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America's Next Top Model: "The Girls Go Rock Climbing"

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I was praying for makeover week. With Amelie out on vacation and me tasked with walking in her hate-filled shoes, I was relying on makeover week to provide me with all the easy bon mots necessary to get me through this update of America’s Next Woefully Inarticulate Covergirl Spokesmodel. We could all reminiscence, for instance, about that poor beauty queen from Texas who wept a puddle when the judges decided on “the Mia Farrow” look and then quit in a huff when, already shorn of her gleaming mane, Mr. Jay asked for an inch more. But alas, I was not only a week early for makeovers, but “The Girls Go Rock Climbing” offered none of the hilarity of last week’s “controversial” cancer shoot, despite the promise that usually comes from dangling would-be models from harnesses.

Instead, the fun started with the girls taking a trip to the “Fashion Madhouse,” a half-assed haunted hospital with strobe lights that nonetheless managed to scare one of them into believing her life was in danger. Turns out it was only Ms. Jay, teaching the contestants to walk while wearing straitjackets as preparation for the constricting freak gowns they’ll be donning later in a couture runway show. As usual, walking turns out to be much harder than it looks. (My theory is that it’s difficult in part because you’re never told to walk on an everyday basis. You just walk. If someone told you to breathe at regular intervals, wouldn’t it be harder to breathe, too?) In any case, since the straitjackets don’t extend beyond their waists, the challenge is pretty much about impressing Ms. Jay with that intangible quality called “fierce.”


Back at the house, the drama is heating up thanks mostly to Bianca from Queens, who’s officially taken the baton from Ebony as resident schemer and yeller. First, she tries to sabotage poor small-town Kimberly by giving her bad runway-walking advice (“Dial down the fierceness,” “drain all expression and life from your face,” or something roughly to that effect). Then later, she gets in a row with Saleisha for reasons I couldn’t quite comprehend and probably never could, even if I obsessed over it like the “magic bullet” in the Zapruder film. The row escalated with Bianca shouting “My mouth can get me anywhere” over and over again, and then one of them claiming to be a “grown-ass woman.” These fights are somehow more boring than they sound.

Then it’s on to the big rock-climbing photo shoot, which is a big disappointment. Stripper Lisa is afraid of heights, but rather than suffer a meltdown, she dutifully overcomes her fears like the pole-rappelling professional we know her to be. Victoria uses her Yalie brainpower to come up with a confusing metaphor for how she felt on the shoot: “Like a sea nymph on acid scaling a wall in the sunshine.” (Clearly, there’s no essay section on the Yale application.) The ringer in the bunch turns out to be the quiet Jenah, who has two years experience as a rock-climbing instructor, of all things.


At this early stage, the edit of the show is usually a reliable tip-off for who’s going home. Alas, it’s poor small-town Kimberly, who sealed the deal by smooshing her face flat against the rock and looking as if she’d taken a fistful of Dramamine prior to the climb. She finds some consolation in the dubious notion that she was among “the Top 12 [models] in the whole country”; she should, in fact, take more realistic consolation in the fact that actual models these days are skinny, 17-year-old Russian girls housed in cages and the #1 model on ANTM has a future limited to bit parts in hip-hop-flavored movies about street basketball. And that’s if she’s lucky.

Grade: C

Stray observations:

• Victoria’s Yale count this week: Only one mention, though she does refer to herself as both as “pretty nerd” and “super-nerdy.” She also commits the unpardonable sin of asking for clarification on one of Twiggy’s cryptic comments. Doesn’t she know Twiggy is an icon?


• Look for Bianca to become Tyra’s next pet project in the coming weeks. She was in the Bottom Two this week, saved only by Tyra’s belief in her potential, and anger issues make her an excellent candidate for one of Tyra’s patented two-minute emotional makeovers.

•And speaking of makeovers, what’s with the sudden about-face on T.V. Club favorite Heather? Last week, she’s getting teased and ostracized for her Asberger’s; this week, she’s suddenly queen bee in the house and still taking excellent pictures. Should we consider her acceptance a positive or negative development?


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