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Friday, May 26, 2006

America's Next Top Model Series Six #8

I laughed. I cried. I hissed. I gagged. I rinsed. I spat.
Welcome to what we'll call, physically and emotionally, the Root Canal Episode.

After last week's elimination, Joanie is feelin' good, doin' well, and talkin' crooked. Throughout her life, her gammy tooth has shamed her into speaking out of one side of her mouth (like Popeye), and smiling by squinting and grimacing (like someone who's eaten a teaspoonful of salt and stepped on a thumbtack at the same time). Nnenna, in a shock move akin to breathing in and out, is on the phone to her boyfriend, and when she's off the phone, she talks about being on the phone to her boyfriend, and how it might affect her focus. It's affected mine - I'm so bored by the whole Nnenna/John saga, I've taken to staring at a dot on the wall.

The modules are carted off in their special ANTM Black Thunders, and arrive at an advertising and design studio, where they meet a photographer and Deprise the Creative Director. The girls have individual challenge interviews with Deprise, a b*tch in a blouse, who unbeknownst to them is really an actress paid to rip them to shreds, destroy their confidence and then send them out to the photographer for a snapshot, to see if he can capture the exact moment when they die inside. What a hoot! Apparently the theme this week is the oxymoronic "Ugly Side Of Modelling". Nnenna is told she looks like a transvestite with a flabby stomach, Sara learns that her lips are uneven, and Furonda is told she's anorexic with a big nose. Danielle is given some schtick about the gap in her teeth, and responds (without whistling, surprisingly) with "I think she badmouth me". Joanie is told her ears are too big and she looks old in her photographs, and, of course, that she has a massive decomposing tusk jutting out of her lower skull. Brooke is told that she looks masculine in photographs, which, ironically, she doesn't take on the chin. Deprise meets a brick wall with Jade, though - it's amazing sometimes how utter, jaw-dropping stupidity and a triple scoop of up-yourself can look like bravado when you have no idea you're being insulted. When told she looks harsh, Jade says "Thank you, yes - my look is really versatile". When told she looks mean, Jade says "Yes - I have really prominent features. They're... you know... URNGH". Later, to camera, Jade explains her calm response with "She was really cut-throat, but I've dealt with cut-throatingness before". Deprise's sham is revealed to the girls, and the winner of the challenge is announced. Who could be hollow enough inside to not be offended when insulted directly? It's Jade! She picks Nnenna to share in her prize, some 'mystery packages' waiting at the Model Mansion.

The girls return 'home' to find two massive wrapped boxes in their loungeroom for Jade and Nnenna, and there, scrunched uncomfortably inside for God knows how long, are Jade's mum and Nnenna's boyfriend, John! Jade cries, crumbles, and embraces her mother, and at one point looks disturbingly like she's going to pash her. The mother-daughter resemblance is... well... underwhelming - a bit like a housewife giving birth to a psychotic funnelweb. Nnenna gives John a bit of a hug, and says to camera later that she was hoping it would be her sister, but he'll just have to do. I'll pause here so that the romantics among you can dab at your eyes and clutch your chests.
Jade shows her mum around, but her mother senses a tremor in the force - she turns to Jade and says "Can I fluff you down?" I got confused here. Pardon? What does a "fluffing down" entail? My mind raced - I imagined Jade's mum fixing her hair, searching her for concealed weapons, or engaging in activity not wholeheartedly sanctioned by the Department of Community Services. Silly me. As Jade speaks to camera, I realise the answer was glaringly obvious all along: "My mother does energy work. She pulls energy out of the universe and channels it through her hands". Der. Of course. Jade lies on the couch whilst her scary cosmos-chanelling mother waggles her hands over her, and Jade is so inspired she recites a poem earnestly to camera, which includes lines like "heaven and hell, are the power-linked force / make me listen, and strength be my source". Things all make sense now. Jade is a little bit of a nutjob because her mother is certifiably, cover-your-cell-walls-with-your-own-faeces insane. There's kind of a gorgeous sense of full-circleness about that. Meanwhile, John chats to Nnenna while she pretends to be asleep. It's... it's just beautiful.

PHOTO SHOOT 1: Our modules meet Jay at a studio, and are told they'll all be made-up and dressed as dolls for Pantene today. Joanie, a ventriloquist's dummy, gets to sit on a male model's knee, prompting Daniele to ask "Can we share him? He's a hottie with a body". Despite looking a lot like a drag queen (especially with the implication that another man's hand was... er... "puppeting" her), she rocked. Sara, as a Bratz-style doll (where's inflatable fish-mouth Kari when you need her?), was suitably plastic, and Brooke the 'glam' doll looked awesome, but was awkward and stiff, even for a doll. She probably had a right to be confused though, as one of Jay's criticisms was "You look too much like a model". Hmmm. Daniele-as-marionnette just looked spooky with a white face, and Jade-as-mannequin was adequate. Furonda, a rag doll, resembled a pile of burnt matches with pigtails, and Nnenna was unrecognisable as a wig-wearing baby doll. Who puts a Nigerian princess in a shortie dress with rag-curls and a teddy bear? This show does, and I am eternally grateful. When Nnenna is reasonably unresponsive, Jay tries to inspire her and makes the mistake of saying "Think about your boyfriend!". Nnenna scowls instantly. Maybe she needs a wowwipop.

At the end of the shoot, Jay announces that he has a treat for the girls. Is it food? Drink? Men? Clothes? Jewellery? No! It's a trip to the dentist! Woo! All the girls will have their teeth whitened, but Joanie and Daniele will get extra treatment - a fang-ectomy for Joanie and a daub of sealant for Daniele's gap. Joanie is so happy she cries buckets, although Daniele isn't as enthusiastic, as she doesn't mind the gap. Joanie is first in the chair, and with Daniele holding her hand, the dentist explains calmly that he's going to yank out the offending tusk, then file the rest of her teeth down to points so that he can whack in some veneers. And it will take two days. If Joanie wasn't spastic with happy gas, I'm sure she would've jumped for joy. Without warning, we see the dentist brace himself and yank not one, but TWO teeth from Joanie's petrified, sluggish maw, complete with root, saliva, blood, and bits of gum. Who's a pretty girl? After being extracted and filed for twelve hours, she's left a bit Stonehengey overnight, ready for more orthodontic shenanigans tomorrow. She laments at 5:30am: "I have tho compethe thoday, and I can'th eben thalk". Meanwhile, when Daniele fronts up to the chair, she just asks for a bit of whitening, and leave the gap there, thanks very much. She loves her gap. Honestly, getting these girls to look like proper models is like... you know...

In a seemingly pointless excursion, the modules are shipped off to a photo-shoot for Elle Girl magazine, and watch Janice Dickinson and Eva (series 4 ANTM winner) hamming it up for the cameras with an accessories designer. Yawn. Eva gives the girls some vacuous advice about confidence, and then Janice sits them down to talk about The Dark Side Of Modelling. I don't know about you, but I have trouble taking advice from someone who can't make her eyebrows or her breasts move. Janice tells the modules that alcohol is a big no-no, and regales them with a story of her first Valentino show, during which two glasses of champagne sent her tumbling arse-over-scary-tit off the end of the catwalk. Must have been the champagne - the coke was grade A, and the Quaaludes were prescription.

PHOTO SHOOT 2: Each girl is led outside one by one to where Tyra is waiting with a photographer, some make-up, a vial of menthol and a crazed expression, only one of which is out of the ordinary. She tells each girl that not all photos are taken when a model looks pretty, and she's going to put some menthol in their eyes and make them cry. Kind of like saying "I really want you to emote in this shot, so I'm going to rub some jalapeno chillis in each eye and stomp on your foot. Now, lift your chin! Find the light!". Jade is first, and as soon as her fake tears are summoned, she poses for a couple of easy shots, then claps her hands and exclaims excitedly "That was awesome!". Daniele's eyes burn from the menthol, so an assistant splashes her eyes with water, which kind of makes you wonder why the menthol is needed at all. Brooke is pretty accustomed to looking sad, and the usually stoic Nnenna actually breaks down and has a bit of a sook - the pressure of being an African Queen with a redneck boyfriend can really weigh a girl down. Joanie aces it, possibly because she has a mouth full of sharp tooth-stubs and a bloodstream full of morphine.

After a quick 6-hour dentist sesh, Joanie emerges with perfect teeth, although it's hard to break the crooked-smiling habit of a lifetime. I reckon as soon as she smiles properly, she'll win the competition.

JUDGEMENT: Tyra greets the girls, and seems even crazier this week - it's not enough for her to just speak English, she has to morph it into a kind of sing-song, mad-eyed, head-tilting Thinglish. She introduces the judges, including Spunky Nigel, who I'm knitting a jumper for. The judges view the doll and crying photos, and all of them catch the self-esteem-bashing bug. Sara is accused of not being passionate about the competition, Nnenna is chastised for letting her relationship interfere with her modelling, and Daniele is given no end of grief about choosing to keep her tooth-gap. Cindy Crawford had The Mole, Sophie Dahl had The Girth, and Kate Moss had The Junkie, but Daniele's not allowed to have The Gap. When Jade's crying photo is displayed, Jade gets emotional and tears up, telling the judges through wracking sobs "That pain is real. I've suffered". If you listen closely at this point, you can hear every voice in the whole world saying "Oh, F*CK OFF". All the judges try to hold in their derision - Tyra accuses her of bad acting, and Nigel tells her that all the modules standing behind her have been busy rolling their eyes in disbelief. Like watching the Wicked Witch Of the East's feet shrivel into their stripy socks, it was a brief, sweet, come-uppance carnival. I think I sighed with satisfaction.

ELIMINATION: Tyra reads the modules' names out one by one, stopping along the way to give Daniele a bit more sh*t about her gap, and we're left with just Jade the Psycho and Brooke the Bruised. Prompting more satisfied sighs, Tyra tells Jade that even though she takes good pictures, she's arrogant, defensive, and fake, fake, fake. To prove she's not arrogant or defensive, Jade scowls and shakes her head the whole time. Brooke is told she's the most beautiful of all the girls (obviously measured against the Chesty Bonds Exaggerated Chin Index), but she has bad pictures and she's running out of chances. No more chances for Brooke as she is sent packing, and for the first time ever she doesn't cry. Bye, Brooke! Don't walk into a door on your way out. Jade speaks pleadingly to Tyra, insisting she's not fake or arrogant. Um... Brooke's just had her dreams shattered, Jade. It's not really your moment right now, honey. Go and get fluffed.

Next week, we can expect Sara to be insecure about her chances, Daniele to be sad about her imminent gap closure, and everyone to be packing their bags for a mystery trip. Doubting. Pouting. Outing.
See you then...

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