“I think people thought I was either really smart or they thought I was a trash bag,” Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch‘s Tara tells us regarding her love-it-or-hate-it personality. In the interview below, the show’s class clown talks about her refusal to take reality TV seriously, the eyebrow-raising comments about race she made on the show and why she’s looking into a “slutty puppet master” Halloween costume…
You know what I find funny? The idea that reality TV is something to be taken very seriously. What a concept.
Yeah, I don’t know. I was there just to have fun, mainly, and I did. If people thought I was making fun of them in the process, that’s unfortunate, but what’s done is done, so whatever.
Do you feel like the center or the star of the show?
Uh, if I imagine the show without me, it would probably be more boring. I think that a lot of the funny moments were based around me.
It’s interesting that in talking to other women on the show who might even resent you, most of them at least concede that you were good TV.
I think they were few and far between, but I guess there was a couple. I don’t know, I wasn’t amused by any of them.
Really? You seemed to be having a good time. You seemed to make the most of your material.
There were parts that I totally enjoyed, and there were parts where it was like, “This is not what I signed up for.” I’m a people-watcher who then analyzes things in my head. I would watch what was going on when the other girls were totally oblivious. I would make fun of things that nobody else noticed. A lot of the Twitter people have been writing that I was so fake and that I’m such an airhead and a dumb blonde. I think there’s no gray with my personality and there’s never been. My friends growing up said about the show, “Oh, people will love you or they’ll hate you, but that’s how it’s been your whole life.” I think people thought I was either really smart or they thought I was a trash bag. I think I have a brain. I think you have to be intelligent to be quick-witted.
Many of the girls contended that you were miserable from the start – that you repeatedly said you hated the show, and not even sarcastically. Was that true?
The show wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, and I knew as early as when we were on the field. It was overwhelming. I was overwhelmed by the cameras and the lack of privacy and the fact that there was never a minute if you just needed a break. That doesn’t exist in reality TV, and I wasn’t aware of that. It wasn’t that I was miserable, it was that I was overwhelmed. And then there was being with so many girls with all their different personalities. I’m very picky about my friends – I’ve had the same friends for 15 years. I don’t like girls that don’t understand my personality or who don’t have personalities.
What about Chad? Did you ever develop feelings for him?
I thought Chad was really, genuinely a nice guy. I think the idea of a reality show sounded so fun to him, but once he got there, he was a little disinterested. The girls would be surrounding him, and I’d be standing off to the side, watching him fall asleep. He would be sleeping and the girls would be petting him. All I could think was, “Oh my god, this guy is so bored.” I don’t think I’m the only one who felt that. I just don’t think this was what he was looking for. I mean, I feel like everyone’s there more for the experience and the exposure than for the chocolate.
Is that what it came down to for you: experience and exposure?
I’d seen Chad on television. I don’t live in a box. I’m a sports fan. He’s very charismatic. He’s very playful and charming. I was going for the experience and if anything were to come out of it other than that, it would have been a bonus. I got the opportunity to do things that other girls dream about. It’s some girls’ dream to be in a mansion and on a private plane. Not to sound like a brat, but I’ve done all that. So anything else was a bonus. It was cool to see the production side of things. It was cool that a lot of fuss was made over us girls – people just making sure we were happy and had everything. That was interesting.
So then was there any surprise when you shared a bath with him that turned to be less than sexy?
People think, “Oh, that’s so funny that you said 129 degrees.” There was a thermometer in the tub. It was 129 degrees! I think they filled it thinking it was going to take us longer to get there than it did, so when we sat down it was still sweltering. It was a cauldron of lava. It’s hard to be romantic when you’re thinking to yourself, “Am I taking my last breath on earth? Am I dying of a heat stroke?”
But at that point you were still open to Chad? You felt like there was some chemistry there?
Yeah, I didn’t shut down to the idea of liking Chad ever. I’m not the witch everyone thinks I am. Deep down in there, there’s a heart. In the tub, I was super hot and that was the only thing on my mind. I couldn’t stop thinking about my sweat mustache and that I was sweating all my makeup off.
Even though it was your undoing, I admired you for sticking to your guns and not changing your personality when it was requested that you get serious.
I couldn’t be. I felt like ultimately I came off as the person who was having the most fun. I was the one who was laughing and making jokes 24/7. I feel like I already said it best: no love lost, no love found. I could only be myself. And look what happened to Jasmine: she was pretty abrasive in the beginning, and Chad used that against her in the end. I feel like when I’m being myself, I’m funny. Over everything else, I wanted to come off as funny and carefree and that’s exactly how I am.
Any regrets on clapping — or appearing to do so — about Lisa’s grandfather’s cancer?
I never wish anything bad upon anyone. From the jump, Lisa came off as aggressive and negative toward everyone. I don’t know if her idea was to have everybody hate her, but I don’t get along with mean girls. I’m not mean, I’m sarcastic. Me and Ericka wish the best for Lisa and everyone in her family, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy to see her go.
What did you think about the “puppet master” allegation: that you were controlling Ericka and Laurice?
It’s so funny. I want to be a puppet master for Halloween. I’ve been thinking, “How would I make a slutty puppet master outfit?” I just really got along with those girls. They laughed at my jokes, and I was really sad when they left, like, “Boo, this isn’t going to be fun anymore.”
Did you catch any heat for the arguably racial things that you said throughout your time on the show?
I wouldn’t say “heat” is the right word but there’s a lot of people on Twitter whose whole lives are reality television watch it and after anything I say, it’s like, “Oh this girl said this…!” I wouldn’t have gone on the show if I was racist, first of all. I am attracted to black guys. That’s part of the reason why I went on the show. Otherwise, I am totally colorblind. I don’t have a racial bone in my body. I joke, I say things like, “I’m Irish, I’m a drunk,” but I don’t seriously see colors. I feel bad for anybody who’s bored enough to over-think things and call me a racist.
Your comments were at least bold: when Chad asked you what your mom would think about you dating a black guy, your immediate response was, “Is he robbing the place?” I understand that’s more a joke about racism than race, but it’s still bold given people’s sensitivity.
I am not easily offended, clearly, but I also had felt Chad out. I knew he wouldn’t be mad about that and it was never an issue. He never was like, “Can you not?” or, “You’re crazy.” In that clip, who was laughing just as hard as me? Him with his big red tongue. He’s hysterically laughing. There was never a moment I don’t think where Chad wasn’t entertained by me. So, at the end of the day was Chad taking it really seriously? We’ll never know. But were there definitely some good laughs between us? Absolutely.
Does that piss you off though? A big deal was made about you not taking this seriously, when you suspect that Chad wasn’t either?
At the end of the day, it’s his show and we’re just part of it. He can act however he wants. I’m not an idiot going into a VH1 show and thinking, “Oh my god, I’m gonna marry this guy!” I know what the f*** is up, basically. I don’t know how seriously he took it. I’m not in Chad’s brain. I think that he probably just had a lot going on while filming, but you know, that’s his life. I wasn’t there to figure him out. I don’t know what I was there for. Ha ha, I’m still working on that answer.
I’m sure you saw the Los Angeles Times write-up about you. That must have been flattering.
When I saw the L.A. Times write-up, I’d been having a rough day. I read a blog about me where people said some really rotten things. And you know then to read something like that in the L.A. Times, I felt super vindicated. The people that you really want to appreciate your humor are the critics, not the idiots, or the little people who are judging you because they’re mean. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel super f***ing vindicated and I posted that on my Facebook like ten times, like “Read this.”
Jon Caramanica really got you. You know who else did? You: you laughed at yourself when Chad played back your counseling session.
Oh my god, I was so amused. Everyone else was looking at me horrified. I just feel like at the end of the day, if you’re not laughing, what’s the point? My friends that were watching laughed, my viewers laughed. It wasn’t serious. I feel like ultimately I won. I really do. I didn’t act like a jerk. I didn’t humiliate myself. I mean, I probably did a couple things here and there like, “Oh man, shouldn’t have said that.” But you know ultimately I feel like people have been entertained by me and I really do feel like I’ve won.
Speaking of that elimination, do you have any thoughts on your highly controversial tuxedo dress?
Everyone else was really dressed up. It was like a pretty serious elimination ’cause we thought two girls were being sent home and the Top 2 would be picked from there. All the girls were all dressed up in their little hoochie dresses and I just felt like, “F***, why change anything now?” I just wanted to act like the class clown. And so I did. They were so pissed by that. Brittany was so pissed. She literally had a look of hate in her eyes looking at me wearing that. And I was just like, “Puh-lease.” I wish I had a top hat to wear with it.
What do you make of your elimination? Instead of a proper ceremony he took you aside, and tried to get you to talk seriously and you refused. The whole thing seemed kind of weird.
Yeah, I feel like I honestly could’ve played that either way. If I would’ve jumped on top of him and started making out with him, I could’ve stayed. But you know, right before it went down, I just had an argument with Rubi. I was just kind of mentally exhausted. I’m not confrontational. I don’t like people fighting, I don’t like yelling. I’ll joke around but nothing I do is ever really malicious. But by the time I got up there to the rooftop with Chad, I kind of just borderline wanted to kill myself. I was just over it. I could’ve stayed there the rest of the night and went to dinner with Chad’s mom and ended it with a long, drawn-out elimination. I could’ve probably done a cannonball off the f***ing dock and you know, then moonwalked out of there. But I just felt like, “I’ll just leave now, bye.” And he was like “OK, bye.” I actually was singing and dancing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” but they didn’t show it. I did a full-on routine.
It’s a shame we didin’t get to see that. Have you been bit by the entertainment bug as a result of this show? Are you going to continue to pursue TV?
Like I said, this was just an experience. Anything that comes on top of it would be great. I’m interested in any opportunities that come my way. But I think with the reality thing, you burn out really fast. You have like two seconds. I’m on my one and a half second, so we’ll see what happens.
That’s a great way to look at it.
I’m very literal. I’m a realist. So we’ll see what the chances are of anything else coming up, but I won’t turn anything down.
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