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Last night marked the return of America’s Next Top Model. Once again, the models begin their journey in Los Angeles, and although I already knew who the thirteen finalists would be because the official website of Cycle 6 doesn’t make it a secret, that doesn’t mean the selection show is any less enjoyable. There are plenty of great personalities, plenty of beautiful young women, and if that isn’t enough to get you excited, we were also able to fit in a visit from Janice Dickinson and a bunch of models getting naked for money. Grab a cup of coffee, because we have two hours worth of diva recappage to get you through the day.There are very few reality shows where the contestants nearly faint at the mere sight of the host. The relationship between the contestants and Tyra is a huge part of what makes ANTM successful, and you can understand why. As Tyra said, the show is not just about beauty, but a journey of transformation. Past winners of ANTM have become working models that are working, and that’s a big distinction. You wouldn’t want them to become unemployed models that are working, or even worse, working models that are unemployed. But why get caught up with the semantics of these crazy modeling terms I don’t understand, let’s get on with the contestants.
I know that this was going to be a very good season because the first girl they introduces was named Sara. For those of you who don’t know, J-Unit has a weakness for girls named Sara, and therefore I tend to pimp them in my recaps. Unlike other seasons, this Sara seemed to have looks and confidence. Immediately, I got a very strong Scarlett Johansson vibe from her, which is disturbing because I am not a ScaJo fan. Still, she’s named Sara, so I’ll give her a chance.
But even if you aren’t a fan of Saras or Scarlett Johansson, there were plenty of interesting personalities. For instance, there was Kathy, who had the strongest Southern accent, which I thought was strange because I could have sworn that I saw her in the Playboy spread, “Girls of the Warsaw Pact”, or maybe it was “Mail Order Bride Monthly – Destination Ukraine”. Either way there should have been a “skaya” or “ich” in her name somewhere. Kathy said that she had never even been on a plane before coming to top model, so you know things are moving up with her. At first glance, I thought Kathy’s features weren’t that attractive, but after a while, I saw just a touch of Michelle Pfeiffer.
Of the first few intros, there was really nobody that could compare to Dani. When you first look at her, you think she is nothing but a sweet, innocent, girl from small town Texas, who was on the cheerleading squad, not unlike Cassandra from last year. But while we could only speculate that Cassandra was racist and homophobic, we were almost certain that was the case with Dani. Not having known anybody in their shuttle van for 5 minutes, she immediately starts talking about how she was surprised that there were so many black girls at the tryouts, like being black was some disease that you can cure with a vaccine. Her words were shocking to a number of people in the van, no matter what their ethnicity was, and there was one black girl, Furonda, who really wanted to beat her ass, but was afraid that she would get the “angry black girl” label, and decided to hold back.
I know what you are saying. Maybe she was misunderstood and the words didn’t come out right, well, try this on for size:
Yes, this genius, who doesn’t like gays, thinks that she should try a career in fashion. You know, because she won’t have to worry about bumping into any gay people, unless she wants to have her hair, makeup, or wardrobe done, or have her pictures taken. Many of the clothes she will be wearing will be from gay designers, so how do you get around that? It’s not that there aren’t any straight people in fashion, but the gay mafia does have their soldiers in a lot of places. If you have a moral problem with gays and go into fashion, it’s like having an issue with smoking and working for Phillip Morris.
The girls were taken to the Ritz Carlton in Pasadena. I have never stayed there, and to be honest, their isn’t that much exciting about Pasadena, but if you are in town, make sure to stop at 21 Choices, the best froyo in town, which also happens to be across the street from Kabuki, although this location is not quite the celeb magnet that the other locations have become. Anyway, at the Ritz, the girls met Miss J. Alexander, the runway coach, and Mr. Jay Manuel, the artistic director.
Right away the girls were given their first challenge. They were shown videos of Tyra doing three types of runway walks: sexy and sultry, sophisticated, and young and virginal. They were told that they had to create and outfit from the clothes that they own to create one of the three looks, and perform the walk for the Jay and J. Fashion Factory. The girls hurried off to get changed, but Kathy, the country bumpkin/Soviet Bloc girl we were introduced to earlier, drops her skirt quicker than Ivana from the Apprentice, believing that patio of the Ritz Carlton was as good as any dressing room. She was stopped before ANTM turned into Cinemax, but who have to like her enthusiasm!
Compared to last year, the girls had pretty good walks. It looked like everybody knew what it was like to walk in heels, and everybody looked like they had their own strut. Well, Sara stumbled a tad, but not like last year’s Sarah. I’m not sure you could really call any of them fierce right now, but at least initially; the talent level was pretty high. The first contest was won by Yvonne, a 27 year-old who also happens to be an ER doctor. So much for all that talk about models being idiots, or at least wannabe models.
So they’ve met the Jays and they have had their first challenge, but where was Tyra? She is the one the girls wanted to see and learn from. At breakfast the next morning, it looked like they were going to have to settle for a taped message from Tyra. She must be busy with her show and everything and it looked like the girls were going to be in for some disappointment once again, but suddenly Tyra came out from the side. Oh you sly dog, Tyra. You were there the whole time! The girls went crazy with their first Banks interaction, and one of the girls, Leslie, mentioned how Tyra looked even better in person. I have not had a chance to make that comparison in person, but I did notice that Tyra looks like she has lost a few pounds this year. Thankfully, there is still plenty of that booty left, and she shook it for the girls, and they might have been more excited at the sight than I was.
After that, the interviews began. We heard from Sara first. She graduated from Georgetown and because she was so tall, she had a nickname for herself – “Glamazon”. I would have thought this was the greatest term in creation, but two sisters from the Amazing Race have ruined it.
Many of the girls had interesting backgrounds, including Furonda, who used to be a phone sex operator, and did a demonstration of various styles she used to do, including valley girl, dominatrix, and “big and beautiful”. Seriously, are there guys who pay to talk to women who huff and puff and say they want to be rolled around in flour and spanked? What is that? Furonda is really skinny and when the judges called her a praying mantis, I thought they were making fun of her, but apparently, that is a good look for models.
We have Kari, from South Dakota, who the judges said looked like a Brat Doll, but Bratz are fierce, so that’s OK. Personally, she looks like a photo they would use for “Real World contestant” in the dictionary, but maybe that’s just me. Yvonne came on, and Miss J faked choking. There was Andrea, who was crying about missing her family and Jade, who is not lacking for the confidence.
One interesting hopeful was Gina. Interesting because we have not seen a lot of Asian contestants on top model, or in high fashion to be honest. She said she was there to represent Asians, and was so proud of her culture, she revealed she didn’t date Asian men, which seemed like a contradiction for the panel. I am sure that Gina would date Asian guys, but she also wanted to date guys who were taller than her. Being 5’9″, that’s what we could a dilemma folks.
We also had our share of sad stories. There was Danielle, who the judges would later say looked like Grace Jones, but I think she is more like Marion Jones, with slightly less jacked teeth. She talked about how her mother had horrible arthritis and how Danielle has had to take care of her. Danielle isn’t complaining, but she says that seeing her mom fight through the pain gives her strength to deal with all of the tough times in her life.
There is also Nnenna, who was from Houston but grew up in Nigeria. Talk about sad stories. She moved to Nigeria when she was two. Her father’s parents didn’t like her mother because they thought she was incapable of having sons, having already given birth to four girls. Her father and mother tried for a fifth child, who was also a girl, and her mother died ten days later. Her father couldn’t afford to take care of all of his kids, so he sent Nnenna and one of her sisters back to the states to live with relatives. Nnenna seemed to be humble, yet confident, and the judges right away thought of Iman when they looked at her.
That might bring a tear to your eye, until you heard the story of Wendy. I thought that the death of Edgar Stiles would be the saddest tale of the week, until I heard Wendy Speak. She was from New Orleans, and was forced to evacuate during Katrina. Her parents were leaving the city by car, spent the night on a bridge, the water rose around them, and she never heard from them again. This episode was filmed in the fall when Katrina was on every day, and people were still searching for family members. I am not sure if she found them, but let’s hope. I was going to make fun of Wendy for looking like a Wayans brother in drag, but can’t really bring myself to say it knowing all that she’s been through. Instead, I’ll call her the lovechild of Maya Rudolph and Illeana Douglas.
I was wondering what would happen when the judges met Dani. The previous night, everybody went out to a restaurant, and she started talking in generalities, and Danielle basically called her out for being racist. Dani said that just because people called her a racist doesn’t mean that they know how she feels. I will agree with her that saying you are against affirmative action does not make you a racist, but that wasn’t the most offensive thing she was saying. Besides, when everybody else at the table is telling you that they don’t want to hear you, maybe it’s time to cut your losses.
When Dani came to the panel, the flat out asked her how she was going to deal with gay people in an industry like modeling, and she went into the “misunderstood” defense. She said that she just didn’t grow up around gay people, and that she was a cheerleader. She said that you can’t choose where you come from, and that maybe people should have an open mind about her. The irony of Dani talking about having an open mind when she was talking about hating gays and Moslems was apparently lost on her. I think Dani is cute, but in a “I want her to sign my yearbook” way, not a Top Model way.
Dani wasn’t the only person who had a family that was a little prejudiced. Leslie, from Arizona, who might be my favorite right now, says her parents wouldn’t like her to bring home black guys. When they ask how they would think about Miss J, Leslie replies that they have no problem with black women. Being called a woman is about the nicest thing for Miss J. to hear, so she can forgive the rest. Leslie also has a tattoo and we got a very extreme close-up (I think they had to blur out some pubes). It’s just above her feminine parts and reads “What nourishes me, destroys me”, inspired by none other than Angelina Jolie. Mmm, classy. But I still love her and would “slip her my mellow smooth” as Maxwell would say.
We soon cut the girls down to twenty. I don’t really think we missed out on anybody that stood out, and Dani made it through. For their first challenge, they were all given makeup kits and told that they would be doing beauty shots. They would get only ten frames to make an impression on the judges.
Of these beauty shots, I liked Sara (no surprise) and Joanie. Even though Sarah has that Scarlett Johansson head, placing it on a body that is 6’1″ actually gives her some proportion. As for Gina, she may be awkward and unsure of herself, but she has those great cheekbones. She’ll have to watch out about her upper lip, but I think she’ll do OK.
The final thirteen were Jade, Sara (yes!), Mollie Sue (who dumped her boyfriend who said she wasn’t good enough for modeling), Leslie, Joanie (the preacher’s daughter who worked as a cage dancer and played amateur night at strip clubs without him knowing), Nnenna (so excited that she grabbed Joanie’s boob), Kari, Brooke (who loves airline food), Danielle, Katherine, Furonda, Gina, and Wendy. Not a bad group, what do you think?
Although the girls were happy to make it, they were immediately given another challenge. They went to have a fake press conference, where they were told that modeling required more than a pretty gene, it required a dynamic personality. And while you’re at it, how about an old wrinkled body, and fake parts all over the place? I’m talking about Janice Dickinson, of course. I like Janice, but every time I look at her face, I try and count how many more plastic surgeries she has had.
So, who was at this press conference? Well, we had Todd Newton, sure to make this show a “Whammy!”, Trish Moreno, Rolanda Watts, Trey Smith and Tina Frazier. It was fun to see how the girls would react because they had to share two mikes. I wasn’t that interested in what most of them had to say. It would have been funnier to ask them to write a sonnet, and then watch all of them run to look the word up. The question of the day was who had sacrificed the most to be there, and Nnenna gave the best answer, which gave her the overall win. She got to choose three friends (Gina, Jade, and Sara) to head to the Top Model house ahead of everybody else and pick their rooms.
The theme for the house this year is ANTM Model Agency. The bedrooms were named for famous models like Twiggy, Iman, Janice Dickinson, and Christie Brinkley, plus one for the past winners of the show. After settling in their rooms, the girls headed out to Alessi (Melrose and Highland if you care), and Gina starts to hit the champagne pretty heavily. She made an idiot of herself during the press conference for not being able to answer the question about being Asian and in the competition meant to her. She sort of flaked on the answer, and was probably pretty honest when she said she was still trying to discover who she was, but that’s not the poise they were looking for. Later, Jade jumped on her for being insecure about her race, because, you know, Jade is so secure in her identity, and look how awesome she is.
Gina had a little too much to drink, and although the editing made it look like she finished off a couple of bottles herself, I think she only had a couple of glasses. These girls are so thin and eat so little, they’d get sloshed from taking a huff of Listerine.
Although nobody drank as much as Gina, it didn’t mean the girls weren’t relaxed. After they got home, a few of them decided to get in the hot tub, and then get naked. It was like Lisa times ten, and as you can imagine, I was loving it. But just to make things even more interesting, Joanie said she would give Nnenna a one hundred dollar bill to do a sexy Tyra walk around the pool. I guess having done all that cage dancing, she knows how to get girls naked with a couple of crisp bills. It looked like Nnenna was going to try, and Jade even thought about joining her, but nothing else happened. I am surprised I was even able to concentrate during this time, there was so much near-nipple and almost-bush that I was going into sensory overload.
The next day, after a brief visit from Tyra the girls went to Warren Tricomi salon. Hmm, usually they do the makeovers after the first elimination, but I guess it is no big deal if they do these makeovers now. When the girls saw Jay, they learned that they were going to have a lot more of a makeover than some of them were expecting. They were all going bald!
The bald look is difficult, although Furonda and Nnenna probably could pull it off. I am assuming that Kathy could do it as well, since I am pretty sure she was born in Chernobyl, but they were all relieved to learn that they would only be going bald with the help of bald caps. So they made their way to Quixote studios in West Hollywood (mere minutes from the TVgasm offices), to begin their photo shoot.
I will be the first to admit that I was quite skeptical when I heard about the bald shoot, thinking it was there just as a gimmick and for shock value. They explained that with a bald head, the focus comes to the face, and so you can evoke a lot more emotion. Sounds very cheesy, but I actually believed it after seeing the shoot and some of the photos. Although Kathy said she felt like a penis with ears, I think that the results, when they worked, looked as good as those black and white photos they took last year when it came trying to isolate a specific look or emotion.
I think Jay is going to have good fun with these girls as they were all fairly receptive to what he had to say. He was really impressed with Sara, Nnenna, Leslie and Danielle. I personally thought that Danielle was the most fierce among this group, and Jay said she looked regal, not that it helped her much because Danielle didn’t know what regal meant. On other side of the spectrum was Jade. Jade’s whole thing is that she is the greatest model in the world who hasn’t been discovered yet. She has her own ideas of how she looks and what angles are good, but Jay said that perhaps the reason why she was so old and hadn’t been discovered is that she has been doing things incorrectly.
Here are my favorites from this week (Sara, Danielle, Mollie Sue, and Leslie)
Next came the first meeting with the judges. This year, J. Alexander is still trying to look funny and off beat, although he has spared us the huge Top Model corsage, and instead went with the number blazoned upon his shirt. This week “13″. Oh J, you are so very clever.
I hope you aren’t getting sick of me talking about Sara, because the judges loved her as well. Miss J. also said she looked like Scarlett Johansson, but with B-side as my witness, I had that thought long before J. They also liked Danielle, and we learned that she was worried about going bald because she has dents in her head after getting her hair pressed at a young age. They liked Gina and her high cheekbones, but I sort of cringed at the way she smiled, which gave her a bucktooth look. The gave Nnenna high marks, I think by default. As far as her face goes, she might be the most beautiful, but I didn’t like the angle of her face and thought others had done better.
I would give the worst picture of the evening to Furonda, who had an unflattering Starvin Marvin kind of look to her. I also though Kari looked like a conehead, but she has those ridiculous lips that the judges loved and models die for.
When making their decision, it came down to Furonda and Kathy. Furonda had been so confident in her photo shoot, but did almost everything wrong. As for Kathy, they were struggling to tell if she had something that made her a model, or was just another pretty girl-next-door. They went with the potential, and with her wide-set eyes, Furonda lived to go another week. As for Kathy, she was a lot of fun, and if she learned nothing else, at least she got to fly on a plane.
What did you think of the episode? Did the right girl go home? Who is your favorite? Who is your least favorite?