Holly Durst isn’t the only one who found love during Bachelor Pad Season 2. “I fell in love with Graham Bunn,” Michael Stagliano told reporters on Tuesday, the day after he won BP2 with his ex-fiancee, Holly. “Literally just completely in love with him. He’s a really good dude.” (Back off, he’s ours! After Michelle Money, anyway.)
But seriously, Stag is not happy about the way things played out. And he needs a vacay — with or without Graham. “Somewhere warm with a beach and Holly and Blake not around.” That’s part of what he’ll do with the $125,000 he won on BP2 — half the $250K jackpot he must share with his ex.
They were on really good terms until the finale. Now he’s hurt. And he was open about his feelings in the media conference call. A few hours earlier, Holly had her own exit interview, saying it was wrong that she wasn’t able or allowed to contact Stag to tell him about her new engagement to their fellow Padmate Blake Julian. Stag had to be blindsided on TV during the finale. “It was really sh*tty what she did,” Michael said. Even if ABC blocked her from contacting him, if the situation were reversed, he never would’ve gone on that stage and let Holly be blindsided. He would’ve put his foot down and said no way. (Good point! Why didn’t she do that?) He was mad. He wanted to punch Blake and yell at Holly. But he didn’t.
He’s not terribly fond of them right now, especially Blake. “I don’t think Blake is a good guy,” he says, and he explains why. But it doesn’t matter. Holly chose Blake. They are engaged and Stag is riding solo. But chances are he’ll have plenty of options for new special lady friends since every girl who watched the show is kind of in love with him now. He admits he would absolutely say yes to being The Bachelor, although he calls himself a nerd and says he’s horrible about talking to ladies. Hard to believe since he easily charmed all the women on the conference call.
Read on for more from Stag, including the part where he says he and Graham really ran the show, playing Inception with Kasey Kahl so he would think he made the decisions.
What do you plan to do with your winnings?
Michael: 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 set a reset button, like a seven days/seven nights somewhere, maybe the Caribbean. I don’t know. Somewhere warm with a beach and Holly and Blake not around. 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 work in life, is giving 10 percent back to the church that I go to. And the church that I attend is opening up another church in Ventura and I’m going to write a check to them to help get that started. And then the boring stuff like, you know, getting rid of my student loans and some credit card debt. And yeah, just getting out of debt and then saving the rest.
If you were ever offered this, would you consider being The Bachelor? We all want to see you be happy and find love.
Michael: That’s very sweet and it’s kind of a — I feel like sometimes guys that get asked that, like, hesitate and they’re like “Well, I don’t know and...” Honestly, I’m not ashamed to admit it, yes, like, absolutely I would do it immediately without any — well, with some hesitation. It comes with a small curse. I think that you get engaged at the end, if that happens if you fall in love and the girl falls in love with you. You get engaged then the next 10 weeks or so it’s really difficult. The woman that you’re with watches you fall in love, or make out with at least, some other women and 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? I mean, 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.
How close did you come to picking “keep” and keeping the money? It looked like you were seriously considering keeping the money, but were you just playing it up for the cameras a little bit?
Michael: That’s a good question. It’s so bad to say this but, you know, honestly one of the things I thought about in the deliberation room is really playing out both sides — if I chose share, if I chose keep. One of the things I could’ve said in choosing “keep” right before I pulled it is “Holly, you got Blake out of this and that’s great” and then pulled the thing and been like “And you know what, I’m going to take the money out of this.” And I think the audience at least, and people watching, I really don’t think people would’ve been like “He’s horrible for doing that! What an a**hole!” I think that would’ve made some amount of sense. But a bigger part of me was screaming that, you know, I shook Holly’s hand before this, I shook her hand during it, I shook her hand literally on stage, we kind of talked about it as soon as we sat down in our commercial break that, you know, we were going to split it. I made her that promise and I just, it’s really important to me to keep promises I make, especially to people that I really care about. And at the end of the day that’s obviously what played through.
Holly referred to a conversation you had before the show, saying you didn’t want to get back together on the show, you wanted to wait until afterward. Can you talk about that?
Michael: Yeah, Holly and I talked about a week before we went on the show and actually then kind of hung out the next few days … and it was great. It was super friendly and then getting there, it was kind of a quick evolution for me. The first one or two days I really did want to keep things platonic and just be her partner and be a strong team and allies to the end. And then, you know, I just hung out with her so much and got to see her so much and laugh with her so much and we’d have these little one-on-one conversations by ourselves kind of away from everyone that I really started to fall for her again. So, yeah I totally wanted to [get back together] but — I’m sure this doesn’t sound that crazy — I just didn’t think the Bachelor Pad — that environment with cameras around and the stress of the game and everything going on — was the best place to rekindle things, you know, and to say “We’re in a relationship.” I was worried about the show starting to air or the show ending and looking back and thinking like “We started this in the bubble of the Bachelor Pad,” you know what I mean, which unfortunately isn’t the real world. It’s really not. We absolutely talked about getting back together afterwards and going to … our favorite spot in Hollywood and, yeah, going on dates and her coming back up to my parents’ house and seeing everyone again. We really talked about those things but I was, I was pretty adamant about waiting.
We just talked to Holly and she said it seemed like things were OK between the two of you and Blake at the end of the finale, but suggested something happened in the last week and it’s not the case anymore. Can you tell us anything about that?
Michael: Sure, I don’t think there’s anything specific that happened. I just think that, yeah, going into the finale, Holly and I were — I was on very good terms with her and was so excited to be up there next to her. I gave her a big hug when I came out. I was really proud of us and really proud to be her teammate and really felt like we had a good strategy … so I felt great. But you know what, I don’t think there’s another way to say it, it was really sh*tty what she did and what happened. I really do feel like ABC had their role in keeping that information from me, I totally get that, but you know Blake and Holly both have said — what does this sentence mean, they said “We tried to call you.” You know what I mean? They had 48 hours, they got engaged on Sunday, the finale filmed on Tuesday. They had maybe 36 hours, but like I don’t get what that sentence means “I tried to call you.” It’s 2011, if you pick up a phone and dial the number that’s my number, I’ll pick it up in seconds. So, and then, even to take it a step further, just out of respect for me — which I have certainly shown Blake and Holly the utmost respect this entire time, especially Holly — I think I would’ve gotten, I KNOW I would’ve gotten to the point where if the situation were reversed I would have not gone on stage. I would’ve put my foot down and said “There’s no way we’re going to let this happen. That we’re going to let him get blindsided and not find out about the engagement until he’s on national television and in front of a live studio audience and has the whole pressure of the game on him and then boom.” You know what I mean? I really feel like that was really terrible and really hurt me a lot and made me really disappointed in Holly. I really wish I could say it differently. I tried to handle it the best I could on the show, which was not freaking out and blowing up ‘cause I was really upset. But yeah, that really, really upset me and makes it really hard to, yeah, be great friends with Holly and be great friends with Blake and really wish them well. And I do, I do wish them well but, yeah, you know, it really upsets me.
You showed a lot of emotion throughout the show. Is there anything you regret watching the show back, maybe showing everything you were feeling or the things you told Holly?
Michael: Yeah, that’s a really fair question. I always kind of dislike, not dislike, it seems kind of a half-truth when people say, like, “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.” I do kind of regret some of what happened. I think mainly — none of this really exactly aired — but putting trust in Blake. Blake and I kind of agreed before it happened to let Holly go on that date. I talked to Holly about it, I 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 bit too much, because after Holly went on that date everything completely changed. Yeah I kind of regret that moment. In terms of falling in love with her again and opening up with her again, no I really don’t regret that at all. And I say that because after I had broken up with Holly in March, between that date and we started filming in the beginning of June, I was so turned off to dating and love — and just like eating ice cream and watching romantic comedies and crying in the corner. You know, so like even though it was not another girl, it was just Holly, it was so good — I’m a lover. 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, specifically because now I’m on the other side of this whole thing and I’m totally ready to date again. It kind of needed to happen.
Are you excited to date again? You must have people lined up outside to get your number? Are you excited about the possibilities or nervous or overwhelmed?
Michael: I don’t know how to say it. I’m a nerd. I’m so bad at talking to women. I did an event over the weekend and got so flustered with fans and just trying to hug everyone and stumbled through conversations. This sounds so cheesy but it really is true, it’s great that, you know, women are lining up and I’m getting e-mails and Facebook messages, that’s great, but I’ll take one. One would be great, you know. That’s kind of what I’m looking for, just one girl that maybe didn’t even watch the show.
Tell us what you were thinking when Chris Harrison said you didn’t know what was going on, and then Holly told you she was engaged.
Michael: So I gave Holly a big hug, we were walking down the steps and Holly actually said, we sat down and immediately under her breath she was like “Something’s about to happen.” My first thought to that was “Yes, I know, we’re in the finale of Bachelor Pad. Something very big, like I know that.” Then when Chris was like “Do you know where they’re at right now?” I thought they were trying to … see if I knew that 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 I felt totally in control. I felt great about it, but I saw Chris’s face say “Holly, why don’t you tell him.” That’s when I had that kind of heart drop and I was like “Oh God, what is this?” And then from when she told me — actually you know what, even like when Chris was talking, I kept telling my buddies and my family afterward, I didn’t black out but I have no idea what happened the next 20 minutes. I knew that Chris kind of kept asking us questions and I remember kind of stumbling over my words and saying like “Can I get a water or a commercial break would be great.” I kind of remember that, but watching it last night up at my parents’ house, it was honestly like living it for the first time. I didn’t remember anything that I said. My direct response in that moment, I kind of blacked out. I was immediately thinking about strategy because Holly and I’s team strategy going into the finale was to still be a really strong team. Through it all I still have her back, she still has mine, I’m still proud to be her partner, she’s still proud to be mine. And then after I kind of got blindsided by that I didn’t really know how to react. … I wanted to scream, I wanted to punch Blake in the face and like, you know, yell at Holly. But I couldn’t do those things because the game was still going on.
You mentioned earlier that you and Holly had talked about getting back together. Do you think things would’ve been different if Blake wasn’t in the house?
Michael: Wow, yes if I answer that totally honestly, yeah I do. Holly and Blake are in love, they are engaged and so I don’t really wish that necessarily. I don’t wish that Blake wasn’t there — that’s obviously how things are supposed to have turned out. Holly has a fiance now. But yes I think if Blake wasn’t there, yeah, I would’ve gone in a little bit more — and I think, I didn’t want to start things till after the show got done, but I think Holly wouldn’t have gone to Blake and would’ve gone to me instead. It’s sad to say that. It sucks.
As viewers we mainly saw your drama with Holly and the difficult times. Did you have any good times too? Can you share some memorable moments.
Michael: Yes, I had a blast. I fell in love with Graham Bunn. Literally just completely in love with him. He’s a really good dude. And Kirk and William, they’re just — 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 party games and human trick games and drinking games, so we played those relentlessly and had a lot of fun becuse 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. It was equal parts very hard and very sad but the game parts of me, the challenges were really fun.
What was your opinion of Blake and how he played the game and your opinion of him overall?
Michael [laughs]: You know 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, like, share beers and talk really at all. I think you can tell a lot by someone’s actions and also somewhat by what they say and I think on both of those accounts, yeah, unfortunately I don’t think Blake is a good guy. 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 really the case and is really upset about it, I think for — 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, came to me after he won the kissing contest and said “Hey, look I kind of realize where Melissa and I are at in the alliance, 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 strategy reasons, I’ll give her the rose and keep her safe as long as you keep Melissa around.” And, again, just one step further with that, he was shaking my hand, he looked me in the eyes and said, like, “I know where you guys are at. I know that you guys are trying to get back together, 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 to take her on the date, he shook my hand again and said “Look, you have nothing to worry about, man, I’m going to be respectful.” And then came back, you know, and kissed her. And then tried to tell Kasey and Vienna that the whole thing was my idea. So, again, I just don’t think a good guy does that. You don’t shake another man’s hand, telling him you’re going to do something, then not do it. 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 you know that’s a little different 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?
What was your reaction when Holly started developing feelings for Blake? Was it hard to see her dating anyone, or specifically because it was Blake?
Michael: I think my overwhelming reaction in response to that was just sad. I really didn’t feel angry at anyone because Holly and I weren’t together 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 although I wish she wouldn’t have said and kissed me and done some things she did to me prior to that. I do also kind of wish that, yeah, it would’ve been like Kirk or William or Graham because they’re really, really good dudes and, yeah, I couldn’t say that about Blake. Because I really do wish the best for Holly. It was upsetting that she chose him.
We know you only found out about the engagement on the reunion show and we saw your reaction. But when did you find out Holly was planning to move from L.A. to South Carolina to live with Blake, and what was your reaction?
Michael: I found out about two weeks before we started taping. So I guess about three weeks ago now. I actually had to ask her, because I had heard from some of the castmates that she was moving, so I said “Are you moving to South Carolina?” and she said “Yes, I’m moving with with him.” Then I said “Do you have a job out there lined up? What are you going to do?” She said she didn’t know. And then, I didn’t say anything. Obviously I wanted to say a lot of things but I’m the last person in the world whose opinion matters in that scenario. So I didn’t say anything. And all she said after that was “I don’t know what I’m doing.” She had tears in her eyes. I think I kind of made a face after she said all that I was like “ugh.” … And then I didn’t say anything. I just gave her a big hug and we said goodbye. It was great, honestly, like when we talked it was great. But, yeah. Again, I don’t know fully the relationship. I’m sure they’re great and she’s obviously very in love and I really do hope it works out, but I think it’s tough. I think she’s going down a tough road. She’s removed herself from everyone she knows and loves out here and from her job and doesn’t have a job out there and is moving in with him, a dude she’s only known for two or three months. So, yeah, I think that just sounds tough.
Were you surprised you won? Did you expect Graham and Michelle to take the majority of the votes or did you think you were sailing to victory?
Michael: Oh no, definitely not sailing to victory. And yeah, I was surprised I won, especially with a 10 to 4 vote. I was sure it was going to be like, what is it, 9 to 5 or an 8 to 6 split. We were trying to go over names, like who we thought we had locked in as votes and who we thought Michelle and Graham had locked in as votes. And on each side I think we had four people pretty sure that were going to vote for us and three people we were pretty sure were going to vote for Graham and Michelle. And really the other seven people in the game we didn’t know at all how they were going to vote. I was definitely not expecting to win and very surprised when I did.
How hard or easy was the decision to pick Graham and Michelle to take the finale? Did you come close to picking Kasey and Vienna instead?
Michael: Yeah, it was kind of an evolution because, again, I love Graham — and Michelle, as people and as friends. I love them so much, they’re like family and were so supportive of me. In that regard it was like a no-brainer to take them. I couldn’t even imagine ditching them, but yeah, Holly and I had a lot of chances to just talk alone and be away from Graham and Michelle. We had a day of travel back from Vegas, and you really do start thinking about the fact that sometimes Bachelor Pad doesn’t even seem like a game show but just kind of seems like a soap opera where Michael cries all the time. But, you know, it was a game show, it’s a game, you know, so we were thinking like, dammit, if we take Graham and Michelle, especially in that moment, we really thought that they would win. And that’s pretty sh*tty. And, again, the opposite is we thought if we took Kasey and Vienna we would certainly win in that scenario. We really did struggle with it for a while and ultimately it came down to, yeah, we had just voted off so many people because of the game that we really liked and we just didn’t want to do that anymore. Once we talked to Graham and Michelle they said “Do whatever you want to do and we’ll love you no matter what ‘cause we totally get it and we’ll be your friends no matter what.” And I just wanted to honor that and reciprocate that and be like “You guys are awesome, so, let’s go to the finale together.”
What did you think of Kasey and Vienna and their game play and of them in general?
Michael: Honestly, really impressed with them in terms of game play and, really, they should’ve been gone the first night. That’s kind of obvious. They’re a couple so no one can use them as partners and all they have is their vote. And they really did put our alliance together, then after that, honestly, being totally honest, it was really kind of Graham and I that ran our alliance and ran the show and we kind of used Kasey’s ego against him and literally would do the movie Inception with him. And we’d just kind of go to him, pull him aside and be like “Hey, Kasey, we were just kind of lightly thinking here about voting these people off, or this person but probably this person, what do you think about that?” And he’d just, in his own mind, think he came up with everything. But really, Kirk, Graham and I and our girls were kind of [running] our alliance and as soon as we could we were going to get rid of Kasey and Vienna. But game play, they played it great, they really did. In terms of them in general, I think the biggest thing I have to say is I feel really bad for them. I really do. I think this has been incredibly hard each week and I think that — actually I know that getting off the show they did not think at all that this was how it was going to go down. They thought that Jake was going to look really bad and it was going to be this big redeeming show for them, that they would look great, coming out on top. So I do, I feel bad for them. Obviously 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.
The part on the show where Graham was freaking out because he thought you were going to pick Kasey and Vienna, were you surprised by his reaction there? Did you forgive him for that?
Michael: To be totally honest, like, 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 back and was only playing the game, it upset him so much. Yeah, it just makes me love him that much more. And he is someone that relentlessly has my back and relentlessly supports me, almost blindly supports me and loves me. So, yeah, I completely forgave him and love him to death.