‘America’s Next Top Model’ recap: That other fashion institute
Before we grade the “14 lucky bitches in Los Angeles” who will compete for this season’s title, let’s briefly discuss the Top Model Institute of Technology — a.k.a. Tyra’s latest inane theme for whittling down her 33 semifinalists. After a fun-filled ride on an eco-friendly party bus, the squealers arrived at a top secret San Fernando Valley training facility that only they and bad special effects could find. Upon seeing “Alpha J.” and “Beta Jay” in their futuristic metallic-white getups, I jotted down two words: “Holy f—balls.” It is a testament to the show that 11 seasons in, it still manages to surprise me with how awesomely bad it can be. (Also surprising, that I found Alpha J.’s white bowl-cut wig more attractive than some looks he’s sported in the past…) The bad effects continued in the “body scanning station” but peaked in the “data analyzing runway,” where our catsuited contestants had to pretend that the “Glaminator 11.0” overloaded when it produced the boobylicious TyraBot. Say what you want about her acting (“I’m having a little bit of a technical difficulty. I didn’t?hear yooouu”) and her claim that she’s looking for a model who is “technologically bankable” (huh?), but her hair looked sleek and sexy.
Once beamed, fiercely, to another room, the all-powerful trio got to know the girls better in the embarrass-yourself-then-model-a-swimsuit portion of the preliminary competition. You know it’s gonna be a good season when the Mormon girl whose parents sent her to a lockdown facility for three months after she had premarital sex can’t even make it into the group of 20. After the ladies changed into metallic cobalt catsuits — because they’d thrown away all of the technology and brought the reality? — we had our 14 lucky bitches. And they are?
Strengths The 22-year-old from Prince George’s County, Md., stole more than one photo as an extra in cycle 10’s homeless shoot. That fact makes it easier to believe that she’s there for her promise and not for the publicity that having a pre-op transgender contestant will get the show. She’s already impressed the judges with her agenda-free presence, couture poses, ability to find the light (even when sitting at the Magic Castle opposite a leering Nigel), and depth (she understands that a photo needs a back story). She impressed me with the way she handled being heckled by Brittney B. — excuse me, Sharaun — during her make-voting-sexy photo shoot. (I’m amazed that none of the other girls told Sharaun that her jokes about Isis sweating and needing to shave weren’t funny.) Also praiseworthy: Isis’ mastery of tape.
Weaknesses Her presentation at the judges’ panel must be flawless. If Tyra’s serious about wanting a Top Model winner who can make money modeling, she’ll have to ask herself if designers and advertisers are ready to bank on a transgender model. I hope Isis makes it to the go-sees round so we find out.
NEXT: Clark, Nikeysha, Sharaun, and Analeigh