Blame it on the rhumba

It’s halftime on “Dancing with the Stars,” the midpoint of this season’s competition, and still there is little to be excited about. Even on the “hottest night of the season” as Latin dance night is billed, there was little sizzle to be had amid all the attempts at the sensuous rhumba and sexy-playful samba.

Cutting to the chase, Priscilla Presley’s costume was positively horrendous. Her rhumba wasn’t much better. Gotta hand it to her, though, the 62-year-old did the splits! The judges looked positively bored and she only managed 21 points.

Cristian de la Fuente is one hot, hot, hot Latin, but his rhumba failed to ignite any heat. Score: 23 points. Jason Taylor was just gorgeous as he navigated the romantic rhumba and snagged an impressive 27 points. But it was princess Kristi Yamaguchi who soared through her dynamic rhumba to a score of 29 points. Judge Len Goodman had “3 words” for her performance: “Fab U Lous!”

Over on the samba end of things, it was one big yawn. Shannon Elizabeth was almost unrecognizable underneath heavy HEAVYmakeup and wig, and her samba was equally unrecognizable. 23 points was all the leggy one could muster. Things started to percolate when Mario delivered a sultry samba, thanks to some pretty heady advice he got earlier in the week from superstar Stevie Wonder who told him to “Let your soul dance.” Sounds like a great title for a new song, Stevie.

The night’s biggest thrill and saddest moments were reserved for Marissa Jaret Winokur and Marlee Matlin. Winokur danced her bloomin’ heart out as Len would probably say, shaking everything she had for a fabulous samba. The judges robbed her of what should have been a round of 7s, giving the perky plus-sized firecracker a measly 24 points. The audience rightfully booed in disbelief. Marlee Matlin was nothing short of inspiring during her samba, earning a standing-O for her valiant effort. The samba is the slowest ballroom dance, commanding precise rhythm; there’s no place to hide if that rhythm is off. And if a dancer can’t hear the music, it’s almost impossible to sustain the dance’s incredibly hard movements. Matlin’s hearing impairment alas was her downfall as she slipped and tripped through the difficult dance. But she’s a champ for staying with it and standing tall as she received her score of 22. The judges all praised her efforts. GO MARLEE!!

What were you looking at? Karina Smirnoff, decked out in her skimpy “Big Bird” feathered frock totally looked the part of a Carnivale queen. And her spray-on tan was the deepest (read: ridiculous) of the night, calling to mind that episode of “Friends” where Ross gets sprayed so many times in the tanning booth that his white teeth actually glowed. What is with the fake tan craze? There’s tan and then there’s varnished. Ladies, ease up a bit already.

Samantha Harris Stupid Moment: Drats!! There was none.

Quip of the night: “There’s more bounce to the ounce.” Judge Len Goodman, happily praising Marissa’s samba prowess.

Prediction for Tuesday night’s elimination: I’m as big a fan of Elvis as there is, but Priscilla has got to leave the building.

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