Is it true that blondes have more fun? Not if you’re Catie and Heather. On this week’s episode of America’s next top model, the two resident golden girls cry, and cry, and cry. And then cry some more. Even Shandi, after a makeover that leaves her platinum blonde, passes out at a studio after an intense battle for the makeup mirror that would make a Barney’s warehouse sale appear positively cuddly in comparison. Coincidence? I think not, and I’m going to keep my hair brunette just in case.
Only the Lonely
Our show begins at Estrogen Central (or The Red Tulip Building, as it is more popularly known), where Shandi, still shaken from her near-elimination, straps on some heels and practices her walk on the living room runway, determined to improve. As we watch her walk in the only t-shirt she seems to own (the Kelly green “Afro 1976”) and what appears to be a blanket wrapped around her waist (in emulation of a big ball gown, one supposes, or of Linus from Peanuts), we also hear what some of her housemates think of her. Mercedes: “She is this nerdy…dork kind-of girl with the glasses.” Sara: “I see a lot of unattractive models and a lot of girls that they put magazines, and I’m just like why the hell do they put these girls in this magazine? But it’s because it draws people to them.” Um, thanks, I think.
Catie goes up for a practice walk too, and the girl who won last week’s walk-off nearly trips over the blanket-skirt and makes a little show of it. Xiomara comments that Catie’s behavior can be “attention-seeking” but that she loves Catie nonetheless. While the girls continue taking turns on the catwalk, laughing and playing with each other, we see Heather all by lonesome, lying down on the floor, staring sullenly off into the distance. “Everyone’s trying to get the spotlight here,” she says. We see more shots the girls talking and giggling in little pairs or groups.
Heather claims that although she is very sociable, no one at the house has made any effort to be sociable with her. We see a shot of her walking through the living room filled with girls, looking as if she’s crying or is just on the verge of it, and not a single girl stops what they’re doing to see if she’s alright or even seems to notice her. So Heather does what all girls suffering loneliness in the big city would do: she goes crying to mommy. As big, fat tears roll down her cheeks in the phone room, she tells her mom that she feels like she’s “in hell”, that everyone “has their little cliques”, and when she talks no one pays attention to her. I actually feel genuinely sorry for Heather for the first time when she says, plaintively, “I’m only 18 years old and I’ve never been away from home.”
In the morning, the girls are sent to Warren-Tricomi Salon, where Tyra, along with owners Edward Tricomi and Joel Warren, informs them that they will all be transformed from “ordinary to extraordinary”—and not just hair, but nails (Tyra says top models don’t need tips or acrylics), teeth whitening (sadly, Bethany missed out on this one), and even contact lenses for the resident four-eyes, Shandi. Also present is Jay Manuel, who will be giving the girls a makeup lesson. The girls are psyched. Before they get started, Catie says, “This is a once in a lifetime thing, I am not gonna care what they do to my hair.” Oh Catie, Catie, Catie. If only you knew what we, thanks to the magic of previews, already know.
Tyra breaks it down for everybody right away: she tells Catie that because she is “reminiscent of Twiggy” they’re going to chop her hair off which immediately wipes the look of excitement off her face. She tells a shocked Sara that she’ll be going blonde and a game Yoanna that she’ll be getting a “modern mohawk”. Mercedes will be getting extensions for a “big, wild…animalistic” look. Jenascia bites her lip in fear as Tyra tells her that her hair is too long for her 5’7” frame, and that they will be taking Jenascia’s hair from the middle of her back to shoulder-length (as someone with hair down to my butt, I feel her pain). Xiomara’s hair will be “wavy and wild,” April will be getting bangs, and Camille’s braids have got to go as they are “not versatile enough for high fashion”. Everyone gets excited when Tyra informs Shandi that she will be going platinum blonde. “And finally, Heather,” Tyra says, “We’re going to make you a little bit more blonde.” Heather waits as if she’s expecting Tyra to say more but no, that’s it. Heather is now pissed because “All the other girls, they got a totally different look and it just bothers me.”
The makeover montage is a blur of shears, foil, hair dye, and flashing stylists’ hands—ah, you can almost smell the peroxide in the air. Heather rolls her eyes under the dryers as Mercedes gets her weave sewn in and has what I’m guessing is bleach on her eyebrows (I was alarmed, for a moment, that the big, white stripes were part of the new look) and Yoanna sits down for a lesson from Jay on how to create the perfect smoky eye. Yoanna is delighted with her new look, and as scared as I was to hear the term “modern day mohawk” when we see the result, I have to agree that it suits her personality—it’s the perfect, modern, edgy, new look for Yoanna. Catie is still under the dryer, but already whining about how she’s never bleached her hair and plans never to do it again. Jenascia’s body language says it all, she sits her arms crossed the entire time her hair is getting cut and gripes, “The haircut, they said, is because it makes me look taller. Yeah, they played the tall card with me again.” Despite her misgivings, Jenascia’s hair comes out looking gorgeous, much more sophisticated.
“I’m sick of these bitches complaining about everything,” Sara complains. But she does have a point: they are getting cut, colored, and styled at a tony Manhattan salon for free. Sara has nothing to complain about; her hair is improved with a very nice, warm, honey-colored hue, and long, romantic extensions. Tyra, meanwhile, approaches Camille, who is getting worked on by a manicurist, and says, “They’re taking off the hoochie nails,” referring to Camille’s acrylics. It’s deeply satisfying to watch Camille get knocked down a few pegs by the only person who is capable of doing it because she is the alpha-model. Immediately post-makeover, Camille seems pleased, but I’m not so sure how much I like the long, straight, Morticia Adams hair.
Some girls go to the Brite Smile center to get their teeth photo-whitened (flashback to Dr. Dorfman on Extreme Makeover) as Catie continues moaning over her hair, crying that she doesn’t understand it and she feels “bald” (flashback to a few minutes earlier in the show when she said, “I am not gonna care what they do to my hair”). Yoanna remarks that Catie’s “obviously 18” and tends to act more “sophomoric” than the rest of them. Jenascia says that Catie “just comes across as this very sweet, innocent, I’m a little child, nurture me, comfort me, but she told me that she can cry at the drop of a hat.” The girls try to console her by telling her it looks great, but Catie starts bawling about she looks like a boy now. Tyra says, “it’s a little Oliver Twist now, but once they style it, it’s gonna look pretty.” Unfortunately, this time Catie is right, it does make her look like a boy. A fat little boy. It’s a travesty of a hairstyle, since Catie is really none of these things. Tyra comforts her and tries to get Catie to embrace change by saying, “You’re not gonna look like a boy. Girl, you got titties, you got booty, you gonna work it out.”
Speaking of change, Heather is still upset over the lack of it. She feels her makeover does not significantly change her look, and worries it might cost her come judgement day. April loves her new hair (the bangs seem to emphasize her beautiful almond eyes and really bring her cheekbones out), it’s the makeup thing that she’s having a harder time getting used to. “I don’t know anything about makeup,” she confesses. We learn that she just bought her first tube of mascara the day before. Xiomara’s transformation appears quite dramatic—her newly long and wavy hair is the perfect antidote to her hard features, lending her the softness and femininity we’ve all been dying to see from her. She laughs with Jay during her makeup lesson, saying, “Hey I’m from Jersey,” in defense of her cosmetic ignorance. “You don’t have to apologize but now it shows,” Jay cracks. Mercedes likes her look, dubbing it “vibrant” and “sexy”, although to me it looks virtually like her old hair, just bigger and darker. As happy as she is with her makeover, Mercedes was not happy about some others’: “There were some tears, some frustration…Some people I wanted to shoot in the head.” Cut to Catie, red-faced and sobbing.
The big success story of the day, however, is Shandi, hands-down. Even Camille takes the time to lean over and say across the room, “Shandi, you look beautiful.” Shandi is virtually unrecognizable as a glamorous platinum bombshell with soft, sexy layers, and fresh, flirty makeup. Shandi looks moved by the whole experience and says, “I feel so pretty.” The segment ends not on this high note, but with a depressing shot of Catie in a salon chair, blubbering away like her dog just got run over.
New York Cares
When we return from commercial, Catie is talking with her boyfriend on the phone. Before she even tells him, he guesses, “Please don’t tell me you cut your hair. Is short like boy short?” The waterworks come on again, and Catie’s face scrunches up into a little ball of pain. He becomes surprisingly comforting, telling her that he’s sure “it had to be done to further your career” and “I’m sure it looks good.” Catie says that she has to get used to change, since models have to reinvent themselves often.
At the dining table, Heather pokes morosely through a jar of pickles with her fingers. “That’s all you’re eating?” Yoanna asks, concerned, from over her own full plate of healthy veggies and chicken. I’m not exactly sure what Heather says in reply, being as there is a pickle in her mouth, but it’s something about being a fat ass. Yoanna shakes her head and says with maternal authority, “You’re going to get sick if you eat like that.” Yoanna shares her lunch Heather. Personally to the camera, Catie says that she feel Yoanna is different from the rest of the group, that she is the only one that actually cares. Yes, it was nice of Yoanna to insist that Heather “Eat more.” Or…was it the perfect strategy to fatten the competition? You decide.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
TyraMail arrives, saying: “Get ready at two o’clock to beat your face and beat the clock.” For those of you that don’t know, to “beat your face” is makeup artist and drag queen lingo for putting on makeup (I learned this from my friend Steve, who is both a makeup artist and a drag queen, okay?). Xiomara figures out quickly that they must be getting tested about what Jay taught them at the salon.
The girls head to a studio where Jay greets them, and refreshes their memories about the “glamorous, smoky eye” he spent so much time on the other day. He uses two big pictures to illustrate his point: one of Tyra with no makeup (looking not like her face got “beat”, but like she was beaten, literally), and one with (yes, it is glamorous and smoky). He tells them that they have 15 minutes to achieve this look, but not only do they have to apply their makeup all by themselves, they will have to share one single mirror, one set of brushes, and one palette. Jay explains that this is a realistic situation that could occur behind the scenes at any fashion show. Stylists, makeup artists might be busy, and you can and will be expected to take care of yourself in those circumstances. Furthermore, Jay says that the person with the best smoky eye will win a dinner with three mystery guests, and not only that…the losing girls will have to shop, prepare and serve dinner for them. Judging the eyes with Jay is Julie Redfern, beauty editor for only the greatest cosmetics boutique in the world, Sephora. Before they start, Jay reminds them that they “are not in a sorority” and “no one’s judging you by how well you get along with each other.” Jay says that they have to show “their hunger to be America’s Next Top Model.” Yay! Finally, a show that rewards superficial, ambitious people trading on their physical features, and perpetuates competitiveness between females.
The girls line up for the starting signal. Xiomara complains that some people *cough-CAMILLE-cough* were unfairly gunning for a head start. “Surprise, surprise Cruella DeVille steals the mirror,” Yoanna says, in regard to Camille’s getting to the table first and hogging everything. “Her butt is taking up the whole counter space,” Xiomara says, exasperated. Jenascia says she was so pissed off she wanted to stop and scream. What ensues over the next 15 minutes is ugly. Saving Private Ryan’s battle scenes of the Normandy invasion had nothing on this: girls fighting and elbowing their way to the brushes and makeup, limbs tangling, frantic faces smudged haphazardly. Some peace-loving people, like Yoanna, tried to see what they could do without duking it out for the mirror. Five minutes left and Heather cuts her finger while Shandi gets burned by the hot dressing table lights. Shandi also mentions how hot she’s feeling. But the clock keeps ticking down, and no one shows any signs of stopping until Jay finally calls time and they assemble for judgement.
Jay goes up to April, who looks like a drunk person applied her makeup, and says, “For somebody who only bought her first tube of mascara a day ago…” April looks apprehensive, as if she’s expecting the worst, when he says, “You really impressed me.” Heather, Shandi and Xiomara struck out with their attempts, and Camille did not follow the directions for smoky eye, but insisted in doing a creased eye. Catie’s was satisfactory, but it was Yoanna who managed to replicate the whole face (from lip stain to eye makeup) from Tyra’s reference photo (“almost identical” according to Jay) and win the evening’s prize.
Jay asks Yoanna to pick three people to join her. Heather smiles broadly in Yoanna’s direction, but Yoanna goes straight to Sara and Xiomara. Jay reminds her that she gets to pick one more, and Yoanna stops and considers her choices and picks April. Yoanna says later that she was just trying to figure out with whom she’d most like to spend the evening. A teary-eyed Heather says that she thought she and Yoanna were pretty close, and is hurt that she wasn’t first, second or even third choice for Yoanna. “No one’s gonna be there for you, that’s what I learned,” Heather says, voice shaking.
Jay gives the losers the night’s menu that they must prepare and serve. Catie is whining once again about how she can’t cook and can only make the salad. In the meantime, Shandi says that she is feeling very warm and is sweating profusely. At some point, Camille notices Shandi looking faint, and next thing you know, Shandi is passed out on the floor. The girls rush toward her (apropos of nothing, I’m noticing Kelly green is the hot color around here), and Nurse Yoanna comes to her aid with a “peanut butter, chocolate, a piece of candy” because “I knew her blood sugar was low.” Girl is 5’10” and only weighs 110 pounds, she needs more than piece of candy, she needs a goddamn pork chop, people! Everybody fans her while she drinks fluids and recovers. Shandi admits that she has neglected sleep and food, but vows to get more of both so this never happens again.
The Garden of Eatin’
Heather recounts the scary events of the day to her mother over the phone, and declares, “It’s so stressful and I’m so sad. I want to be a model, but if this is what it takes, I’d rather be happy.” She gets off the phone so she can help make dinner for Yoanna, Sara, Xiomara, and April. “I am jazzed that Camille is going to have to cook a meal for me and my guests. I think it’ll do her some good,” Yoanna says with no little satisfaction. As Camille chops vegetables in the kitchen, Yoanna and crew get pretty for dinner, wondering all the while who’s coming for dinner.
Out of the elevator pops none other than the Adams from their Eden shoot, Mike Randy and AJ. This time they are fully-clothed—damn it!—but then I guess that’s more appropriate, not to mention more hygienic, for a dinner. There is another hunky IMG model with them, Mike Sharits (I guess they couldn’t get Ian and were trying to slip this guy past us, but we’re too clever for UPN aren’t we, FORTers?). The girls are surprised and delighted. They settle down on cushions on the floor and eat on the runway in the living room. “I’m just happy to have some sort of male in the house,” April says. I was hoping for some orgy action tonight, as Tyra has promised, but I’ll save you the suspense: the hottest it gets on tonight’s episode is in the kitchen, where Heather is seething at having to make dinner for Yoanna, whom she feels abandoned her. She’s not the only one insulted at being the service. When Yoanna calls out, “Twiggy, can I get some more lettuce?” Catie looks at her like I know she didn’t. Back in the kitchen, Camille throws a tantrum when Catie uses a tomato and some lettuce Camille bought when they run out of veggies for Yoanna and her guests. “It’s a stinkin’ tomato and like six pieces of lettuce,” Catie spits, “Get over it.” Even Catie’s getting ornery now!
Heather goes downstairs to decompress, and talks to Catie as they sit by the sidewalk. Over cigarettes (yay, more good examples for all the young people watching), they complain about how Yoanna and crew have been ignoring them and treating them like the help all night. Poor girls, they probably have gone their whole lives not knowing what it’s like to not be the center of attention. It must be quite a blow. “I can’t believe I spilled my guts,” Heather says as they walk back (I assume she means this in the figurative sense, and is not referring to her new method of weight control). Heather then starts talking about Catie like she’s her new best friend. “Catie seems to understand me. It makes me happy that…I’m not alone in this house.”
They get TyraMail indicating that their photo shoot will have something to do with people’s fears and phobias. Catie says, “I think fear is a complete waste of emotions and time.” Oh Catie, Catie, Catie…I think we all know where this is heading. Shandi says she got some rest and ate something so she finally feels better (does an Entenmann’s doughnut count as a meal? Damn it, girl, if I have to fry up that pork chop myself, I will!).
The next day, they are driven to the “boondocks,” an industrial area with many abandoned warehouses. They walk to their location, outside of which an ambulance stands on call. Bad omens abound: yellow caution tape, dead birds, Catie says that the girls are thinking the assignment has something to do with death. Jenascia must not be that angry with April anymore, because I notice that they are walking into the building together, arm in arm. As April puts her arm around Jenascia as they walk up the stairs, I’m also thinking: 1) they would make a cute couple, and 2) Jenascia really does look short standing in comparison to the others.
They end up on the highest level of the dilapidated warehouse, which has huge round holes in the floor. Catie looks terrified and explains that her biggest fear is falling to her death (flashback to “fears are a waste of emotion”). Jay tells them their assignment is this: to prepare them for the many weird locations models sometimes have to report to when they work, they will be creating an “action fashion pictorial,” for Laundry by Shelli Segal, in the warehouse in which they will hang suspended from a ledge several stories high. All the girls react with shock: I notice Heather has a little tear in one eye, Sara claps her hand over her mouth and Jenascia is rubbing April’s arm as if to comfort her. The most frightened of all appears to be, of course, Catie, “I don’t want to do this, I’m very scared and I think I’m gonna die.”
Makeup artists and hair stylists get to work on creating a very 80’s punk meets geisha girl look, and crew guys set up the rigging in one of the big round holes. Photographer Richard Dean says that he did a shoot once where he was the one hanging out of a helicopter, but this doesn’t seem to comfort the girls much. Catie calls her dad, crying of course.
April is first, looking very Blade Runner chic, and gets up on the cables with no fear. “I feel like Mary Poppins!” she says sunnily. Shandi, giving you a bit of the ol’ Alex from A Clockwork Orange, was able to give a wide range of different, subtle looks that photographer Dean found impressive. Sara has a bit more difficulty with it; Jay says that she was concentrating so much on her body, she paid no attention to what she was doing facially (which was mostly grimace with fear). Yoanna, after telling the crew, “I wanna have babies, be careful” as she got her rig on, appears “scattered” according to Jay. Heather, looking nightmarish, like an evil mod Barbie, comes out and has difficulty keeping her mouth closed. Jay has to tell her, seriously, at least five times (that’s what I counted on my tape, so who knows how many more times existed) to keep her fish mouth shut. About Jenascia, all Jay says is that “She is totally unaware of her body, and doesn’t seem to care about anything.” Camille provides some comic relief with her weird, burlesque expressions; Jay says she seemed to get worse the longer she was out there. Mercedes had good energy and attitude, Dean says, unlike Catie, who is stalling to go for her turn. Xiomara kindly offers to go before her, saying “If you’re a friend of me, I’ll take care of you, you take care of me.” Short on grammar, but long on heart, Xiomara goes up, pretending to be brave so as not scare Catie, but unfortunately receives little instruction because art director Jay is busy coddling Catie.
Jay begs her to go up for at least one shot, and Catie begrudgingly concedes. As they send her out, all trussed up, her strange, futuristically made-up face is contorted in Edvard Munchian-like misery. She is blubbering sputtering, and shaking down to her feet, and as horrible as it is to say, I haven’t had this hard a laugh in all my years of watching Reality TV. Catie freaks out, but when Jay calls out direction, she gets herself composed and actually does it. It is an amazing feat. Catie is relieved when it’s over, and proud that she went through with it, and everyone applauds her.
Dis and Makeup
Judgement day, and when the girls enter the Elimination Room, they get raves from the panel, which today is joined by Jay, who plays guest judge. Even Janice is impressed and keeps saying, “Wow!” The girls do look pretty stunning and much improved, with the notable exceptions of Catie (who looks like a ruddy Peter Pan) and Sara (who does not appear to know how to take care of her new weave).
Today they have a makeup test, that will require them to recreate any of the following looks, but without any reference photos so it’s all about their interpretation: 50s Glamour, 60s Mod, 80s Punk, Goth, and Futuristic. They go back up their apartment and the compacts and brushes are flying.
They return to get evaluated. Shandi’s Goth look is a hit, getting a big “FIERCE!” from Janice, and her best photo is also very favorably received. Yoanna’s 80s makeup is, however, not favorably received, but her photo is. Mercedes’ Futuristic makeup was ok, but not pretty enough for Tyra; her photo, though, gets thumbs up, especially with Nigel who likes her “booty” in this one. Heather’s 80s look is fine, but her picture looks awkward, and Jay tells her of all the film they shot he could only find two good ones. Nigel says you only need one, sending the whole panel into an argument, with Eric saying that you should have a number of good shots from which to pick. They like Sara’s 80s makeup, and her picture is cute. They also approve of Jenascia’s fashion forward Future look, but love the “intensity” of her photo; Eric says it makes her look taller. Camille comes out walking like a robot but looking like a Rodeo clown in her interpretation of Futuristic, which does not please the judges, who call it “Halloween”; nor do they like her photo. April’s Future face gets mixed reviews, “Love it, you’re Barbarella,” Eric says. Janice doesn’t like the white. But everyone is absolutely blown away by her fantastic photo, the very definition of grace under pressure. Tyra loves it and calls it “dope”. “Were you a dancer?” Eric asks. April answers no, but she did take yoga for 6 years. “Well it shows,” he says. Jay said that April had so many fabulous shots that it made it hard for him to choose, sparking Tyra again, “That’s what I’m talking about.” Sadly, Xiomara’s Goth is panned by the whole panel, as is her photo. This ignites Xiomara, who finally defends herself by saying she didn’t receive direction because Jay was talking to Catie the whole time. The judges tell her it’s her responsibility to get her art director’s attention. “I bet Catie’s picture is gonna be better than yours,” Tyra says, “Because Catie was thinking about herself.” Catie steps up and gets super-defensive, even quarreling briefly with Xiomara. “Boarding school!” Janice yells, cutting them off, “Let’s see the picture.” And indeed, it is much better than Xiomara’s even though they only shot 12 frames of Catie before they had to take her off.
“Drama,” Jay murmurs before the judges dismiss the girls so they can deliberate. They talk about Catie’s breakdowns being bad for business, Sara’s ghetto-ness, Jenascia’s shortness, Janice calls Xiomara “See Ya Later” and proclaims April her favorite girl, and Nigel mentions again how pretty he thinks Yoanna is but how her body needs work. Outside the elimination room, Catie starts crying yet again (does she have the Hoover Dam for tear ducts?) and everyone rushes around her when she appears to faint. “There was a big production with being fanned and water, and I thought it was hilarious,” Sara snipes. Xiomara is aghast at Catie’s personality shift after having just gotten bitched at in the elimination room, “Pick a character! Either you are the scared crapless little girl, or you’re this attitude-having diva…Catie did not have to go there trying to sell me out. I am definitely going to go home today.”
The girls are brought back, and Tyra calls out 8 invitees names, leaving only Xiomara and Heather. Tyra tells Heather that she is too baby-faced, and Xiomara that the judges disapprove of letting another girl’s attention stealing antics compromise her shot at being America’s Next Top Model. Tyra finally tells Xiomara that she is the one invited back, sending Xiomara into grateful tears, and even choking Tyra up. Heather gets a hug from everyone then packs up. “I am just stunned, shocked. I know I’m a lot prettier than anyone of those girls standing up there, so I want to continue trying…One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Obviously, I’m trash here, and I’ll be a treasure somewhere else.”
I know, I know, I failed at keeping this week’s recap shorter and more succinct. I promise to try harder next week. Wanna blabber with me some more? Have questions or comments? Want to send me gift certificates for Sephora (hey, it was worth a shot)? Send them to me at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com. P.S. SEPHORA ROCKS!!!