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Michael Stagliano: I regret trusting 'Bachelor Pad' star Blake Julian


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/14/2011 

Michael Stagliano and his partner Holly Durst were crowned Bachelor Pad's winning couple, beating out Michelle Money and Graham Bunn during Monday night's finale broadcast of the second season of the ABC reality competition, which featured 18 former The Bachelor bachelorettes and The Bachelorette bachelors competing for a $250,000 cash prize.

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However, during the finale, Holly -- whom Michael had desperately fought to win back throughout the season because he was still in love with her and wanted to be with her again -- revealed the heart-breaking news to her ex-fiance that she recently got engaged to fellow Bachelor Pad contestant Blake Julian, whom she had formed a romance with while competing on the show despite having an unresolved relationship history with Michael.

On Tuesday, Michael, a former fifth-season The Bachelorette bachelor, talked to reporters during a conference call. Click here to read Reality TV World's interview with Michael.

Below is the remaining portion of the conference call with Michael in which he discussed his Bachelor Pad experience and victory -- including what he plans to do with his winnings, whether he would ever consider being the Bachelor, what his main regret was from the show, how he wanted to really react after learning of Holly and Blake's engagement for the first time on national television, how he said Blake had betrayed him, and what his honest and blunt opinion of Blake really was.

What do you plan to do with the money you won?

Michael Stagliano: I plan on immediately -- well maybe not immediately, maybe next month -- going on a vacation. I feel like I could use one of those and kind of hit a reset button like for seven days, seven nights somewhere in the Caribbean. I don't know, somewhere warm with a beach and Holly and Blake not around. (Laughs)

And then I'm giving 10% percent of what I -- I go to church every Sunday and the church that I go to, and how I kind of work in life, is giving 10% percent back to the church that I go to. The church that I attend is opening up another church in Ventura, so I'm going to write a check to them to help get that started.

And then the boring stuff like getting rid of my student loans and credit card debt, and yeah, just getting out of debt -- then saving the rest.

Would you ever consider being The Bachelor star if given the opportunity?

Michael Stagliano: I feel like sometimes guys that get asked that sometimes hesitate and are like, "I don't know." Honestly, I'm not ashamed to admit it. Yes, absolutely. I would do it immediately -- well, with some hesitation. I think that it comes with a small curse. I think that you get engaged at the end if it happens that you fall in love or a girl falls in love with you, you get engaged.

But then over the next 10 weeks or so, it's really difficult, and the woman that you're with watches you fall in love with -- or make out with at least -- some other women. It's a tough way to start a relationship, but I certainly know that you can fall in love through the show.

And it's the biggest adventure I think you could do, right? You travel the world and meet 25 beautiful women and eat good food and drink good wine and have an adventure. I'm an adventure hound, so the short answer is 100% percent I would do it.

Do you have any regrets from the show?

Michael Stagliano: Yeah, that's a really fair question. I always kind of dislike -- not dislike, but -- it always seems like kind of a half-truth when people say, "I don't have any regrets! I don't regret anything!" Even when something really bad happens, they're like, "Oh, no. I don't regret that." You know, I do kind of regret some of what happened.

I think mainly, none of this really exactly aired, but kind of putting trust in Blake. Blake and I kind of agreed before it happened to let Holly go on that date, and I talked to Holly about it and I kind of trusted Holly enough and trusted where we were at in getting back together and kissing and kind of falling in love again -- I trusted that maybe a little too much.

Because after Holly went on that date, obviously, everything completely changed. So, yeah, I kind of regret that moment. But in terms of falling in love with her again and opening up with her again, no. I really don't regret that at all.

I say that because after I had broken up with Holly in March and between that date and when we started filming at the beginning of June, I was so turned off to dating and love and just ate ice cream and watched romantic comedies and like cried in the corner, you know?

So even though it was not another girl -- it was just Holly -- it was so good. I gotta love her. I love love. I love falling in love. I love friends that I love. I love family that I love.

So, feeling that again with Holly was really refreshing and I'm really glad for it -- particularly because now I'm on the other side of this whole thing. I'm totally ready to date again! You know what I mean? It kind of needed to happen, so yeah. I don't regret the love stuff.  

Are you excited about the dating possibilities since you came across very well on Bachelor Pad?

Michael Stagliano: I don't know how else to say it. I mean, I'm a nerd. I'm so bad at talking to women and I did an event kind of over the weekend and got so flustered with fans. I just tried to hug everyone and then stumbled through conversations.

So, this sounds so cheesy but it really is true. It's great that women are lining up, yes. And I'm getting emails and Facebook messages and that's great. But I'll take one. One would be great, so that's kind of what I'm looking for just one girl that's all who maybe didn't even watch the show -- would be preferable.

What was going through your mind when Bachelor Pad host Chris Harrison asked you if you knew what was going on during the reunion show just before you learned Holly and Blake got engaged and then what were you thinking once you found out the news?

Michael Stagliano: So, I gave Holly a big hug. We were walking down the steps and Holly actually said -- we sat down immediately and under her breath, she was kind of like, "Something's about to happen." My first thought to that was, "Yes, I know. We're in the finale of Bachelor Pad! Something big is going to happen, like, I know that."

And then when Chris was like, "Do you know where they're at right now?" I thought that they were trying to make that a moment, you know? -- To see if I knew if Holly was moving to South Carolina and moving in with Blake. Let's face it, that's pretty big news too. So, this is embarrassing now, but yeah. I felt totally in control.

I felt great about it, and then when I saw Chris' face say, "Holly, why don't you tell him?" That's when I kind of had that heart drop and I was like, "Oh God, what is there?" And then when she told me, even when Chris was talking, I kept telling my buddies and my family afterwards that I didn't black out, but I had no idea what happened the next 20 minutes.

I knew that Chris kept asking those questions and then I remember kind of stumbling over my words and saying, "Uh, can I get a water or a commercial break would be great?" I kind of remembered that, but watching it last night up at my parents' house, it was honestly like living it for the first time. I didn't really remember anything that I said.

So, my direct response is in that moment, I kind of blacked out. I was immediately thinking about strategy, because Holly and our team's strategy going into the finale was to still be a really strong team. And through it all, I still have her back and she still has mine. I'm so proud to be her partner. She's so proud to be mine.

After I kind of got blindsided by that, I didn't really know how to react. I was just kind of like -- I wanted to... I wanted to scream; I wanted to punch Blake in the face and yell at Holly, but I couldn't do those things because the game was still going on.

You and Holly had talked about getting back together after the show was said and done with, so do you think if Blake hadn't been in the house, things might have turned out differently between you two?

Michael Stagliano: Um, wow. Yeah. If I answer that totally honestly, yeah, I do. Looking back, it's obviously -- I mean, yeah. Holly and Blake are in love. They're engaged and so I don't really wish that necessarily. I don't wish that Blake wasn't there, because that's obviously how things are supposed to have turned out, you know?

Holly has a fiance now. But yeah, I think if Blake wasn't there, yeah. I think I would have gone in a little bit more point and kill. I think -- I didn't want to start things until after the show got done, but yeah -- Holly wouldn't have gone to Blake and would have gone to me instead. It's sad to say that. It sucks.

Putting the drama aside, did you have fun on the show and what were your most memorable moments?

Michael Stagliano: What a great question! Yeah, thank you. I wish I could follow it up with an equally as good answer, but yes. I had a blast. I fell in love with Graham Bunn. I am actually just completely in love with him. He's a really good dude. And [Kirk DeWindt] and [William Holman], they will be lifelong friends and I'm so thankful for that.

We had such a good time. We played a ton of games. I coach a volleyball team for this club and all the coaches in the club know all these little party games and human-trick games and drinking games. So we played those relentlessly in the house. I had a lot of fun because of that.

But yeah, unfortunately, I really did spend a lot of the time really sad. I cried even more than what aired and I cried every episode. So it was equal parts very hard and very sad, but the game part to me was really fun. The challenges were really fun, so yeah. It was a good time Unfortunately, it mixed in with a pretty sad time as well.

What was your opinion of Blake overall and how he played the game?

Michael Stagliano: Sure, it's not that great, but I can kind of disclaim it by saying, "Did I really get to know Blake, really?" No. We did not sit down and share beers and talk really at all. But I think you can tell a lot by someone's actions and also some of by what they say, and I think on both of those accounts, unfortunately I don't think Blake is a good guy.

Two shiny examples of that are I think that if you knowingly manipulate a woman to have feelings for you and kiss her and tell her things and promise her things, and then when she kind of figures out that's not the case and is really upset about it, I think that on national television, for you to call her a shrew of a bitch and Hurricane Melissa and all those things, I think a good guy doesn't do that. I think a good guy would not do that. 

And then none of this really aired -- well none of it aired at all -- but Blake actually kind of made a deal with me. He came to me after he won the kissing contest and said like, "Hey, look, I kind of realized where [Melissa Schreiber] and I are at in the alliance and we're kind of on the outskirts, so I want to make a deal with you where I'll take Holly on a date -- purely for safety reasons, obviously for the rose -- and keep her safe as long as you keep Melissa around."

Again, just one step further with that, he was shaking my hand, he was looking me in the eyes and said like, "I know where you guys are at. I know that you guys are kind of getting back together and that she's your ex-fiancee. I totally get it. It's just purely strategy. I'm going to be totally respectful and not do anything."

And then even when he came up to Holly in the mixer room to take her on a date, he shook my hand again and said, "You have nothing to worry about, man. I'm going to be respectful." And then, he came back and kissed her and tried to tell [Kasey Kahl] and [Vienna Girardi] that the whole thing was my idea. So again, I just don't think a good guy does that, you know?

You don't shake another man's hand telling him you're going to do something and then not do it. And I say that, but then I realize it's a game show. I realize we're all trying to get each other off and get each other riled up, but that's a loaded scenario when it's my ex-fiancee and you know what the situation is. And let's face it, do you know anyone that likes to go to the dentist? Nobody. I don't know anyone. (Laughs)

Did it worsen the blow for you at all knowing that out of all the guys in the house, Holly was interested in dating Blake?

Michael Stagliano: Um, yeah. That's a tough question. I think my overwhelming reaction and response to that was just sad, you know what I mean? I really didn't feel angry at anyone because Holly and I, we're not together, you know? And I broke up with her in March. So she was single on the show. I was single on the show. She was free to date whoever she wanted.

Though I wish she wouldn't have said things and kissed me and done some things to me that she did prior to that, I do also kind of wish that it would have been like Kirk or William or Graham because they're really, really good dudes. Yeah. I couldn't say that about Blake. Because I really do wish the best for Holly. It was upsetting that she chose him, you know?

What did you think of Kasey and Vienna, their gameplay and them in general?

Michael Stagliano: I'll do the game side first. Honestly, really impressed with them in terms of gameplay, and really, they should have been gone the first night. That's kind of obvious. They were a couple so no one can use them as partners and all they have is their votes.

They really did put our alliance together and after that, honestly -- being totally honest -- it was really kind of Graham and I that ran our alliance and ran the show. We kind of used Kasey's ego against him and would literally do the movie Inception with him.

We would go to him and pull him aside and be like, "Hey Kasey, we were just kind of lightly thinking here about voting these people off. Maybe not this person but probably this person. What do you think about that?" -- And then in his own mind think that he came up with everything.

But really, Kirk, Graham and I and our girls were kind of in our alliance for that. And as soon as we could, we were going to get rid of Kasey and Vienna. Yeah, that's gameplay. They played it great. They really did.

In terms of them in general, I think the biggest thing I'd have to say is I feel really bad for them. I really do. I think this has been an incredibly hard six weeks, and I know that getting off the show, they did not think at all that this is how it was going to go down.

They thought that [Jake Pavelka] was going to look really bad and it was going to be this big redeeming show for them -- that they would look great and come out on top. So, I do, I feel bad for them. Obviously as you can see, Kasey is really torn up about how he looks and regrets a lot of what happened and a lot of what he said. So, that makes me feel bad for him.

Were you surprised by Graham's reaction when he first thought you had turned on him and was going to take Kasey and Vienna to the finale with you and Holly instead of him and Michelle Money?

Michael Stagliano: Yeah, you know what? To be totally honest, I loved that reaction and I loved it because it really does just show how much Graham cares about me and is friends with me. And the fact that he thought I didn't reciprocate that and was only playing the game and upset him so much, yeah.

It just makes me love him that much more. He is someone that relentlessly has my back and relentlessly supports me. He blindly supports me and loves me, and so, yeah I completely forgave him and love him to death.

(Photo credit ABC)


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