It's Getting 'Hot' in Here
''Are You Hot?'' Well, there's one way to find out. With the help of ABC's newest reality show that requires NO discernible talent whatsoever by Clarissa Cruz
''I'm hot for many reasons,'' says Gisele, 19, a petite brunette who pirouettes and lifts her skimpy white mini to reveal a naked, cellulite-free bottom. ''I mean, just look at me -- I've got a nice face, a good body, and a nice ass. It's obvious!'' As a casting director stares, slack-jawed, she purses her glossy lips and adds earnestly, ''I feel very sorry for ugly people.''
Quick quiz: Gisele is auditioning for (a) the latest incarnation of ''Girls Gone Wild: Butts on Parade,'' (b) a new Christina Aguilera video, or (c) Mensa membership.
If you guessed (c), maybe you should join Gisele on stage. She and hundreds of other hopefuls are trying out for ABC's latest foray into the reality-show derby, ''Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People,'' which a la Fox's ''American Idol'' allows viewers (with the help of what now passes for a celebrity-judge panel -- Lorenzo Lamas, Rachel Hunter, and designer Randolph Duke) to select the sexiest man and woman from 128 aspirants around the country. There's no discernible talent required, and the winners split a $100,000 cash prize.
''We wanted to cut to the chase and make a show that gives viewers what they want without having to make them wait for it,'' says Mike Fleiss, the 39-year-old mastermind responsible for the ''Bachelor'' franchise and ''Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?.'' ''[With 'Are You Hot?'] you don't have to sit through a bad version of some old Aretha Franklin song; you just see good-looking people either validated as gorgeous or cut to shreds as posers.''
The goal behind ''Hot'' (which begins its six-week run on Feb. 13) is a noble one: to provide America with as many definitions of hotness as possible. Says 27-year-old casting director Neal Konstantini, ''Personally, I think skinny women with dark hair and dark eyes are attractive. But as a casting director, I try [to find] a little bit of everything, a mixture.'' So his tireless scouting team scoured happy hours and parties at dozens of nightclubs and bars nationwide, such as the Shark Club in Costa Mesa, Calif., Twilight in Tampa, and Spa in New York City. The scouts (i.e., mostly good-looking, provocatively dressed females trained to spot hotties) invite prospective contestants to ''Hot'' casting calls. ''We're not looking for whether you want to save the world; we're not looking for your deep, philosophical notions on politics,'' says Konstantini. ''We're trying to get down to the bare basics of what is hot -- and what is not -- to the American people.''
The show, which Fleiss says has no relation to the cult-hit website of a similar name, promises to be the realization of something we all do every day. ''Everybody evaluates everybody based on their hotness the minute they see them. When you walked up to me, you knew within one second whether or not you thought I was hot.'' (This reporter pleads the Fifth.)
Which brings us to the Robertson Boulevard sidewalk in Los Angeles, where nearly 300 would-be hotties are gathered on one unseasonably warm, sunny Saturday morning in January. Though it's barely 10 a.m., the people in line could pass for the velvet-rope contingent at Skybar. Toned midriffs, studiously tousled hair, ''I've never heard of skin cancer'' tans...and that's just the men. Their female counterparts sport tube tops, push-up bras, and the kind of low-rider jeans that make Brazilian bikini waxes a necessity.
Those attending this cattle call, one of 15 that have taken place in cities such as Dallas, Chicago, and Atlanta since December, practice selling themselves as they wait to meet casting directors inside celeb haunt Dorscia (formerly Moomba). ''My undaunting charm. My way with words. I don't know.... Girls say they really like my legs,'' says Hawk, 21, on his appeal. (The hulking blond's previous TV experience includes MTV's ''Tough Enough 2''.) Kay, a 28-year-old stand-up comic dressed in a white crochet top and skirt, says, ''I'm sexy. I just am. It's inherent. I love me -- if I didn't, I wouldn't be standing on this line.'' Adds student Ryan, 22 (a former Abercrombie & Fitch model): ''Hotness is pretty much physical. You're not gonna talk to some girl that's ugly. I don't usually date girls long enough to know their personalities anyway.'' That's fabulous, Ryan.
By noon, most of the contestants are ushered inside and brought in groups of seven to meet Konstantini and his fellow casting exec Luke Conklin, 26. The first four episodes of ''Hot'' will center on the juiciest bits of the audition process, with each episode representing one of the four ''Hot Zones'' in America. The temperature already seems to be rising as a production assistant gives one group a pep talk before it faces Konstantini and Conklin. ''You are about to enter the execution room,'' he yells. ''There are no second chances; this is your one chance to show the producers that you are HOT.... There are really no rules in there. When the producer asks you to show your stuff, you show your stuff. If you think your ass is hot, you show 'em your ass! They have seen thousands of people, and they are bored out of their minds. We need you guys to be HOT!''
And God love 'em, the Angelenos don't disappoint. One well-endowed woman declares, ''I don't think you have to take your clothes off to be hot'' before untying her black halter and revealing her buoyant, nipple-ringed breasts. A self-proclaimed ''small-town farm girl from Indiana'' straddles a fellow contestant and grinds atop him, waving her straw hat like a crazed cowgirl. A heavyset female with 38DDD boobies reveals she's wearing ''hot-pink, sexy, lace crotchless underwear.'' A bleached-blond exotic dancer named Boyd rips off his tear-away pants and executes a painful-looking split.
Those lucky enough to make the first cut -- about 50 were selected that afternoon, including Gisele (Go on with your bad self, girl! Apparently, sympathy for the ugly sells!) -- move to the one-on-one interview round to answer questions such as, What would you do with your life if you were ugly and weighed 400 pounds? Of those 50, about 10 will make it onto ABC's airwaves.
While waiting for the second round of interviews, the semifinalists bask in their hotness on Dorscia's patio: Nadisha, 26, was chosen over her identical twin sister (''I can only guess it's because she [flashed] her stomach, and I went for the chest''); Dave (we're only including his last name because we feel it's relevant) Pounder, 26, a professional porn star, shone by offering to have sex with a fellow contestant; and 26-year-old actor Tim says he has no problem being judged on superficial qualities.
'''American Idol' without the talent? I am that. I don't have talent.''
Oooh, honesty is soooo hot.