What say we get a drinking game going for the third cycle of America’s Next Top Model? You know, one shot of booze every time you see a girl in a bikini or underwear, Tyra acting like she’s the only person who works on every single aspect of the show, Janice D. talking about her plastic surgery, Mr. or Ms. J making a reference to prostitution, or Nolé saying “fabulous.” If someone is in tears or there is a really bad, obviously dubbed-in voiceover, drink two shots. Even if the only condition we made were to take one swig every time we hear Kelle referred to as “a white girl with a really good tan” by either herself or someone else, that alone would be enough to leave any person three sheets to the wind. Because, let’s face it, if I hear that line one more time sober, I’m going to punch her right in her “monkey mouth” (Back off PC police—that’s her description, not mine, besides anyone who knows me knows I adore monkeys to a degree that borders on creepy). Better yet, I’ma send Tiffany (she of the beer-drenched weave) from episode one to do it, okay?!! Now that would be television.
Red Eye Fright
Episode 2 begins in a wash of neon glow, with the 14 femmes finales cruising around Manhattan. While there are lots of sights to see, the girls never take their eyes, or their minds, off the competition. Ann feels her confidence “intimidates” the other girls, and Norelle concurs, saying that she believes, with her face and body, Ann “will be in this competition a long time.” Leah is concerned that she can look “Plain Jane,” but she wants to prove to Tyra that she has what it takes to be America’s Next Top Model.
Giving everyone a tour of her “backyard” is New York native, Kelle. In case we don’t remember from last week, she reminds us that she hails from Seagate, “which is like the last gated community in New York,” and now resides in Manhattan. Is this just how she always introduces herself? She says that she may come off as “strong” and is often told she has a “presence,” words that are also used to describe bad odors, but I digress.
The girls are led up to the rooftop of a building right in the heart of Times Square, where they are met by a breathtaking view, not to mention the equally breathtaking, if slightly maniacal-looking, Tyra, whom I fear will scream “Top of the World, Ma!” before flinging herself into a grand immolation. She congratulates them on being “my personal final 14” (Let’s just forget anyone else had anything to do with helping you select them, right Tyra? Oh, and those of you playing along at home, go ahead and drink one shot). Tyra welcomes them to the “city that never, ever sleeps” then informs them that they will not be getting any sleep tonight as they will be immediately departing for their first challenge: a swimsuit competition in…Jamaica! Aww, I’m disappointed the first challenge is not a mobster-style dangling off the side of the building.
The person I want dangled off a building most this week is Kelle, who muses over why she is having problems fitting in with the group. The beautiful African-American girl who again feels compelled to proclaim she is “just like a white girl with a really good tan” (drink up) says that a lot of times people think of her as “stuck-up.” Maybe, but that’s not quite the word I was searching for, hmm, let’s see…
“Kelle’s so whitewashed it’s not even funny,” Eva says. Yes, thank you, Eva, that’s exactly the word I was looking for. Conveniently, the producers decide to put all the other black girls in a separate car where they may freely ponder Kelle’s behavior. Eva does a hilarious, spot-on impression of Kelle talking proudly about being the only black person in the white neighborhood where she grows up. “It’s so irritating,” Eva moans; yes, she’s harsh, but as far as I can tell, she’s never actually uttered anything untrue. Some of the other people in the car, including Julie, seem to agree, though Yaya, Miss African Pride, does try to point out, and rightfully so, that there are different ways of being “black.” Despite Yaya’s intelligent dissertation, Eva is not convinced. In my opinion, what is so insufferable is not that Kelle doesn’t act “black” (what does that mean anyway?), but rather, her constant assertion that she is really “white” in a way that puts a premium on being white over black. “You’re black, get with it, love it, embrace it,” Eva says, shaking her head incredulously. Toccara sits with a silent but significant look on her face.
At 6am, after a night of no sleep, the girls get aboard a 3 hour flight for Jamaica. Plenty of time to sleep, you say? Well, sure, were it not for the turbulence and crazy crying to keep you awake, that is. Ann flips out on the plane—whether it’s due to acrophobia, or whatever she smokes that makes her look so dazed in her all her photos, is anyone’s call. Remember that segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, in which John Lithgow goes berserker onboard a flight? This is worse, much worse, and this time there is no goblin-like creature riding the wing (Or is there? *scary music plays*). Norelle tries to comfort her, but no, Ann will only be consoled by her Eva. “Mama, I need you,” she calls out to the slumbering Eva, who wakes up eventually and accepts the hysterical Ann’s head into her lap and tells her she’ll be fine. “This is such a weird relationship,” Julie opines, looking on. Weird, perhaps, but also…strangely tender, especially when these two seemingly abrasive characters declare mutual love for the parts of each other that are not so readily apparent to the others.
Jamaican Me Pose Like I’m Taking a Dump
The girls de-plane in Montego Bay, where they are greeted by traditional Jamaican dancers and the glorious sun. They meet Jay Manuel and the “glam squad” (including J. Alexander, photographer Nick Cardillicchio, makeup artist Mathu, wardrobe stylist Michelle, and Salvador Dali impersonator/hairstylist Danilo) beachside at the Rockhouse Hotel for their bikini shoot (get ready to drink a load of liquor). “I know you’re tired, I know it’s rough, but I need you guys to turn it out,” Jay orders, revealing for the first time that the house in New York will only hold 13, meaning someone will be eliminated in Jamaica based on their performance during today’s shoot. Gasp! Furthermore, the photos of the remaining girls will be the basis of judgment for a second elimination, once they return to New York. Gasp again!
Eva’s up first, and I guess her car show poses are not cutting it, because Jay tells her, “This is not a pinup…not a cheesy bathing suit magazine.” Cassie also has some difficulty portraying “high fashion,” and when Jay tries to direct her to do something more “animalistic” she makes strange little claw hands and bends in a way that cannot good for her back. Ms. J. tells Kristi, “It looks like you have gas, Baby, like you gotta fart.” Amanda earns adoration, not flatulation, from Ms. J. by giving the “broken-down doll look.” Jay then scolds Kelle for being more “hoochie” than couture, and Magdalena for the “question mark on her face.” Leah is visibly nervous and has extreme difficulty taking the direction. In sharp contrast, Yaya is such a natural, she barely needs direction, and Jay commends her by saying, “Every frame was an ad campaign.” The two J’s both agree that “the Yaya sisterhood” is “working it as if the rent were due tomorrow” (go ahead and drink up).
Jennipher almost falls off the rocks, but Toccara keeps her balance and her cool, although curiously Jay criticizes her for letting “too much of her personality get in the way” when it was her personality that is what landed her the spot among the finalists in the first place! Oh Mary, where are you, girl? Norelle is told, simply, that it looks “like you’re taking a dump.” Nicole, who hasn’t gotten as much attention as many of the other girls, but looks stunning, seems to do a good job, as does Julie. Ann, however, is a “huge disappointment.” Jay says that he thinks she’s just relying on her gorgeous looks, but likens her to a “dead slab of meat.”
Toss Your Brunch
After the shoot is over, Jay tells them that they will all be checking into the Beaches resort in Negril where he will meet them at 10am for a nice brunch and, oh, to deliver the news that will shatter the dreams of one unlucky girl among them. After the girls leave, Jay, J. and Nick have an electronic networking orgy—I mean, meeting, with Miss TyTy, who appears, inexplicably, in her jammies in bed, as if to indicate that Tyra eats, breathes, even sleeps this show. From a laptop, Tyra instantly sees and evaluates the photos from the day’s shoot while on a conference call with the boys in Jamaica.
Even Tyra can’t resist making fun of Kelle’s “white girl” persona by doing an “Ohmigod” impersonation of her. It’s why Tyra is shocked by the “inner hoochiness” she sees in Kelle’s photos, and decides it must be stopped. Everyone laughs, yes that’s right, they are chortling, over Magdalena’s pictures, which Nick describes as having “no fire”. Leah is also seen as mediocre. Finally, they look at Ann’s pictures, and Nick says that although he though she looked interesting and elegant, “in front of the camera, she just disappeared.” Tyra, like Jay, thinks that Ann feels she can skate by on having a great, athletic body, but needs to learn that it takes more than that to be a good model.
Morning at Beaches, and the girls fret before brunch. “I kind of have a little stomachache,” Magdalena complains. And who can blame her? Who has an appetite on a morning like this? Who would risk chucking up their hash browns out of sheer anxiety? The two J’s appear, and Mr. J. breaks it down to the girls like this: “About a handful of you were good, a huge group of you were mediocre and there were a handful that were just bad.” He leaves an envelope on the table containing the name of the girl who will not be joining them in New York and departs.
Leah volunteers to read the announcement because, she says, if it is her she wants to see her name first. Alas and alack, the girl who must pack up and leave is Magdalena—so, it is the girl who dropped out of nursing school to participate in ANTM who is now left nursing wounds of her own.
When the girls return to New York, they are picked up in a stretch SUV limousine that would make environmentalists apoplectic. But who cares about fuel efficiency when you’re big pimpin’? Certainly not these chicas, who are delirious with delight as they read their first piece of TyraMail, which informs them that they are being taken to their new residence: The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in East Manhattan. In the limo, Ann, like a petulant child, starts telling the girls she would like to room with Eva, and that they should play “rock, paper, scissors” to determine beds. Nobody really agrees, nor is it certain that anyone is even listening. God knows I wouldn’t, were it not for my sworn duty to recap for you, beloved ANTMers.
They enter their new home, a giganimous suite which is thoughtfully festooned with many, many pictures of Tyra—but also little throw pillows with their own photos, which many of the girls end up using as markers by which to “claim” beds. They run around the typically gaudy reality TV set (why do these places always look like an acid-tripping 6-year-old girl with severe A.D.D. did the interior design?) and get their first look at the different areas like “The Meeting Room” (a common area with room for runway practice), “The Editors’ Suite” (a large lounge), “The Studio” (a bedroom with a photography theme), “The Fitting Room” (a pink, frou frou, girly-girl bedroom), and “The Couture Club” (the funky fashion bedroom).
The girls rush around to claim beds and discover that there are only 12 beds. Ann waits for Eva, who is too distracted looking at all the crazy props and décor to stop and bed-hunt. Ann, in full petulant child mode, calls a meeting to whine about she can’t share a room with her best friend. Eva spies a big bed in the living room that she happily volunteers to take, but Ann continues to throw what Julie calls a “hissy fit” over the rooming issue. She ends up annoying the hell out of everyone, including Eva, who says, “Ann can bitch and moan, but Eva’s gonna remain Eva.”
The next`day, after spending the night apart, Ann still won’t let it go. She confronts Eva and attacks her for “not sticking up for me.” Eva claims that bitching and moaning is “not her personality” (has she not seen herself on tape?) but says, reasonably, that “as close as we are, we still don’t know each other.” Then Ann bursts into wet, uncontrolled sobs of emotional blackmail and repeatedly intones “I love you” to Eva and they will be “friends forever” and at each others’ weddings, etc. Instead of fleeing the area and filing for a restraining order, as she should, Eva puts the “co” in “codependent” by falling for the oldest clingy, psycho girlfriend trick in the book. Eva’s hard exterior melts, and she ends up tearing up too. Before you know it they’ve kissed and made-up, then start having slow-motion, soft-focus lesbian sex—sorry to disappoint you, ladies and gentlemen, that last part didn’t actually happen, though I’m slowly becoming convinced that the wedding Ann wants Eva to attend in the future could be their own. Cassie makes a good point when she says that Ann’s insecurity and inability to be confident on her own will show through in her pictures; I want to slip a $5 tip in her thong.
What’s More Fun Than a Barrel of Monkeys? A Barrel of Models
Finally the girls have some time to relax and take a tour of the city. Kelle appoints herself hostess with the mostest, and takes charge of the group. She does her tour guide bit, again referring to Manhattan as “my backyard”, talking almost non-stop, and managing to tie almost every point of interest in New York to herself in some way. Reaction shots of the others in the car reveal much eye rolling and tortured staring out of windows (Norelle appears as if she’s considering flinging her body out of the car just to escape from Kelle’s relentless monologue of “me”). “Clearly an only child,” Eva observes. Toccara describes Kelle as “a preppy, stuck-up white person.” Jennipher says that “Kelle’s pretty much on everyone’s list right now,” proving that Kelle’s problem isn’t so much about race as it is about her being extremely self-obsessed.
At home, the girls find a new toy: a two-way pager, phone, internet doohickey—basically the sort of gadget that my mom would never be able to figure out. Kelle reads the message that there will be a special dinner at home tonight, for which the girls should prepare. After the mad rush to get prettied-up, dinner is delivered straight to their door by none other than Tyra herself.
At dinner, they have a heart-to-heart chat. Tyra, in Good Cop mode, tells them all they are special, but each have something that’s not “safe” that makes them interesting. “Really examine your body,” Tyra instructs them. Well, it is breast cancer awareness month, so I’m expecting all the girls to take their tops off—ah, the FCC wouldn’t allow it anyway, besides Tyra means to find your imperfections and work on ways of either concealing the flaw or making it work for you. In a brave effort to de-mystify the beauty standards of the fashion industry, Tyra admits on TV that she has cellulite, and says it’s their job to make the public think they are perfect, even though “none of us are.”
In an effort of helping them embrace their imperfections, Tyra calls Ann “humpback nose” and Leah “fivehead.” Um, thanks? Yaya talks about her lifelong acne problem, Jennipher about her “big booty,” Norelle about her big ears, and Toccara about how her thighs stuck together at the bikini shoot. Even though you wouldn’t think Kelle could possibly have a single complaint about her perfect self, she does chime in to say that she dislikes her “protruding…monkey mouth.” So was the “gated community” she’s bragged about being from all this time really a zoo?
SCREECHING HALT. All the black girls start to look extremely uncomfortable, including Tyra. Toccara says, “Oh my God, did she just say that?” Even Yaya, who had earlier tried to defend Kelle, is aghast, “What? Are you serious?” Kelle tries to elaborate but only makes matters worse when she says she feels this facial feature is “primitive.” What’s disturbing about her description is not so much the message that it’s bad to look like monkeys (as they are adorable and charming creatures with, I think, attractive features), but the fact that the terminology she’s using seems to reveal some amount of internalized racism. Tyra saves the conversation by saying she should examine her photos and maybe learn to love this feature, adding “Go, Curious George, work it out.”
Back in the bedrooms, Kelle’s comment is the hot topic du jour. Toccara walks into a room of girls and asks if anyone can believe that “monkey mouth” comment. Yaya is appalled, “It’s one thing to say ‘I’m a white girl with a tan’ and ‘I’m an Oreo,’ but to call yourself a monkey? That’s just stupid.” Jennipher cites the fact that Kelle talks about having her own bathroom and floor of the house as the reason people think she’s “a spoiled little brat.”
Toccara says she’s not the kind of person who talks behind peoples’ backs, she would rather say it to their faces. That’s exactly what Toccara does, too, she approaches Kelle directly and tells her what people are saying, particularly in regards to the “monkey mouth” controversy. “What irks a lot of people about you,” Toccara says, beyond the race issue, “is you’re spoiled.” Kelle seems to be most offended by this, and defends herself by saying that, yes, she has nice things but she’s earned a lot of what she has. Kelle admits that hearing others’ negative opinions of her is upsetting, and starts to cry.
Seeing all the pain Kelle is experiencing over not fitting in starts to make me feel some genuine sympathy for her—that is, until she says, “People ask me what pair of pants I’m wearing. They’re Gucci, I can’t help that.” Waaah, poor rich girl! You can’t help it that you’re wearing pants whose price exceeds what some people pay for rent. Amanda, ever the loving mommy, comes in and consoles Kelle when no one else seems willing to. “Knowing I have…a friend,” Kelle says later, “makes me feel so good.”
The Bitch on the Judging Panel
TyraMail trumpets the upcoming meeting with the judges. Many of the girls (like Leah, Ann, and even Kelle) feel nervous, not feeling like they turned in their best performances in Jamaica. Soon, it’s time to meet the judges, and it’s a pleasure to see the return of ANTM fixtures, the world’s first supermodel, Janice Dickinson (freshly nipped and tucked into an impressive illusion of youthful perfection) and photographer Nigel Barker (a little quiet tonight, perhaps upset that there are no half-Asian models amongst the finalists this cycle). Furthermore, it turns out that Janice D’s not the only bitch on the judging panel anymore, because Empress Minnie has returned to the dais; accompanied by her owner, of course, the fabulous Nolé Marin, reknowned stylist, who sits stroking her at the head table, looking like a dapper cross between Aleks Syntek and a James Bond villain.
Tyra announces this cycle’s prize package: a contract with legendary international modeling agency, Ford; a photo spread in Elle (a step up from Jane, but then a spread in Hustler would have been a step up from Jane); and finally, a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics. The girls applaud, but the excitement is shortlived once the evaluations start and anxiety sets in.
Yaya is up first this week, and her swimsuit photo is phenomenal; the judges describe it as “strong” and “regal,” and it’s definitely my favorite for the week. Tyra says Nick, the photographer, did mention that her “poor complexion” needed work. I’m telling you, they need to hook this girl up at the makeover next week. Anyhoochy, the next girl up for inspection is Ann; I totally concur with Janice D. who says “Your face, flawless, but the passion behind it, zero.” Tyra says the photographer found Ann “beautiful” but the second she got in front of the camera, she was “the worst” out of all the girls. Nolé says, gently but firmly to a visibly shaken Ann that she needs to convey “passion” otherwise “someone who may not be as pretty as you might conquer you.”
Cassie’s shot looks a little awkward to me, Tyra points out the high shoulders, and Janice says she looks “2 months pregnant.” Kelle gets bashed all around for her photo, and Janice suggests that the arm between her legs looks like a man’s tallywacker. Oh Janice, how I missed you so. Norelle’s shot is criticized by Nigel for the “uptight” expression on her face, and Tyra points out that this is probably due to Norelle’s habit of pulling her lip down to hide her braces. Eva’s pose is seen as “music-videoish” by Tyra, a nice way of saying “hoochy” I suppose; Janice advises her to look in the pages of Elle and Vogue for examples of what to mimic.
Nigel says that the judges agree that Jennipher’s is one of the best pictures they’ve seen so far, due to her “confidence,” although Nigel says that her long, butt-length hair, while beautiful, is “not very practical for modeling.” “The Crystal Gayle look is not in fashion,” Nolé adds. Nolé has more tough love for Amanda, stating that she needs to look more like a model, because presently she looks more like she’s “going to sing on a piano.” Janice chimes in, saying, “Gorgeous headshot, body shot—” she makes a thumbs down. Tyra observes that Amanda has a tendency to lift one eyebrow like “Zoolander,” which Janice says she used to be able to do herself, but now she has so much Botox in her face, she physically unable (Still playing the drinking game? Take a swig).
They love Julie’s pigeon pose, and Nicole’s as well, though Tyra points out that in every picture Nicole juts out her pinky. Toccara gets kudos, especially from Janice, who says, “You might be giving these skinny, little bitches a run for their money.” Leah is bashed all around; Nigel tells her she has “mad eyes,” Janice says her pose “sucked,” and Nolé tells her to take off the string of pearls she’s wearing, explaining, “this is a model contest, not a secretary contest.” Tyra says that the photographer complained that Leah’s head rolls were all off rhythm, too. The judges all seem to like Kristi’s pic, although Nolé says that there in the judgment room, she looks like she “fell off the dairy truck.”
The Rhythm is Gonna Get You
Finally, the girls are dismissed so the judges can deliberate. A lot of the same concerns as before are reiterated, but Janice jokingly dubs Amanda a “bitch” for having such a tight bod even after having a child, and Nolé calls Eva’s bikini shot “Ghetto Superhero.” They are not keen on Ann’s, Norelle’s, or Kristi’s personalities, but they love Kristi’s skin, and the fact that Yaya has such a high percentage of usable pictures (60%) from her shoot.
At last, it is time for the handing out of photos that will reveal which 12 girls will continue in the competition to be America’s Next Top Model. Photos are handed back to the girls in the following order: Yaya, Kristi, Julie, Jennipher, Kelle, Cassie, Toccara, Nicole, Eva, Norelle, and Amanda.
This leaves Ann and Leah in the bottom two. Tyra gives her requisite, time-filling, suspense-stretching speech: she tells Leah that at the photo shoot, the photographer had a hard time capturing her on film because her “rhythm was so off” and Ann that “you were so dead, a photographer needs to be inspired.” Tyra finally hands the last photo back to…Ann. Leah walks off briskly, not even turning to look at the girls as she leaves, much less stop for goodbyes. Back up in the apartment, she wipes tears from her eyes as she packs. Thinking back, she feels she could have done better, but just because she’s told no once doesn’t mean she’ll stop trying.
No monkeys were harmed in the making of this recap. And remember, in order to play the ANTM drinking game, you must be able to show proper ID. If you are below the age of 21, in AA, or just a teetotaler, feel free to substitute Tang or email me for other non-alcoholic suggestions at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com. Oh yeah, that’s the place to send questions or comments too.