You and me, baby, ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s model like they do on the Discovery Channel! Yes, friends, on the show this week there’s lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! People have been saying ANTM’s become a circus, but this is getting ridiculous. It’s not just the creatures that are exotic, this time the locale is too, as the girls move on to their fashion destination. Speaking of, shall we move on to the recap? Hop on the caravan!
I Wanna Pose You Like an Animal
“It gets more and more nerve-wracking every single elimination,” Christina frets aloud to Brittany, echoing the sentiments of everyone in the house, not to mention many in the audience, including my own anxiety-ridden self. Everyone in the Top Model house has an elimination hangover; not the least of whom is Michelle. Having just been in the bottom two, the lemon-haired lass whose dark roots are beginning to show, knows, “I have to step my competition up in every aspect.” Am I having déjà vu or does every episode start off like this?
Meanwhile, Naima and Kahlen stand in the Hall of (Do-These-Pictures-Do-Me) Justice, the gallery where huge blow-ups of their photo booth strips from the very first episode dangle from the ceiling to the floor. Naima marvels at how much she’s changed from that first ‘photo shoot’ (it still counts, right?). Kahlen agrees that Naima doesn’t even seem like the same person, then points out, “Look at this goober!” It’s a fantastically cheesy shot of Kahlen giving one of those great big, Mentos™-type smiles, the kind you want to draw a star in and make the sound effect, “Ping!” Keenyah and Christina race to snatch up the newest edition of TyraMail, which simply asks, “Are you born to be wild? Be ready at 8:30am.” The girls muse whether this will involve animals or making a “music video,” causing me to shudder at the thought of another “Shake Ya Body.” Speaking of bodies, someone’s in the house is rapidly expanding...
Fast-forward to morning, and cut to Keenyah’s gaping maw chowing down on a bagel like great white shark on a chunk o’chum. As she chomps away, she pointlessly asks Brittany how many carbs are in bagels. Brittany’s response is unclear, as she is also chewing frantically, to the point of crumbs flying out of her mouth when she responds. (Don’t believe me? Watch it in slow-mo.) Good Lord, didn’t anyone teach these girls not to talk with their mouths full? In Brittany’s confessional, she has no problem discussing her ‘best friend’s’ weight gain of approximately ten pounds. “The girl can snack like no other,” Brit remarks glibly. We then watch as Keenyah continues to annihilate her bagel with a ferocity that would make i]Jaws[/i] look like a guppy.
It is rainy and wet at the Los Angeles Zoo, where Miss J. Alexander greets the “final six lucky bitches.” He informs them that today they will be studying animals in order to learn how to pose. As the animal trainers zoo employees talk to the girls about some safety issues, Christina talks about her fear of these wild animals. I don’t know what she’s worried about, since I’m sure even the fiercest of creatures would be frozen in the frigid throes of her icy psycho glare. Outfitted in plastic rain ponchos, and clutching themselves for warmth, the girls spot their first animal, a leopard, who demonstrates the way J. wants them to “stretch from the waist up.” The leopard makes a deep, throaty groan, startling the girls, and showing them the true meaning of fierce around here. Next up, a fussy tiger won’t stop growling and even lunges forward at Miss J., who uses it as a lesson to the girls, pointing out, “Notice I did not flinch an inch. I was bound for the toilet, but I did not flinch.” Now that is poise.
Last but not least, a gigantic, lumbering mass of fur comes out, on whom the most distinctive feature is a frothy mouth dripping with slobber. “That looks like my last boyfriend,” Miss J. quips, but in fact it’s Bam Bam the big brown bear. He stands up on his hind legs and lifts a paw high up in the air as if reaching for, I dunno, a way out of this humiliating existence. Kahlen says she doesn’t care much for the bear, mostly due to his unattractive, foamy mouth. The trainers coax the girls to see who would like to be the first to give Bam Bam a little kiss, and while no one exactly leaps at the chance, Brittany is the first to give in. They put a marshmallow in her mouth, which I guess it what lures the bear in (coincidentally, this is the same training technique they use to get Nolé into the judging room every week), then next thing you know, Bam Bam closes in to make his move. Awww yeah, sweet inter-species smoochies. This act is repeated with all the girls (I see Bam Bam slip a little tongue in with some), the last one being the very reluctant Kahlen, who finds the idea of that bear slobber on her mouth to be even more unappealing than being put in a grave. She dutifully goes through with it, but after a bold Bam Bam laps her face, she says, “Sick. I wanna go home and brush my teeth for like, the next five days.”
After the demonstration is over, J. pop quizzes the girls on animal poses. As Naima points out, the animals they saw today were four-legged, meaning in order for our top model contenders to mimic the poses, they had to get down too. Yes, in the rain, on the ground, in the mud. Not a challenge for Monk. They show side-by-side comparisons of the girls and the leopard, tiger, and of course Bam Bam the bear, and if you ask me, the girls do a fine job for the most part. At one point, J. says, of her paw-swiping tiger pose, “I love that Christina looks like a lawn jockey. I want to put a lantern in her hand.”
Keenyah is feeling confident in her performance, even scoffing at how her ‘best friend’ Brittany was “too literal” with her poses (e.g. making angry, growling faces). J. announces who the winner of today’s challenge is, and “because she did a lot more to her face,” it’s Brittany. Brit breaks out the full FX with claws, grrring, hamming it up and says she’s just glad that even if she doesn’t win, she can now at least go home saying that she won one of challenges and didn’t go home a “loser” (suspiciously over a shot of Michelle looking forlorn). She is allowed to choose two friends to share in her award (not surprisingly, she selects Keenyah and Christina), though what that is exactly remains a mystery.
Finally, J. says that they have yet to see the “fiercest animal of all.” After a leopard, a tiger, and a bear, what could be left? Why it’s none other than Tyra, who bounds out into the pouring rain with news to perk the spirits of the waterlogged model wannabe’s—but not until after she gives one of her “When I first started modeling…” stories (moral of the story: don’t take the animal mimicry too literally, adapt it to your own style—which actually backs up what Keenyah was saying) and one of those cheap ANTM psych-outs. Tyra says they will be doing a photo shoot today with some special guest models, and on the other side of a chain link fence, out come a pack of snarling, pacing lions. But nah, they’re not getting Roman on us and throwing the girls to the lions, it’s all just a setup for Tyra to say that with the cold and the rain, it might be better to do this shoot…in SOUTH AFRICA! [Cue screaming and jumping.]
She Didn't Cry on a Safari
After a mere two hours of prep, the girls are packed and on the plane to sunny, hot Cape Town. No bobble-headed animation, but there is Travel Channel stock footage of mountains and running giraffes. Upon arrival, the comedic duo of Breenyah won’t quit with the jokes, which seems to be wearing on the nerves of some people: Michelle, for one, and me, for the other. Michelle is starting to feel she’s “not a major part of the group,” in fact, and it’s not like she isn’t trying to be friendly. When she tries to make pleasant conversation about local South African culture, Breenyah respond to her with such dismissive mockery, I almost expect them to follow it up with a loud “HA ha!” à la Nelson from ‘The Simpsons.’
In the car, someone says they need some African music, and Brittany obliges by singing a song that sounds more like a drunk Chinese guy speaking Yiddish with a speech impediment than any African music I’ve ever heard. Their destination: the Aquila Game Reserve, were the reserve manager Pierre, African drummers, Tyra, and her blazing, nearly fuchsia-colored, coif come out to welcome them. Tyra explains that the South African fashion scene is booming, and how it’s becoming the new market for models to make their careers. After that, it’s time to do the happy dance, African-style, when dancers in traditional dress with spears and shields come out and circle the girls.
The girls then climb into a jeep to go on a safari as the golden sun sets. First animals they spot are the hippos, and Shelton, their safari ranger, informs that they weigh about “1 ½ tons” each. “Same amount as Keenyah,” someone cracks (presumably Brittany, but it’s a crappy dub), and the whole jeep explodes in laughter. Keenyah doesn’t seem phased by the joke, in fact she laughs along with everyone else. She isn’t concerned about her weight because “Yoanna had problems with her weight and she ended up winning the competition.”
The girls get an eyeful of the beautiful African landscape, filled with giraffes, rhinos, ostriches, springboks, and other assorted beautiful wildlife, yet one seems bored. “I want to see some action,” Brittany demands petulantly. Shelton stops the jeep as they approach the area where the lions live, to warn the girls to be quiet and still, as sound and movement could attract the lions, and in the open air jeep, there is nothing to prevent the lions from leaping in and making a quick, nasty supper of top model meat. Everyone looks at Brittany nervously. Finally they enter the lion zone, and everyone pipes down (Kahlen even slaps a hand over her mouth). Everyone, that is, except Big Mouth Brit, who won’t stop talking, and shifting in her seat (Is Brit hiding a secret medical condition of her own? Maybe she is to ADD what Mercedes was to Lupus?). The lions stare at the jeep with feral intensity, like guys around the stage at a strip club. “Brittany stop, I’m gonna throw you out of this car,” Keenyah whispers, as a curious lion gets up and starts to approach them. Before long, other lions start moving in too, a couple of them getting within a few feet of the vehicle as Shelton pulls out. Finally, they are out of the lion zone, but remain pissed at Brittany for nearly getting them all mauled to death by gigantic wildcats. The only feline attacks allowed around here are of the catty human variety…Rrrrreeeeaaaaoooowwwrrrrrrrrr! !! [swipes at air with well-manicured hand]
I’m a Survivor
The sun has set on Sub-Saharan Africa, and the girls head towards a large campfire in the middle of a dark, open campground. Shelton informs them that they will now be splitting up: the winner of the last model challenge (Brit) and her friends (Keenyah & Christina) will be coming with him to stay in Aquila’s luxury accommodations while the rest of the girls will be staying—right there, camping in the great outdoors, in tents they must build themselves. “Thank God I watch ‘Survivor,’” Michelle quips. Naima, bless her heart, looks less than thrilled and starts thinking, “Blow dryer. Hot Iron. My hair’s gonna frizz…” The frou frou girly-girl in me feels for her predicament. Michelle takes charge with the tents, and tries to make the best of the situation by telling her fellow campers it won’t be so bad.
In the jeep, Brittany screams over a bug on her seat. Oh yeah, this is going to be a fun night. Then, as they ride away, the girls call out, “Love you, Kahlen!” and “Love you, Naima.” They realize they forgot to say something to Michelle, and Keenyah yells out the fakest, “Love you, Michelle,” as someone else mumbles, “We shouldn’t have said anything.” It’s like confirmation of the nightmare of every girl that doesn’t fit in—the popular girls really don’t like you and they really do talk behind your back.
As the Ladies of Luxury toast with champagne to being in the luxury hut, we watch in Blair Witch cinematography as the Happy Campers struggle with adjusting to the great outdoors. Michelle figures it’s best that the “high maintenance girls are in the five star hotel because they never would have survived.” As they roast their dinner over the campfire, they wonder what the others are up to. “Champagne…in the Jacuzzi,” they guess, and they are totally correct. Next thing we see is Brittany, Keenyah, and Christina in bikinis climbing into the hot tub, which is filled not only with rose petals, but with some creepy crawly bug friends as well. Turns out life in the VIP is not all it’s cracked up to be, at least at Aquila. Even in the room, the screaming Ladies of Luxury wave away insects, brush bed bugs off their sheets, and whack at roaches with magazines. “If we’re getting eaten up, I don’t even know how those other girls are,” Brittany exclaims. Not that bad, actually. The Happy Campers are seen in their tents in deep, contented slumber in beautiful Paris Hilton-green night vision.
The next morning all the girls awake to a nice, hot breakfast buffet in the main dining room. Keenyah, who must have weighed herself at the hotel gym or something, announces to everyone that she’s gained 12 pounds, nevertheless, we see her leave the buffet table with two plates, piled high with French toast, sausage, eggs and other yummy morning treats. After chowing down, she returns for more. “When I’m under a lot of stress, I find a real comfort in eating,” Keenyah admits, and from the looks of it she must be hella stressed right about now. “She feels like she’s gained some weight, but when the next bread plate comes around, she’ll be the first one to grab a croissant or two off of it,” her ‘good friend’ Brittany observes. At the end of the meal, Brittany (appropriately, wearing “Please Don’t Feed The Models” tee) chides Keenyah for returning to the buffet yet again. Keenyah cries, “It’s just yogurt!” which would have been well and fine for breakfast if it didn’t come after her South African Grand Slam. Brittany buries her face in her hands, frustrated, as if to indicate: you can lead a horse to the trough, but you can’t make it stop eating.
After brekkies, the girls go outside to find Mr. Jay in the jeep. He says that today they finally be putting their animal observation to use in a shoot where they will be the animals. He’s assigned animals that he believes represents their characters: Kahlen is a springbok (the South African national animal); Christina, an ostrich; Brittany, a giraffe; Michelle, a zebra; Naima, a cheetah; and Keenyah…wait for it…an elephant. Between this and Gluttony, just what message is Jay the art direction team trying to send, hmm? [scratches head in confusion] Speaking of appropriate assignment, Michelle thinks zebras are a good match for her because they are “kind of skittish and afraid.” And this is good because…?
They drive the girls to the shoot location, where their special guest model lies naked, on a rock, basking in the sun. Alas, it’s not another hunky male model, but Mary, a crocodile, a nod to today’s client: Lubriderm. The girls get painted, striped, feathered, and anything else they need in order to be transformed into their animals. First, a graceful and lean ostrich version of Christina heads out to where photog Gerda Genis, Mary, and the rest of the crew awaits. Jay emphasizes to her that this week’s elimination will be heavily dependent on these photos, and perhaps prompted by his warning she delivers “beautiful, elegant” poses and “for the first time, we got real emotion out her,” Jay notes, adding that it was her best shoot so far.
Michelle says she walked out feeling, “amazing…ready to hop up there on that rock with that alligator and do my thing.” Forgetting what kind of animal she was working with wasn’t her only mistake, Michelle, despite looking like a fabulous 80’s Nagel version of a zebra, fumbles and has difficulty with her body poses. In contrast, Naima has no problem portraying the lithe grace of the cheetah “poses right down to the tippy toes of her feet,” according to Jay but, despite doing well with every other part of her body, forgets what to do with her mouth.
Brittany, in makeup, isn’t wild about her look, but Mathu says, “It could be worse, you could be the elephant.” Rrrrreeeeaaaaoooowwwrrrrrrrrr! !! Just out of earshot, a sulky Keenyah is getting huge, grey earflaps attached to her head and is freaking out because, “I don’t know how to be a sexy elephant.” She worries about her outfit, which has her panza on full display, “it’s bloated and doesn’t look good at all…I just have to suck it in and work it.” One extreme closeup of her belly shows it expanding outward when she exhales, accompanied by a timpani sound effect to emphasize her admitted poochiness. She also has trouble portraying the elephant trunk.
Brittany, who is posing with the addition of extra stick limbs, at first appears “stilted” [bwa hahaha—that last pun brought to you the American Association for Recappers Desperate to Find Humor in Any Situation], but improves as the session goes on. She finds it poetic justice that she can be a “sexy giraffe” after classmates taunted her with that nickname in school. Wah wah, it’s so hard to be pretty and skinny and tall as a teenager, pity me, pay me more attention! How I love it when models lie about how their young lives were a hell of gawkiness. LIES! MENDACITY! Meanwhile, Kahlen “did the best job of taking on her animal,” the springbok. In fact, when she accidentally falls on the crocodile she’s straddling (would anyone do such a thing un-accidentally?) she drops her lotion bottle and “springs out” of there like a springbok truly would.
After a long day’s shoot, the girls head to dinner at the Five Flies restaurant. All the girls are joking and laughing, except for Michelle, whom Naima turns to and suddenly asks, “Do you feel alienated?” There is a screeching halt and everyone looks over at Michelle. Good going, Naima, way to make the social outsider feel right at home! Michelle, looking startled and thrown off by the question, just shrugs and mumbles, “I don’t know.” Well if I was Michelle, if I didn’t feel alienated before, I would definitely be feeling it now, thankyouverymuch. Naima seems to mean well, but it’s not much help. Brittany, in the meantime, is rolling her eyes and oh-so-compassionately says, “I’m just kind of over Michelle at this point. I feel, if you’re not going to get in with us since we’ve been here, I don’t feel like it’s going to happen now.”
To cap off dinner, the waiter serves them a TyraMail couplet: “You’ve been out to where the lions roam. Now head out to your seaside home.” They are then whisked to a gorgeous hotel suite right on the water. The girls gather round a welcome platter of assorted sweets, where Kahlen slaps Keenyah’s hand out of the way, yelling, “I don’t need you to finger all of the candy!” Before heading to bed, they read out the requisite elimination announcement and do the requisite worrying. Keenyah thinks her “standing in the competition is pretty strong,” but then again you never know what the judges might criticize. Brittany is banking on her picture being a good one.
I don’t usually comment on “My Life as a CoverGirl,” but may I just briefly say (and please, let it be known that am a big Eva fan) that Tara, the Star beauty editor’s lips were latched so hard in an ass-kiss on Eva that I feared she was going to suck the intestines right of Eva’s behind. Her shrill flattery (“You just look like ANGEL! Squeeeeeeal!”) was insufferable. It almost made me miss Jay and Elsa’s reveries on lip gloss and cupcakes.
It’s the first Judgement in South Africa, and this week’s Tyra shot portrays her as, what else, a Lioness, the Queen of the Jungle. Joining our panel members is South African photographer Gerda Genis, the woman who shot their Lubriderm ads. Today, they will test the girls’ posing skills by handing them an object and then giving them a word to act out. ROLL THE GOOFY POSING MONTAGE! They are handed various objects to do with South African culture (a drum, a shield, etc.), and are told to portray: anger, fear, aloofness, passion and happiness. Educators, break out the Kleenex, because once again the girls demonstrate the appalling state of our American school system when at least 3 out the 6 have no idea what “aloof” means (hint: it’s not a sponge for exfoliation—and no, you cannot ask me what exfoliation means!!!).
Evaluations this week start with Michelle. Nigel compliments (?) her by remarking, “You’re best pose was fear, you looked quite scared.” Her Zebra photo again earns a chorus of positive Wow’s, with the exception of Janice, who thinks it’s not good enough. Naima is given “8½ out of 10” for her poses. Her Cheetah photo is seen as “amazing” and “well done” thought Janice is again the only detractor, disliking the “ampeutee leg.” Gerda defends Naima by saying she was the only model to use her limbs to really act like the animal, which was “brilliant.”
Keenyah is faulted for not using her “whole body” to model in the pose test (she just stood in one position, while the other girls moved in many different ways), and Tyra also points out that ‘aloof’ and ‘passion’ were “exactly the same…like ‘Groundhog’s Day.”’ In terms of her Elephant shot, Nigel thinks it’s a “beautiful” face shot and has the “elegance that elephants have despite their heaviness.” Yet another ‘Thanks, I think’ moment. Tyra then points out that “they had to do a lot of body work on you in retouching.” Keenyah gets defensive, and starts babbling about how she usually eats well at home but the stress of the competition and all this hotel living has her system “thrown off.” Terrible argument, considering as a model, one has to travel a lot and must still maintain their weight no matter where they are. A conspicuously looped-in speech covers Tyra’s ass with a protective gloss of political correctness even as they basically tell Keenyah she’s too frickin’ fat: “In the real world, you’re a thin girl, but the fashion industry is so extreme and I would love to change the rules, but BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH.”
Tyra calls Christina out on her “insane,” “HAHA-I’m-gonna-getcha” face as well as her less-than-passionate passion pose. Her Ostrich pic is a hit though, agreed to be the “best picture” she’s taken so far in the competition. The photographer points out that her nearly non-existent top lip is a weak spot, and Tyra offers a solution. “You don’t need surgery,” Tyra says, taking out a tissue and rolling it up into a tiny joint and having Christina tuck it up under her upper lip. Everyone oohs and ahs, though frankly, I don’t see much difference. Janice gets fired up, screaming, “This is what the industry’s all about, chicken cutlets for the breasts, even men stick fake penis down there for underwear jobs!”
In terms of the pose test, Brittany is told again to tamp down her tendency to be over-the-top; “alluring and not whoring,” is Nolés advice. She “rocked” her Giraffe photo, though, and Tyra tells her to note how “naturally sexy” she can be when she’s not trying too hard. Kahlen also “rocked” her pose test, largely because of the way she “committed” to her poses (“like a pro”) save for passion, on which Tyra felt she held back. As always, Tyra asks Janice to help demonstrate the right way to do a pose, but this time, Janice lunges at Tyra and plants a full mouth-to-mouth mack on La TyTy herself. Tyra is so surprised she screams, and the two supermodels go flying backwards onto the ground, limbs entangled, naughty bits pixellated (well, just Janice’s). Nigel leans over the dais excitedly, and with a huge grin, offers, “Perhaps I should get involved.” As a hysterical Tyra collapses on the floor in a fit of laughter, Janice rolls out from underneath her, mounts her from behind, and humps her just enough to make me want to break out my water bottle and spritz her. Down, Janice, down! Bad Janice! Why do I feel like I’m writing slash fiction? I’m sorry what are we doing here again? Oh yeah, anyway, Kahlen’s springbok pic gets high honors. Nigel praises her “chameleon”-like quality to become “anything and everything.” “It’s not sexy, but it’s very cool,” he concludes. Um thanks, I think.
After deliberations, the girls reappear before the judges for the moment of truth. Tyra calls back Kahlen and compliments her on being the dominating “lion” this week; Christina, adding a reminder on the new “trick” she learned today; and Naima, to whom she delivers the harsh news that “for some reason, I forgot about Naima, because Naima’s personality doesn’t pop, it doesn’t make me remember you when I go home at night and think about the girls.” Seems unfair to blame Naima for what is clearly a lapse in Tyra’s memory due to her advancing age. Scores of voters seem to remember Naima well enough to make her CoverGirl of the week for umpteen consecutive weeks, but nevertheless, Tyra lays it on, bringing poor Naima to the brink of tears. Tyra then calls Brittany’s name, and after a brief critique on Brit’s composure, turns her attention to this week’s bottom two, Michelle and Keenyah.
Tyra says that Michelle’s strength is that she “has a face that is rare” but she falls apart under the slightest pressure, something a top model who is under constant scrutiny cannot afford to do. To Keenyah, Tyra says, “as much as I hate and preach about models not having to be stick-skinny, we have to face it that we are in the fashion industry, BLAH BLAH BLAH.” Tyra doesn’t think there’s time enough in the competition for either of these girls to fix their particular flaws, but the “judges have seen miracles happen.” The picture goes back to Keenyah, along with the sharp order for her to “get it together, but healthily.” Did Michelle really deserve the toss or, I wonder, were the show producers just too cheap to touch up homegirl’s new growth, and so dumped her in order to avoid bleaching her roots?
Poor Michelle, the zebra of a different stripe never fully accepted by the leaders of the pack, breaks down into painful-sounding sobs, and after a brief goodbye, she leaves. She can barely get the words out between heaves in her exit interview, “I wanted this more than anything in the world, I can’t even explain how much I wanted to be…number one, be the best.” She does say the advice has helped her change for the better: she is more confident and feels beautiful for the first time in her life. Could the wiry wrestler use her brute strength to pummel the panel into a throbbing little pulp for giving her the hard goodbye? Of course she could! But Michelle, polite and pleasant to the very end, merely says thank you as she walks out the door. We’ll see you in the ring, Michelle.
Do you feel alienated? Email me at: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com