As we have all been a bit shaken by the unusual recent events here at the FORT, I shall do my best to be brief with my ANTM ramblings this week. Is such a thing possible, you ask? Looks like a job for MINI-SFG [out from behind me steps: Mini-SFG, who looks exactly the same as yours truly but is bald and in a little grey suit]. GET TO WORK IMMEDIATELY, MINI-SFG!!! [Swats at it with small broom]
Trouble Breaks Out
Morning at the loft, and trouble is erupting—all over Michelle’s face. As if this cycle’s poor underdog doesn’t have enough problems, she appears to be getting “little burn circle things” (as she describes them) on her chin, cheeks, and forehead. She has no idea what they are, but everyone, I mean everyone has a theory. Even the damn cameraman has a theory. My own first thought is, could this be somehow related to those alien crop circles in Signs? Laugh if you want, but it’s no more ridiculous, and much less cruel than what some of the other girls are saying. Noelle, in a super-nasty, catty way that makes me want to slap the smug smirk on her face, suggests that Michelle “hurts herself to make herself feel better.” Keenyah posits that it’s “witchcraft” and Michelle worships the devil. Then the two girls with flawless skin laugh at Michelle’s “scabs.” Maybe Tiffany was right. Mayhaps all these bitches are evil.
TyraMail oh-so-subtly hints, “You all have assets, but you also have flaws. See if you can make up for them…” The girls are brought to the Los Angeles School of Make-up’s Make-up designory, where they are greeted by a man who claims to be Paul Thompson, director of education at M.U.D., but is, c’mon, so clearly Jay Manuel in ‘old man make-up’. But just the way it is in Mrs. Doubtfire, when Robin William’s kids couldn’t tell it was their own dad under all that spirit gum, the girls are somehow shocked and amazed when this stodgy oldster turns out to be…Jay Manuel in ‘old man make-up’.
The real Paul Thompson comes in and Jay explains he did this ‘make-older’ to show the power of transformation, blah blah. Kahlen has a different take: “I think the reason Mr. Jay dressed up is to show the rest of us even though Michelle has scabies she can still be beautiful.” Rrreeeaaaooowrrr! All y’all bitches are evil. Jay talks about important it is to have a natural look on go-sees, then gives the girls an assignment: they will partner up and give one another a “clean, fresh, natural look” with [subliminaladvert=buyit]CoverGirl[/subliminaladvert] makeup.
The girls are set loose on each other, but instead of scratching each others’ eyes out, they make each others’ eyes up. Michelle is partnered with Lluvy and Tiffany, who seem to do their best to keep things positive, but Michelle still feels “horrible.” “My face is falling off,” she moans, “How can I be happy about that?” She has even more difficulty helping her partners do their faces, and she declares that “I suck at make-up.”
Naima provides yet another bumpy skin theory: she talks about how her father gets some skin condition when he’s stressed (I’m guessing she means hives) and maybe Michelle just needs to relax. Even if it’s not hives, Michelle would do well to take this advice anyway, because she really is far too hard on herself and if she gets any harder, she’s going to self-destruct. It is easy to see when she is frustrated because she does this odd bunny sniff whenever she’s on the verge of a flip-out. Let’s call it the ‘Angry Bunny’ look.
Despite all the fuss, in the end Jay likes Lluvy’s look best, and Tiffany is eager to take the credit—however, Lluvy is nice enough to add that Michelle helped too. Jay is not so keen on Noelle’s make-up, which is too pale and makes her appear “sick.” Jay chastises Christina for not using enough makeup on Naima, pointing out that even “natural needs help” and go-sees require “make-up that doesn’t look like make-up.” Ah so, Grasshoppa, so the true make-up lesson begins...
On the way home, Tiffany looks at Michelle’s inflamed skin and exclaims, “Ooh, it’s getting worse.” Michelle sweeps a swathe of hair over her blemished forehead, and confesses she’s always wanted to feel pretty and glamorous but “I look in the mirror and my nose is too big, my skin’s not healthy, and looking at everyone else around me, I look nothing like them.” Michelle’s insecurities are something anyone can relate to multiplied by a thousand, which is what makes watching this episode an extra-painful experience.
Even back at the homestead, the bitch train just don’t stop. Judging from Brittany’s vexation, Noelle must natter on about her child like Kathy Lee Gifford on a cocaine bender. Then Tyra shows up and it’s One-on-One/Weep-o-Rama time. There’s the requisite kissing up, then Tyra gets to brass tacks. She tells Lluvy she needs to learn how to hold her unique face the right way. She inspects Michelle’s face and confesses she herself has had warts and other skin problems of her own; they decide to send Michelle to the dermatologist. Tiffany feels insecure about fitting into the high-falutin’ word of fashion; Tyra reassures it’s alright to ask questions, and also feels if she opens up to the other girls, she might feel less lonely. Tatiana cries about being from a broken home and semi-homeless in Hawaii, and Tyra urges her to keep strong. Noelle talks about missing her son (again) but Tyra talks about how now having a baby in the biz acceptable and she could even bring her baby to work if she wanted.
TyraMail announces: “You’ve all had good and bad critiques, see if you can make up the difference.” The next day, they go to the Salon at Beverly Hills where Jay asks them if anyone knows what “haute couture” is. Crickets chirp enthusiastically in response, and Jay and I both are appalled. I can understand not knowing what this is if you’re an auto mechanic in Flushing, but let’s face it, in this world today fashion has so saturated the mainstream, I’ll bet that mechanic is likely to have seen an episode of “Project Runway” and knows his ‘couture’ from his ‘carburetor’. How could you not know, especially if you want to be a model?
Anyway, Jay explains it is a super high fashion runway look, elaborate and outré. He challenges them to create their own haute couture look at 5 make-up stations (one each for foundation, blush/eyeshadow, mascara/eyeliner, accessories, and lipstick) with only 45 seconds per station. They will be judged on creativity and originality, and the winner and two friends will get a one-of-a-kind gift from a designer.
There is a mad dash through the stations, and then Jay collects them for critiques. Rebecca’s an “everyday mall girl” and Brittany’s “kinda fashiony” but Jay outdoes himself when he says Tiffany resembles “a toasted Miss Piggy on crack.” Michelle is visibly struck when Jay says she looks more “Fright Night” than haute couture. Really the only person who comes close to high fashion is Naima, with her “Swan Lake”-inspired, feathery Geisha Girl look. She picks Lluvy and Christina to go with her to Lauren Scherr’s where they work with the designer to make themselves a one-of-a-kind bag of their very own.
Problems Come to a Head
Meanwhile, the rest of the girls have returned to the loft. Michelle starts to fret that her skin is getting worse, and in the close-up shot in the bathroom mirror at home, the violent red patches of irritated skin do appear to be more prominent.
In the phone room, Noelle, who has played the goody-goody, come-confess-to-me mommy all this time, says quite nastily (not sympathetically or concernedly) to her own mom, “Can I tell you, one of the girls here has a flesh-eating bacteria on her face.” Her mom gasps and says, “That’s been all over the news,” and, without having any first-hand knowledge about Michelle’s condition, goes on to talk about how this strain is resistant to antibiotics, and could give you pneumonia and die.
Noelle proceeds to spread this news faster than the red spots on Michelle’s face, whipping all the girls into a Crucible-style mass hysteria based on no evidence whatsoever. And if she’s really concerned about it as a health issue, it was so nice of her to talk to everyone but Michelle about it. Noelle seems so maddeningly pleased with breaking the dreadful news the whole time, she can hardly conceal her smile—furthermore, she lies when one of the girls asks if her mother told her the news before Noelle told her about Michelle, which really destroys any last bit of respect I might have had for her.
Everyone else’s reactions are hardly shining examples of noble behavior either. Tiffany flips out and declares she doesn’t want anything to happen to her skin because “I love my skin.” Lluvy appears to gag at Noelle’s sensationalistic retelling of supposed new stories about this flesh-eating menace, and then starts to hop around and scratch herself and shake convulsively like a crazed crackhead going through a bad withdrawal. All the girls basically act like a slimy B-movie monster, like the Blob or the Creature from the Black Lagoon, is approaching and on the attack. There is the faint sound of someone moaning, “We’re all gonna die,” as the camera closes in on Noelle hunched over in some horrible, ape-like posture.
As Michelle naps unknowingly in her bedroom, a panic spreads like wildfire or an email about poisonous Costa Rican bananas throughout the house. Rebecca calls her dad to ask if he’s heard about the “skin disease that’s spreading around and is incurable” and he says he has. Tatiana’s mom makes the outrageous claim that, “that stuff that that girl has kills people in probably one of the most disgusting manners.” What does she think it is Michelle “has,” Ebola virus? They even start to freak out over whether Michelle has gotten her “germs” on the telephone, and Tiffany wipes the receiver off frantically. Keenyah calls her mom with Tiffany and Noelle flapping their arms in a gesture of supreme skeevedness.
Tiffany tries to shush everyone, saying that if Michelle hears, she’ll kill them. She goes in and checks on Michelle while she’s sleeping to “make sure her face was falling off on her sheets” and then goes out and helpfully informs the girls that “Michelle doesn’t breathe when she sleeps.” So now she’s a vampire with Ebola. And I thought she was Michelle’s friend! Et tu, Tiffany? I guess the saying “All y’all bitches are evil” applies to you too.
Brittany says she’s “not feeling peachy keen” about being in the house with Michelle now, and doesn’t want to touch anything. The most sensible person seems to be Tiffany’s grandma, who tells them over the phone that, “You need to get a life. Ya’ll ain’t got nothin’ to do, read a book or something.”
TyraMail prompts the girls to “Get ready to show your true colors” and the next day they are brought to the studio for their latest photo shoot: a “Got Milk?” ad in which they will not only be made over into a different ethnicity, but also contend with a particularly challenging prop: a 3-year-old child. Jay runs off the list of who will be what, and Noelle says that being half-black, she finds being transformed into a “proud African woman” to be an exciting experience; and naturally, being around the 3-year-olds is reminding her of her son.
Rebecca expresses concern over Michelle’s skin condition being in contact with a child, and the make-up artist inspects her face. Someone on the crew asks if “someone knows voodoo in the house” and if there are any suspicious chicken bones lying around. Danilo observes that she is bleeding in areas of her scalp, and Mathu is worried about putting make-up on her because “she could have leprosy.” Well they finally decide to send her to the doctor, and she takes off just as the shooting begins.
The Korean Keenyah wrestles with her wriggly little boy but still seems to do well. We learn Naima’s dad is black and Mexican, and her mom, black and Irish; she find this experience of being made into an Icelandic/Scandinavian “white woman” (White woman? I thought they made her into Devon Aoki) “mind blowing” but says it just illustrates that “you are ultimately defined by who you are, not this outside.” Smart. Beautiful. Sorry, wrong cosmetics line slogan—[Cover Girl agents descend on SFG household and obtain SFG & her army of Mini-SFG clones.]
Lluvy, from Mexico but now a Swedish blonde, is just happy that she will be a person and not a fish or an alien today; the photographers, however, mark that she was distracted by her child. Native American Tiffany appears warm and comfortable interacting with her child, and Rebecca points out being a mother might give her and Noelle some advantage—however, she also realizes it makes it harder to be away from their own kids. Noelle says it did make her think about her son, and she almost felt like crying at one point.
Michelle, meanwhile, goes to the UCLA medical center where Dr. Ronald Moy informs that she has impetigo, common, easily treatable bacteria that should go away fairly quickly. She is actually contagious, but only through close contact. Upon returning to the studio and telling the girls about her impetigo, Tatiana says she now realizes the girls in the house “did get a little out of control” and “made it seem bigger than it actually is.”
Back in front of the camera, African American Brittany has her “best shoot to date” according to Jay. Bi-racial Tatiana struggles with her 3-year-old and announces, “Kids are not my thing.” Personally, I think Christina’s crazy, homicidal psycho eyes are only intensified by the dark East Indian makeup and dramatic black kohl eyeliner, and in closeup, she looks disturbingly like the lady creature in The Grudge.
Jay and crew have decided that as a precaution, they won’t have Michelle posing with any of the children, instead, she will get a little baby doll to carry. Dark Italian Rebecca doesn’t find it fair that Michelle won’t have to struggle “with a 40 lb child on her hip.” Speaking of struggling with a heavy child, Jay says that as a result of a heavy child, he noticed a pained expression on Hawaiian Kahlen’s face throughout the shoot.
Tiffany also gripes about Michelle not having to carry a real child when she picks up the light baby doll. Mathu tells Tiff, “Well, her face is falling off so back off.” When Tiffany still fusses that he “put it back on and then some,” Mathu shoot back, “Maybe she’s just prettier than you. It’s a theory.” Today’s quite the day for theories around here. Michelle does her Eskimo pose with her baby “Cleetus,” which Jay actually thinks is harder, as there is less to which she can react.
Judge Not By The Color of Her Skin, But By The Content Of Her Character
It’s elimination time before the judges again, which will narrow the girls down to 10. The guest judge tonight is Jim Deyonker, ANTM’s photo shoot producer. The test tonight involves putting on a “full, fierce night face” with [subliminaladvert=buyit]CoverGirl[/subliminaladvert] makeup in 3 minutes without a mirror! Not surprisingly, the results are horrific.
Brittany is first before the panel. Janice coos, “Cruella” as Tyra hands her a mirror; Nigel says it’s more “morning-after make-up” than a glamorous evening look. Fortunately, she rocks her photo, and Tyra even mentions that it reminds her of a picture of her and her mama. Naima’s makeup is deemed a “Rand McNally roadmap” by Janice, but her photo is received better. Nigel says with her look it’s hard to switch her ethnicity in the first place, and Janice dismisses it as a “mall photograph.” Rebecca’s face is a “car wreck” but her Italian picture stuns the panel into a chorus of wows. It is a striking photo, and it edges up her “safe” little image.
Keenyah hops in front of the panel in an “America’s Next Top Model” rhinestone tank top, which Tyra suspects is a subliminal message of some sort. I wasn’t as convinced of her look during the shoot itself, but when they unveil her Korean Got Milk ad, I am quite amazed. “Gorgeous” and “breathtaking” screams the panel; Tyra says, “I don’t even see a black girl here, I see an Asian woman.” Noelle gives no variety in the eyes, and is chastised for wearing flip flops, because as the shortest girl in the competition, she must strive to appear taller at all time. Janice says, “I just do not see ‘model’ in front of me.”
Tatiana’s black/white bi-racial picture is a little meh—Nolé thinks it looks “dead.” Kahlen’s Hawaiian picture is deemed “stunning.” Christina’s East Indian pic is said to look “possessed” and like “a deer caught in headlights.” Tiffany’s Native American picture is not too popular either. “You look like a madam in a brothel,” states Janice flatly. Janice loves Lluvy’s picture, but seems to be the only one. Nigel thinks her look is not translating well onto film. Michelle’s body language is radiating insecurity, and the panel notices immediately. She cries when they critique her photo, saying she knew it was “horrible” and she could have done better. Janice gives Michelle a little lecture about how one morning she woke up with a huge, nasty sty in her eye, and she went to work anyway, and posed with hand over her eye. Moral of the story: to strive through adversity, to be able to project beauty no matter what.
The judges deliberate, and then the girls return to find out which 10 will continue. Tyra hands photos back to: Rebecca, Christina, Tatiana, Tiffany, Kahlen, Naima, Brittany, and Michelle. Tyra tells Michelle that “models get sties, models get herpes on their lips; gotta stay strong, stay focused.” [This week’s elimination ceremony brought to you by GlaxoSmithKline, makers of antibiotic ointment and Valtrex.] This leaves Noelle and Lluvy (again) in the bottom two. As Tyra gives her weekly lecture, Lluvy looks worried and scared but Noelle has that awful smug smirk on again (as if she’s thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I’m safe against fish face here.’). Tyra says they have opposite problems: Lluvy looks better in person than in pictures, Noelle doesn’t register as a model at face value, but “photographs beautifully.”
Instant Karma: Just add nasty rumors and stir roommates into steaming pot of hysteria! Noelle is out. She says she can “love it for the experience that it was, or I can piss and moan about the fact I didn’t win.” At least now she can be with her baby again.
[Mini-SFG humps the furniture] No, bad Mini-SFG, bad! [sprays Mini-SFG with water bottle] Email me at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com. Cheers, the FORT Phoenix flies again!