I have a monkey on my back.
It is a secret addiction, one that has changed my behavior in recent weeks. Some days, I come to work looking haggard and tired, thanks to my addiction.
They say you are only as sick as your secrets. So with that in mind, I will hereby admit mine, in the hope that the confession will offer some sort of help to others likewise afflicted:
I am addicted to "Dancing With the Stars."
It's been going on a long time - since Season 2, actually. (The show, which airs two seasons a year, is currently in the early weeks of Season 16. You do the math.) My friends - the few to whom I have previously admitted my "problem" - are often incredulous. They find it hard to believe that "a guy of (Craven's) taste" can find pleasure in a show that is, in equal parts, hokey, sentimental, artificial and old-fashioned. They mock the program's casting of minor, Grade D celebrities, its kitschy glitz and its tailored drama.
And they're right, as far as that goes. I rarely know any of the so-called "celebrities" going into a season. This year, I was familiar with comic Andy Dick, comedian D.L. Hughley, Olympian skater Dorothy Hamill and singer Wynonna Judd. I had a passing knowledge of soap opera actor Ingo Rademacher, "American Idol" alumnus Kellie Pickler and reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump. Not being much of a sports fan, I was clueless about Super Bowl champion Jacoby Jones, Olympian gymnast Aly Raisman and boxer Victor Ortiz. I had never heard of Disney Channel star Zendaya, and I am still not entirely certain what it is that Sean Lowe has done to achieve fame. He seems to be a professional virgin, from what I can gather.
It doesn't matter. By the end of the 13-week season, they will all feel a bit like family to me. There is something strangely compelling about seeing famous people exert themselves outside of their comfort zones. So much of our celebrity culture is fed to us like predigested worms to a baby bird - carefully choreographed and safe as houses. But watching a celebrity - even a bargain basement celebrity - fall on his or her keister live in front of 14 million people carries a weight we are otherwise unaccustomed to in this day and age.
And then there are the professional dancers who are the real stars of the show. Anyone who watches a few episodes of "DWTS" and doesn't walk away thinking Derek Hough is a bit of a genius just isn't paying attention. You can denigrate ballroom dancing as a relic of another age if that's your wont, but watching a young athlete like Hough maneuver his sometimes clumsy partner through choreography routines clever enough for the Broadway stage can be breathtaking. -And he is only one of the amazing pros who help make the show a scintillating secret sin.
So my name is Craven, and I am a "DWTS"-aholic. But don't expect me to jump on the wagon. This is one craving Craven shan't curb. -
Notes is funded in part by the Gill Foundation's Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, a proud supporter of Colorado organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, and their work to protect and defend civil rights and liberties for all.
Craven Lovelace produces Notes, a daily cultural history of popular music, for KAFM 88.1 Community Radio, kafmradio.org. You can visit cravenlovelace.com for more of his musings on the world of popular culture.