Okay, someone must have fired Captain Obvious from the ANTM production and post-production teams, because at long last the editors have switched things up a bit, particularly in regards to the opening sequence. With only five girls left, the tension is haute—something the couture is most certainly not! You can’t get any lower than twigs, leaves, and mud: and that’s just what the girls are wearing in this week’s photo shoot. Is this forcing the girls to be innovative, or cutting corners on that budget again? You be the judge! Speaking of which, the girls also get to try their hands at judging themselves. How low can they go? Let’s find out.
Room Service/Lip Service
This week’s show begins at the girls’ seaside digs in Cape Town, where Brittany and Naima breezily discuss how awed and grateful they are to be in the final five, instead of the usual hand wringing and self-conscious pointing out of flaws by the girls least likely to succeed. Awww, now we won’t know who the final two will be this week!
Suddenly, someone’s rolling in a cart with silver chafing dishes of food. No, it’s not someone from the hotel staff, but none other than Tyra herself! Dayum, these ANTM producers are CHEAP! They won’t even spring to have proper room service sent up? Now that’s pinching a penny till Lincoln screams. Anyway, Tyra’s here with hot African food and she sits down for a nice supper with the girlies. Dinner conversation turns to Keenyah, who bats her eyes innocently and talks about how the last judging ceremony was a “big wake up call,” and in response to the criticism about her weight gain, she’s “bringing it” and “hitting hard now.”
Tyra then asks if anyone feels different, and Naima pipes up and says she feels changed by the competition. A flashback reveals that Naima was not always the quiet, serene beauty we know. In fact, Naima had a troubled (and, as evinced in a one shocking photo—slightly chunky) past, filled with anger over her parents’ divorce, partying, booze, and flaming red hair dye. I wonder if there is some tie between red dye and anger issues, based on these old photos of Naima, Brandy’s behavior, and Tyra’s “I YELL AT YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU” dysfunctionality (watch for my article on the subject in Psychology Today, coming to an imaginary newsstand near you). But I digress. Naima admits she is “soft spoken” and “meek” in direct reaction to these bad times. Tyra still feels as if Naima is stifling her personality, and that not dealing with the past can leave you a mere “shell of a person.” What do you want Tyra, for Naima to get drunk and start spouting obscenities?
I’m sorry but this cycle it’s Brittany who’s got the monopoly in that department. Speaking of everyone’s favorite lush, Brittany is babbling brightly about how all the girls left really are good friends, and there no girls “conniving” or “trying to mess you up” [cut to ominous shot of Keenyah]. Kahlen gets verklempt talking about she is on the path to discovering herself, and Christina talks about how her confidence comes off as “reserved” or “cold.” In order to keep from holding back at panel, Tyra advises Christina to picture all the judges in their underwear (I have already done this with Nigel, though not so much with Nolé—and God knows we’ve already seen Janice in all her pixellated glory, not much left to imagine there). Keenyah kisses Tyra’s ass with all the enthusiasm of a Star reporter by saying, “You in your underwear is going to be beautiful, so that’s not gonna help!”
After dinner and the obligatory group hug, Tyra twirls herself out of the room. The second she’s gone, Keenyah goes back to fill up her plate with some more African food, and even jokes about what might happen if Tyra came back, while holding a big sloppy forkful up to her mouth. Kahlen comments that despite nearly getting eliminated over her weight, she doesn’t see any evidence that Keenyah has been putting any effort into improving her eating habits. Some of the girls look at her disapprovingly, but that doesn’t stop Keenyah from shoveling mouthful after mouthful into her gaping maw. I guess when she said she was “bringing it” and “hitting hard now” she meant, “bringing [a plate back to the buffet table for seconds and]” and “hitting [that plate o’ chicken and rice] hard now [like Rosie O’Donnell at an all-you-can-eat sushi bar].”
Faster Pussycat, Go-See Go
TyraMail says something about going out on the town, and the next day, the girls are introduced to Jackie Berger, fashion director of South African Elle, and Paola de Vito, CEO of the National Association of Model Agencies for a crash course on go-see’s (you are a product you must sell to a client). For today’s challenge, the girls will be judged on the following: 1) how many clients they get to out of the 10 available, 2) personality, 3) portfolio, 4) look, 5) professionalism. Jackie hands out portfolios and the list of clients, explaining they can go to all of them or none, in any order; the only thing they “have to do” is be back to this office by 4:30, giving them 2 ½ hours total.
The girls are sent off on their merry ways in different taxis, all in a “race against time…to see as many people as possible.” Everyone feels the pressure of this competition: Naima is worried that she will be sent home if she doesn’t show some personality; Keenyah is aware that “go-see’s are the key of a model’s career”; Christina admits she’s “not very good” at selling herself. Keenyah manages to charm designer Charlene Witte just as Christina tells another designer Jo Carlin that her clothing makes her feel like she’s in “pajamas.” Christian Gabreil du Toit loves Naima’s “unique face” and hair.
Meanwhile, Kahlen is having trouble just getting the door to the building open and Brittany, who thinks she will excel in this competition by acting “professional,” grabs her boobs and barks, “What do you think?” to the folks at Jarvis. That’s more “pro” as in “prostitute” than “professional” in my estimation. Kahlen finally gets in to see Gavin Rajah and nervously botches up a couple of questions early on. When he asks if she’s done “ramp” before, she thinks he says “rap.” (Can’t you picture her rhyming with bling bigger than herself wrapped around her neck? M.C. K-Dawg in the hizzy!) Then she shakes her head, no, saying she’s never done any catwalk work; after some thought and an awkward pause, she says, “I mean yes.” It’s like a painful blind date.
If you think that was unpleasant, I haven’t even gotten to the ugly part yet. Naima and Keenyah arrive at their next location at the same time—actually, no let me correct that, Naima is already there outside the building, as Keenyah pulls up to the building. Keenyah thinks, “I’m not waiting for Naima to get done,” and gets into a foot race with Naima for the client’s office. Keenyah, wearing flats, dodges ahead and basically cuts in front of Naima so she can meet the client first. Keenyah is unapologetic, saying only, “This is a competition…I have my eye on the prize and I don’t care what it takes to get there.” Yes, Keenyah, but this not The Amazing Race here.
Keenyah strikes again at Hip Hop Clothing, where she spies Kahlen walking into the building as her taxi approaches. As Kahlen is trying to find the entrance, Keenyah strides in, and Kahlen already gets a feeling that “she’s gonna try and jump in front of me.” Indeed, Keenyah does, but not without Kahlen putting up a fight. They actually get into a strange shoving/grappling match at the door, as Kahlen uses her body in an attempt to block Keenyah from entering before her. Kahlen even squeals “Cheater!” at Keenyah, who uses the brute force of her oxen-like body to push Kahlen out of the way. Kahlen decides this is not worth the trouble and leaves, saying she’s not surprised by Keenyah’s actions, especially after the last elim made Keenyah even more competitive than usual in compensation for “her weight.” Keenyah gets her ‘just desserts’ (pun fully intended) when the Hip Hop designers comment on her being “fleshy” and “not lean enough…particularly in the back.”
Meanwhile, Christina tries to squeeze in one more go see in the 15 remaining minutes she’s got—the result is a rudely rushed meeting with the client that proves fairly disastrous. At least she makes it back in time, along with the other girls, Keenyah (who’s even had time to stop off for a snack, apparently, as she’s munching on a bag of chips or something in the car), Brittany, and Kahlen. Someone is conspicuously missing: Naima, who has foolishly decided that it is more important she try to see everyone on the list than arrive back in time. She unfortunately finds that many of the clients have closed, left, or are in meetings already, and for all her pains does not arrive back until 45 minutes after the 4:30 deadline. Paola is PISSED, BIG TIME and upbraids Naima for her tardiness. Finally, she reads off comments from the scorecards: Brittany is “bubbly”; Naima has a “great face”; Keenyah is “gorgeous but could be a little more graceful”; Kahlen is “too innocent”; and the last client that saw Christina thought she “looked bored.” The winner turns out to be Keenyah (Naima’s turn to look PISSED OFF, BIG TIME), who will be transported by limo to a party at designer Craig Port’s house. Not surprisingly, she picks Brittany to accompany her.
As promised, a white limo arrives to whisk Breenyah away. Keenyah quite snottily discusses her selection process, saying she didn’t pick Naima to share in her reward because Naima’s never picked her. She wants someone along with whom she can have fun while making “connections”. Back in the suite, the remaining girls share a touching toast, with Kahlen declaring, “To my favorite girls in the competition…Naima you’ve given me so much strength and I feel like I’m most comfortable with you. To Christina, even if they say you’re cold and heartless, you’re the most affectionate person I’ve seen here.” They tink glasses to the “amazing girls” who’ve gone and still remain.
Breenyah arrive at Craig Port’s house to find it is a “major industry party.” It doesn’t take long before the party turns into The Brittany Show, and Keenyah starts to regret her decision to invite her boisterous, bodacious best friend. Even the sun would be eclipsed by Brittany in full Life-of-the-Party mode. Brittany drinks until she hits a nice green light, verging on yellow (you can tell by her slurred, grammatically mangled party chatter), but she never gets too pissed-up, and being tipsy-turvy only adds to her appeal. Brittany jokes loudly to the whole room, guffaws like a hyena, throws her arms up in the air Evita-style, and holds hands/hugs/gives semi-lap dances to their fellow industry big wig guests. She radiates dizzy fun, like a carnival. Pretty soon, Craig is introducing them with Brittany’s name first, as Keenyah watches on through envious narrowed slits of eyes. “Hello, I won the challenge,” Keenyah hisses in her confessional. Not this one, Honey.
On the limo ride home, Brittany is happy as a clam. A drunken, googly-eyed, slack-jawed clam. Keenyah, however, makes her jealous displeasure abundantly clear, talking bitterly about how she appeared “quiet compared to BRITTANY!” Brit just looks at her friend and says, as if her tongue is playing a game of Twister in her mouth, “Weren’t you glad that you brought me?” Keenyah merely bites her lip in response.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
TyraMail for the next day says only, “Get ready to Kloof!” Sounds vaguely obscene to me, like one of those names on the list of offensive sex terms your friends forward to your email. You know you get them, Dirty Sanchez. Luckily for the girls, kloofing is nothing so obscene: it’s basically just hiking to a difficult location. The girls are outfitted in wetsuits, flotation vests, and aqua shoes—is that Keenyah I see, eating again?—then trek through bushes, tall grass, and freezing waist-high water to the shoot location, where Jay awaits them. He tells them that today’s challenge involves not only looking gorgeous after a long day’s Kloof, but also making their own wardrobe out of “leaves, branches, twine,” and whatever they find in surrounding nature. They will be modeling the environment. And today’s client is who…Greenpeace? Perhaps it’s because I have sensitive skin, but I would imagine I would be modeling big, itchy bumps and a red rash if I was in this situation.
The girls head out with stylist Q to scope out what’s available and snip leaves and what not, before heading out in front of the lens of photog Anton Robert. Keenyah decides to glue a bunch of grass over her paunch, and is extra-aware of her body positions and sucking in her panza after last week’s fuss over her weight gain, which Jay feels compelled to point out to the crew. On Keenyah’s performance today, Jay says she looked “awkward” and he “expected so much more from her.” Next: Naima slathers herself with a stripe of yellow mud, and accessorizes with some small plants on her ankles. She seems comfortable manipulating her body into different positions on the rock, though Jay notes that she seems only to work her face “in profile,” adding, “you can’t shoot your whole career in profile.”
Brittany, never one to over-think her actions, sees a puddle of mud in front of the makeup trailer and thinks, “There’s my outfit right there.” She lays down in it and “flops around like a hippo” (her own words, because I myself cannot imagine a hippo looking quite as HaWt rolling around in mud), then voila, an instant new look which is more attractive than it sounds, because as the mud dries, it leaves interesting patterns and gradations in tone. Jay says “Brittany did a great job,” with one shot reminding him of an old Janice picture; he credits her for having “changed up her body language” too. Kahlen unfortunately has trouble styling herself and expressing her “sensual side” for the camera. “Do you feel sexy today?” Jay asks, using yet another one of his favorite pick-up lines. When Kahlen gives an unconvincing nod, Jay laughs, “I don’t believe you.” Christina looks like plate of Pocohontas garnished with parsley and a pinch of pixellation (I’m sorry, Miss Jackson, these nipples will not be aired on national TV tonight), and puts real, concerted effort into looking warmer and posing more dynamically (she really seems to have taken Janice’s favorite criticism, ‘the amputated look,’ to heart). Unfortunately, Jay sees Christina as having been overly “technical”; there’s just no winning with this guy.
Back at home, they get the TyraMail announcing the upcoming elimination, bringing all their fears and insecurities to the surface. Brittany says no matter who leaves now, it will be someone she “considered a friend.” Christina hopes that by pouring out “100%” of her “heart,” she can get the judges to see the warm, wonderful person inside her “cold” exterior. Keenyah tries on a dress and frets over how “wide” she appears. Naima worries about impressing the judges, and Kahlen worries about her performance at the photo shoot. Everyone is nervous about what the judges will say, but what they don’t know is that they should be more concerned about what their fellow top model contenders will have to say about each other.
Judge Not Lest Ye Be Tyra
After a brief glance at what appears to be Tyra knockin’ boots with a fern, it’s off to the judgement room where the panel is today joined by Paola Devito, the stern CEO of South Africa’s National Association of Model Agencies whom we all from remember from the go-see challenge. Tyra says that she got the idea for this week’s Kloofing challenge from a shoot she had to Kloof to in South America, where she also had to whip up her own wardrobe from the local flora. Yes, Tyra, we know: the whole world Kloofs around you. For this week’s test, Tyra has decided to turn the tables on the girls. Instead of being judged by the panel, the girls will have to judge each other, in order to supposedly “test your knowledge of the business.” Oh you cruel bastards. You know this ain’t goin’ no place nice.
Up first for scrutiny is
Baby Janice’sBrittany’s mud-slung portrait, and the first to sell her best friend down the river is Keenyah, who snottily dismisses the picture as “stiff.” Naima begs to differ, saying she thinks the “stance emphasizes how long she is.” Kahlen sounds just like a judge when she says, “I love the face, I think it’s very strong; she shows a lot of emotions through the eyes.” Christina believes the neck position makes it look “thicker.” Taking criticism from her peers seems even harder on Brittany than hearing it from the judges, and by the time the experience is over, the poor thing looks on the verge of tears.
Kahlen’s innocent forest nymphet photo is next, and again, Keenyah has no problem laying right into her: “Her face looks like, ‘Who me?’ Kinda confused, dazed.” Christina echoes this opinion, when she says the picture seems to ask, “’What? Are you taking a picture of me?’” Naima says that the look of “surprise” complements the natural surroundings, and Brittany just says, with Manly Stanley huskiness, “I think it’s a really great shot.”
Christina’s Pocahontas pic conveys “hunchback” to Keenyah, while Kahlen thinks ”the face is great [and] with her lips open like that, it makes them look not as thin.” Naima credits her for trying something new, and Brittany just blabbers, “I love it…I don’t know...there’s something about it…” while the judges look at her, bemused.
Keenyah’s leafy green portrait compels Naima to say, “I don’t like this face, it looks like she’s smelling something rotten” (a comment which literally makes me laugh out loud here at home). Kahlen doesn’t see enough “emotion”; Christina thinks her left leg looks “amputated”; and Brittany? She of the astute and useful comments? “I don’t know…I’m not really…I don’t know what it is…the lips? I can’t pinpoint it. Yeah. I’m done.” Not quite so entertaining sober, are we?
Interesting that after Jay noted Naima’s tendency to work in profile, they select a straight-on frontal face shot (also sounds like something on sex term list, sorry) of her for judgement. Everyone’s obsessions start to show: Kahlen loves the body position but doesn’t like the lack of—wait, wait, don’t tell me—“emotion in the eyes”; Christina is disturbed that she “can’t see her foot” (again with the amputeeism); Keenyah’s just plain bitchy, saying, “I don’t see environment, I see maybe…dirty…in her underwear. Just dirty.” What the sweet fancy Moses is that supposed to mean? You know what, I don’t even want to know. And Brittany? “Overall I think it’s a really great shot.”
And it just keeps getting uglier. Tyra asks the girls who they think has the most top model potential, and who has the least. Keenyah says that as far who has the most potential, it’s between Kahlen and Brittany; the person with the least, in her opinion is Naima (Naima looks none too happy about this). Christina doesn’t hesitate to choose Kahlen as her top pick, but then pauses and expresses how difficult this is before singling out Brittany as the girl with the least. Kahlen gets another vote from Naima, and rather than retaliate towards Keenyah, she surprisingly chooses Christina as the one with the least potential. Brittany comes up and jokingly says, “I think I’m gonna be the next top model,” before rescinding her statement and picking Keenyah as her favorite, and giving Christina the shaft, saying she doesn’t feel she really knows her (I thought they were friends?). I have no idea why, but Kahlen also picks Keenyah as Missy Most Potential, and Christina as Missy Least. I’m really surprised to see Keenyah getting more votes of confidence than Christina.
Tyra thanks the girls for their honesty before launching off into their evaluations proper. She tells Keenyah that her critiques “had a little level of cattiness” and came off as if “you think you’re the best.” Then Tyra scolds all the girls for not coming up and saying they themselves were the ones with the most potential to be America’s Next Top model (Brittany did, but backed down immediately). Keenyah looks upset and says she didn’t know it was an option. I think Tyra’s just being arbitrary and unreasonable again, and if the girls had all said they were the best, she’d blast them for being arrogant.
But back to the evals, then judges aren’t wild about Keenyah’s body, but they think her face is “gorgeous” (though Nolé doesn’t it as “fashion”). Christina leaves the impression that she is a “beautiful robot” on the judges, and Paola says she’d have no idea how to sell her since she doesn’t “receive” anything in the way of personality from her. Christina tears up, saying, “I don’t know where confidence meets cold.” Janice and Nigel both dislike her posture and “lost ankle” in the Pocahontas pic, but Tyra defends it by saying slouching is the “new posture” for models in the fashion industry. “It’s all about the hunch,” Tyra says, demonstrating the new Quasimodo quasi-mode. Christina looks hopeful again.
Nolé tells Naima that she’s like an “egg” he wants to take and “crack open.” Can he for once get his mind off food? I wouldn’t like to see him and Keenyah duking it out at a Hometown Buffet. Naima finally mentions that she has an “angry” past and “I don’t like to revisit that.” I don’t understand why they don’t respect her wishes; they just keep prodding her like a caged tiger. Nigel, however, thought her “critiques were brilliant; you took the words right out of my mouth.” Nolé thinks her portrait looks dead, like she’s had the “blood drained out” of her, and Tyra points out that almost all Naima’s best pics have been in ¾ or profile, but in order to be a top model, you must able to photograph well from the front, “and for some reason, from the front you lose it.”
Kahlen is applauded for her “accuracy” in the critiques, and Tyra is “impressed” with everything she’s learned (note to future ANTM contestants: remember this phrase, “emotions in the eyes”). Nigel finds her pic “angelic” but Tyra mentions that while this was a good shot, Kahlen didn’t have as many good ones as she usually does. “It looked like this was your very first photo shoot and you lucked upon good ones.” Nigel warns her not to become “complacent.” Brittany’s lack of opinion makes her look an ignorant rube to the judges, straight from “high school” or “the farm”; but the panel likey her picky very much indeed. “Amazing,” Janice remarks; “Women will wanna be that, and guys will wanna be with it.” Nigel, declaring it a “sex bomb shot” is then cheekily chastised by Janice for being a “big ol’ horny judge.” Must she turn every judging ceremony into a porno flick, Janice?
We peek in on deliberations, where Nolé calls Naima’s photo “horrific” but Nigel says he’s “falling in love with her all over again.” Nolé and Nigel again tangle over Christina, with Nolé asserting that she needs collagen or something for her lips, and Nigel arguing that surgery is unnecessary. Janice finds Kahlen’s pic “ethereal and little bit Lolita” and Nolé was surprised and impressed with her “deep insight” into the industry. Keenyah is “beautiful” but does not look like a model and her body still needs work. Brittany’s photo is “drop-dead gorgeous” but when Nigel criticizes her lack of progress, Janice steps in to defend Brit. Tyra digs in the discussion by shoving Brittany’s photo in Janice’s face and hissing, “Miss Brittany looks like your little sister, and that’s why you’re feeling her, because you know you see yourself, don’t lie.” Nolé adds, “If it’s your first face, yes,” to which Janice retorts, “Don’t get me going, short, squat, fat, squatty, bald, blind boy.” Nolé then comes back by calling Janice a “plastic surgery victim freak of nature.” I don’t even have to write any jokes this week, do I?
The girls return and Tyra gets down to the business of handing photos back. The girls who will be returning are: Naima (whom Tyra praises for showing some of her true self), Keenyah (whom Tyra warns is “skating on thin ice”), and Kahlen (who is complimented for her well-articulated opinions, but also told this was her worst shoot so far). Brittany and Christina nervously approach the front of the room as the bottom two. Tyra points out that while both of them take beautiful pictures, Christina, though she may have the “heart and soul of an angel” still comes off as “cold [and] icy” and Brittany, though full of fun and personality, needs to learn when it’s time for work and when it’s time for play and has shown no further progress.
Ultimately it’s Brittany who gets the picture, and Christina, unfairly characterized as the frigid fembot with the psycho glare to freeze you in your tracks, who must make her way out of Africa. She blames herself for putting up a wall, and says, “I just wish I had been able to show them the warmer side of me.” Well, if it’s any consolation, Christina, even if the judges could not see it, millions of viewers did see the warmer side of you, in the compassion and concern you showed your fellow contestants, and in the wake of emotion with which you leave.
Kloof. It’s my new favorite word. Kloof kloof kloof. I gotta find a way to work it into everyday conversation. Kloofy kloof kloofalackashambang. Somebody slap me. Or, you can kloof me at: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com