After winning Rock Of Love, seven time Penthouse Pet Taya Parker did not just ride into the sunset with 80’s rock star Bret Michaels. Their post-show honeymoon period was cut short when Michaels was diagnosed with heart problems, leaving Parker in a strange limbo of the “reality TV show girlfriend”. Parker discusses where the two of them stand now, and what exactly went down after the cameras stopped rolling. She tells all about her experience on the “Love Bus”, her “vajayjay” and why she could never date Mitt Romney.
LIFESTYLE ETC: Where does your relationship with Bret stand now?
PARKER: We keep up with one another; he’s a great guy and there are no hard feelings. Once he was okay and the smoke cleared I had 100% respect for him. It made me care about him more as a person. Bittersweet as it was, it was meant to be.
LIFESTYLE ETC: How has your life changed since the show?
PARKER: At first there was a lot of backlash, but my life really hasn’t changed a lot since the show. Most girls go on the show for a career and to be seen, but I went on the show and I was already someone in my own right. I wasn’t a party girl or anything. I told Bret regularly “I have my shit”, I do have my own thing and he respected that. I wasn’t interested in being Bret’s TV girlfriend, I wanted to have a real relationship with Bret.
LIFESTYLE ETC: Other girls came forth and said they were in love with him towards the end of the season, did you love Bret by the finality of the show?
PARKER: (Taya laughs and lifts a perfectly manicured finger over her mouth) It’s impossible to fall in love on reality TV. Girls that are on these shows are either confused by the limelight and excitement of fame, or feel like they are supposed to feel something towards someone whether its real or not.
I’m not 18, I’m a grown woman and a mother. I could have said I loved him but it was important to me that I genuinely meant it, not just through the good times with 20 girls around trying to love him, too. It was hard not to get caught up in the game of it all; that’s not real, reality TV is not reality.
LIFESTYLE ETC: Your season was unique in that all 20 of the girls had to live on tour buses for the duration of filming, how do you think that affected your run?
PARKER: (She laughs again and takes a deep breath) My season was even worse than any of the other seasons because we were on those busses! There was really limited alone time with BM (Her nickname for Bret), I mean he would usually go sleep in a hotel and we were stuck on these small buses. I wish I could have gotten to know him more on a personal level but we had very limited quality time together. No one had love on that bus except for BM!
LIFESTYLE ETC: How did you handle those “she’s too perfect” comments by the other girls?
PARKER: It’s very hard in that setting with a camera on you all the time and with all these other girls trying to bring you down; there is so much drama (she laughs and shakes her head). “She’s too perfect!” the girls would complain about me...I’m definitely not perfect for the President, for Mitt Romney, or for a banker, but this is Bret Michaels, I am perfect for him!!(She laughs incredulously)When you’re juggling a career and a child, this little petty bullshit is not in my real life, I don’t let that be a part of my real life. It’s not normal for me to have to deflect that kind of drama. I was upset all the time on that show because I ached for normalcy; I had a normal routine where I didn’t have to deal with girls peeing in my shoes and putting chili in my underwear.
LIFESTYLE ETC: If there is anything you could have done differently on Rock Of Love what would it be?
PARKER: Girl drama aside, Bret and I had an immediate connection and they didn’t reveal that on the show. What I would have done differently is realizing that the real story was never going to get told. They want to see people fighting with each other and talking about how basil is lame.
LIFESTYLE ETC: You are an established adult cover-girl, is it ever strange to see yourself in so many pictures?
PARKER: Sounds like a lot of glorified vagina! I don’t know what my vagina is “supposed” to look like, but when your vagina is in a lot of magazines you learn a lot about it! I can honestly say me and my vagina are like this (she crosses her fingers and smiles).
LIFESTYLE ETC: Any good stories from touring as Pet Of the Year?
PARKER: When I did my pet of the year tour, I was on the Danny Bonaduce radio show in Philly (previously broadcasted on 94WYSP). I love him because he embraces his thing, he’s like “I’m an asshole” and he’s proud. The first time I was on that show he let me smack him on the side of the head; I don’t care, any one that’s gonna let me clock him in the face, I’m on board! (more laughter).
PARKER: Well, here’s a story from when I had just gotten off the show. For some people that only recognized me from Rock Of Love, they wanted to google me to see me naked and tear me down.So, one day I open my email with an attachment- and I’m not gonna lie, that particular Penthouse spread was focused on my vajayjay- and the person photoshopped pics of Bret’s face on both my nipples and a roast beef sandwich on my vajajay. I wrote back and said “Personally I think it was a piss poor excuse for photoshop and I’d want to see that sandwich oozing juice so that is moist and delicious looking.” (Everyone erupts in a fit of laughter).
LIFESTYLE ETC: What brought you to Philadelphia, what made you agree to hosting Delilah’s 21st birthday?
PARKER: One time I visited Philly, I got to flip the meat at Genos! It was so funny, I got to work on some real Philly meat! The cheesesteaks probably weren’t very good, and the other cooks were kinda pissy that someone let me in there but (she throws her hands in the air), oh well! So now I can say i’m experienced in handling Phillys’ best meat. You may have had my meat in your mouth!
LIFESTYLE ETC: What’s your favorite song to perform to?
TAYA PARKER: “Talk Dirty to Me.” I have Michael Jackson songs in every show. He just made so much music that you can incorporate it into anything. I Can’t pick a favorite song, but MJ is definitely my favorite artist… Next to him is BM [Bret Micheals]of course! (She seductively winks at us). Seriously, there was a period in time where I had to do a routine to Poison at every show.
LIFESTYLE ETC: Until recently, you have starred in your own production in Vegas, what is the current status of that show?
PARKER: We are on hiatus in Vegas right now, but one way or another, I will be on a stage somewhere. I’ve never had a door close and another one not open up; hard work pays off and it doesn’t go unnoticed.
PARKER: Personally I’d love to be married again someday, I’ve been really career oriented for such a long time, going on that show was the first time I decided I was going to be open to it. (Laughter) That’s probably not the best way to get back in the love game, but I thought we [Bret and I] had a lot and in that respect, it was good. It was good to put myself out there, I am definitely more open to love now.
LIFESTYLE ETC: So far you are the most published Penthouse Pet in history, won an extremely popular VH1 reality show, have starred in your own Vegas production and remain a highly sought after host and dancer, where is your energy going to now?
PARKER: I was always chasing something: a show, a cover. Now I can just look at what i’ve done and say that was just the beginning; i’ve accomplished that. It’s so cool to be at a point in my career where I feel satisfied. I’m happy. I’ve turned it into using my experience and taking that and segwaying it into other things, like mentoring younger girls in the industry. I guess I never thought there was a logical transition to the real world from this, but if u are smart and business savvy, you can do this.
LIFESTYLE ETC: What can we expect from Taya Parker in the future?
PARKER: I’m doing a lot of things I just used to do to have fun, things that I love! I’m taking a lot of time and realizing that not everything has to be a career move. My sons a preteen, he’s doing amazing with sports and i’m focusing a lot on him.
I’m doing another reality show, it’s basically based on “what now?”
Stay tuned for more from Taya Parker by following her on twitter; Lifestyle Etc. will be on the set!