This may seem blasphemous to say, but there is a better modeling competition than ANTM. And I say “better” here in the sense that its more serious and pulls out the big guns, rather than making deals with commercial companies while all the while spouting out reminders that they’re looking for a versatile, high fashion model when they really are just looking for a CoverGirl. I like ANTM, nay, I adore ANTM, but Make Me a Supermodel freakin’ blows Tyra out of the water when it comes to serious, serious modeling.
My Bravo-watching friends and I were so blown away by the first season of Make Me a Supermodel that we tried to recreate the snow shoot on our own during a weekend in Tahoe where I wore orange ski pants and drank more than I have since college. We loved squirrel-shooting Holly, the West Virginia country girl with a passion for fashion, and the bromance between prison guard Ben and Perry Ellis-style model Ronnie, the former a staunchly heterosexual man working in a world that fears homosexuality and the latter a very openly gay man. We watched Ben overcome his anti-gay indoctrination and learn to love a gay man, and we were totally transfixed when news hit that contestant Perry’s girlfriend was seen palling around with Britney Spears’ ex, Adnan Galib. This show was stellar, and it still is.
This season, Nikki Taylor was replaced by Nicole Trufino for this season, and she and host Tyson Beckford took on the capacity of Tim Gunn-esque modeling mentors for the models, rather than placing themselves on the judging panel, which has been completely revamped to include model-maker Marlon, photographer Perou, the always fabulous Jenny Shumizu and designer Catherine Malandrino. It’s. Fucking. Fabulous.
For their very first challenge, the chosen models were thrown together in pairs into a plexiglass box, suspended above NY harbor. To make their introductions to their castmates even more awkward, they were asked to pose in sexy lingerie and capture an intimate moment while in that very visible box of doom while Perou shot them and called out directions on a megaphone. Amanda, a mom from Portland, paired of with Kerryn, aka “the white Karen.” Salome, the former Mennonite, paired off with sullen Gabriel. Brazilian-by-way-of-Pakistan Mountaha paired off with Trinidadian dancer Sandhurst, who has one of the loveliest accents ever to be heard on TV. Laury paired off with English Jonathan, with the black Karen paired off with gaysian Shawn. Super cute girl Jordan paired off with CJ from San Ramon, which is all kinds of near where I live. Ken, who is like a Ken doll, paired off with geeky Colin, who bears a very striking resemblance to actor John Francis Daley. This left macho dickmeat Branden to pair off with androgynous Chris, whom I shall refer to solely as Orlando because he sometimes looks like Tilda Swinton. (I recommend you see Sally Potter’s adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s excellent Orlando if you don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.)
Immediately, I took a disliking to Branden who was uneasy about being paired with Orlando because he is, and I quote, “especially not gay.” He expressed a great amount of discomfort about having to pose with another man, let someone mistake him as gay. Branden, darling, I have news for you. You’re a male model. You’re going to meet and work with a lot of gay men. And people will assume things about your sexuality (which I entirely disagree with) simply because of your profession. And you will have to deal with it. And if you can’t deal with it, then you shouldn’t be in this profession. Or any profession, really. Because the gays are everywhere, Branden. They’re everywhere.
Perou seemed largely unimpressed with the Ken/Colin pairing, as well as the Amanda/Kerryn pairing. After the shoot, Nicole brought the models their books so they could see their photos, and told the models that each photoshoot would have one winner, and that winner would be awarded a coveted go-see. Cory Bautista then called to tell Salome that she had won, and that she could get a go-see at Catherine Malandrino’s store. She was able to take a friend, and Salome unwisely announced that she wanted to pick someone she might be able to win against. She chose CJ, who was none-too-happy at being told, basically, that Salome thought she was a loser. Honestly, I just don’t think former Mennonite Salome has much of a thought-filter. She seems like the kind of person who just hasn’t yet learned how to navigate the social conventions of the real world, so she has no idea that it’s inappropriate and kind of mean to say, outright, that she thinks she can best someone. It didn’t really matter, anyway, though, because neither girl booked a job from that go-see. CJ was too short, and Salome just couldn’t walk it out well enough.
For the first runway show, the models were asked to walk in clothes by Alexander McQueen and Prada (for the gents), as well as Zac Posen and Jean Franco Ferren (for the ladies). After which, Colin, Chris, Salome, Jordan, Ken and Sandhurst were called in for judging as the best and the worst of the week. Catherine Malandrino really dislikes Ken and points out that he’s not quite the right size or shape for male modeling. She isn’t fond of Colin, either, but describes him as interesting because he looks like a dreamer. She’s French, so I can’t tell if that was a compliment or not. Perou also dislike Ken and calls him The Incredible Hulk, which is the opposite of what you want to be when you’re a male model. They gave the win this week, plus immunity next week, to Jordan, who walked the runway well in a difficult dress, and gave Ken the boot.
In the next episode, the models were asked to do a candy-themed photoshoot with Suza Scolora where the make-up artists went totally nuts. Everyone on set was basically naked except for some little nudie panties. The girls got some petals to put over their nips, but other than oodles of glitter, candy and body paint, they didn’t really have anything on at all. This was a cute for Branden to not only be a homophobe, but a completely unprofessional chauvinist, as well. And while I appreciate that he used the term “boobie wow wows” to describe CJ’s breasts, if he’s going to be in the modeling industry, he needs to start treating nudity like it’s no big thing and stop fucking staring so lustfully at his colleagues. Sandhurst gets it; he admitted that it takes quite a lot of concentration to not get excited on the set. And it does, but that’s what you do because it’s your fucking job. This shoot, by the way, was much classier than the candy shoot from ANTM Cycle 8, although I wonder why this shoot didn’t go the ANTM route and give each model a different candy to embody. Instead, there were two folks posing as chocolate, a handful of pixie stix, two lollipops, etc. Surely, there were more candies available, weren’t there?
Gabriel, Salome and Mountaha all posed as pixie stix, and the girls definitely did a better job than Gabriel did, who managed to do the most sullen impersonation of Ziggy Stardust imaginable, looking completely unhappy to be covered in orange body glitter and a messy orange anime wig. Come on, dude! Why wouldn’t you be happy to be covered in orange body glitter? It’s like coming home from prom!
Chris/Orlando and Kerryn had to become “sprinkles,” which I argue is not a candy, but an ice cream topping. Both of them looked a litlte too much like the cover of James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, but Orlando definitely looked like Tilda Swinton in his shot and that was kind of fabulous.
Laury and Shawn became rock candy, which was weird, to say the least. The makeup here did look like rock candy, but it also looked like they had severe psoriasis and their skin was slowly peeling off.
Karen and Colin had to pose as chocolate, and while Karen totally made herself a hot chocolate goddess, Colin mostly looked like he’d been murdered in a black and white film and then covered in tin foil. Seriously, chocolate dripping out of his mouth looked like blood. I was worried for his safety.
Sandhurst and CJ became gumballs in the first shoot that had very different styling for its male and female participants. Sandhurst was painted with little gumballs all over his chest, and posed so gracefully with a gumball wedged between each finger. CJ had her hair transformed into a ponytail held together by giant blue balls, which was cool and reminded me of a science project. She looked very uncomfortable, though.
Amanda and Jonathan became lollipops and I think the makeup department did its worst job here. Amanda looked like she had been painted by a six-year-old girl with a My Little Pony fetish, and Jonathan, for some reason, only had lollipop stripes down his arms. He, too, looked somewhat equine, as they styled his hair like a mane. Surely there was a better way to be a lollipop than what the makeup folks came up with here, right?
Branden and Jordan got the best makeup of the night when they were transformed into candy canes. Outside of the photo, this makeup was extremely creepy, but both of their photos turned out amazingly.
Jordan was awarded the winner of this photoshoot and got a go-see at Miss Sixty. She decided to bring Moutaha with her, but neither model booked the job. Mountaha was considered too edgy for the brand, and the reps from Miss Sixty did not care one bit for Jordan’s giant hips. In the first episode, the show continued its tradition of making the models strip so Cory could measure them and keep track of their weight, as well as given them areas in which to improve. They noted things like Salome’s fat ass, Mountaha’s strangely un-Brazilian body and Colin and Orlando’s exceptionally small chests. (Male models should be 40″ in the chest. They were 36″ and 37″, respectively.) But I was surprised then that they didn’t note at all how huge Jordan’s hips are in comparison to the rest of her. I mean, I would guess that she’s like me: a 0/2 on top, and a 6/8 on the bottom. She takes a fierce picture, but I’m incredibly shocked that the discrepancy in her size hasn’t been a problem on the runway thus far. Those hips, though, lost her that Miss Sixty job. Someone’s got to notice that.
Then it was makeover time, and I was so happy to get two makeover episodes in one night! Tabatha from Shear Genius and Tabatha’s Salon Takeover dropped by to assess the model’s looks and assign them new, edgy New Zealand Cat Lady approved hair cuts. CJ started being a total bitch about her hair and how she doesn’t want it cut or colored because she has “natural” blonde hair and people would kill to achieve what she has. CJ, I’ma call you on your shit, girl. You have highlights. You have a multi-tonal blonde that is a mixture of natural and salon. And frankly, her reluctance to give up that blondeness just smacks of San Ramon, a wealthy community filled with blonde trophy wives. That’s nice work if you can get it, CJ, but you’re a model now. Suck. It. Up.
Tabatha took the models to a salon run by fellow Kiwi Rodney Cutler. For a second, I thought we were entering Flight of the Conchords‘ “New Zealand Town.” Some drastic changes were made to the models’ hair. Chiefly, Jonathan had his long hair cut off into a short cut that makes him look sexy in a Jude Law-ish way, Mountaha got bleached out like Tabatha and Tabatha herself chopped CJ’s hair into a really cute razored cut dyed chocolate brown. CJ hated it.
For the catwalk challenge, Tyson and Nicole asked the models to walk in pairs assigned according to height and look. Branden walked with Sandhurst, Shawn with CJ, Jonathan with Karen, Salome with Colin, Mountaha with Chris, Jordan with Amanda (whom she hates, apparently), and Gabriel with Laury, leaving Kerryn to walk alone. How sad for her. They kept up the candy theme by giving the models eye-popping sportswear and sports equipment made out of candy as props. The best bit of this show was in Mountaha and Jonathan’s end pose, where he swung his licorice whips like a golf club and she mimed watching the ball during his follow-through. Very clever.
Colin, Gabriel, CJ, Jonathan, Jordan, Chris and Branden were called out as the best and the worst of the week. None of the judges are happy with Gabriel at all. They hated his dour photograph and blasted his runway pout. Nicole gets angry with CJ for acting like she doesn’t give a shit, yawning on the runway and whatnot. She calls her a tasteless version of Kate Moss. In the end, Branden wins immunity for next week and, unfairly, they send Orlando home. I blame Catherine Malandrino for this entirely, because she was the most vocal about disliking Chris, when everyone else seemed so set to prevent Gabriel from becoming a supermodel.
My wife basically took my spiel, that Make Me a Supermodel is a great show because it’s actually about talented professionals honing their craft, while ANTM is about molding amateurs into Tyra-bots. Which is fine, don’t get me wrong. ANTM is still my favorite reality show on television because, I reiterate, I have never once been bored for one minute with the crazy Tyra-verse, but sometimes I like to see stuff about the actual industry.
You know a good comparison for the discrepancy between MMAS and ANTM? MMAS is a bitchier Top Chef, and ANTM is less bitchy Hell’s Kitchen. I think that’s pretty fair, no?
I also sorely miss A Model Life with Petra Nemcova, an eight-episode series from 2007 that followed the titular person leading a handful of struggling female models in the industry not as a competition, but basically as a cable television documentary. There were no eliminations – although that one chick (Angelika?) got straight-up fired by the end of the season – and it didn’t pit all the models against each other, as they were different types for different kinds of fashion.
Basically, if a show is good, I will watch it. But while I may get more pure entertainment out of ANTM, I actually learn stuff from watching MMAS.
And what did I learn this week? Big hips may be sexy to me, but designers no likey. (Wife’s Note: Damn straight they sexy!)