“Dancing With the Stars” hoofer Karina Smirnoff has been busting ballroom moves for years, and when she was a teen, she was cornering the market for diners who liked their meals with a side of shimmy.
“The Russian restaurants is like the ‘it’ place for the Russian [immigrants]. They always would love to have some sort of show and, back in the day, ballroom dancing was what they wanted to see. Which was good for me because me and my partner got jobs in two or three different restaurants,” Smirnoff reveals on the latest episode of
“When I Was 17,” — also starring Nelly and Joanna Garcia — which premieres on Saturday on MTV.
Smirnoff was making her mark on the Russian dining scene as a teen, but the ballroom veteran remembers one occasion when she left an especially memorable impression on patrons.
“Well, one time, I surprisingly was slightly late. I had literally maybe 30 seconds to change into my outfit. And I don’t know at which point my mom decided to get me those ‘grandma’ underwear but they were white with multicolored polka dots,” Smirnoff recalls. “Anyway, I changed as fast as I could and I forgot to change the underwear to boy shorts.”
Smirnoff’s granny panties actually became a hit with the audience.
“Every time I would do a turn, you could see these multicolored polka dot underwear. The audience went crazy, they’re like screaming, clapping and I was thinking, ‘Wow, they really like the dance … this is cool,’ ” she says, giggling at the memory. Luckily for Smirnoff, one of her dance-floor colleagues hipped her to the attention-grabbing undergarments. “But the other couple, the girl, pulled me aside, she goes like, ‘Change your underwear. You’re still in your underwear!’ ”
Smirnoff’s mom, Tatyana, who may or may not have set her daughter up with the less-than-flattering knickers, thought the whole debacle was hilarious.
“She ran from the stage,” her mom recalls, barely able to control her laughter. “It was such an embarrassing moment.”
“When I Was 17″ — this week featuring Karina Smirnoff, Nelly and Joanna Garcia — premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. on MTV.