In the end, R&B-singer-turned reality-TV star
On the season finale of VH1's "For the Love of Ray J" on Monday night, Brandy's little bro went for the 26-year-old Sacramento cocktail waitress who came in as Joanna Hernandez but left as Cocktail, and his girlfriend. After months of lap dancing, double dealing and more dirty looks than Miss California would get at a GLAAD convention, Cocktail took home the ultimate prize on Monday night's finale, emerging victorious over a roster of would-be potential boos with nicknames like Danger, Feisty, Chardonnay, Lil' Hood, Stacks, Stilts and Atomic Bomb.
The often weepy Cocktail — who gained a reputation among the ladies for ratting out other contestants' misdeeds and secrets — squared off in the final episode against Danger and Unique. First to go was Danger, who had a panic attack when Ray announced he was visiting each of the women's hometowns. A visit to Unique's fam in Cleveland didn't start off well when, on the private jet there, Uni asked Ray to backburner his celebrity persona and just be "Willie" (his real name is Willie Ray Norwood Jr.). But he overcame his sweaty nervousness when meeting her family, and the two seemed to connect on their final solo date.
Things were not so smooth at Cocktail's California home, where Ray struggled to communicate with her Spanish-speaking mother and was surprised by being served goat meat for dinner. Cocktail employed her unique mind-game skills, though, pointing out on her final date that Unique was trying to change Ray. Oh, and it probably didn't hurt that their date ended with her doing some sexy lingerie dancing on a stripper pole in a shower.
Hernandez, a social worker/go-go dancer who appeared on "The Bad Girls Club" several years ago, said in a post-show interview with VH1 that despite the constant backbiting, "the competition wasn't too tough."
She claimed that she knew she had it in the bag when the competition for the heart of Ray — who has been romantically linked to singer Whitney Houston in the past and who famously appeared in a sex tape with former girlfriend Kim Kardashian — was down to five contestants. Since the show wrapped, Hernandez said that if she doesn't talk to Ray every day, they at least text and make a point of seeing each other twice a month.
"He's my boyfriend, and the fact that I'm not seeing my boyfriend as much as I'd like to is different from what I'm used to," she said, referring to the difficulty of coordinating their busy schedules. "I would love to see him every day and have him come home to me every night. But that's not what it is, and I have to take it for what it is. I'm patiently learning his lifestyle. I expected this, but I'm sad now that I'm going through it. But it just makes the times I see him even more special."
Despite the grim success rate of reality-show relationships, Hernandez said she's absolutely in love with Ray, "head over heels," in fact. "It takes someone that I care about to go through with that emotion and show my vulnerability," she said. "I know I cried every three seconds on the show, but I care about him so much that he can say anything, the sweetest thing, the most horrible thing, and I burst into tears."
Even though Ray's mom said she didn't think any of the finalists were right for her baby, Hernandez said she respected that comment and vowed to prove Mama Ray wrong.
"We're going to try to make it work," she said. "We take things as they come. We're regular people. I know people are like, 'He's this big R&B artist, this big star,' but he's just like me and you. He's a regular person with regular feelings. We're gonna make the best of this, and if it works out, it's better for me and him. We found what we always wanted, and it's love."