When you compare the first two seasons of “Bachelor Pad,” it is in some ways really a night-and-day sort of comparison. This most recent installment packed in everyone from drama to dueling exes to even some unexpected romances.
At the end of all this, Michael Stagliano ended up becoming a co-champion alongside his ex-fiancee Holly Durst — though these two didn’t make it to the end without some major bumps along the way. Michael struggled with some of his own feelings for Holly, who was developing a relationship at the same time with fellow contestant Blake Julian (who is now Holly’s fiance).
So what’s life like for fan favorite Michael outside of the show, and what are some of his thoughts on the franchise in general? Our editor-in-chief Matt Carter spoke with him recently in an exclusive — and extensive — interview.
Carter: Compared to some other reality shows, the “Bachelor” franchise tends to be much more singular when it comes to its focus. Was there ever any sort of hesitation on your part to have some much of your romantic life on TV?
Stagliano: That’s a pretty good question. I can only speak for me, but it probably — naively so — didn’t come up on my radar at all. Especially when it came to ‘The Bachelorette,’ because I had never really watched the show before I was on it. Yeah, I didn’t have any concept of my personal love life [on TV] and my feelings for this woman … It was an adventure, and that kind of overshadowed any thought about going on reality television.
We all know editing plays a role on these shows, and sometimes it can be strange. Just look at Michelle Money — she had a rough time on Brad Womack’s season but then came across pretty well on ‘Bachelor Pad.’ Was that something on your mind?
[When it came to Michelle] I didn’t see all of Brad’s season, but that 180 was really interesting to me.
Two days before I left to start filming ‘The Bachelorette,’ one of my parents’ neighbors who was a fanatic of the show said ‘don’t say anything about bad about anyone ever. I’m not exaggerating.’ Yeah, 2-3 days into shooting I kind of realized why she said that. The producers are very good at their jobs, and they interview you every day for hours and hours — I’m not saying they play mental chess with you, but every now and then they’ll slip questions in like ‘what do you think of that a**hole?’ If you’re saying anything negative, they can make it seem as if you’re saying it about anyone. I’m not saying they always do this … but I tried to constantly be aware.
When it comes to villains, everyone knows about Bentley [from Ashley Hebert’s season], but then there were rumblings here and there that [Justin] Rego was upset about no longer being the biggest villain ever during this season. What’s your take on these people — do you think that most of [the villains] are manufactured by the show, or is this something the contestants play up?
I think it’s definitely a little bit of both. I don’t think that Bentley is happy about what happened from what I’ve heard, but Justin R. is a great example of [playing it up]. He is actually a really nice dude off-camera, but then when it is on he’s completely different. The night before he left ‘Bachelor Pad’ before he did his exit interview when the cameras were off he said ‘hey guys, I know it’s my night’ and he gave us all a hug — but then when he actually left [and the cameras were rolling], he was like ‘f*** you guys!’ Honestly, he definitely owns up to it — but he wants to keep up the ‘Rated R’ thing.
Honestly, I think every season they try to find 1-2 guys to make the bad guys, even if they don’t want to be.
So now that it’s been two weeks since shooting the finale, where is your head at now? Are you on speaking terms with Holly and Blake, or some other people on the cast?
Now that I’m two weeks out, everything’s going great versus two days out. I was down and out for about two days after the finale [filmed], honestly. I had a finale party at my parents’ house last Monday, and that was like the turning point for it … I got to talk with everyone I know and it was awesome.
In terms of cast members, I’ll deal with Holly and Blake first. I’m not on speaking terms — not even maliciously, but it wouldn’t be healthy for Holly and I. We’re not talking at all. As far as the other castmates, I love them and talk to most of them not every day, but a lot. I talk to Graham, Kirk, and William all the time, I see Kasey and Vienna at events in Hollywood, and I tweet with Erica and Ella and Melissa.
I love that cast — we became pretty fast friends.
When it came to the finale, I know it was sort of a good-and-bad situation. I know you felt pretty blindsided about the engagement being revealed, but at the same time you ended up getting so much support from the fans — probably more than any other contestant. What has that been like?
I don’t know how else to say it outside of that I really love love. I throw that word around all the time, and the amount of love I’ve gotten back has made it the best two weeks of my life. Every time I go outside people give me giant hugs and say ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘you handled it so well’ and ‘you can be the next Bachelor.’ And I hug ’em back!
Twitter and Facebook are social media for what it’s worth, but Twitter especially there has been nonstop love and I love that. I’m so thankful and humbled by it. I got it pretty good after ‘The Bachelorette,’ but coming of ‘Bachelor Pad’ it’s been like ten times more.
Speaking of the next ‘Bachelor,’ your name was thrown around there for a little while. Was that something you were considering?
They talked about it with me for a little while, but there was certainly never a contract or anything serious. They just said I was being considered along with Ben and Ryan and some other guy.
The turnaround was also really fast — I think that ABC really does make their decision off of fan support, and they made their decision 3-4 weeks before they started filming, and that was like around episode 2 or 3 of ‘Bachelor Pad.’ There just wasn’t enough fan support [for me] yet and they went with Ben, which is good!
Now that it’s after the show, there are a good many people asking if I would do it, and my immediate answer is ‘yes.’ I would do it in a heartbeat. It’s probably one of the best adventures you can go on. Again, I love love, so I would be willing to go fall in love.
Let me ask you this — even though it would be a bit unprecedented, would you consider coming back to ‘Bachelor Pad’ again if they asked you?
Here’s what I’ve heard about ‘Bachelor Pad 3.’ They have pretty much said they can’t beat ‘Bachelor Pad 2’ … just drama-wise. Kasey and Vienna and Jake has been the biggest scandal yet, and the show took a new direction and blew up in terms of fan support. They were giving me a timeline of which seasons were the most popular, and they have kind of used most of the all-star sort of people. They said that they have Rozlyn left, and they have another season of ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ before next summer, and they could pull people from that.
But yeah, they’re going to have to start recycling people, and now that there’s been two [sets of] winners, I wouldn’t be surprised if they threw us into the mix. The short answer is yeah, I would totally do a ‘Bachelor Pad 3,’ but I think if they don’t change the rules, I would be voted off immediately [just like the other winners would].
So what’s normal life for you like now? Are you dating again?
I’m not dating, but I’m open to it. I’m looking for one girl who’s awesome. I’m trying to mack on [‘Dancing with the Stars‘ pro] Chelsie Hightower, that’s a work in progress. She’s so stunningly beautiful in person, and we’ve texted a lot. Haven’t went on a date yet. Cross your fingers for me, Matt!
I will! Hey, she’s not on ‘Dancing’ this season, so she’s got more free time…
As a matter of fact, I’ve almost mentioned that to her specifically!
Away from that, I own a company in the L.A. area called Stesso Sports. We organize after-work sports leagues for adults, and we go to bars afterwards and the bars kick back money to charity. My fall league starts this week, so the last two weeks have been busy setting all that stuff up.
Outside of that I’ve been playing music. I have a show coming up in L.A. at The Roxy on September 30, and I’ ve been practicing with a band. I’ve also been catching up on some sleep, watching some movies.
Thanks again to Michael for sitting down for this interview — and who knows? It’s always possible we’ll see him again on TV soon.