Oh, Steph. You're the illiterate xenophobe of my dreams.
Normally near the end of a series, when all the committable psychopaths have been eliminated and only the bland and inoffensive are left, I struggle to find anything comment-worthy during the slide down the mild, buttery slope towards the final. With only three girls left, an hour is a big space to fill, and it's sometimes hard for the producers to find anything worth screening.
And then there's Steph. I won't go so far as to call her stupid. But goddamn, she's stupid.
Set your lasers to stunned mullet. It's the Three Is The Magic Dumber episode of Australia's Next Top Model.
· Despite the fact that a sneezing dust-mite could snap her in half, Alice appears to have become Public Enemy Number One this week as she's ostracised for her constant whining and her obvious cheating, what with being all tall and pretty and stuff. Steph claims that she "won't let Alice's whining spoil my issperience", and Jordan spits that "no matter how fucking hard Alice doesn't fucking try, she always fucking stays". She thinks Alice doesn't deserve to win, because after the competition she plans on attending university. The cad! Everyone knows that university to a model is like holy water to Linda Blair. Even Jordan says "Pffft! Who wants to go to uni? Only smart people do that".
· Joydhi visits Scrag Central, and after a lot of fluff, bluster and vowels, announces that the modules will soon be jetting off to Los Angeles. Jordan is beside herself with excitement, considering herself more Hollywood than Paris Hilton's bare hoo-hoo on a limo seat. Steph, looking up briefly from her Children's Illustrated Atlas, squeals "I had no idea Hollywood was in LA! It's gonna be like Pretty Woman, but without the hookers!" Alice, again able to find the sad side, mentions that she's "petrifahd". I get a bit confused at this point, trying to decide who to bitch-slap first.
· JP turns up briefly to cram as many obvious product plugs into five minutes as possible, and to see the girls off to the airport in their Ford Fiesta, reeking of Impulse, wearing Fashion Assassin. He also does his best to transport my dinner rapidly into a bucket as he mimes "I heart youse" to the departing car. Whilst watching a man fulfil sponsorship obligations on the footpath should be riveting, I'm momentarily distracted by a stack of white crockery.
· Suddenly we're in LA, and the girls are in the back of a car, being driven through a montage of Hollywood clichés like palm trees, buildings, cinemas, and illegal immigrants. Our modules seem unimpressed until they see a sign advertising a 99c junior cheeseburger, at which point they wind down the car window to point and hoot. Bless you, processed protein and carbohydrate consumer product, you symbol of the free West, you. The girls are given a random address to arrive at via the Hollywood Boulevard pavement stars, which leave Steph a bit perplexed. "I don't recognise any of these stars," she says. "Where's Mary-Kate and Ashley?" I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or throw a tennis ball at her face.
· The modules turn up at what turns out to be the Napoleon Perdis Hollywood retail outlet, where they're met by the chubby, waxed man himself and pink-haired stylist Mandy Line. I'm going to have to mention this again – Napoleon Perdis is married. To, like, a girl. I guess if he has two chins, he's entitled to two beards as well. Mandy dresses the girls and Napoleon bedaubs make-up on them, readying them for an hour of posing in the shop window like a Dutch coven. Napoleon shows himself to be intensely talented in the arts of bitchy-comment extrusion, asking probing questions of the girls in the make-up chair about who they hate, just like a straight man wouldn't. His evil stirring is so successful it's stroking-white-cat-worthy (I'd throw in a pussy joke here, but I'm all class, like), and soon Alice and Jordan are throwing insults. I'll try and capture the Shakespearean flavour of it all:
"You whinge a lot."
"So do you."
"You whinge about getting sunburnt"
"I was sunburnt"
Sorry – sometimes it's really, really difficult to accurately capture the on-screen drama, but I've done what I can. If you'd like to know more, perhaps rent The Making of Alice & Jordan's Make-Up Room Hissy: Hot Clashes in Pink Lashes from your local video outlet. Or, alternatively, don't.
· All three girls look, admittedly, white hot, although if you put anyone in false lashes and a choker in a store window, you're basically buying them a ticket on the bus to Prostitute Junction. After giving them a few tips, Napoleon is thrilled with the girls' performance, gleefully shouting "Look! They're stopping traffic!" as cars whizz past him at speed on the street.
· Finally our modules get a rest, and are shown to their room at the Grafton Hotel, a sophisticated, plush pleasure-dome filled with bubbles, diamonds, and the laughter of children. And by that, I obviously mean a cut-price freeway motel room with an animal-print bedspread and the faint odour of death and unprotected sex. Jordan gushes about how gorgeous it is, which is a bit like calling Bruegel the Elder a minimalist or, for the lowbrow amongst you, telling Bindi Irwin to pep it up a notch. What a freakin' dive.
· Joydhi sends the modules off to two pretend go-sees at different agencies, one presided over by the endearing, generously-proportioned Kenya, and the other by the polyurethane-veneered, helium-affected Crista. They're measured, photographed, and scrutinised, and the general consensus is that Jordan is very LA, Steph has the face of an angel, and Alice is the quintessential supermodel, but not very "Hollywood", which I assume means that they think she might be a virgin. Crista notes that Alice's insecurities might be a professional problem, claiming that "If she doesn't suck it up, she's never gonna make it". I'm concerned that if Alice sucks anything, the resulting vacuum could cause her kidneys to explode.
· Another Joydhi-Mail sees the girls visiting various LA "fashion hotspots", meaning a quick chance to plug some more rags. In order:
o Ashley Paige, a shop that claims to sell "high-end bikinis", which are like normal bikinis except sparkly and fifteen times more expensive. Ashley as much as offers Jordan a modelling job, primarily on the basis that she has the only convex breasts in the room.
o Leona Edmiston, a shop personed by Kym Wilson of 80s Australian soap opera origins, expanding the number of people in this series of the show who have kissed members of my family to two.
o Wesc, a shop that seems to mostly sell satin shorts, headed by Dom, who endears himself instantly to me by claiming that the Australian modules are much better than the "mallrats" of the US series.
· Joydhi, ever the bra-less task-master, shoos our scrags off to their first international phoytoy shoot, which turns out to be at Napoleon Perdis' house. No sign of Mrs Perdis, but there is a gold palm tree in the entry hall and a big picture of Marilyn Monroe in the loungeroom – the fourth and fifth most potent symbols of heterosexuality after beer-drinking, scrotum-scratching, and having sex with ladies. Photographer Darren and Stylist Charlie are introduced, and set about preparing the girls for their 'modern Hollywood glamour' shoot in top-notch frocks.
· Napoleon, summoning the Primary-School Girl within, is up to his old make-up chair tricks again, coaxing venomous, bitchy bile from each module in turn. The temperature in the room drops a few degrees as Jordan and Steph accuse Alice of being tall and beautiful, and blaming her success on these two factors alone. God knows how her height and her looks got her so far in a MODELLING COMPETITION. Next thing you know, people will be running as fast as they can at the Olympics. Mental. Alice, having stored up all her anger in her modest spleen for the last ten weeks, finally lets fly, calling Jordan no competition, and implying that Steph might spend too long skipping through Fields of Stupid. Then Alice says "fuck you, too", and I get a bit misty 'round the corners. Our little stick-insect is growing up – it's kind of beautiful.
· Jordan and Steph both take offence at Alice's attacks, and Jordan gets a decent quote in, saying "Everyone sees me as just this chick that's here". Steph, not to be outdone, takes a couple of huge slices from the Quote Cake, and makes my year. After Alice gives her some schtick about not knowing that Chile was a country as well as an ingredient, Steph defends both herself and perhaps the Cronulla riots by claiming that she's a sixteen-year-old Aussie, so she doesn't know or care about other cultures. To illustrate, she brings forth the chestnut: "Like, I knew there was Moroccan food, but I thought it was from a country, not a place called Morocca. We don't have Moroccan food on the Central Coast, anyway". I'm wiping tears from my eyes, and only one or two of them are tears of despair.
· The shoot commences, and Jordan emerges in a gold dress and tall hair. Darren and Charlie warn her that her "coochie" is in danger of showing, proving that Jordan has trouble turning the "close those legs, girlfriend" mirror upon herself. Alice, dressed in black, looks like Veronica Lake and Jerry Hall's lesbian love-child, and everyone in the room is floored as her recent use of the F-word has obviously ignited a fire in her belly and she turns on the rowr. Unfortunately Steph, in draped white jersey and a bouffant 'do, comes across as more of an Alexis Carrington/Tammy-Faye hybrid, and an underwhelming one at that. She's accused of looking too much like a sex-kitten – quite a feat when dressed as Joan Collins sans breasts.
· I blink, and suddenly we're back in Sydney, tromping into the Elimination Bunker to face judgement. Alice is worried that she'll be eliminated because of her lack of confidence. That would be irony, people. The judges are introduced, and even though the trip to the US was fleeting at best, I feel like I've really missed these magnificent bastards. Joydhi blahs through the prizes, which I think include a McDonalds Gold Card and some feminine hygiene spray, and the photos are flicked through. Jordan looks reasonably good, causing Shiny Alex to finally jump on the Jordan bandwagon, and Alice looks absolutely, finger-down-the-throat gorgeous, and almost manages an arse. The judges are beside themselves. Steph's 80s frump doesn't go down as well with the panel, and Charlotte accuses her of raiding Mummy's dress-up box. All the girls have to answer inane questions about why they think they should be Australia's Next Top Module, causing Steph to babble like... well, a vacuous sixteen-year-old, and Alice to prove how far she's come by admitting that "I don't walk into things as often".
· The judges deliberate, and then it's down to business. The business of lurching two girls closer to their dreams, and of crushing one girl's reason for existing in the cold, steel vice of disappointment. Or like, giving her the arse n' that. Joydhi announces that Alice is safe, so it's down to Powerpoint Jordan and Intellectual Steph, who is already crying. No time or platitudes are wasted, and Jordan is shunted. Bye, Jordan! Don't fucking swear on your fucking way out! Game off, mole. Everyone in the room sheds buckets, and even Shiny Alex looks like he might be crying, although it may just be a weeping scab from his last Bo session. Jordan, though, captures the emotional essence of the moment and summarises her personality in one fell swoop when, through glittering tears and tremulous tones, she turns to Alice and Jordan and says "I love you so much…. even though you both gave me the shits".
Okay – apparently this year, the public gets to 'help' choose the winner by voting for their favourite scrag – votes will be tallied in conjunction with the judges' decision. Is it just me, or is this Rorty McScam from Rip-Off-Town? Teenage girls and gay men all over the country will be spending their life savings on telephone and online votes, and then the judges will just pick a winner. I don't trust the public to pick a winner anyway. Casey Donovan. That's all I'm sayin'.
Next week, there's probably a ritzy place to stay, a couple of bitchy words, and then the winner is chosen. Palace. Malice. It's probably Alice.