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Archive for April, 2010

Models of the Universe

“I don’t know what to do with my arms. It just makes me feel weird and I feel like people are looking at me and that makes me nervous.”

Tyra Banks, presenter of America’s Next Top Model

For the past few months, I have lived as a self-imposed blog pariah, a decision taken with the best-willed intention of working on a script for a new darts video, although a paltry return of five thousand words to date is testament to my inability to write for more than five minutes without flicking over to YouTube to watch monkeys spin basketballs while discussing the finer points of The New Testament. During my exile, I have felt the twitch of my fingers when watching pieces of televisual leprosy such as Piers Morgan Interviews… and Michael Winner’s Dining Stars, a show so horrifically offensive that I was screaming for Loose Women after ten seconds. If Winner ever graced my dinner table with his smug leathery features, I’d push him to the floor and fart on his face for an hour, maybe stopping for a cup of tea midway through to cool down my raging arse cheeks, before starting the final push.

However despite these few moments of weakness, I have been true to my word; that was until I had the misfortune of stumbling across the season 13 finale of America’s Next Top Model. Oh. My. God.

He-Man, you Skeletor

By the Power of Tyra

When Clare casually changed the channel to ANTM, I naively thought little of it. At the very worst, I imagined there would be some quality bronzed tail to lust over, particularly as this was the final, the wheat having long been separated from the chaff. Imagine, then, my disappointment when our contestants were unveiled: Nicola, a flame-haired homage to Skeletor specialising in ‘having issues’ and looking needy; Laura, a good-time southern gal who enjoys crying, talking about her grandma and has more than a passing resemblance to the fantasy lovechild of Courtney Love and Pete Burns. Rightly or wrongly, I instantly rooted for Laura, maybe out of perverted admiration for her porno trout-pout, or for the simple fact that she was the least likely to be rescued by Bob Geldoff before the end of the show. As it transpires, Skeletor won sending out the positive message to American teenagers that if you can see your ribs and hip bones when standing in front of the mirror, you are – apparently – beautiful. Work it, girlfriend.

The director of aesthetic

Jay Manuel in his Sunday best

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before the crowning of the winner, our would-be models were obliged to participate in a television commercial and photo shoot for CoverGirl magazine under the savvy tutelage of butch British fashion photographer Nigel Barker, and fruity Canadian creative, Jay Manuel, a man so gay he makes Liberace look like a Grade-A poon-handler.

According to his website, Jay, or “Mister J” to his friends, is the self-styled, “director of aesthetic”, a creative maverick who’s, “counsel and talent is sought by celebrities, photographers and advertising executives the world over”, a claim which looses all credibility when his biography later lists an appearance on the aforesaid Loose Women as a career highlight.

I'm a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie world

Like all other style gurus, Jay is big on irony and seldom appears on camera without looking like a complete bell-end. Key to his appearance is a territorial silver quiff (inspired by Flash Gordon), svelte physique and a more-is-more attitude to make-up, all of which, when mixed together, creates a wax-work drag Ken doll suffering from a tragic case of premature greying. Seriously, if you flipped him over and pulled down his pants, I guarantee you would find a “return to sender” message from Madame Tussauds branded onto his waxy hairless backside.

Damn right, it’s better than yours

Laura levitating on a trailer

While Jay was busy telling the models how fabulous they were during the commercial shoot, philosopher Nigel took a more introspective angle during the photography session:

“Nigel: [click] What are you thinking about?

Laura: [posing] Milkshakes.

Nigel: [visibly annoyed] Most people would say I’m thinking about my boyfriend, a holiday I had; those are the things that trigger emotion.”

Maybe Nigel wells up whenever he reminisces about donning his Speedos in the Med, but it doesn’t do the trick for me. Back at the film set, nice-guy Jay moved in for some stinging criticism of Skeletor’s vocal tic:

Jay: Now here’s the problem: when you deliver the lines the way you’re delivering them, it comes off like you’ve lived this privileged life [Jay is sliding his shoulders from left to right at this point in true Whitney Houston what-the-fuck-yo-looking-at-sister style] and you really don’t care about CoverGirl Lashblast.”

Come on, Jay, look at the poor girl, all she wants is a fucking Big Mac.

Jay:[ to the camera] Her [Skeletor] performance level was low, a little unlikeable, a little snooty, and that’s NOT what CoverGirl is about.”

Amen.

Queen of Sheeba

Following Jay and Nigel’s good-cop, bad-cop routine, our girls could have been forgiven for thinking the worst was behind them as they dreamt wistfully of boys, teddy bears and milkshakes on the flight back from Hawaii. However, no sooner had they arrived back at their luxury pad were they greeted by our feline host: the plastic-fantastic, weaved-wonder of the world – Miss Tyra Banks.

Tyra’s credentials for the job rest on her modelling career, which began in the 11th grade and finished in 2005, since which she has forged a career for herself as a poor man’s Opera, riding high on her self-promotional soapbox on imaginatively named chat show, The Tyra Banks Show, featuring the slogan, “every woman has a story…and it happened to Tyra too.” Hey, Tyra, my mum once played chess in the jungle with a baboon. Oh, you did that too? Awesome.

Up to this point, Tyra has been conspicuous by her absence but, sensing the end was nigh, she decided to show America what they had been missing and came to the party in her own imitable style:

[Girls run down to the front door of the house, following a totally unscripted knock on the door from our Tyra]

“Girls: Wahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha [hysterical screaming]!!!

Tyra: How you DOING?!!!!??!!!

Girls: Good!

Tyra: Good!

Tyra: Excited?

Girls: Excited!

Tyra: Yo ready to work it? Make some smiiiiles with yo eyes? [major head sliding going on at this point.]

Girls: YEH!”

As the camera panned away from the conversational groundhog day unfolding at the front door, I swore I could see an apparition of Jesus weeping on one of the floor tiles. Either that, or the show was beginning to play tricks with my mind.

Roll up, roll up

As the minutes ticked by, it was becoming clear to me that the whole thing was a well-scripted and meticulously choreographed freak show. My suspicions were finally confirmed during the blockbuster runway scene, as colourful wankers emerged from stage left and stage right without any explanation or purpose at a rate of knots.

Super Freak, Super Freak

First out was our hero, Jay, (“Ok, girls, there’s gonna be so much going on here, it’s gonna be INSANE!”), and some ridiculous individual called, Ms Jay Alexander (though a dude), who was wearing a yellow floral sarong fastened just below the nipples, a yellow cardigan and an orange bandana, all the while pouting like Rick James. A pithy caption said that Rick was a runway trainer, but save for a two second cameo before the show, he was holed up in his trailer rehearsing Super Freak for his tribute show, leaving Jay to direct proceedings on his own.

As for the runway models themselves, this was a predictable mix of the two finalists and rejected contestants from earlier in the series. Added to the cauldron, was a hint of Z-list celebrity in the form of Bria Murphy aka the ‘daughter of Eddie Murphy’ (genuine caption). As Bria ‘worked it’ on the runway, we were treated to a picture of Eddie himself, looking pensive on the front row, perhaps pondering how he went from being the future of the Hollywood box office to banging Mel B.

Please give generously

The fashion equivalent of going 'full retard'

The unveiling of the winner was a routine affair, with the judges chewing the fat before calling out the finalists to deliver their verdict. Much to my disappointment, Jay Manuel was deemed surplus to requirements, with Rick James wannabe Ms Jay Alexander stepping into his dainty shoes. To be fair to Rick, he didn’t disappoint, identifying Laura as having a “money face” (surely a pornographic euphemism) and taking his place on the panel wearing a shower cap and what can only be described as a pair of prosthetic bullocks on his shoulders, all the while gurning like a chemically wired freshman. With reason having been lost long ago, it came as little surprise that his conservative dress choice failed to receive even a passing comment.

As our judges returned, I waited, armed with my flashy NatWest maestro card, for a number to appear on the screen so that I could sponsor Nicole with food parcels for a month. Tyra, however, had other ideas, dispensing with foreplay to swiftly crown Skeletor the season champion, cue much weeping and Tyra giving Laura one of the most patronising, insincere pep talks ever recorded on camera (I’ve posted the link to the final part below. Check out the drama at 6:25 shamon. Horrible).

Searching for a one-liner to do justice to the offensiveness of ANTM is nigh-on impossible, although if I tipped-off the Daily Mail, I bet they could do a good job. First time for everything…

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