bid adieu to the fry buddy & the bald cult queen

preface: i wrote this recap straight from memory & i know i transposed events a little (by accident). sorry about that.

i’m going to do my best to recap “top model” every week, much as i did with cycle nine…though i kind of petered out in the middle of the cycle back then, thanks to crazy roommates leaving used hypodermic needles in the bathroom, necessitating an executive decision on my part to secretly move out one afternoon while everyone was at work/scoring drugs. now my only roommate is jared, & hopefully he will not develop a sudden IV drug problem that will derail my “top model” blogging plans. i may be stymied in a few weeks when ailecia cancels her cable subscription, but LB turned me on to some internet alternatives i can pursue for timely viewing while i was in chicago this past weekend.

incidentally, in my last recap, i mixed up alexandra (this cycle’s token plussie) & anslee. i said alexandra had gotten an unflattering gym teacher haircut. not so! anslee for the cut & color that looked so terrible on plus-sized burlesque dancer sarah from cycle eleven. i couldn’t remember which girl was which because they are both about as exciting as zines about discovering the diva cup, as far as i’m concerned (which is to say, not at all). but i watched the premiere again in chicago with LB, jared, & lucas, & LB immediately nicknamed anslee “methface,” because she has a face like she’s always fiending for meth. truefax. i’ll never confuse anslee & alexandra again!

this episode opens where we left off last time, with mr. jay wearing a plaid kilt, announcing the the first photo shoot will involve nudity. the wardrobe woman for this season (who gave me flashbacks to cycle three, when the wardrobe woman dressed plus-sized toccara in a bowling shirt & made her scream by stabbing her with a safety pin…good times) has provided thirteen accessories or items of clothing. each girl can choose one item & will otherwise be nekkid (save for some strategically placed nipple shields, if the unblurred photos available online are any indication). the girls race for the mannequin to claim the best clothing/accessories, & then depart for hair/make-up.

ren wore a spangled hat straight out of a jamiroquai video & did quite well (especially considering that she looks like lydia from “beetlejuice” after fifteen years of heroin addiction in every single interview shot). angelea wore fierce heels covered in fun fur & despite looking hella drag, she impressed mr. jay. i worried that alexandra & her ba-donk-a-donk would bring too much sexy to the shoot (because the subtext of these nude shoots is always “sell the garment/product & don’t get too men’s magazine”), but she did really well. she’s still boring though. tatianna struck a weird pose with a scarf covering all her naughty bits & legs wide open to camera, & jay said nothing. i guess it’s cool because the scarf was basically a glorified muumuu? she is like a weird hybrid of cycle eleven’s thalia (horrors) & cycle’s one’s adrianne (yay!). ergo, she will never ever win in a million years. brenda is wearing a bobbed wig that kind of works for her. jessica is astonishingly relaxed & natural in front of the camera, even if she does look not unlike a concentration camp survivor. eat a sandwich, woman!

then we have the problem children: krista kind of sucks. her skin really is gorgeous, but she’s wearing nine pounds of pitch-black eyeshadow & can’t pierce through it. plus they have her in a goofy mushroom cap wig, & her clothing item is a dress that she’s not actually allowed to wear, so she’s holding it against her body like she’s eyeballing the fit in the middle of TJ maxx or something. & she keeps trying to do “dynamic” shots where she ends up pointing the dress away from the camera. it’s a mess.

gabrielle is sporting glittery white leggings & could not look more uncomfortable is she were locked in a basement being photographed by dov charney himself. she’s all hunched & wounded-looking, & jay can’t seem to get her to look more like a model & less like a victim of sex trafficking. it’s seriously painful to watch her crash & burn (especially because she was on my fafarazzi fantasy team–damn it, gabrielle!).

& then we have alasia, who seems to have no comprehension of what is happening while she is being photographed. at one point, she sits on the prop block & leans forward & her belly is totally pooched out. i have no room to talk about belly pooching, but i’m also not a model! has it never occurred to her before that perhaps if she’s being photographed, she should suck it in a little when she sits down? not to mention, she is wearing her vest backwards! i’m sure she gets more boob coverage that way, but it’s seriously like she’s on crack or something. like she just stumbled in off the street & is crashing the shoot. maybe she’s a performance artist sent by andre leon talley to subvert the entire concept of “top model”? okay, that’s my new working theory.

back at the house, ren becomes increasingly aggravated by the antics of the other girls in the house. she confessionalizes that she can’t handle all the fighting & screaming, & that she had “no drama” in her life before coming on the show. how is that possible for a 22-year-old? she is especially annoyed by alasia, who seems to be unable to comprehend the idea of an “inside voice”. in the kitchen, alasia is screaming over something or another, & ren very mildly says, “shut the fuck up.” it’s almost like she didn’t mean to say it & it just slipped out due to pure aggravation. alasia FREAKS THE FUCK OUT. if we thought she was loud before, we had no idea. she starts SCREAMING at ren, “you can’t talk to me like that! how dare you talk to me like that!” etc etc. pretty standard reality TV fare, but with the intensity turned up to eleven, & not in an awesome “spinal tap” way. ren just kind of stands there silently while alasia throws a wooden spoon at her & says, “i know where you sleep!” it’s like ren has been overcome by a tsunami…a tsunami of DRAMA. finally alasia flounces off & we cut to ren confessionalizing that she is “way too intelligent to be in this house”.

look. maybe ren is intelligent. (though i question the intelligence of an aspiring model who gets tattoos–& i say that as a heavily-tattooed woman.) at the very least, perhaps she is more intelligent than most of the other women in the house. but it’s patently UNintelligent to make a comment like that in front of a camera, or in any other capacity where it will be recorded. because it just seems smug & self-satisfied & it lacks class. i like ren a hell of a lot more than i like alasia (which actually isn’t saying much), but they both lost this battle royale.

& this is getting really long, but i also have to say: after alasia leaves, ren stays in the kitchen & tells some of the other girls about what transpired with all of alasia’s screaming & spoon-throwing. she acts above it all, like she just can’t believe what a useless drama queen alasia is (can’t say i disagree). but then we cut to confessional, where she’s crying & talking about how much she wants to go home because of all the fighting & drama. which is it, ren? are you too mature to be ruffled by alasia’s spoon missiles, or are you going to be reduced to tears & play the victim? i think this is really just a classic case of ren being a typical 22-year-old who isn’t that self-aware & is trying to project more toughness, self-confidence, & independence than she has. but it still grates.

judging! & the introduction of andre leon talley! i was pretty excited for this, since ALT is actually relevant to the fashion industry. the judges like ren’s shot. they praise angelea’s shot & tyra says she’d rip out the photo if she saw it in a magazine & go buy the shoes, leading someone i was watching with (aylssa? jared? ailecia?) to remark, “who has so much money that they can just look at a magazine & say, ‘i’m going to buy those shoes’?”. a good point. ALT says that raina looks like a courtesan. tyra has to define the word for her, but raina is pleased. ALT tells anslee that she has given the viewer a “telescopic view into her nether regions”. she has allowed the camera to be her gynecologist. this is so much better than ms. jay making bird noises, i swear.

but it all comes crashing down with alasia’s photo, in which she is wearing her vest backwards, standing with her back facing the camera, looking over her shoulder, feet planted firmly on the ground, with one arm dangling in such a way as to obscure her ass crack. nigel, tyra, & sally hershberger (guest judge & hair stylist for the makeovers) recoil in horror. they vocally decry the hideousness of the photo & drive alasia to tears, & then ALT toys with my emotions by waxing philosophical about how he finds the photo quite beautiful & would frame it in his home. “what room would you put it in?” tyra asks, looking like she is seriously considering running his contract through the shredder when she gets home. “i would hang it in my salon,” ALT declares with a fanciful french accent on “salon”. he goes on to explain that his guests would admire the photo while they discussed books & politics. alasia weeps with gratitude, even though he seems to be saying that he perceives of the photo as a kind of museum quality curiosity or something. it’s all very weird, & tyra & nigel are making completely transparent WTF faces in ALT’s direction & openly laughing at him.

the judges lose their minds over jessica’s photo though–in a good way. though, standing in front of them at judging, they dislike her floofy tutu skirt & force her to strip down to her bodysuit & black tights (which are bagging a bit in the crotch). they say it’s more “model” this way. i’d love to see one of the girls go on go-sees basically dressed like liza minelli in “cabaret”. make it happen! they like brenda’s photo too, even though you can count her ribs & practically see the outlines of her internal organs, she’s so thin. but poor gabrielle–her sad leggings photo is met by a wall of disapproving silence. i knew then she didn’t stand a chance. rich from fourfour said that her hair looks like a fry buddy. goodbye, fry buddy. you were surprisingly terrible at modeling. alasia stood (wept) in the bottom two with gabrielle, & tyra acknowledges that she was saved only by the insanity of the decor scheme in ALT’s salon.

next up: the girls meet up with ms. jay for a runway teach. can i just say that i am SO RELIEVED that ms. jay is no longer a judge? but i do think he’s a good runway teacher…i mean, as good as you can be at a job that is pretty much completely imaginary. he has the girls walk for him & a few of them are busted. ren seriously looks like her legs are broken or something. it hurt my eyes. but no one is completely hopeless. he then sends them outside to cross a huge new york city street while he watches from the window using binoculars. maybe it’s best that gabrielle left. this has such a weird then again, maybe i won’t/peeping tom aspect to it, i’m not sure she’d be able to deal. can i just say, jessica NAILS the walk? she turns everyone’s head. maybe she’ll win this whole damn thing! simone is stunning as well–she’s my favorite right now, even though she needs to bring a little more personality to photos.

not so stunning is naduah, professor of pathological lying at the fake accent university, cancun campus. she’s wearing these weird ankle boots with a puff of white fur at the top & a tight red spaghetti strap tank with a sweetheart neckline. basically, she’s dressed like slutty mrs. claus. WTF? ms. jay is having the girls take off their jackets while they cross the street, so naduah has to flash her mrs. claus costume at everyone. there’s a man on the street interview portion featuring passersby, & one of them says that, “these girls need to put on some clothes!” usually sex negativity like this bothers me, but naduah? put on some clothes. she doesn’t even have hair to wrap around herself in the style of a sexy slanket.

also not stunning is crazy alasia, who is once again acting like a crazy performance artist sent to disrupt taping. ms. jay told the girls to unbutton their jackets from the bottom up to facilitate more graceful removal, so of course alasia stumbles across the street, forgets to remove her jacket at all until the last second, & then pauses to unbutton from the top. is she high? i kind of hoped she’d get hit by a car, but…no luck.

back in the house, naduah brags to the other girls about how she’s walked in four “international fashion weeks” (in cancun? that’s about as prestigious as walking in toledo fashion week). apparently she is married & she & her husband take sexy photos together a lot. she was living on the street at one point & “playboy” asked her to do a shoot for them & she said no because she has principles. raina asks why naduah would refuse a paying gig if she’s living on the street & naduah doesn’t have a coherent answer. then she starts talking about being in a cult again & having eight brothers & sisters. first of all, i think naduah got into alasia’s stash. second of all, i’m starting to think that this is the revenge of mallory pike. can’t you just see mallory growing up, shaving off her hair, moving to cancun, faking some crazy accent, taking sexy photos with her husband, & bragging about being too principled for “playboy”…for the cameras at “america’s next top model”? (yeah, i know mallory only had seven brothers & sisters, but i have a hunch that john pike may have had something to do with marnie barrett’s paternity. now we know why ol’ ham sr. split the scene.)

volunteer mortician tatianna has ZERO TIME for naduah & dismisses her as a pathological liar. suddenly, i am loving tatianna.

challenge time! the ladies meet with ms. jay & fashion designer rachel roy. nice! a real designer that anyone has ever actually heard of. the girls will be walking an ersatz show wearing rachel roy designs in some kind of weird bank. they have to walk down a huge marble staircase & then navigate a runway that is bisected by two huge swinging pendulums. i like where this is going! i hope someone jumps on to a pendulum & goes for a ride! the whole point of this exercise is to bring timing & good pacing to the runway. & to also not lose your model cool if you get conked by a pendulum.

simone is first & she is immediately whacked with a pendulum. i laughed, but was disappointed that it appeared that the pendulums are not that big a deal. i imagine that they were like 600 pounds each & would knock a girl right off her feet. but simone barely even wobbled. a bunch of other ladies also get bumped by the pendulums coming or going. a couple of them make it through unscathed–most notably brenda, who looks gorgeous in her gown.

& then alexandra comes out. first, she wipes out a third of the way down the staircase. she skids all the way down on her shins & rips her dress. she is totally ruffled, but she gets up & keeps walking, even though she’s got some serious bitchface going. she makes it to the end of the runway without incident, but is steamrolled by a pendulum on the way back. it hilariously seems to nudge her off the runway in slow-motion. she clambers back on & keeps walking. oh, how we laughed. & then rewound the TiVo & laughed some more. the only thing that would have been better is if the runway had been surrounded by a moat, so that alexandra would have fallen into a gross swampy moat, perhaps filled with crocodiles. oh well. you can’t win ’em all.

brenda wins the challenge & gets to keep her dress. because jessica got first call-out at panel, she is also allowed to keep her dress…which is unfortunately some kind of unflattering blazer situation. but whatever. she can wear it to PTA meetings back in arkansas if this modeling thing doesn’t work out. she is pleased.

time for the second photo shoot. it’s a weird, gross one. the girls meet mr. jay on a rooftop in brooklyn. it’s clearly a gray, blustery, chilly day. he says they will be modeling a new fragrance that goes on purple & gradually disappears as it dries on your skin. um…why is this a desirable feature in a perfume in any world? the photo will be a close-in beauty shot where the girls will spritz their necks with the perfume & pose while they are being hammered with faux rain & a wind machine–the classic “fight the elements” shoot.

very few of the girls manage to pull this off. it seems like none of them were prepared for how uncomfortable they would be, being wet & fanned in the col while wearing guaze & dripping with gross purple perfume. ren looks like she’s about twenty seconds away from jumping off the roof–she looks completely miserable. krista’s skin is like buttah, but she is really struggling to connect with the camera. she keeps squinting against the rain & wind. alasia once again seems unaware that she should actually look in the direction of the camera during her shoot. i’d love it if a lightning bolt struck her down. naduah annoys the other girls during hair & make-up by dusting her bald pate in dark powder & strutting around with no pants on. she seems to have some big ideas for her shoot, but all of them involve leaving her mouth hanging open, & her lip is trembling in the cold & she looks terrible. angelea looks like a dead cat recently fished out of the hudson–in other words, HORRIFIC.

the judges are generally underwhelmed at panel. jessica’s shot was a huge letdown after her great nude shoot. naduah showed up at panel looking approximately 57 years old with all the powder & product & drawn-on eyebrows obscuring her face. tyra actually wet a cloth & made her scrub her make-up off. anslee made excellent use of her big square jaw (seriously, she did), while brenda was victimized by side lighting & looked like someone’s grandma. krista’s skin was breathtaking, even is krista herself is kind of not-so-pretty. simone was a little dull, but so beautiful. raina’s shot was GAW-JUSS–she was the only one who really nailed her picture. she got first call-out, while ren & naduah landed in the bottom two. i kind of expected ren to self-eliminate after all her crying over house drama, or i expected the judges to cut her for whining at panel about how the rain & wind hurt her contacts. but they surprised me by giving naduah the boot, claiming that she had an edgy look but was only bringing safe, boring, unoriginal poses to her shoots. i was not unhappy to see naduah go. maybe she’ll give “playboy” a call & pitch the slutty mrs. claus idea.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

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