09/20/2011 at 08:00 AM EDT
It was the question of the night: how would Chaz Bono fare under pressure on Dancing with the Stars
When it was all over, the activist transgender child of Sonny and Cher – whose appearance drew both praise and controversy – basked in cheers from the audience and warm remarks from the judges Monday.
It seems Chaz can cha cha.
"Chazzy Boy, you can dance!" said Carrie Ann Inaba.
Len Goodman responded with a "Razzamataz Chaz" and praised his footwork, while Bruno Tonioli said, "So cuddly and cute. Great, great debut, Chaz. You should be proud," as Bono and pro partner Lacey Schwimmer finished with respectable 17 points.
Iraq war veteran/actor J.R. Martinez and Karina Smirnoff grabbed a share of the night's lead with 22 points with their Viennese waltz. "For me, J.R. stands for Just Right," said Goodman. They were tied with Chynna Phillips and Tony Dovolani's waltz. "You looked like you stepped out of a dream and into my heart," said Tonioli.
Not even the cheers from Dancing
alum Kim Kardashian
and sister Khloé for brother Rob and Cheryl Burke during their waltz could warm up the judges, who gave them 16 points. "I'm not impressed, but I'm not depressed," said Goodman.
Tough-talking legal analyst Nancy Grace showed her sassy side during a cha cha with Tristan McManus. "I had no idea you were so ... gifted," said Goodman. "You got the moves, but you don't seem to believe in yourself." The judges also gave them 16.
Ron Artest and Peta Murgatroyd appeared most at risk of elimination with their 14-point cha cha, just ahead of the also-underwhelming Elisabetta Cannalis and Val Chmerkovskiy, with 15 points for their cha cha. Inaba saw George Clooney
's ex "sort of fall apart" on dance floor.
Other competitors: Hope Solo and Maksim Chmerkovskiy impressed with 21 points, Ricki Lake and Derk Hough finished with 20 points, Kristin Cavallari and Mark Ballas got 19 points, David Arquette
and Kym Johnson had 18 points and Carson Kressley and Anna Trebunskaya got 17 points.