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The whole time that America’s Next Top Model has been filming in South Africa, we’ve had all of the standard tourist shots of Cape Town, the frolicking time on the safari, and the whimsical kloofing trip. The girls have been learning about the modeling industry, but Tyra doesn’t think that is the only lesson they should learn. With only four people remaining emotions are already running high, and after a trip to a ghetto and a prison brings them face to face with South Africa’s apartheid past, things really start to boil over.Last week was one of the more interesting judging panels. Instead of Tyra, Janice, Nigel, and Nolé critiquing everybody’s performance, each girl got to have their say about the others. Naima said it was one of the more difficult things she had to go through, but it was great because everybody really got a chance to see what people were thinking in this competition. At this time last week, everybody was eating with Tyra, Kahlen was crying, and Brittany was saying how great it was because all of them were actually friends.
That feel-good attitude didn’t really last very long. Living with a person is difficult, especially when you don’t have a choice in who your roommates are. The girls have had to deal with each other, and they have been pretty friendly. YaYa would have felt very good at how much “respeito”(respect) was shared among everybody, but such smooth sailing can only last so long. Keenya starts talking about how she wasn’t going to hold back for anything, and when it came time to critique people, she couldn’t think about who was her friend or not. Brittany tries to get a word in, but Keenya says a few words about interrupting. They get into a little fight about who interrupts who more, and who was rude to who and shit like that. We saw the rift between these two build last week, and perhaps it was inevitable because of how close they were, but if these two can’t get along, there isn’t much hope for the rest of them.
Although Keenya interrupts people, it is not her worst trait in this competition. I do have to say that interrupting people is probably my worst trait, and all of my friends have to develop a sort of a conversation Tivo if they are ever going to get a point across. But anyway, Keenya’s biggest problem is the food. It’s not that she just isn’t eating right, the thought of food is all-consuming. When she and Kahlen discuss the latest Tyra mail, Keenya’s mind can’t go thirty seconds without thinking about the chocolate muffin that is in Kahlen’s hand. Clearly Keenya has to start smoking cigarettes to sate her appetite or curb that oral fixation she has. I thought it was one of the first things you learned in Modeling 101.
The next day, everybody goes to the headquarters of G’Mbo Urban Ethnic Clothing and met the founders, who served as their guides through a South African township. While a township is nominally called a “ghetto”, by an American definition it is more like a shantytown. Forgive me for my brief history lesson, but the townships were the way of life for most of South Africa’s majority black population throughout all of apartheid. It’s way too complex of an issue to discuss with any of the proper depth or expression here, but if you are interested in what it was like read Kaffir Boy, a non-fcition piece written by somebody who lived the life in the 1960s. And if you don’t get the book, you ca read an excerpt at Amazon. I read it when I was 10 or 11, and it was difficult, but gave me an appreciation for how lucky my life really was.
Now that I am done with my little spiel, back to the show. The girls were taken to a community center in the township, where they were going to learn African dance with a personal instructor. This challenge was pretty much made for Naima. She studied ballet at the Dance Theater of Harlem. Naima mentions that she appreciates the synergy between dancing and modeling because they both give you a chance to realize your body as a whole. Her enthusiasm was not matched by Kahlen or Brittany. Kahlen looks as if she is almost completely devoid of rhythm, and the only reason why you would check out Brittany on the dance floor was if you were looking to see if her boob would pop out or her top. Keenya felt that she needed to bring it because she was among her people, but was having trouble because…her jeans were too tight. Forget the cigarettes, she is going to have to go on the Mary-Kate Olsen diet and fast.
Keenya complained that Brittany was the center of attention last week, but something sort of turned on inside of her. Being in South Africa and seeing the township was hard on everybody, but Keenya began to say how much she really appreciates it, because she is black. It wasn’t that the other girls didn’t appreciate it, but you know, it’s not the same. The whole time she was saying this, Naima was right next to her. Naima doesn’t have the darkest skin, but both of her parents are half-black, and that is who she identifies with. From what I have seen on the show, I don’t think Keenya has much room to be calling out Naima in any sort of way. Maybe it’s good that Keenya sort of realizes where her roots are, and is acting that way, because she didn’t seem to want anything to do with Compton. Tiffany and Brandy must have nearly died when hearing her talk that way after she pretty much ignored them throughout their times on the show.
After learning the dance, they discover that they are going to have to perform in front of an audience from the township, and they would be judged. Presiding over the ceremonies would be Miss J, who placed himself in the audience and stretched out his legs, and god damn did you see those legs? He had a dress on that was slit up to there, and we could see the assets that probably got him the job of runway consultant. That being said, I never want to see them again.
The girls do their thing, but everybody did fairly well. Brittany goes into everything like she has nothing to lose, and that demeanor at least lets her look like she is having fun at everything. Kahlen’s attitude is completely different. When something is too difficult, she tends to give up easily. She was more than nervous, she was upset that she had to go on. When it came time to deliver, she actually did fairly well. It has become her modus operandi; complain something is too hard and then over perform. Although Keenya felt like she was moving well, we all knew that nobody would be a match for Naima (who I learned has a twin sister as well – almost too much for my dirty mind to comprehend). Miss J lets the audience decide the winner by their applause, and Naima gets the prize.
For her win, Naima gets thirty extra frames during her photoshoot, and she gets to pick one person to have twenty extra frames. It’s clear that Kahlen is her best friend remaining, but she picks Keenya instead. Keenya in turn, gets to pick one person to have ten extra frames, and she picked Brittany. Khahlen got nothing, and was quite upset, thinking that everybody else was ganging up on her in some way. In reality, it was much more simple than that. Naima loves Kahlen, but she was thinking about the competition. Kahlen has been taking the best pictures, and if there was anybody who didn’t need the extra frames, it was her. Keenya has been looking lumpy, so she had more to make up with in those extra shots.
The township was emotional in many ways, but things were just getting started. They got their mail from Bankable, and it simply had 46664 on it. Nobody knew what it meant, but they were soon going to find out the next day. The second trip of the week took them to Robben Island, the main political prison of South Africa’s apartheid era. A former prisoner was their guide, and told them about the torture and poor treatment people would receive if they were incarcerated there. We learned that 46664 was Nelson Mandela’s number when he stayed there for 18 years during his fight against apartheid. The guide became emotional talking about Mandela’s importance to his people, and by the look on their faces, all of the girls were really taking in the message.
The highlight of the trip was another emotional moment. One of the girls got to use the key to open the actual cell that belonged to Nelson Mandela. Naima took the chance right away, and it looked like Keenya was upset, and the whole thing was wearing thin on Brittany. She really got sick of hearing Keenya say how much it meant to her, and more accurately, how nobody else could understand what it meant to her. Brittany also was suspicious when Keenya started crying when Keenya was in Nelson Mandela’s cell, not because she is a heartless bitch, but because she wondered why Keenya had so much emotion for somebody she knew nothing about. Only minutes earlier, she had asked Brittany if Mandela was dead or alive, prompting Brittany to wonder if she knew much about him. Well, I am going to go out on a limb on this one, but if you don’t know if somebody is alive or not, you most likely haven’t been following them too closely. (Speaking of which, would it be too morbid if TVgasm started a Death Pool?) For Brittany, it was a further example of how fake Keenya had become and she believed her emotions were all for show.
So, learning everything about the inequalities of apartheid, I was wondering what kind of photo shoot there would be. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the girls would be playing 40s aristocrats on vacation in Africa. Ahh, yes, bring back those heady days of the colonial era South Africa! I’m sure I am being too sensitive, but couldn’t they have thought of something better to sell the Caress Sensational Soothing Bodywash? How about another alligator?
The girls learned that they would be doing their shoots with three male models, Lee-Roy, Bertini, and Mark. Quite a set of refreshing, down to earth names, but not nearly as funny as Rib. Immediately, Kahlen covered her eyes to avoid any pregnancy. I wish one of these girls would have placed a dildo in her bed or a blow up doll. God, just imagine the look on Kahlen’s face, she would probably die. The models were really flirty, and they said they wanted to go out to dinner with the girls or perhaps a nightclub and go dancing. Bertini was particularly agressive, especially with Keenya, asking for her number. Maybe he’s just an ass man, because Keenya surely has it going on in that area. By this time, i’m sure it has a nice jiggle when you smack it.
For the shoot, the girls were asked to use what they learned about moving their bodies and sort of dance with the three men. Naima loved this, was very natural, and Jay was impressed with how she was both confident and alluring, the two things he was hoping to get from her each week. When it was Keenya’s turn, she had trouble moving naturally instead of just posing early on. Later, she was really bothered with Bertini, who was sort of moaning and touching her ass. Was it part of the shoot? Was he just trying to cop a feel? Whatever it was, Keenya didn’t feel comfortable, and had to stop the shoot. She thought that Bertini had crossed the line of professionalism, and although it bothered her very much, she went on with the rest of the shoot because she was afraid it would affect her standing with the judges if she couldn’t get through it.
Brittany was a complete natural of course. You can’t really say that she has rhythm, but you can tell that she knows how to move her body when another body is next to hers. Kahlen, on the other hand, has a lot of trouble. She couldn’t get into a natural groove, and although she said she was able to get through the dancing by acting a role, she couldn’t find within herself what she needed to get through this one. She still had a hard time thinking of herself as an object of sexual attraction. Kahlen, here is some free advice. An appletini or ice-blended margarita or four will really free your mind.
Overall, this was a great shoot, and I was really impressed with the pictures. After last week when they did their own hair, makeup, and clothing, it was good to have the professionals taking care of things once again:
The girls took the guys up on their invitation and went out to dinner. Once there, things were very, very awkward. Bertini and Keenya were still arguing about what happened on the set, and when it came time for the bill, Keenya ended up not having any money. Ahh, the life of a male model, go out with three hot women, and they have no problem ponying up their portion of the bill. The whole incident turned into a big mess after the fact. Brittany started accusing Keenya of being selfish, and took her to task for her crying and being fake.
Brittany may have had a point somewhere, but she is just not one who is good at arguing. Past a certain point, she doesn’t want to think of a coherent response and simply outshouts everybody. Naima had a look on her face that she wanted to kill the two of them, more intensity than I have seen from her all year. She said that she thanked god she was able to get a hold of the key, because it meant so much to her, and Keenya and Brittany obviously hadn’t learned anything from it. Kahlen just cried in the corner. The argument continued in the loft, and of course nobody got any further. Naima tried to step in for a moment, but got sick of dealing with Keenya and Brittany, and left the room. Kahlen was just sobbing outside. I have to say, she was pretty annoying this week.
For the judging the girls were told to dance around in place. Tyra would shout “Pose!” and they would stop and pose. Sort of boring, until all of the judges got out of their chair and joined in on the fun. I nearly fell off the couch watching Nigel do sort of a half grind with Naima. And about Nigel, how many of those god damned bold colored stripe shirts does he own. Is it just me or does he wear a different one each week? Maybe it’s the same one, but it’s starting to bother me. Janice was Janice, and even dressed up like the girls did for their shoot. Nolé, poor guy, he must miss his dog so much, but he did shake it when he had the chance. Tyra (god, what a great ass!), had a party up in there as well.
Keenya has been running into trouble with the judges for her weight, but she came out on top in this episode. She had a decent picture (they were also shown their worst shots), but she really impressed the judges by the way she acted when she was in front of them. Kahlen didn’t have the best picture, and they thought there could definitely be more emotion and sexiness, but they decided she had the potential to go on.
So, it was Naima vs. Brittany. As I e-mailed to a reader this past week, I may not cry if Naima loses, but I sure am going to drink heavily. I have a couple of cold bottles of vodka in the freezer, my special extra-large Dartmouth shotglass, and my favorite blanket to comfort me. The judges complained about Naima’s personality again. Although I wish they would see that a personality is more than simply mugging for the camera and drawing attention to yourself, she did admit that she has been holding back a little. She was so natural in her picture (easily my favorite this week), but sort of blended into the background in front of judges. Brittany was sort of a surprise, in an episode where they were focusing on personality, you would think she has no problem. One thing they did notice is that whenever she is asked for more energy in a shoot, she gets a little over the top and sometimes loses control. She also really isn’t taking things seriously.
Tyra said that they had to choose between the girls who’s flame was dwindling and the girl’s who flame was stifled, but still had a chance of coming on strong. They decided that Naima had that chance and saved her (and my liver) for at least another week. Out of Brittany and Naima, I would have picked Brittany to leave every time, but I think that she has been taking some great pictures and deserved to stay a little while longer. I would have thrown Keenya out in a heartbeat. She rebounded nicely this week with a great picture, but I think her last good picture was when they dressed her up as a Korean, and they have all been average or less than since then. But again, our girl Naima is still around, so I’ll take those results.
Next week, season finale time. Out of those left, who are you pulling for? Is Keenya too fake? Is Naima too reserved? Is Kahlen sexy enough?