EM Recap Season 2, Episode 7: From Beaker to Babe, From Geek to Chic
Air Date: 10/30/03
This week, Extreme Makeover returns to L.A., which, let’s face it, is exactly where it should be. This doesn’t mean it’s all business as usual, however, as this episode also marks the introduction of the brand spankin’ new segment, “Mini Extreme Makeover” with Sam Saboura.
And The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth
Think of your standard, almost universal nerd stereotype: thick glasses, haphazard wardrobe, squishy physique, slope-shouldered posture, matted hair, spotty, pallid complexion from hours of bathing in the livid glow of a computer monitor…Well, that’s John Cooney, our first EM candidate, a computer whiz (stop snickering), Renaissance Faire enthusiast (really, stop it!), and anime aficionado (actually, this guy sounds exactly like a number of my straight male friends) from Houston, Texas. John will be the first one to admit to his nerdiness (a category he says he fell into as early as 5th or 6th grade), because what does he care? He’s the successful co-founder of his own video game company, he’s actually interacted with a female in the recent past—namely, his wife, the sweetly supportive but unfortunately named Cinnamon Cooney—and he knows what everyone in the world is finally discovering (and what Bill Gates and my guy friends have been telling themselves all along): that the geeks and nerds are the real cool people in this world.
Secure with whom he is on the inside, when he looks in the mirror he nonetheless sees nothing but flaws on the outside. “I have a non-symmetrical face,” John explains; for example, one ear conspicuously protrudes further out than the other and his cheeks are uneven. He dislikes his weak jaw, bulbous nose, and thick neck. To conceal his flaws, he’s grown out his curly, Penn Jillette hair (you don’t see it in the before pictures, but it initially goes down to the middle of his back). He’s kept it growing, after he heard of an organization that donates hair to children in need. He confesses that his insecurity over his looks has held him back in life, and as a businessman and spokesperson for his own company, a lack of confidence inhibits him in front of his colleagues in the field of tech.
Since John likes games, EM decides to break the news that he’s been chosen through a game of Win, Lose, or Draw. An intimate gathering of friends and family assemble in a living room to play the game with Susan Stone, a woman whom they’ve been told is a producer, but who is actually the executive director of Locks of Love, the organization to which John has been wanting to donate his hair. She goes up to the easel and draws a goofy looking profile with long hair and glasses, which one friend instantly guesses is John. She draws an X and then a stream, before the same friend yells out “John, you’re getting an Extreme Makeover!” It takes him a minute to realize that this announcement is for real, but when he does both he, Cinnamon, and his loved ones are all overjoyed. Susan finally announces her true identity, and in a touching moment, Susan lops off John’s ponytail right there in the living room, while John’s mom hyperventilates from shock. Susan informs John that he is going to make some needy child very happy, then holds the disconnected ponytail up in the air, looking like a hunter holding up a dead possum.
Meep! Meep! Meep!
We meet our next candidate, 29-year-old mother-of-two Candace Sturgeon of Lincoln, Nebraska, with some close friends at a psychic’s, where she is having her palm read. The psychic says that her palm reveals that Candace did not have much of a childhood, to which Candace assents, adding that it was “unhappy.” We learn that even early in life, Candace never felt pretty, but instead felt awkward and unattractive. She believes that her looks kept her from fully participating in life as a child and teenager, particularly because the teasing of peers tormented her with taunts like “ugly,” “Big Bird,” and, most pointedly, “Beaker” from the Muppet Show. Her own complaints include: her eye area, which has become “droopier and droopier, and I’m afraid if I wait any longer I’m not going to be able to see,” she says pulling at her eyes with her fingers to demonstrate. She also is unhappy with her nose and “flat face.”
Candace asks the psychic how many men she sees in her life, and the psychic relies “Just one,” which must be a relief to Joel Sturgeon, Candace’s loving and devoted husband. As much he loves her, Candace is still crippled by insecurity, tearfully admitting there are many things she doesn’t do with him as a result of her low self-esteem. She won’t join him at a public swimming pool, explaining she wouldn’t be caught dead in a swimsuit, for example. Even their intimacy is compromised; Candace confesses she can’t even undress in front of her husband unless the lights are off; and if he argues with her to leave them on, it kills her mood for love. Joel gets upset at the way Candace puts herself down.
Furthermore, Candace claims that she has lost career opportunities because she has been judged unfavorably on her appearance. Graduating from college soon, she wants to re-enter the workforce with a new look and newfound confidence.
Back at the psychic, there is one thing about Candace’s future that the fortuneteller (whose garish yellow dress and head scarf make her look like a cross between a giant pineapple and a pirate—we need Sam, stat!) has yet to tell. “I see that you were chosen for Extreme Makeover,” she says. Candace erupts into laughter, tears…and song! “I’m goin’ back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali,” she sings, pumping her fists in a little dance. Um, I don’t think so…Just don’t do that in Compton, sweetheart.
Eenie, Meenie, Mini Makeover
Our good friend and style guru Sam appears onscreen (just seconds too late to help the Pineapple Pirate, unfortunately) and introduces the new show segment. “We get thousands of tapes here at Extreme Makeover from people all over the country who would love to have our help,” Sam informs us, as videotaped auditions play in the background to illustrate his point. “But a lot of these people don’t need such an extreme makeover, that’s why we came up with the Mini Extreme Makeover” he says, assuring us that a lot can be done through just hair, makeup, and clothing.
We watch the videotapes of three candidates as Sam critiques them in order to decide who will be the lucky recipient of the mini-makeover. The first tape we see is of Sofrita [sp?], who plucks at her body while saying she needs lipo. “She doesn’t need liposuction,” Sam says, “Her and I could go get a buddy pass for a gym, do an abs class, and we’d be cool.” He also points out that Sofrita’s multi-colored acrylic talons most definitely need to go. The second possible candidate is plain-jane Wendy, a wife and mom whom Sam witheringly observes has obviously put her family before herself and describes as having “no hairstyle whatsoever”. Finally, we see the tape for James, who has composed a rhyming ditty cataloguing his flaws; Sam simply says, “If my friend James spent half as much time on his wardrobe as he did on that jingle he wrote, he’d be in business.” Also, James is in need of an updated hairstyle, as Sam points out that his fade does not look current.
Through the magic of recapping, you are spared the tortured suspense during the commercial break over whom Sam chose: he has selected “frumpy housewife” Wendy Farson, whom he surprises at her home in Oceanside, California. The 36-year-old mother of two answers the door in a sloppy oversized t-shirt and sweatpants, hair pulled back hastily into a ponytail—the uniform of your typical beleaguered suburban housewife—but she brightens up instantly when she recognizes Sam, and welcomes him with a warm hug. At the breakfast table meet her husband, James, a marine who is about to be shipped off to Japan, and one of their children. Wendy remembers the exact date she last wore a dress, “November 10th last year, because it was the Marine Corps Ball.” Sam tells Wendy to pack up for a few days in L.A., where they will make her over as a “Bon Voyage present” for Jim before he leaves for Japan. They are then whisked off in a limo to head north for Hollywood.
Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want
Candace has left Nebraska for Hollywood, as well, and she is in Dr. Garth Fisher’s office in Beverly Hills for her consultation. She discusses her complaints with plastic surgeon Dr. Fisher, who makes recommendations on how to fix them. For her droopy eyes, he suggests not only a brow lift, but the creation of deeper fold and an uplift to their corners. He also says that her nose just needs some refining, and cheek implants will help add shape to the “flat face” she so dislikes. She asks if they’ll stay in place, and Dr. Fisher assures her they will. “I’m just not wantin’ in like ten years one here and one here,” she says, pantomiming a Picasso.
“What size bra do you wear?” Dr. Fisher asks. “Now?” Candace, asks, then laughs expansively. She is currently 36 or 38 A. When Dr. Fisher asks what size she’d like to be, Candace, like most every other woman I’ve seen on EM, hedges over the issue, doing the coy “I don’t wanna be huge…” act. “A full B or a small C, maybe” she says to Dr. Fisher, who is probably used to this. You know when it’s surgery time, he’ll be slipping in a C. I always learn something new every week on EM, and this week, it’s that the main complaint recipients of breast augmentation have is something called “Capsa Contraction” [sp?]. In laywomen’s terms, let’s call it hardening of the boobies. It’s basically due to the scar tissue that forms as a result of the surgery, and can be remedied by things like putting the implant in beneath the muscle, using saline, and massaging the breast. Fascinating! I hope you were paying attention, because there’s going to be a pop quiz on this later.
Finally, it’s John’s turn to meet with Dr. Jon Perlman, who recommends pinning back John’s left ear to more closely match the right, and decreasing the roundness in his cheeks (particularly the right, which is rounder) with lipo, a chin implant to strengthen his jaw, and some refinements to his nose.
Sam, the One Minute Man
Our Mini-Extreme Makeover continues with “frumpy housewife” Wendy. We learn that she only gets her haircut once every 1 ½ to 2 years, makeup does not exist in her universe, and it’s been over a year since she last donned a dress. Sam takes her shopping at some chic L.A. boutiques, and he shares his advice for her, and us, in his “Makeover in a Minute”: 1) pea coats and trenches are back in for this fall, and knock-offs can be had for a mere C-note at your local mall, 2) satin ribbon was a runway hit, so go to your local fabric store to bye some on the cheap, and tie it around your wrists, on your neck as a choker, or around your waist as a belt, 3) newsboy caps and trucker hats are DEAD, the accessory for fall is the “ladylike glove” in different shades, 4) trade your cowboy boots in for a smart pair of knee-high or thigh-high boots, 5) the hot color earlier this year was pink, but now that it’s autumn think deeper, namely, purple, any shade of it, 6) logo bags are tired, hunt down some animal prints. Phew! Who said a man can’t satisfy in a single minute. Sam did more for me in 60 seconds than tedious hours of poring through fashion mags, and that’s without the ads and annoying subscription cards falling out every 3 minutes. THANK YOU SAM!
We return to see Wendy in a salon chair with three people working on her at once. One woman is doing her nails a gorgeous shade of cranberry, another woman is doing her eyebrows, and a man is tending to her hair. The narrator tells us her “mini-reveal” is up ahead. But before the payoff, we have to suffer a little (and our two EM candidates, a lot!).
This is what’s on tap for John: nose reshaping, Otoplasty (left ear pinned back), chin implant, Buccal fat pads excised, face and neck liposuction, and then fat injections to contour the face. Candace will receive: an upper eyelid lift, browlift, nose reshaping, bone contouring above the eyes, cheek implants, lower eyelid tightening, breast augmentation, and liposuction on thighs and stomach.
Candace is nervous the morning of the surgery, and calls her husband who reassures her that she’ll be fine. She cries with fear as one of the hospital staff attempts to soothe her. Dr. Fisher also tries to allay her fears, gently joking that “I was not dancing last night, I was home and got plenty of sleep.” He marks her up, putting more marks on her body than on her face. After wishing her face goodbye, Candace goes into the operating room feeling less worried.
Dr. Fisher starts off with the breast augmentation, which he explains in stomach turning detail. Suffice to say that “dissecting,” “pocket,” and “squeezing through little hole” were all used in his description. He tries different sizes, but says he will probably go with a C. Next, he does her cheek implants, which involve bright blue plastic inserts. He shows us how the cheeks look with only one implant, and there is a marked difference in contour. Then it’s Hammer Time! No, put those harem pants away, what I mean is it’s time for Dr. Fisher to bang at Candace’s nose with a hammer. After working on her brow and eyes, it’s all in a day’s work for Dr. Fisher, who can now go out dancing all night long if he feels like it. He’s certainly earned it.
We’re told John is jetlagged—I don’t see what the dealio is because isn’t he going to be asleep the whole time anyway. Dr. Perlman marks up John, then it’s table time. In what I believe is the most eloquent statement ever given while anesthesia is being administered (aside from Lori’s “I’m probably gonna show my new boobs off” declaration, of course), John says, “Life is transition and exploration, and I’m excited to see what happens.”
Dr. Perlman starts off with John’s chin implant, which he explains will also strengthen the jaw line, in addition to liposuction of the neck. Dr. Perlman follows this by pinning back his left ear, then performs minor refinements to the tip and bridge of John’s nose. All in all, John’s procedures are far less complicated than Candace. John is done in 6 hours, and already awake and joking with the cameraman. Dr. Perlman calls Cinnamon, John’s wife, to let her know the day went smoothly.
Everyone Knows It’s Wendy!
Wendy is back in Oceanside, and Sam helps her with some finishing touches in the dressing room before she goes before her family and friends for her “mini-reveal”. This will be a special treat for her marine sergeant husband James, who will be shipping out soon for Japan. She comes out in slinky, sexy black dress, with her hair darkened to a flattering mahogany, and blown-out into a glamorous ‘do worthy of a red carpet. Subtle, but elegant makeup completes her look. She looks a bit like an early 90s era Sarah MacLachlan. “It has really been such a drastic change, but I think everyone’s real pleased with it, especially my husband,” Wendy says. A flushed James remarks, “When I saw Wendy I was just amazed.”
Sam declares the mini-makeover a success, then breaks it down for us: hair color, highlights, and a cut; eyebrows tinted and plucked, eyelashes tinted; manicure; got contacts, her teeth Zoom-whitened, and a Mistic tan (the spray on kind). Don’t forget Sam took her shopping too! Not bad for a “Mini” makeover.
The One Week Peek
Candace goes into Dr. Fisher’s so she can finally see her new nose. He takes off her bandages, and though she is still swollen, she notices the changes immediately, and is pleased. “When I grew up, I had no features,” Candace says, but now that she has cheekbones and eyelids. And boobs! It’s yet another “mini-reveal” as the top comes off in Dr. Fisher’s office again. “Have you been massaging these? They look great,” he says--are we sure he’s not an agent for the FBI (Federal Boobie Inspectors), because he sure looks like it to me! I don’t mean to joke, he’s completely professional, but tell me it’s not the least bit giggle-inducing to watch his “hands-on” demonstration of how to massage new implants. “I want you to be sure to push up, push down, and squeeze,” he says, showing her. “They look really, really good,” he repeats. I think two “reallys” is enough, one more would have me worrying. Candace is tickled pink with her new mams, and she says she feels like they’re hers, just filled up with water.
John is at Dr. Perlman’s for his preview, and Dr. Perlman takes of the bandages on the chin and nose, dubbing John a “good healer”. No breast massaging here. John’s contoured face, pinned ear, chin, and nose, all look to be healing nicely, and dramatically improve John’s previously non-symmetrical features. John is happy with the reflection in the hand mirror, exclaiming only “Wow!”
Those Eyes, Those Thighs, Those Teeth
One of John’s interests is astronomy, and we’re told he’s never seen the stars with his naked eyes. At the optometrists, Dr. Roger Maloney finds out that on an eye chart, all John can see is the big E at the top. “That’s not good enough for astronomy, Starman,” Dr. Maloney quips, “In fact, that’s not even good enough for much on earth. You’re legally blind.” With Lasik surgery, however, Dr. Maloney transforms John’s vision to 20/20 in only 20 minutes. Then, knowing how much John loves astronomy, Dr. Maloney calls a friend for a hookup to a renowned Los Angeles observatory for a breathtaking view of Mars.
Speaking of heavenly bodies, Candace has been working out with Michael Thurmond. After liposuction, and several weeks of diet and working out, Candace has lost 20 pounds and turned her flabby mommy pooch into a lean, mean six pack. Thurmond’s tip for sit-ups is to do them sitting up! Just make sure to squeeze the abdominal muscles as you inhale. With a beaming smile, Candace says that she really feels good about her body now, because it’s back to the way it looked before she had children.
Oh, and speaking of smiles, it’s time for our beloved Dr. William Dorfman to work on Candace’s. He Zoom whitens her teeth and gives her twelve porcelain veneers (in addition to other extensive dental work such as having her baby tooth extracted, a bridge on the baby tooth, and cross bit on upper). She’s so happy, she squeals in delight before giving him a big ol’ hug.
Wear It Again, Sam
Sam is back again, but this time to help our Extreme candidates overhaul their total wardrobes. He goes through Candace’s closet first, picking up a huge pair of floppy white shorts with visible disdain and asking “What’s this?” Candace laughs, slightly embarrassed, answering, “Those are my maternity shorts.” Sam rolls them up into ball and throws them down saying, “Those were your maternity shorts, okay?” Sam describes Candace’s style as “Mommy Muumuu gone wrong.” He does find a pair of low rise, boot cut jeans that he approves of in her closet. He makes her put them on, and then teaches us all a lesson on back pockets: big pockets minimize the tuchis, because tiny pockets on a big booty only draw attention to how wide your backside is. Candace then comes out in an overall jumper, and again Sam asks, in horror, “What is this?” “It’s comfortable,” Candace offers, but Sam judiciously shoots her down with “You know why it’s comfortable? It’s a bag with straps.”
He is more than ready to take her shopping, so it’s off to the Levi’s store in Santa Monica, where his goal is to find her a pair of easy, comfy jeans that she can wear to run after her kids but remain stylish at the same time. She tries on every style and color of jeans in the store, and Sam gives her some advice: low rises can help minimize the hips and butt, dark finishes can be treated like a pair of dress pants and take the wearer into the evening with a nice black top, and the high rise can make a waist appear curvier.
In John’s closet, “It looks like you went into a Hawaiian store and you bought everything on the rack,”
Sam says, referring to the singular style of shirt John has, with loud prints and garish colors (although I think the ones with anime characters printed on it are pretty cool). It’s his “uniform” John says “because it’s easy”, and Sam says that Einstein too had a “uniform” that he would wear day after day.
Sam attempts to break John’s deeply ingrained pattern at Hugo Boss, where he dresses Sam in very smart, very sophisticated shirts, classic suits, and leather jackets in rich but muted colors. Sam also uses layers to help John, who is 6’4”, look less imposing. It’s 180 from his anime closet, but John looks undeniably handsome with the new look, and he is pleased.
Salon, Farewell, Auf Weidersen, Bye Bye
Sam brings Candace for a day of beauty at Umberto’s in Bev Hills. Colorist Jeanette will highlight her hair to accentuate her eyes, and Cheryl will cut in soft layers to frame Candace’s pretty new face. The segment goes by quickly, but at the end we see Candace’s hair looking incredibly golden with a fullness and body that I would never have thought possible.
Over at Prive, Kiara and Matthew give John’s wild, Carrot Top curls a new, hip style and some pumped up color. Kiara uses a razor to texture John’s hair into that perma-tousled head of sexy hair that pro-skaters, snowboarders, and rockers have; “a controlled mess” as she describes it. Kiara says to beware of cutting curly hair like John’s too short. Matthew comes in to blond John, who informs the colorist that he’s never done this before. “Ah, a virgin,” Matthew simpers, with a mischievous look. We are still talking about the hair color here right? Finally, Daniel comes in for the thankless but important job of eyebrow waxing. This always looks comparable to the surgery segments in terms of pain. I’m thinking they should do twilight sleep for waxing too. But that’s it for L.A., the makeovers are complete and it’s time to go home.
Goin’ Back to Nebi…To Nebi…To Nebi
Candace returns to Nebraska, where her friends and family anxiously await her arrival. She is worried about their reactions, and they too have their fears. “Yeah I’m totally scared. Am I even worthy?” her husband Joel admits. What a sweetie, my guess is he’s more than worthy. Wowza, a shapely leg emerges from the limo, then a sexy figure appears silhouetted at the top a staircase.
Candace comes down looking radiant, in an asymmetrical, black and white cocktail dress. With her flipped blonde hair, and girlish smile, she looks like a lost sister of Goldie Hawn. Her friends and family cheer, whistle, and shout in amazement, as she saunters down to plant a big kiss on her husband. He says that beautiful doesn’t even seem an adequate description, “Incredible” is his substitution. “This is a permanent change,” Candace says, “Not just a permanent physical change, but a permanent internal change as well, and I’m never going to lose that.”
Revenge of the Nerd
Who’s that driving that sleek Lamborghini down the Houston street? It’s John, racing home to reunite with friends and family, in particular his wife, Cinnamon, who says she can’t even imagine what he must look like now. “I expect my mother to really fall apart,” John says.
Susan from Locks of Love returns to introduce John, who looks like a golden boy with his rock star hair. His wife, appropriately, screams like a groupie, before he comes up and gives her a passionate kiss. “He’s out of my league now!” Cinnamon laments. His friend and partner Matt declares him “spectacular”.
There’s one more surprise for everyone, however, and Susan announces that John is about to meet the lucky recipient of the hair he donated at the start of the program. Out walks 9-year-old Brooke, a girl who lost her hair to a rare medical condition. John’s special donation was fashioned into a beautiful, long, very natural-looking wig for Brooke. He kneels down and gives her a long and heartfelt embrace.
“I don’t feel any different than I did when I left,” John says in summation, “I just may have gone from geek to geek chic.”
Pop Quiz, FoRTers! What the heck is capsa contraction? Send your answer to snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com, and stay beautiful!