about the war with Frank Rich, but I just interrupted her
to write this recap. I realized as I switched from one TiVo
choice to another that I've read more about the war
and seen more creative response to it in the pages of
fashion magazines than I've seen on Oprah's show to
date. So for all you people who think that fashion is
shallow, I would just like to point out to you
the latest Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign, the one
with models dressed in militaresque luxury items and
getting their 1,000-yard-stare bored faces on as bombs
explode around them. Those models are posing for
peace. Don't you forget it.
Now we begin the
first of a two-part finale--one containing a miniwar
of its own and one that will leave us with nothing to
think about afterward but the horror of the world. No
fashions to console us, no petty dramas to divert our
attention. Until Christmas shopping season begins anyway.
And then, after that, American Idol comes back
for another season. So not too much world horror if you plan
Heidi kicks off
the episode by walking out onto the runway in jeans and a
little sparkly top. The first words out of her mouth are
"Ha-ha!" But it's a different
kind of "Ha-ha" than the one from the
commercials for the show, the one I've become addicted
to--the high-pitched, ebullient, maniacal honk.
This one is more alto and sinister, and I believe it's
her way of reminding the remaining four designers that
their lives are going to get much more difficult starting
designers have to execute 12 separate looks for Olympus
Fashion Week at Bryant Park. They have $8,000 and two
months to pull it all together. After she gives them
this challenge she says, "And now I have a
special guest." All four of them cringe and shrink
and flinch. That's what happens when a tall blond
German woman is constantly poking and prodding you and
making you create dresses out of recycled plastic and
forcing you to hang out with Vincent and Angela, just when
you think you've finally gotten rid of them for good.
But the special guest just turns out to be Tim Gunn.
Everyone's relieved, but check it, Heidi, Tim Gunn
doesn't count as a special guest. A special
guest would be the ghost of Halston hovering into the room,
warning them about the perils that lie ahead and to stay
away from Liza Minnelli. Or a video conference call
from Yves Saint Laurent's hospital bed. That's a
special guest: someone who's not already a contract player.
They head back to
Atlas to pack. Laura places all her belongings just
so in her big boxy Louis Vuitton suitcase. Then
you see her carrying it herself, in heels, pregnant. She
walks home to her Manhattan apartment that way. When I
see her do things like this I am reminded that I'm a
failure at life. The other three get in taxis and fly
One month later:
Tim Gunn heads down to the ATL to meet Michael. When he
arrives a red Saturn is waiting to take him around. It's a
different one than the one he uses to drive to the
Cloisters. Because he's in the Dirty South he's got
Dead Prez and Trina in the CD player. He's eating chicken
and waffles while he drives, which is totally not safe to
do. But Tim Gunn lives on that edge.
He gets to
Michael's house. I put the TiVo on slow motion to scan the
place for signs of Gay. But either he's the most boring gay
ever when it comes to home interiors or he just uses
all his creativity on the making of pretty clothes for
ladies. This is cause for pausing the TiVo in my
house, while the assembled homosexual viewers discuss the
options. Maybe he "straightened up" and
hid all those E. Lynn Harris novels. Maybe he only
"gays" when he's out of town (then we all
compare notes on how many states and countries we've
each "gayed" in), or when the cameras aren't
on. Or he's not gay. But that last one can't really be an
Michael tells Tim
his collection is called Street Safari. That sounds
classy. And Jubilee Jumbles was already taken. His sketches
have giant Farrah weaves, and all the ladies appear to
be tarted up in silk voile versions of clothes Banana
Republic used to carry back in the late 1980s, back
when they always had a big jeep parked in the middle of the
place and all that shit had epaulets. He shows Tim
Gunn a white dress with a drawstring lace-up neckline
and flappy boob pockets. In other words, he's
designing for Ciara's next safari. And wow, look at that
gross white lamp in the background and the matchy
white furniture. That's some JC Penney shit right
there. Tim Gunn is concerned about the collection. He says
it's not cohesive yet. Michael has work to do (and an
interior designer to call).
Then they go to
Michael's cousin's house for dinner. We meet his mother
again--why isn't she wearing the outfit from the Mom
Challenge?--and his father. Then it's snapshot
time. Michael as a little boy, Michael in ski pajamas,
Michael as Kid and Play, Michael as Lenny
Kravitz, Michael as Usher. While the snapshots roll Michael
talks about how supportive and loving his family has
been. His father, talking to Tim Gunn, says, "I
said, 'He's going to be a beautician.' We saw the
way he was going to go."
OK, so yes: gay.
They hold hands
and pray over the meal, one we're not allowed to witness
other than to see the assembled seven guests sitting around
two different small round tables under a 4,000 watt
overhead light fixture. Everyone squints blindly,
looking guilty and cracking under the pressure of the
stop," says Tim Gunn, after stopping by the Ying Yang
Twins' house for some Crunk Juice, "is Laura
Bennett." She greets him in a dress she could
have designed: empire waist, knocked-up belly poking out,
black. She says that the baby is her fifth boy in a
row and shows Tim Gunn the gigantic apartment she
lives in with her rich architect husband and
privileged spawn, strewn with video games and basketballs.
She's dying for the day, 18 years in the future, when
she can finally have some furniture that's not a bean
bag or a swinging chair that hangs from the ceiling.
There are no kids around, and you can bet your Ritalin that
they've been on lots of outings with the nanny for the past
month. More snapshots: Laura as a little girl, Laura
as Danny Bonaduce, Laura holding what she must have
believed would be her first and only child.
She shows Tim a
chartreuse dressing gown, ruffled out the ass, something
"Joan Crawford might have worn in Torch
Song," says my husband. He's only 39 and he
makes references like this every time he opens his
mouth. It's kind of weird, but I've gotten used to it
and even enjoy it, though much of the time I have no idea
what he's talking about. I say, "Yeah, what's
that?" a lot. Then he finds whatever old
Hollywood diva movie he's referencing on TCM and forces me
to watch it. I'm grateful for this, really.
Then the kids
come in with the rich architect husband, Albert Einstein.
You know what you never see in Los Angeles outside of my
house? People with gray hair. I just realized that.
But whatever, here's her David Cronenberg brood. The
littlest one has a big lump of turtle poop in his hand
that he offers to Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn backs away quickly from
the monster child. Thirty minutes later Tim Gunn can't
wait to leave. "I'm exhausted," he says.
And just in the nick of time too because Laura's
Bryant Park anxiety is about to mind-control those kids into
a feral frenzy, and they're all going to start gnawing
on Tim Gunn's neck.
Off to Miami to
visit Fraulein Uli. More Saturning. Tim Gunn knocks on
her door and that thing I hate happens: The cameras are
already inside waiting for him to come in. It throws
me every time. The cameras should come inside with Tim
Gunn. How else am I supposed to believe that this is
reality television? Uli lives in an apartment building that
I believe is actually floating on the ocean. Her
balcony view is nothing but water. "That's the
dream of America," she says. Can you imagine her
growing up in East Germany, under gray skies all the
time, pouting, "I hate it here. Bring me to ze
beach for fabulous pah-ties and ze bikini shopping."
She shows Tim
Gunn her collection. Hers is also safari-themed. What gives
with all the safari-ing? It's patterny--big surprise.
They go to ze beach and sit on a table. Tim Gunn shows
his bare feet. Uli talks about watching Miami
Vice as a kid and dreaming of Florida. We see old
black-und-vite photos of the East German kinder-prison
she escaped from in search of mojitos with Phillip Michael
Thomas. It's like that old Saturday Night Live
sketch with Woody Harrelson as the post-Wall collapse
German filmmaker wearing a Spuds Mackenzie T-shirt and
one of those beer-bong baseball caps, shouting,
Finally, Tim Gunn
Saturns to Los Angeles. I can't wait to see Jeffrey's
controversial collection. You've heard about this already,
right? Apparently Laura accused him of outsourcing his
work because she didn't believe he could have finished
in time. It's been all over the news. Well, the
calorie-free entertainment news, anyway. But I'm getting
ahead of myself. More Saturning.
The cameras are
waiting for Tim Gunn again, as Jeffrey and his Mohawked
girlfriend and their punk-rock baby stand inside their door
waiting for him. Kisses all around and then coffee on
a table featuring a breast-cancer-pink Dualit toaster
and mugs that say "slut" on them. Tim
Gunn drinking coffee from the slut cup. How awesome is Tim
Gunn? He's just going with the flow wherever he is.
That's the worldly, open-hearted way that Saturn
owners live life. It's the car for citizens of the Global
Village. Behind Tim Gunn's head, though, is one of those
cruddy album picture frames. I hate those. It
appears to contain an autographed copy of the Who's
Tommy LP. And sure, whatever, that's great and
all. But I still hate those damn things.
about getting sober. We see snapshots of him as a baby,
first happy, then crying as he talks about how his father
left him as a child and how scary a man his father
was. "A lot of rage," says Jeffrey.
Hence Jeffrey using drugs early and often. He did all the
drugs and then tried to hang himself. That was the
bottom. Now he has a neck tattoo to remind him not to
do that sort of thing anymore.
Jeffrey takes Tim
Gunn to his huge work space and shows him what appears
from far away to be a simple striped dress---and is in
fact a bizarrely zippered roller coaster of seams and
curves. Was it Kors who called his stuff
ugly-beautiful once? I forget. But I like it. Then he says
Japanese ghost and demon stories were his inspiration.
So if you try on one of his outfits, you die seven
days later. Then he talks about everything being a
"gift" and how he's "eternally
grateful" for everything he has. Recovering
addicts--and dopey actors--always say shit like
this, but you believe it coming from the recovering
addicts because at least they have cool stories of
prostituting themselves for crack at 4 a.m. in a skid row
alley somewhere and not just peevish tales of
cater-waitering and blow jobs in some producer's hot
It's two weeks
later: Everyone's back. Not at Atlas; now they're at
Flatotel. Everyone arrives. The show has been on the air now
since July and has caught up to their actual real
lives, so when Jeffrey comes in Uli asks him if people
throw eggs at him when they see him. Is that the
show's perception of Jeffrey? I mean, yeah, he can be a dick
and unnecessarily harsh and a dry drunk sometimes, but
he's nowhere near as ugly-acting as an Omorosa. By my
reckoning there's been no clear-cut villain this
season. Laura says bitchy things, Vincent was repellent and
a nut job, Angela was whiny and a pain, and Jeffrey's
inherited some of his Dad's rage, but no one person
has had to shoulder the story team's need for a
singularly hated monster. Ooh, I just had a great reality TV
show concept pop into my head: It's called The New
Improved Night Stalker--because there used to
be an occulty crime show in the 1970s that was already
called Night Stalker, FYI, and then a remake of
that show a season or two back that only lasted like
two episodes but that didn't have the awesome idea to
call itself The New Improved Night Stalker, so
the name is still my invention--and anyway, you put 12
people in a creaky old spooky house and one of them is
a serial killer. Then as contestants are brutally
murdered one by one, the others have to band together
to find out which one of them is doing it. It'll be like
The Mole. The winner gets a Saturn.
Now begins the
1. Laura comments
that it appears that Jeffrey has a lot of pieces
finished. Guilty! Guilty guilty guilty!
2. Tim Gunn
checks on progress.
3. As Tim Gunn
checks Jeffrey, we get cuts back and forth to Laura and
Uli casting odd glances in someone's direction. It could be
that Michael just passed gas or that the pizza just
arrived an hour late, but the edits make you assume
they're throwing disapproving glances at Jeffrey.
4. Neither Uli
nor Laura nor Michael are completely finished yet. Jeffrey
5. Michael shows
Tim the most hideous blouse I've seen in a long
time--a white lace-up thing with not just flappy
boob pockets but sequined flappy boob pockets. And
more sequined pockets beneath them.
6. Tim collects
receipts. Jeffrey hands his in last, all criminalish.
More cuts to concerned faces. How dare Jeffrey be
last? Foul play!
7. Models are
fitted. Laura can't believe that Jeffrey has no alterations
to do. "Every hook, every seam," she says.
It's time to stir that turtle poop.
8. Then Laura, in
interview, drops her bomb. She doesn't believe Jeffrey
sewed his collection himself. She gains support from Michael
and Uli, enumerating Jeffrey's cheating evidence.
"Things...like incredible finishing inside
the garments. Grosgrain-covered seam allowances."
What? Grosgrain-covered seam allowances? OK, I'm
convinced. Burn the monster!
9. Laura tattles
to Tim Gunn.
10. Tim Gunn
promises to take it to the producers and investigate.
11. Laura tells
Jeffrey that she told Tim Gunn her belief in his
cheaterliness. Prove that you don't beat your children!
12. Tim Gunn
talks to Jeffrey about his alleged whatever. Apparently it's
OK to have a little help because Jeffrey tells Tim Gunn he
sent out a pair of shorts to be pleated and Tim Gunn
acts like this is no big whoop.
And finally, in
interview, Jeffrey asserts his innocence and then says
he's still scared that he won't show in Bryant Park. But he
did show because the pictures are up online all over
the place. So if he is guilty of some sartorial
skullduggery, then they still let him show. I have no
idea what's going on. But in the heavily manipulated
quick-cut edits of scenes from next week's show, they
make it look like he's being kicked off. I'm betting not.
Why would he fuck himself over like that? It doesn't
make sense. His sponsor would kick his ass.