary

    he sounds so nice! i hope he gets to stay longer than cloris!