Even America’s Next Top Model knows that The Amazing Race is the best fucking reality competition program on television, and you should all tune in to see hunky Phil Koeghan tell you about the world while forcing teams of two to complete totally weird and random tasks that marginally teach both the racers and viewers about the cultures of the countries they’re visiting. Actually, I totally wish Tyra could have gotten Phil to pop up to announce ANTM‘s very, very easy version of TAR. Phil knows a lot about fashion. Here, listen to him talk about how much he loves Russian boots (complete with techno soundtrack!).
So after boarding that ANTM standard aircraft with the models’ heads photoshopped into the windows, the girls arrived in Brazil and were greeted by Fernanda Motta, host of Brazil’s Next Top Model, who would later appear on judging panel and prompt Tyra to proclaim that a version of ANTM appears in over 120 countries. When she said that, I expected one of the modelettes to pipe up, wide-eyed (but not as wide-eyed as the Lemur) and say, “Really, Tyra? I didn’t even know there were that many countries in the world!” Because that’s generally the kind of idiocy exhibited on Top Model. And, hell, with the way Natalie was acting in this episode, I am now completely shocked that such a statement didn’t come out of her mouth. But I’ll get to that later!
First, Fernanda told the girls about the origin of that ubiquitous piece of MuZak “The Girl from Ipanema,” heard in elevators and piano lounges across the land. It’s based on a real person, model Helo Pinhiero, and if the girls completed their shoddy version of TAR, they would meet the legend that inspired the song. Lemur did not disappoint me at all when she expressed her disbelief that she would meet someone who inspired a famous song, because that’s as close to actual fame as she’ll ever come. Other than Tyra, of course.
Fernanda told the girls to pair up, sent them to their cabs and made them race to a flower shop to find Helo’s favorite flower, which just so happens to be the Bird of Paradise. They then raced to a park where, once all of the teams arrived, a band broke out into an appropriately MuZak-y rendition of “The Girl from Ipanema” and Helo descended the staircase in some strange, swishy white terrycloth pants, dancing to her song – all to tell the girls in her delightfully Charo-esque accent that the song was inspired by the way she move her hips like zees and to give them the keys to their new home in Sao Paulo! Not like it really matters, but Fo and Natalie technically won the race because they delivered Helo’s flowers first, which won them the strangest prize I have ever seen: baskets of Swarovski crystal-encrusted Havania flip flips.
Look, I realize that ANTM apparently doesn’t have a budget this year, what with their sad confetti celebration last week where they couldn’t even afford a costume for that poor nude male model, and that whatever budget they did have went to getting a new ANTM travel map graphic for the photoshopped plane sequence (to make it look slightly more TAR-ish), but giving someone a basket of $30 and under shoes, “classed up” with garish bedazzling just to make them more expensive is not a prize. The phrase “polishing a turd” comes to mind. They’re in fucking Brazil, home of amazing shoe designers – why not throw some limited edition Gabrielle Rocha their way? Ah, because that would be a real prize, not at all befitting a totally perfunctory competition such as the Amazing Model Race.
Natalie expects their new house and spends most her time complaining that they don’t have a pool. Aminat then complains about her, because Aminat is a hater, but it turns out that pretty much no one likes Natalie, which is fine by me. The first Correlo de Tyra arrives, reading: “Fight or flight? You better give me both.” And the girls are ferried off to the location of their teach/challenge involving the Brazilian martial art of capoiera, a word I had been trying to think of since I saw the preview last week where Celia kicked Aminat in her hater head. Thank you, Top Model, for solving this mystery for me. I park near someone at BART that has a “capoierista” sticker on her car, and I have been wondering what that is for the longest time. Now I know to never fuck up that girl’s car, because she will kick me in the head just like Celia did to Aminat. Clearly, I find that action so amusing that I could watch it over and over and over again.
After the girls learned a few moves, they were taken to meet the Js and photographer Paschoal Rodriguez, who asked them to utilize the fighting skills they had just learned in their modeling. The winner of this challenge would receive 50% more frames in their next photo shoot . . . frames that would be stolen from another girl. Teyona kind of forgot there was a camera that she was supposed to model for and delivered a photo in which she actually looked like a turtle. Celia looked like she was doing well in the shoot, but blocked her face in every shot. Fo and Allison looked the most model-fighter in their shots, while Natalie basically did the can-can. Amina looked tough, but, unfortunately, can’t make a good face in a photo to save her life. Thus, Fo was awarded the win, and, in retribution for not being chosen for the Seventeen shoot last week, stole half of Teyona’s frames for their upcoming shoot, thus officially driving a deep rift between the two girls.
Corrello de Tyra Numero Dos appeared and informed the girls that “tomorrow, you will enjoy the fruits of your labor.” And that very next day they were taken to a favela, a poor neighborhood in Sao Paulo where they would inexplicably dress like Carmen Miranda and try to embody her in a fashionable way in the shoot. Natalie got all uppity about being in Brazil’s version of the ghetto, which made me want to punch the bitch in the face. When you are lucky enough to be able to shoot on location, you do not complain about what that location is. You work there, do your job, and go sleep in your comfortable hotel room at night. Furthermore, this favela was nowhere near as impoverished as any neighborhood visited on The Amazing Race. Every year, the racers end up in some off the grid part of India or somewhere in Africa where children play in mounds of trash and families live in shelters made of found materials. This favela was nothing like that. In fact, I’d say it was cleaner and nicer-looking than some low-income neighborhoods in the Bay Area. Racers on TAR are always moved by poverty, and it either makes them grateful for everything they have, or deeply sad that they’re around people who have nothing. Celia expressed that she felt this way, but not Natalie. All that girl could see was that the neighborhood she was in wasn’t nearly as nice as her cozy home of Palos Verdes, California.
Natalie’s complaints aside, I myself don’t really understand why the girls were dressing as Carmen Miranda in a favela. First of all, Carmen Miranda was born in Portugal and emigrated to Rio, not Sao Paulo. Secondly, I can’t find anything that indicates she grew up in poverty. Her dad owned a barber shop, which to me would indicate that they were pretty securely middle class. In short, this shoot didn’t really make any sense, but it looked pretty, and that’s the whole point, right?
Tyra stole two babies and a pineapple this week for her Guide to Finding Your Inner Fierceness commercial for nothing, and she rambled something to these adorable babies about pursuing your dreams and, when you do, your dreams will bear fierce fruit. So . . . like . . . a cherymoya? Or a durian? Those fruits are pretty fierce, and I definitely do not want my dreams or any other part of myself to bear them. I really think Tyra is rapidly advancing toward a point of complete deconstruction as each week she shows me signs of language breaking down. This show is turning into a David Lynch movie. Next week, I bet those tiny kidnapped babies will be dancing the samba across Tyra’s screaming, crying Naomi Watts-esque visage to a swing track about inner fierceness. Just you wait. It’s going to happen.
In other news, the Brazilian judging room hurts my eyes because it’s so goddamn bright, and I think I went completely blind in my right eye when Miss J’s plaid bowtie entered the frame. On to judgment!
- Aminat: Paulina complimented her on how luscious her skin looked this week, which she said was because she got some sun, which prompted Tyra to immediately get into mommy mode and warn her against getting too much sun. Aminat interpreted this as Tyra saying that she didn’t want the girl to get any more chocolatey, but Tyra told her it was for her health. I’m glad Tyra cares about skin cancer, which is exactly why she should have me on the damn show! Or at least on The Tyra Show. I’d go on that, especially if I were sharing my airtime with a segment involving trannies. Anyway, Aminat’s picture was declared just okay because she was doing Black Girl Model Pose 101. She continued her stank-ass attitude, though, telling Tyra and the judges that she was doing more during the shoot than what she actually did, at which point Tyra rolled her eyes and Paulina informed her that she is beautiful, but boring.
- Natalie: Totally blasé photograph in which she looks exhausted. Fernanda tells her she’s missing her spark, and Natalie proceeds to blame her bad photograph on Mr. Jay’s direction. This is a lie, because Mr. Jay actually knows what he’s doing, and Natalie does not.
- Celia: Tragically, Celia’s photo was really flat this week. Her body looked great, but her face didn’t.
- Lemur Allison: The Lemur totally and completely rocked this shoot. She was cute, fun, sexy and sassy. She embodied Carmen Miranda without being too literal and gave good face.
- Fo: Mr. Jay’s take from the shoot was, “It was Carmen Miranda. On crack. As a drag queen.” Nigel’s opinion, on the other hand, was, “Very cute, but it’s as if someone’s done a remake of a Carmen Miranda film.” Either way, that means it’s an actressy photo, not a modely one. And that’s not great.
- Teyona: Tyra hates the nightie she wore to panel, but thinks she looked sassy in her shot. It’s not very Carmen Miranda, but it is editorial. Tyra then reminded everyone that Teyona had 25 fewer frames than everyone else and delivered this great of a shot, which was impressive. Not impressive? That Tyra actually said Teyona had 25 less frames, further contributing to English speakers’ general confusion between fewer and less, and making me roll my eyes.
Callouts! Lemur, Teyona, Fo and Celia, leaving my two least favorite models in the bottom two. Stank-ass Aminat was given one more chance, although I’m not sure why, and Natalie was sent home, which is fine, because she’s a horrible person and a horrible model. She may have great legs, but I think she should look into a career as a porn star, because she constantly looks like she’s on coke already, so it really wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for her.
My wife told me I should write the following, as it relates to modeling shows on television, despite the fact that it has nothing to do with ANTM.
Two nights ago, I couldn’t get to sleep, so I rummaged through Comcast’s OnDemand function to grab some short three-minute segments. The best are usually provided by either MTV (they have a collection of Jackass short features, for instance) or G4, a channel designed for that ADD-ridden guy with a lisp and a penchant for anime who works a few cubicles down from you. I chose “Cutting Edge,” then “G4,” then chose the “Gears & Girls” section, because I thought hey, since I’m going to sleep soon, it might be a good idea to ogle some PG-13 bikini-clad women so I could have good dreams…uhm…of my wife! (Yeah…that’s the ticket!)
The three-minute feature was called “Superbabes” or something, which was pretty much just that week’s top 10 internet “hotties.” (Disappointingly, only one of them was actually dressed like a superhero.) When the countdown got to #3, I did a double-take. Why, it’s my beloved Lucia Dvorska.
Who is this gorgeous Slovak model? She was a contestant on the stellar TLC series A Model Life with Petra Nemcova, an eight-episode series that aired its final episode almost two years ago at the end of August, 2007. In it, Czech supermodel Petra Nemcova took six various models from around the world and put them through a bout of fashion model training. There was no competition, so technically, as my wife pointed out, there were no “winners,” but three got to do a final shoot in the Bahamas, and another (Angelika, obnoxiously pronounced with the emphasis on the “lik”) definitely ended up as the sole “loser” and was not allowed the final prize given to all the other models – representation by NEXT Modeling – because of her piss-poor attitude, her fighting with the judges and her complete hatred for the modeling industry.
Five of the girls were damn good in various ways, but Lucia, especially, was not only drop-dead gorgeous but seemingly a delight to work with. Despite some competition, especially from Beatrice (the Brazilian minor who was waaaay too young to look so sexy), Lucia was the obvious stand-out, even if some of the judges worried about her weight. (As usual, she didn’t really have weight problem…at all…but looked like an actual woman.)
The next day, I went through the IMDB page of A Model Life, chased a couple links, and found that not only was Lucia now represented by Elite, she was actually in the very Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition that was sitting on my coffee table. (I don’t read SI, and I haven’t really perused the issue, but my wife certainly has.) Lo and behold, there’s that beauty, nearly two years later, from a TLC show that nobody seemed to have watched, doing better than almost every single contestants on ANTM, completely rocking one of America’s most well-known photo shoots. And her online gallery is even better.
(This is where my wife will post a pretty ridiculous picture of Lucia with some wildlife, so I hope she can also find the “other” picture that we can both agree on. She knows which one I’m talking about.)
Success can come from modeling television shows, and it doesn’t even have to be from a buzzed-about Tyra product. Being a good model, listening to critique, having a good onset demeanor and being an all-around good person does pay off, so let that be a lesson to, say, ANTM’s Sandra or Natalie, who did nothing but hate and bicker. Despite what Janice Dickenson may seem to promote, being a cruel soul can only take you so far. And now, the pleasant Slovak girl, described as a “newcomer” by G4, is the envy of many.
Suck on that, CW.