Now that Rodeo’s gone on to that never-ending rainbow in the reality TV sky, we thought it was the perfect chance to catch up with her and learn more about her. (Full disclosure: I didn’t Google her.) Alternately guffawing and crying, depending on where the conversation turned, Rodeo kept me on my toes, to say the least. Certain things she said made me bite my cheeks — it was all I could do to keep from shrieking, “Yee-haw!”
After the jump, Rodeo talks about her untimely exit. She reveals details of the 5,000 or so projects she has in the pipeline (we didn’t even get around to really going into some stuff, like her background in the fitness industry, her burgeoning music career and her love for writing poems). Most importantly, she gives us insight into the power of her hat.
It’s shocking that you were eliminated.
(Starts to cry) It’s sad because these people that are struggling with their health, they watch me on the show and they’re going to be disappointed. I can’t stand it. It’s killing me.
But your impact is undeniable. During the first show, I pegged you to win.
Bret and I had a connection…well, we still have a connection, because of our children. I could not get in touch with my son the day I was eliminated. My son was sick. When I got home, I had to go to the hospital for him. It’s sad that I had to go, but I’m glad that Bret did it in the classiest way I think any man could do.
Well, it sounds like leaving is what you had to do, if your son was in the hospital.
I didn’t know he was in the hospital till I landed, when I was in the airport. He was dehydrated. But I did know that something was wrong and it was bad. I could feel it because I’m a mom. You could see my tears in the episode. I was terrified. But I hated leaving. I hated it. (Crying) You have no idea. I would have won that show, I know it. And I would have kicked their asses on that damn mechanical bull. Because I ride that thing all the time here in Georgia.
Is that how you got your name?
No. I got that name in the fitness industry. This guy put a hat on me and said, “Cindy, put this hat on. You need a trademark if you want to carry your dreams and if you want people to know who you are and how you made a difference.” I thought he was insane. But then I went to Wild Bill’s Concert Hall and some guy hit me on the shoulder when I bought my leather chaps and said, “You look like a Rodeo. You have got to go with this look.” I thought these guys were crazy, but they told me to go with it: “You look beautiful in a hat. The kids love you.” And that’s another thing that’s killing me. The parents are only letting the kids watch Rock of Love when I am on. I cannot believe when I go to the mall how much the kids and teenagers love me because of my hat. They say, “You’re in such good health, you’re such a great mom, you and Bret connected really well,” and they love watching me. They say, “You cannot be eliminated.” They have no idea. And I don’t like letting people down.
Your laugh provided many highlights during your run on the show.
Oh that? (Cracks up) I can’t help that. I love making people laugh. I love having a good time. People love hearing me laugh. A few people from my hometown who haven’t seen me in 10 years, since the last class reunion, said, “We had VH1 on and we were in the kitchen.” And they heard my laugh from the TV and recognized it as me immediately, without seeing the screen.
Do you let your son watch the show?
Certain parts. But in a way, I’m glad that I did leave because I’m not into that both-girls-kissing thing. It’s OK if that’s what they want to do, but that wild stuff, Bret knew that it was not my style. He let me know it was going to be crazy in there.
When it was suspected that Lacey, Brandi C and Heather slept with Bret, I’m not sure we saw your reaction. What was it?
I just thought, you know what? It’s a reality show. Things are going to happen. What are you going to do? It has nothing to do with me.
Tell me about your time in the wheelchair you referenced in the first episode. You were paralyzed?
I was training for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. I was in trials and I broke my feet on the high dive, busted my heels, spun around and broke my feet. I was in the wheelchair for a couple of years. The nerve damage in my feet was horrible. I had to learn how to walk again. It was the worst feeling in my life.
Were you depressed?
I was 18-years-old. Yeah, it depressed me. It took my dreams away. I have not dived since. But then I took that negative I felt and I turned it around. Even when I had 11 years of cancer. Then I found out I was pregnant, and I lost her. I had to deliver her and I named her Brooklyn Nicole. And then I got pregnant with my son and was bedridden with him. I don’t know, this stuff is very, very, very, very touchy to me.
But you don’t really let it get you down.
I take the negative energy and I turn it into positive. It gives me the inner strength to move forward, to accomplish the dreams I want to accomplish. I used to be very heavy, and I lost a lot of weight. That’s why I started working as a personal trainer. To change the lives and the health of others.
What’s your workout like?
I do a lot of cardio. Sometimes I’ll lunge around the whole track. I can lunge around it twice. That’s where I get my legs from. And then I wear heels for my calves. I do hardcore really fast-paced workouts for an hour without stopping. And I eat meat six times a day in order to build the muscle that I have. People say that I take steroids, but I don’t. I’m against people saying that because I work hard on my body.
You have a workout DVD on the way?
We’re working on it, it’s going to be called Rodeo’s Legs of Steel.
What else is coming up for you?
I’m going to be the special guest of the evening at the Poison’d Tour after party on September 3 in Atlanta, hosted by C.C. De Ville. I’m going to be working with Make a Wish Foundation because of my cancer history and me losing my little girl before she was born. The poster that they sent us for the after-party has fireworks on it, behind C.C., and that means something to me. I was not able to come out of the bed in that hospital when I was pregnant with my son, but for one day. The doctor said, “Cindy, if there’s a day that you want to go outside, which day would you pick?” I said, “4th of July.” He said, “Why?” and I said, “Because the fireworks light up the sky and the stars and the heavens above and it just brightens my life. It makes me feel closer to God.” But I do a lot of things. My sausage is coming out to benefit people’s health. It’s all natural. And I just got the bottles yesterday for my barbecue sauce that’s coming out. But I’ve been working on this stuff for years.
You’re very entertaining.
Yeah? Well thanks. People say I’m a character. People say I’m funny and just natural but that’s how I am all the time. And then they say, “You don’t understand, we don’t see that on reality shows. We don’t see a classy lady like that on reality shows.” Even CNN has taken notice to me. That’s how powerful my hat is in Atlanta. CNN filmed me a week and a half ago in the gym working out. They’re talking to me about doing Fit Nation two days a month.
What’s your ultimate goal?
I would like to have a TV show where you’d watch me wake up in the morning, buy the foods you need to buy and work out, just something different to bring to the screen. But I would do everything in a hat.
I would watch that everyday it was on.
You’re so silly.
Well, I think people watch me because of the hat and because I’m making a difference and that’s what people want. They want to see me.
Keep up with Rodeo (or, at least, try to) via her MySpace and click these pics to see them in full size.