You’ve waited. You’ve dreamed about it. And now it’s finally back. Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster? No (although from the looks of Post-Modeling Retirement Tyra’s figure, someone’s been hitting the all-you-can-eat)…My fellow ANTManiacs, it’s the return of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL. And Tyra’s waistline is not the only thing that’s twice as big. The start of Cycle 7 will have you seeing DOUBLE with two times the show (it’s a 2 hour premiere), two times the hair extensions (Tyra’s new weave is HUUUGE!), two times the head-scratching contradictions (Stripping: a part of modeling or not? Discuss!)…(plus, in the immortal words of the Coors-Light commercial) and twins! (Two sets of twins this ep, in fact.) It’s so much show, I had to drink two times the Red Bull just to get these two recaps done! So open up and get ready for a double dose of ANTM.
I’ve Had It with These Motha@#$%in’ Models on a Motha@#$%in’ Plane
The return of La Tyrant’s abusive model boot camp begins with 33 semi-finalists, cherry-picked from thousands of aspiring
masochistsmodels who auditioned across the country. As usual, we meet our first girls at the airport. Jaeda (18; Parkersburg, IA) is excited at this “opportunity of a lifetime” and says it’s like a dream. Sure, honey, everyone feels that way until the nightmare of competition begins.
Ohmigod, Becky! Why is it girls named Becky are almost always perky little blondes—is it a government sanction or something? This Becky (21; Sierra Village, CA) is exactly that. She hails from a small town of 180 people and says no one wants to win more than she does, so no one else will get it but her. Yeah right; no one else wants an eternal, fat-free, French Fry tree growing in their backyard and a pet unicorn more than I do, do you see me getting what I want?
Evita (20; Gloucester, VA) says she’s jazzed to be here despite the fact that she has two very young children who are sick at home with the flu and a Daddy that’s in Iraq. But don’t worry, they’ll be perfectly fine; Evita’s left them in good care [cut to shot of two human kids suckling at the teat of a wild mother wolf on a forest floor].
ANTM’s sent someone to the airport to greet our new model wannabe’s. Why it’s Miss J. Alexander dressed as a stewardess (hair pulled back in a prim bun, in a navy skirt and blazer, and a pilot’s cap with a model plane glued to the top). Coffee, tea, or TS? On seeing the fabulous Miss J. in person for the first time, Caridee (21; Fargo, ND—Ya, you betcha!) says, “She’s so—he—whatever—is so tall!” Whatever, indeed!
Miss J.’s not here to serve beverages or pass out headphones for the in-flight movie (which I’m guessing was not Snakes on a Plane). Miss J. is here to announce that they will be going directly to their first shoot! This scenario is not entirely unrealistic as models often must go straight from the plane to a job location and are expected to look gorgeous no matter what. They do ten shots of each girl standing outside of LAX. I’m wondering if this doesn’t somehow compromise airport security.
Some girls look pretty good (like Becky, A.J., Jaslene, Eugena, Leangela, Anchal, Monique, Brooke); others, not so much (Is that a hicky on Jaeda’s neck? Is Megg trying to catch flies with that mouth? Is Caridee being strangled by Mr. Goodbar?). Melrose (San Francisco, CA) thinks that being 23 is to her advantage, because she’s more confident. Her confidence doesn’t, however, keep her from giving psycho “Runaway Bride” eyes in her airport shot. It also doesn’t change the fact that 23 is the age at which many real models start to consider 401K’s, marrying a rock star, or getting their own talk show.
The anxious semi-finalists are whisked away to the Bel Age Hotel (although I don’t know why I always say “whisked,” which makes them sound like they’re egg whites for a soufflé). Here we meet Amanda and Michelle for the first time. They’re twins, and yes, they’re the same age, har har. Amanda blows the joke she and her sister had planned, though; Michelle corrects her because Amanda was supposed to say she’s 18 so Michelle could say “I’m 18, too.” It’s a good thing they’re not on “Last Comic Standing.” They may not be great comedians, but they realize they are a unique commodity: “There are not a lot of tall, thin, 6’, twin models,” Michelle points out.
A couple of curious girls ask the twins how they feel about being in the competition together. Michelle (I think, or is it Amanda? No, Michelle. Um, actually Amanda…) says, “I know her better than I know any of you, so of course I want her in over all of you.” They say that being compared and competing with one another is nothing knew—they’ve been doing it their whole lives, in athletics, in academics. Michelle feels “The ideal situation would be we both make it, and then I win.” Hey, at least she’s honest.
The girls all gather on the roof for a reception. I think all the double talk has gotten to my head when I see two velvet-swathed figures spinning like tops atop the rooftop stage. Luckily I don’t need to get my eyesight checked. Turns out it’s Ron and Richard Harris, the “Aswirl Twins” whom you might remember from Cycle 6. “The two twins of twirl land,” as Caridee call them, taught Tyra how to twirl back in the day, and they’re here to lend their expertise to our new recruits. As they spin a few of the novices I get a little nervous, maybe just because I am, myself, accident prone. It doesn’t seem a good idea to spin anyone around many stories above the ground, where they could get dizzy and twirl right off the edge.
Finally, who should come twirling out but Tyra Banks herself. As always on this show, the mere sight of Her Royal Tyness sends the girls into a screaming, crying frenzy that seems more suited for a Godzilla movie than people meeting their idol. I actually do loves me some Tyra, but if I ever met her I don’t know that I’d start foaming at the mouth and having an epileptic episode like I’d just got done watching "Battling Seizure Robots." Tyra welcomes the girls to the show, and tells them interviews are coming up. As usual, Tyra says she can see “straight through the fake” and advises they be themselves. Yeah, Tyra loves you just the way you are. That’s why last cycle’s winner, Danielle, now goes by Dani and had to go to speech therapy after a brutal fight to keep the one unique feature (her tooth gap) that Tyra had wanted to eradicate.
Ty Like Me
As promised, the interviews begin, with the preliminary panel of Tyra accompanied by Miss J. and Mr. Jay Manuel. Christian (19; Columbia, SC) is the first victim. Although she looks a bit like a sinewy Naima to me, there’s another model she thinks she resembles: Miss Tyra herself. She says now that Tyra’s retired, she’s ready to take her spot; Tyra responds with a big, frozen, rictus grin plastered on her face. I can see straight through the fake, too, and I don’t think Miss Tyra found that overly flattering. Christian, however, does know how to do Tyra: she is able to faithfully recreate several classic Tyra poses, from The Hunchback of Inglewood (one shoulder out, hunched over with hands on hips) to the ever-popular, signature Over-the-Shoulder Smolder Holder (face over one shoulder, wide eyes, open mouth, coy expression). The panel seem just as impressed as I am; kudos to a contestant who’s finally done her homework.
Caridee walks in wearing a tragically uncoordinated outfit, punctuated with a frilly and utterly pointless garter on her left thigh. Garters like that are appropriate only on brides or prostitutes (mull over that one a minute), and the significance is not lost on Miss J., who runs over and plays the bridegroom who takes down his beloved’s garter with his teeth and tosses it to the wedding guests (Mr. Jay catches it, and then everyone goes off to eat cake and do the electric slide). “Don’t ever do this ever again,” Mr. Jay says, indicating the garter (which he has since slipped on Tyra’s leg). Well, I’d add, don’t do it ever again unless you become a bride or a prostitute in the brothel in the Old West. Fashion faux pas aside, she reminds Ty of Rebecca Romjin.
Next is Anchal (19; Homestead, FL). The South Asian beauty is asked why she chose to wear blue-colored contacts over her naturally dark eyes. Anchal admits that Indian culture considers lighter eyes and lighter skin prettier; she gets choked up, though, saying that she does wish she could eventually get to the point where she could say, “I’m dark, I’m beautiful, and I’m Indian,” and feel acceptance. Tyra congratulates her for at least having this self-awareness. Tyra says she’s a “slave” herself, indicating her own hair (I knew that gigantic thing was its own entity, probably whispering orders to her—no wonder she always contradicts herself, she’s just the host body to a monster weave with plans for world domination). So Tyra can relate, and she says the next step is her “sporting a fro.” That’s it? The key to liberation and total self-acceptance is changing your hairstyle? I wish I knew that before I renewed my Black Panthers’ membership.
Time for some two-for-one interview action with Amanda and Michelle. The differences between the girls start to emerge emerge early, and not just that Michelle seems to have the darker hair, and Amanda appears slightly taller. Michelle is the self-proclaimed tomboy, and clearly the Alpha Twin of the two. Amanda says they don’t try to be same; but amusingly, when Miss J. asks them to give poses, they almost simultaneously fall into the same one. “Why are you copying me, clone?” Michelle asks. They do a double walk off that has the panel thinking they have “two left feet” (so does that actually make it four left feet?). Miss J. says the closest they should be to a fashion show is in the audience, watching. Eep!
The 4H Club: The Headbanger, The Hot Chick, The Hog Farmer, and The Hopeless Wreck
After a (thankfully brief) musical interlude of girls singing their own impromptu ANTM theme song, the interviews continue with Megan, self-proclaimed ROCK CHICK (you must screech that like a heavy metal singer every time you say it)! Her screaming and crazy ROCK antics literally knock Miss J. off his seat. At the end of her ROCK ‘N’ ROLL runway walk, Megan lets her hair down and headbangs like she’s the drunk chick in the third row at every Ozzfest.
Jaeda describes herself as “The Hot Girl” at school, which instantly makes me fear and hate her (me being the “Weird Drama Club Girl” that “The Hot Girl” and her friends made fun of and bullied in school). She says people are constantly saying “Wow!” and telling her how beautiful she is and how the whole football team loves her. Loves her, or made love to her? Tyra says “A lot of the time, the ‘Hot Girl’ on campus doesn’t translate into a model and sometimes she gets her feelings hurt.” Jaeda says she’s a “hot girl that can model.” She scares me, but we’ll see if she’s right.
Ohmigod, Becky has wanted to be a model since she was 3—the evidence is written in her baby book! Becky plays up the ‘small town girl with big dreams’ angle, but her argument is most compelling when we see a picture of Becky in 4H gear behind a gigantic frickin’ pig. Apparently Becky’s mom said their family doesn’t model, it raises pigs. Please, Tyra, save Becky from a life of swine! Tyra finds her “generally sweet, generally pretty, and generally nice” but also “generally boring.”
If you were wondering when someone would start in with the crying and the sob story, it’s coming in 3…2…1…Monique (19; Chicago, IL) is asked why she deserves to be on the show, and instantly the tear tap turns on. Apparently, since she was young, her sisters made fun of her for being the dark-skinned one, calling her names like “Blackula”—maybe they weren’t insulting her, but complimenting her for being a great actor like Scott Bakula? Or that she’s sweet like Count Chocula? Okay, I’m reaching. I feel bad for Monique, since I know what it’s like to be traumatized by childhood teasing (see “Hot Girl” paragraph above). Tyra warns her that modeling and the entertainment industry can be even more ruthless, and she’s just as likely to get criticism as validation, but Monique feels it’s a chance she’s willing to take.
While the other girls wait to be interviewed, they decide to have a spontaneous walk-off. There’s a whole lot of strutting, hair-shaking, and strangely, spanking. What is up with all these girls smacking their own booties, is this a trend I missed? See, I told you that they must be masochists to want to come on this show. Michelle pushes Amanda out of the way so she can walk first. The other girls use this as an opportunity to talk smack about the twins, and how there can only be one [I have exhausted my store of Highlander jokes, so if you’ve got a new one, insert it here].
Eugena (21; Palmdale, CA) is one of the smack talkers, and it seems like a favorite pastime of hers. In her interview with the panel, she criticizes the last cycle of ANTM, calling all the girls (like Gina) from ANTM6 “boring”; she also dislikes the twins from this season and the rocker chick. Then she claims she is “likeable” and “very caring.” Tyra flatly says, “I don’t think so!” Is this Tyra using her keen skills to sniff out the fake, like a pig snuffling for truffles? Methinks she’s got one!
America’s Next Top Model or America’s Got Talent?
Brittany (19, San Rafael, CA) has apparently wandered into the wrong audition, because she breaks out into a crazy tap dance. She’s not the only one who decides to show off some of their other, non-modeling talents. There is a montage of other girls doing some hip hop dancing, one girl running around the stage for no apparent reason, another girl doing the splits. Yet another girl (sorry, no name captions on this part—or were their names withheld to protect the innocent) warbles an off-key song to the panel to “Pleeease pick meeeee!” while a bubbly blonde busts out a white girl rap that gets the panel’s booty shaking.
That female Slim Shady is baby-faced Brooke (18; Keller, TX) who says she has given up her senior year at high school (and no doubt horrified her parents) to be here to compete for ANTM. While only 5’7”, Tyra says that she sees model in Brooke, citing cycle 3’s Eva as another shorty who made it work.
Megan (22; San Francisco, CA) is a short-haired androgyne who might invite comparisons to another ANTM alum, Kim. Megan has a truly moving story of adversity that she had to overcome. At the age of 9, her family was in a terrible plane crash. Her mother died of hypothermia in that accident, but the warmth of her body on Megan’s saved her daughter from the same fate. Wow, now that story really chokes me up; I can’t even type it out without tearing up, for real. Megan says that she can still feel her mom’s presence, and the panel tenderly tells her that her mom’s spirit is there, still guiding her.
When Evita walks in, Tyra cries out “Rapunzel” in reference to her super long, dark hair. Evita, if you recall, is the mother of two, whose husband is in Iraq. Mr. Jay asks how she’d feel about cutting her hair. The look Evita gives him is enough to freeze a pouncing tiger in its tracks. “Okay, that answers my question,” Jay says, making scissor snipping motions with her hand once Evita turns to leave the room.
Meanwhile, Eugena, who just so loves to judge others, doesn’t feel it’s right for Evita to be here with two kids at home, especially at so young an age. What, does Eugena work for Child Protective Services now? Chill out, the little buggers are fine, remember? They’re with the Wolfmother. Evita feels that she’s sacrificed too much not to win now, saying, “If I’m leaving my kids, I’ll be the last girl standing.”
A.J. (20; Sacramento, CA) is an edgy beauty with short dark hair and a crazy spirit who, as a survivor of cervical cancer, feels that the experience taught her she can deal with “anything they throw at me.” She is there because she wants people to know it’s okay to be different, and not the “typical blonde.” The panel seems to like her, with Tyra thinking she could be a “diamond in the rough.”
Stripping, Not a Part of Modeling
Cyndel (20; Wichita, KS) works at “Jezebel’s” as an “entertainer.” “Stripping?” Tyra asks. Cyndel say there a “big difference” but fails to make a distinction, so please, let me offer one: it’s the kind of entertainment that requires a lot of small bills and, occasionally, a pack of Kleenex. Cyndel asserts that what she does is just “another part of modeling, in a way, another part of the fashion world.” Tyra and Cyndel then get into a slight kerfuffle over the matter, with Tyra staunchly insisting that stripping has nothing to do with modeling. Repeat: i]stripping has nothing to do with modeling.[/i]
Jaslene (19) comes in with a choreographed number that makes me wonder if she ought to be on “So You Think You Can Dance” if this gig doesn’t work out. Jaslene says she can portray so many different looks, and busts out an entire array, from “Fierceness” to “Sexy Lingerie” to “Catalog” (that last one looking straight out of the Janice Dickinson playbook—you better work!). She struts off the stage ferociously, saying she walks this “all day and every day.” Yes, finally, another girl who has actually watched the show! She gets a unanimous “Fieeeerce!” with three finger shakes from the panel.
Melrose was originally “Melissa Rose” before she decided she didn’t need that “issa” anymore. She says she can “be really nice” or a “complete bitch” to which Miss J. replies, “That, I can see.” She is very interested in couture fashion, and even claims to have made a lot of what she’ll be wearing here on the show. She even passes a designer pop quiz administered by Miss J., impressing the panel with her fashionista knowledge.
Leangela (21, Columbus, OH) has already accomplished quite a bit, going from “homeless to homecoming queen in a lifetime.” Leangela was abandoned by her mom at a homeless shelter at the tender age of 10, and then went on to make history as the first African-American prom queen in her town. She would like to take her achievements even higher, and Jay feels that if Leangela were to take it to the next level, it would give her the confidence boost she needs to really take off to great heights.
Ginger (18, Derby, KS) looks like Rose MacGowan’s blonde, conservative Republican twin sister. Tyra warns her that the fashion industry is quite the opposite of conservative—you have be open-minded to different types of people, different sexualities, different lifestyles. Ginger claims she is not afraid to get out there and meet people. Mr. Jay tries to loosen her up by teasing her hair, and Tyra tries to get her to shimmy and “drop it like it’s hot.” I bet they didn’t ask her to do that in the House of Representatives…or, maybe they did, you know how freaky them politicians can get.
Stripping, A Part of Modeling
It’s time for the first cut, appropriately, at a salon. In that salon, at each station there are 21 magazines with Tyra on the cover, and within those magazines, tear sheets indicating who will remain in the competition. The stampede of screaming girls rushes into the salon in search of their pictures. Michelle & Amanda are relieved to find both of them will be advancing. The creatively-spelled Megg, Jaslene, and Jaeda are next to move on. Monique’s dreams have come true, along with Caridee, Megan, Becky, Brittany, LeAngela, Ginger, Anchal, A.J., Melrose, and Evita. As the photos run out, some girls start to realize they won’t be realizing their dreams this time around. It’s back to Jezebel’s for Cyndel. Other beautiful, unnamed girls are shown in tears.
But it’s time to move on, and the lucky 21 are immediately thrown into their first shoot. Mr. Jay points out makeup and hair extensions, saying they have 15 minutes to get ready. I don’t know about the rest of you in TV Land, but tell me I’m not the only one who knew what was up the second I saw all those long and crazy hair extensions. I mean, this is reality TV, after all, and not The Usual Suspects—you had to see this coming.
The girls, all made up, assemble on the rooftop where Jay sniffs, “Clearly you guys have not gone through the hair and makeup beauty school.” There are a couple of girls who look like they don’t even belong at a Halloween party, much less a photo shoot (l’m looking at you, Cruella Deville and Malibu Barbie). This is where they find out the big twist: today’s photo shoot will be in the nude. Yep. They will be required to strip down to nothing but a hope and prayer for this assignment.
Ginger, who’s now sporting a long brunette wig that makes her look exactly like Rose McGowan, declares she is “conservative” and thinks it’s wrong to “expose your private parts.” I’m sorry to get on the soap box, but why does this happen every year? It’s simple: Model’s can’t be shy about their bodies. It’s not that you’re “exposing your private parts” like a flasher in a seedy alley, but shoots aside, as a model you will have people dressing you, poking you, seeing you from all kinds of angles you never even knew existed. I hate to be crude, but backstage at a fashion show, you see more rugs than at your local Carpeteria, and none of the models care a whit about it. Beside
Ginger’s not the only one upset. Becky is redfaced and worried that people at home will be mad at her. Jay says that nudity can be very classic and artistic, although he admits there is a fine line between “sleazy versus sexy.” In a little blue tent, girls crowd in like veal, and strip down to nada. Someone breaks out the baby oil (get your mind out of the gutter) and one of the sisters says, “Twin, take off your pants for moral support.” Maybe Cyndel wasn’t wrong about her kind of “entertainment” being like the fashion industry after all. Will the straight guys in the audience please raise your hands if you agree? Hands, I said hands, you filthy beasts.
Jay talks to Ginger who is still resistant; Melrose scoffs that “Ginger can’t even get naked in front of herself.” While Ginger wrestles with the prospect of getting buck nekkid in front of a bunch of strangers on a rooftop in Los Angeles, Brooke is the first girl to whip off her towel for photographer, Brian. Monique is next, and doesn’t seem shy; in fact, she’s excited to see the pictures. Evita is proud that “someday my kids will be watching this thing, going ‘There’s my mom naked.’” Oh yes, I’m sure they’ll be taking it to “Show and Tell” at kindergarten.
Jaeda, Megan, and Eugena make the nude shoot easy as pie. But it’s not so easy for Becky, who’s gotten increasingly nervous on the sidelines. But despite her fears, she’s a trooper and does it anyway, earning cheers and high-fives from her peers (and major stink-eye from Ginger, who’s conspicuously still in her clothes). Megg gives her ROCK ‘N’ ROLL best to her nude shoot, and Caridee (with the weird black & white hair) also gives her all.
Amanda and Michelle each go up. Amanda takes a sitting position that makes me wonder: I really, really hope they wipe that stage off after each use. Leangela’s got a Blade Runner thing going on, but I like it. A.J. doesn’t really seem shy, but struggles for posing ideas, and complains of the cold. Christian says she finds nothing wrong with glorifying the human body. Jaslene doesn’t understand why girls come on the show wanting to be models, then object to being nude. Melrose performs like an old pro. The models cheer on an uncomfortable Brittany. Anchal looks like an exotic dream underneath her own long coat of hair.
After much coaxing, Ginger walks up with a helpful Jaeda, who holds the towel around her and speaks comfortingly to the nervous Republican who looks like a cold, little Chihuahua (especially since she for some reason decided to take off the long dark wig). Okay, maybe the Hot Girl is not actually a Mean Girl, after all. Ginger manages to get only two shots before she refuses to continue. She says winning is not as important to her as sticking to her “morals and standards.” Becky doesn’t feel it’s fair that Ginger only had two, and thinks she should be automatically eliminated. After all, Becky was in much the same predicament and did it anyway.
Stripped Down to 13
Tyra, Mr. Jay, and Miss J. now have the task of picking out the Final 13. Megg was not a favorite (the panel does not particularly enjoy the ROCK CHICK screech) until they saw her pictures, and her face said “model.” They like sensitivity that came through on LeAngela’s face in her airport picture, but were mixed on her “Mad Max” nude. They are impressed by Megan’s “powerful story” of survival, but Jay is “nervous about her proportions.” Caridee’s nude picture is scary and strange, like a Japanese horror movie, but they still seem to like her. Eugena is “Eugenius” according to Miss J. Melrose has an 80’s look, but because Jay feels fashion is moving in that direction, she could be a good choice. Christian “understands…the Tyra ABC’s” but they wonder…where is her neck? Brittany’s face is a “huge question mark.”
The panel is on the fence with Jaslene; they love how much she’s feeling the fashion, but fear she looks too “hard.” They don’t like how Ginger seems “unwilling to cooperate.” Evita is “a little vacant” despite being a “Native American…beauty.” They like A.J.’s “luminescent” skin, but think her face is “off.” Anchal might look more like a “Miss World pageant winner” than a model, but Tyra says, “It scares me how pretty she is.” Mr. Jay gets the whole panel busting up when he says Jaeda “is more masculine than I am.” Becky looks safe at first glance, but Tyra says there’s something in her eye that says, “Don’t sleep.” Nice tagline horror movie, but is that really what you want in a model? Jay feels Brooke “has something” and Tyra likes that this white girl can rap because it means “she’s got some flavor to savor.” Jay thinks Monique looks versatile, saying she could book anything from cosmetics to liquor. They love Amanda, the “girly twin”; but also think Michelle, the “tomboy twin” has a “plain jane model thing” they love. Jay says if he had to choose one, he’d pick Amanda; Tyra says she’d pick Michelle; Miss J. says he had a favorite twin, but he can’t remember which one it is.
Tyra gathers everyone on the rooftop at night to reveal their fate. She gets straight to calling out the names: Melrose, Jaeda, Michelle, Eugena, Brooke, Anchal, A.J., Christian, Megg, Megan, Caridee, Amanda (how cruel was it to call the twins’ names so far apart?), and finally, Monique. It’s a tearful goodbye to the girls whose names were not called (I personally am sad LeAngela and Jaslene didn’t make it), but it’s not long before the 13 finalists tackle Tyra in one big hug and gear up for the long road ahead.
Part 2 of the ANTM Premiere recap is coming soon…In the meantime, direct your questions, comments, and nude pictures (just the classy ones!) to snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com.