'Dancing With the Stars': Is Chaz being bullied?

Dancing-With-The-Stars-Chaz-Lacey-cropped.jpg Maksim Chmerkovskiy's outburst wasn't the only news on Monday's (Oct. 24) "Dancing With the Stars." Judge Bruno Tonioli criticized Chaz Bono and Lacey Schwimmer's Tango to "Phantom of the Opera" by saying this:

"It was a different Phantom, wasn't it? It was like a cute little penguin trying to be a big menacing bird of prey. Some roles fit certain characters, and some roles don't. And, to me, this character didn't fit you."

A penguin? Wow. That got the audience all riled up and the pair pretty darn angry. We caught up with Lacey and Chaz backstage at the show and asked them about it. Lacey is calling it bullying.

We asked why they thought the judges were so hard on Chaz this week. "Why do you think they're so hard on him every week?" Lacey asked.

Lacey weighed in on Maks' outburst. "Regardless of what Maks said or if he hurt people's feelings, he had the courage to stand up for him and his partner, and I think that is amazing. And a lot of us wish we would say something but we never do, because we're afraid of it."

Then she switched to what had happened to them.

"I'm not going to speak for everyone else, but for me, it's hard to hear your friend bullied [by] three people we're supposed to respect, and called names like animals...what, an Ewok?" [A nearby reporter added 'penguin' and Lacey nodded.]

"The distasteful words," she continued,  "it's unnecessary. It's rude, especially with all these anti-bullying things going on. It's unnecessary. I feel embarrassed to be standing there when he doesn't deserve to be treated like that. I actually lost it backstage. I was crying because I was so hurt, because he's my friend and I'm sitting here, listening to people say these things to him and it's awful."

Chaz added, "It's one thing if you want to say, 'Your hold wasn't good here, or your footwork.'"

Lacey jumped in, "Tonight there was only one person who did say that. It was Len. He said, 'Your frame could have been stronger,' which was true. He said, 'You could have done more heel leads,' which is true. However, when people pick apart your personality, which has nothing to do with this show, and then you have someone calling you an animal, it's completely inappropriate."

Lacey said that the dancers are not allowed to have talks with the judges, so no one has had private conversations about this. "Here's the thing," Lacey said. "The three judges - and I'm not going to speak poorly of their professions or what they have done in their careers, but they have no business saying the things that they do. This is a dance competition, not a favorites competition, and you guys clearly know who the favorites are in this competition. It's very visible."

"I find it insulting," Chaz told us. "I feel like one judge in particular, week after week, paints me as this - I don't know - chubby, cuddly little Ewok, little penguin..."  Lacey finished, "...who doesn't have the personality for dancing."

Chaz's mom Cher took to Twitter to defend her son, saying:

"Chaz U Worked HARD &I'M PROUD! Tango is Tough! I Thought u were Very " Phantom"Know you're Dissapointed By Score!ME 2 ! Remember ur a BONO

"That guy has NO RM 2 TALK LITTLE PENGUINS

"IS IT DWTS Or LOOKING PERFECT WTS? ITS EASY 4 HIM 2 TAKE CHEAP SHOTS AT CHAZ ! LET HIM COME 2 'MY' STAGE

"I COULD TEACH HIS LITTLE ARM WAVING ASS SOME MANNERS ! Critique CHAZ'S DANCE STYLE, MOVEMENTS ETC,.BUT DON'T MAKE FUN OF MY CHILD ON NAT.TV

"IT'S NOT ABOUT CHAZ WINNING ! HE'S DOING HIS BEST& HE WILL STAY AS LONG AS HE STAYS ! THATS 'SHOW BUSINESS' BUT, DONT B UNKIND 4 NO REASON"

Watch Chaz and Lacey dance the Tango below and decide for yourself.

Photo/Video credit: Disney/ABC
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