Determined to put her best face forward Tuesday, Tara Conner got the cold shoulder. Literally.
The beleaguered beauty queen was back on the spokesmodel circuit this week, braving the wind chill at New York's Jones Beach to promote Trump on the Ocean, a $40 million catering and reception hall the Donald is planning on building.
Conner, in an off-the-shoulder bridal gown, told reporters she was hanging in there, despite the 24-degree weather.
"I'm cold, but I'm fine," she said.
The 21-year-old Kentucky native has apparently survived the gauntlet she was forced to run after reports of her excessive partying caused her to almost lose her crown. Now, after a 28-day stint in a Pennsylvania rehab facility, a press conference in which she came clean about having an alcohol problem, and a Today show interview in which she revealed she had tried cocaine while on the job, Conner appears to be back on track.
"We are trying to get Tara in the mainstream in a positive way," Trump, whose benevolence is the reason Conner still reigns, told Newsday. The real estate mogul's office confirmed last week that Conner had turned down an offer to bare all for Playboy, after Trump said last month that his pageant protégé would only consent to a semi-clad "Playboy-lite" photo shoot.
While she at first denied she was an alcoholic and was merely entering treatment to regroup and mend her errant ways, Conner admitted last month she was suffering from "the disease of alcoholism and addiction," and that the disease ran in her family, giving her fairly easy access to drugs and alcohol when she was younger.
"If I were to say I never have cravings, I'd be lying," Conner told New York's Daily News Monday after doing her part to kick off Fashion Week, strutting her stuff on the runway at the Tadashi show in Bryant Park.
"I'll be in situations where I would have initially had a drink, but I feel better and I take more pride in not doing it now," she said. "I realize that if I put any chemical in my body that I'm going to have an allergic reaction, and it's going to take me back, and I don't want to go back."
Conner also refused to make excuses for her party-hardy ways, despite the fact that some of her sympathizers have tried to rationalize her behavior as being the result of a small-town girl succumbing to the temptations of the big city.
"A drug is a drug is a drug, regardless of what you take, whether it's coke or whether it's anything," Conner told the Daily News. "Some will say, 'I want to use it for energy,' or 'I'm going to use this to calm my nerves.' You need to learn how to do these things yourself, because I didn't."
"I've felt a lot of shame and guilt for some of the things that I've done in my past. I really had to sit down and have a good, hard look at myself. There were a lot of things that weren't right, that weren't good. And so I had to fix them. And, you know, I'm never going to be fixed."
Appearing with Conner at Bryant Park was Miss Teen USA Katie Blair, who was spotted drinking alongside Conner at various NYC nightspots. Blair, 18, supposedly wasn't in danger of losing her title, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving did drop her as a spokeswoman after figuring her underage drinking didn't exactly mesh with the advocacy group's message.
Meanwhile, ex-Miss Nevada USA Katie Rees, who did lose her crown after some racy photos of her—taken three years before she won her title—surfaced on the Internet, took time out last week to weigh in on why she feels its unfair that she was fired for a transgression that happened before she became Miss Nevada, while Conner received what amounted to a slap on the wrist.
"In fact, it was pretty unfair just because I didn't even get to meet Donald Trump," Rees told CNN's Showbiz Tonight, speaking from Las Vegas where she recently landed a $2 million gig cohosting the Beacher's Madhouse revue at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. "I didn't get to speak with him on the phone, I didn't get to plead my case. He doesn't know me or the person I am and so therefore made a hasty decision."
Not that she's sworn off becoming the next Apprentice or anything.
"I'd like to say that it's just a shame that I never got to sit down and meet him, and if sometime he would like to meet me, I definitely would love to. And I still do think he's a great businessman, and it's just a shame that he didn't get to know me before he made his decision," Rees said, adding that she wouldn't take her crown back at this point if it were offered to her.