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Season 5 of Project Runway wants you to know that delusional talentless contestants are back!

Above: Giving Michael Kors a run ... to the tanning bed: BlayneProject Runway has caught me sort of off-guard this season. The last season seems like it just ended, really, and now they're back and I'm not exactly ready and the only fashion thought I have at the moment is Well,Seth Rogen is on the cover of GQ. It's about motherfucking time a man approaching my personal girth wound up on the cover of that damn magazine.

As for style tips from GQ this month, apparently I'm supposed to be walking around in chinos cut off just above the knee. Preppy summer home on Martha's Vinyward chic or some shit like that. But here's my own style announcement for men: Shorts are for the beach or for little boys. If you're a professional surfer, maybe, too. My own husband/partner/whatever wears them, but he gets an exemption from scorn because no amount of that scorn from me will change his mind. Oh, and as for calling him my "husband/partner/whatever," as I tend to do in just about everything I write, it's like this: We're legally married in California now, but still haven't decided yet what I'm supposed to call him in public. It's complicated because in Iowa and 46 other states we're still strangers in a legal sense, and what if we happened to be traveling through Iowa or one of those 46 states one day and he had an accident caused by his rebellious wearing of those cargo shorts? What if they had to take him to the hospital and he was unconscious? I'd be unable to make a medical decision for him, and no amount of sweetie-boo "husband" play-talk would make a fucking bit of difference. Yes, it's all serious and real here in my more highly evolved state, and I can say "husband" with paperwork to back it up, no matter who doesn't like it, but this here is the Internet, and that means my words are transmitted via an international and perhaps intergalactic forum, and until gay marriage is legal everywhere, I remain in solidarity with the whatevers of this world. Gay pride.

Anyway, maybe this is your first time to read one of these recaps. Here's how it works (and yes, I more or less just cut and pasted the following from the first episode recap of last season, and I did that because the facts remain the same and you probably forgot what I wrote anyway):

I watch the show a couple times.

I make sure there are at least a few friends in my presence. Not dumb friends. Dumb friends never have interesting things to say. You keep the dumb friends around because they're nice or they make you good food to eat or they're rich. But you don't consult them for smart words.

I write what I saw. Because sometimes you can't get to the episode and you need someone to tell you what happened with more details than "Yeah, it was boring." Or maybe your TiVo didn't change the channel properly and you wound up with whatever else was on at that time, Living Lohan or whatever. Maybe you don't have a TiVo. Whatever your situation is, please don't write to me and tell me. I'm super-busy with fashion thoughts. And it's not because I'm a gay. It's because I'm awesome.

So, on to episode 1:

No intro yet. I don't even think the show is ready to be back. All we get is Heidi saying, "This is Project Runway," and bang, here's the show. It's starting. The first gay shows up at Atlas, where they'll all be living again, and he's got on a stupid woven hat. These hats are now officially with us for all time, and the sons of bitches who wear them will pollute my sightlines until I'm dead. Thanks, whoever brought these damn things back. It's enough to make you wish we'd all return to the backward baseball cap of 1991. The other item of barfwear he's got on is a kind of Cosby-like sweater-shirt-cardigan thing with a shawl collar and no shirt underneath -- knitwear for guys who really want to show off their nipples. His name is Jerell Scott. He used to be a model. He says, in an audition video, that he couldn't afford "the cool clothes," so then he had to "make the cool clothes myself." He says this while wearing a big sleeveless oversize hoodie adorned with braided somethings and buttons and pouches, so it makes me wonder where he's hidden all those cool clothes. Then he explains that he designs "one-of-a-kind custom pieces for a very select group of people: from celebrities to Saudi royalty."

I like that kind of homo self-aggrandizement, because if everyone were humble and nose-to-the-sewing-machine, this show wouldn't even make it out of the gate. As Jerell continues his spiel, he uses the reality-show-ism "it's time for me to take it to the next level" as we witness a still photograph of a male model in a jacket whose peaked lapels are festooned with giant brass furniture tacks and delicate chains. Wherever season 3's Glamour Mom Laura is right now, I think I just heard her scream the words "serious ugly" at the top of her lungs.

Next up is the immediately disturbing Blayne Walsh. You know he festived up his name with that letter Y in middle school. He's 23 and so deeply fake-tanned that while standing next to the orange wallpaper of his Atlas dorm room he becomes invisible. He reminds me of the bug-eyed meth enthusiasts I used to see stumbling around my West Hollywood neighborhood when I first moved here. He's stick-thin, straw-haired, and seemingly strung out. But I'm not here to accuse anyone of drug use without evidence. It's my Jason Castro-inspired, innocent-until-proven-born-again-and-doofus-y rule. He could simply be high on life.

As for his burnt sienna-Crayola skin, I had to consult an expert. If you read last season's recaps, then you're already familiar with my pal Elyse Sewell of America's Next Top Model fame (second runner-up or whatever they call it when you come in third, season 1, way before it all started sucking). She's spent her post-Tyra years lady-posing all over the place, especially in the Asian countries, and writing about it hilariously on her own blog. So I just said, "What's the deal with extreme tanning, Elyse?" Her response:

"Dave, extreme tanning is a very real part of the fashion world. Like drug use and hideous stretch mesh Jean Paul Gaultier tank tops, it is something that models accept without comment. My most beloved and favorite agent gets my unwavering sympathy whether he was too tired to make it to the tanning beds or going to the doctor to have 22 precancerous growths removed from his arms, back, and face (true!)."

Joe's here. He's from Detroit. He's the straight guy, and when Blayne repeats "Detroit," Joe smiles and says, slyly, "Yeah," like he knows special 8-Mile life secrets because he's done the time there. Maybe set fire to a few cop cars. You never know with people from Detroit. It's a good move on his part, though. You have to establish dominance in the sausage party early on.

Stella Zotis has built a career out of dressing rock stars in the kind of stage gear that wannabe rock stars enjoy wearing to the supermarket and the bank: typical dull black leather and vinyl and studs and cuffs and other items that match your awful tattoos. Then she calls Debbie Harry "Blondie" and says that she designs for "hookahs and pimps and whoever's tough enough to wear it." "Tough" here means dumb, naturally.

Above: Suddenly This Summer. Austin Scarlett and Tim Gunn

Jennifer Diederich is the first of several same-ish indie girls who'll flood the place any second. Her distinction at this moment is that she lives in Italy. She thinks she's on the Holly Golightly train. She says so. Then says her style is somewhat "surreal."


I just...

I give up.

I vow here and now to become more spiritually calm about the misuse of the word "surreal." I've railed and ranted about this in the past and no one listens. No one cares. And my fixation on the knuckleheads who bandy it about all wrongy-wrong-wrong only serves to give me high blood pressure. From this moment on I plan to ignore ignorant usage. If you want to make surreal mean "slightly left of center," then go do it. Live your life. Be a moron. See if I care. I'm going to take detached disdain to the next level, analogous to the way Jerell is taking giant metal buttons on menswear to whatever the next level of that is, manhole covers as medallions, maybe.

Kelli Martin has a boutique called Black Market in Columbus, Ohio. She calls herself the result of a genetic experiment between Vivienne Westwood and Betsey Johnson. Oh, and speaking of Vivienne Westwood, my good friend and housemate Xtreem Aaron has developed a wacky obsession with the part of the Sex and the City movie where Sarah Jessy P gets that giant wedding dress box from Vivienne Westwood. "I won't say I think about it every day," says Aaron. "But I do have this fantasy about it being delivered to our apartment and filled with pug puppies all wearing Vivienne Westwood designs. Also, I'd like to be buried in it. I want it to be my coffin."

Terri Stevens, Jerry Tam, and some clown calling himself "Suede" show up. And he's got a dyed-blue fauxhawk. And he says things like "Suede [needs] to make millions for Suede." Also, "Suede is gonna rock it!" Third Person Suede owns a sleeveless denim jacket with his fake-ass name and a patch of a pot leaf on the back.

WHO WILL WIN THE CONTEST OF ME HATING THEM THE MOST? WILL IT BE JERELL? PERHAPS BLAYNE? OR MAYBE SUEDE? WHO'S GROSSEST? Malan Breton, if you're reading this, I need you to handicap it for me. You're the only one with any sense left in this world.

Some guy in a wife beater named Keith arrives at Atlas and calls Suede "buddy." I bet that will change soon enough. Then we get Korto Momolu, a woman originally from Liberia, now stationed in Little Rock, Ark. Her clothes have been in every magazine in Little Rock. I don't know how many they have there. It could be a publishing hotbed for all I know, one dominated by Korto Momolu, a woman whose blinding talent has fomented seething resentment among Little Rock's fashion set. "Give us a turn in the spotlight, Korto Momolu!" they wail. So off she went to New York to let other people become the big fish of the small pond.

Indie girls number 2 and 3 show up. One's named Leanne and her clothing line is called Leannimal. I might have just spelled it incorrectly, but since it's not really a word I won't sweat that too much. She's from Portland, Ore., which may be the Cool Kid capital of the United States right now. Her clothes look like she makes all of them for Mates of State. Actually, I take that back. They look better than that. The other new addition's name is Emily. The show got like five of the same person. Are they intentionally stacking the season's deck with nerdy hipster ladies? And if so, why?

Now they're rolling in faster than I can keep track. Two more-or-less traditionally cute boys show up, one named Daniel and one named Wesley. Wesley worked for Marc Jacobs, where presumably his job was to make actual clothes and not wrangle porn stars for the boss. There was no judgment inherent in that sentence, either. None. Promise. I'm a huge fan of M.J.'s out-there-for-all-to-see sex worker affirmative action employment plan. Why not? He's earned the right to do what he wants. Date porn guys? Right on. Date them all if you like. Get as tan as Blayne? Go for it. Have Posh Spice photographed as though a giant Marc Jacobs box was her coffin? I approve.

Now to the Atlas roof, where Tim and Heidi are waiting for the fresh batch. Heidi looks stunning, but that's not news. She's impossibly beautiful, made of gold flakes and whipped cream and cruelty. "So, Tim, do you think they're ready for the first challenge?" she asks in an unspontaneous moment that suggests she's attained the next level of human consciousness, one that doesn't get itself grubby with emotions. And she doesn't need an answer anyway. She knows what's up. "Ha!" she snaps, "Too bad. Unfortunately, you're going to have to wait until tomorrow morning." Then she pops a champagne bottle and the cork flies off the roof, embedding itself in the forehead of whoever just walked past on the sidewalk. Everyone drinks and talks. "Hey, I'm Suede," lies Suede to one of the indie girls.

One of the indie women, Kenley, is commenting on Blayne's tan. He has no idea she's goofing on him as she laughs and says, "Your eyes really stand out with that tan!" (Translation: "They appear to be bleeding every time you smile.") More drinking and kissing of Heidi's ass (by Keith, who tells her he always designs for her), and then it's time to sleep for 20 minutes because at 4 a.m. Tim Gunn comes knocking. Time to get up and begin approximately 30 sleep-deprived days of challenges. Everyone appears to be scampering about in towels to shower except for Keith, who's leisurely drinking from a water bottle in bed and showing off what look like five or six nipple rings, and Stella the rocker woman, who just reaches into her T-shirt and dabs her (I'm just going to make a guess here) unshaven armpits with Speed Stick.

Everyone walks down the street with Tim to the challenge destination. Terri calls this experience "surreal." I'm breathing deeply now, taking mental notes on Terri, but remaining calm. This is good practice for me. Tim takes them to Gristedes, home of season 1's first challenge, the one where Austin Scarlett made that awesome dress out of corn husks. Suede says in his interview, "I never really thought about what would I do if I had to go to the grocery store," and by that he means what would Suede have to do if Suede had to go to the grocery store. Don't let him throw you with his inconsistent use of the first-person pronoun. He means, at all times, SUEDE. Then he tilts his head and lets out a two-syllable, singsong-like "Yikes!"

And here comes Austin Scarlett, this episode's guest judge, to fill them in on the details. Sorry, detailth. He'th really enhanthed hith lithp thinth theathon 1. Again, I fully approve. I like a gay who kicks it hardcore old-thkool with the speech and big hats and giant ascots and all that. Fuck affected masculinity. Get nancy with it, faggots.

Above: Stella. Too trashy?

Now, as a viewer with a low boredom threshold, I want to see dresses made out of dog food and mayonnaise and cantaloupe rinds. So what do these non-TV-watching contestants go and do? They all buy tablecloths and shower curtains and trash bags. Thanks for boring me already, dumbheads.

Commercial Time: It's Kit for Saturn! Everyone in my house loves Kit. She got sent home way too soon last season and the show knows it. We all especially loved the prom dress episode where it was explained that she was this Orange County princess-turned-rebel-girl.

I'm just going to condense what happens in the workroom because the show has decided to focus, at least for this episode, on four people. As the season unfolds you usually get a chance to get to know the others, but episode 1 is always pretty bland in terms of sewing drama. Rocker Stella and Jerry Tam get the most airtime because they're going to be in the bottom two -- Stella with her lame garbage bag dress that she just shits out in like two seconds at the last minute, and Jerry with his translucent white Christian Bale-as-female-American Psycho-meets-Miuccia Prada raincoat and yellow dish gloves. Kook appeal comes from Blayne and Suede, whose assessment of the challenge as "wackadoodle" makes me think he's actually a stand-up comic doing an impeccable version of the kind of gay character you'd see on Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!

Supertan Blayne (his skin, I know I keep talking about it, but it's really something to behold -- compared to this guy Sunset Tan's Olly Girls are twin Wednesday Addamses) is already throwing wet catchphrases at the wall to see what'll stick. He's decided to go with "girlicious" and "holla atcha boy," neither of which is appealing on any level. I don't think anything out of his mouth is going to be. He's no Christian.

Like, at all. That would require design talent, something he's not proving he has yet. There's more to directional design than weaving shredded diaper through a plastic grid, slapping it on a woman's bikini area, and announcing to the world that you're the next Nicolas Ghesquiere. Also, big sniffer, this one. Drinking games could be built around this gay's sharp nasal intakes.

Workroom boredom continues unabated as Jerell does a half-assed Tim Gunn impersonation, complete with a "make it work" moment. Then one of the indie girls in interview says, "I'm here to win this."

Oh, are you? Wow, excellent. And did you know that you're the only one who's here to win this? Really, just you. In fact, you're the first person in all of reality TV competition worldwide to express this sentiment. What has everyone else been doing all this time, with their silly little not-in-it-to-win-it attitudes? Being losers, that's what. You should step right up to the front of the pack. We've all been waiting for a person like you, full of grit and spunk and determination and a positive attitude about winning. It's about time you showed up.

Workroom boredom is alleviated when Tim Gunn stops by to tell them they all suck with their tablecloths and garbage bags and shower curtains and that the judges are going to call them "slackers." Way to be, Tim Gunn. Someone on that side of the camera had to say it.

Suede, in interview, because he's already the best at the interview thing, says, "OK! FOCUS, SUEDE! WHAT IS IT YOU'RE GONNA DO?"

I have some ideas for what Suede should do:

1. Shave head and start over.

2. Call Sweet P and ask for ideas on new nickname, one that endears instead of annoys.

3. Exchange burned-out shell of current barely operative and stunted imagination for titanium-forged robot brain.

After the fittings-blah and the L'Oreal Paris hair and makeup-room-blah comes the runway show-blah. Heidi walks out and announces that she's had her legs lengthened between seasons and now she's 7 foot 3. "For crushing you!" she barks.

Right. That's not true. Anyway, here's what comes down the runway:

1. Emily -- Cute and boring minidress with big neck made of balloons and stuff.

2. Jerell -- Cute and boring minidress with Angela-esque flowers dotting the neckline. Way to call it back, man.

3. Leanne -- Big, blobby, pink, pleat-intensive, meringue-like maxi-mess of a minidress.

4. Korto -- Floor-length yellow gown with huge sleeves and kale, bell pepper, and cherry tomato wreath around the neck, in which Nina Simone's ghost will now sing "Four Women."

5. Jennifer -- Cute and boring minidress made from paper towels.

6. Daniel -- Very cool and sculptural dress made from blue plastic cups.

7. Terri -- Very hot macrame top made from mopheads paired with red skirt. Striking, contrasting stuff. She ought to win.

8. Suede -- Extra-boring cocktail dress made of tablecloth.

9. Stella -- Terrible trash bag dress. Should go for this. Inexcusable. Should be placed in a trash bag and left on the curb.

10. Hetero Joe -- Nice halter top made from oven mitts and dumb skirt with hot-glued pasta all over it.

11. Kenley -- Dodge ball top and tablecloth skirt. It's fine.

12. Jerry -- Given enough time, this hooded cape/coat could have been something ghostly and sculptural and far out. But its execution is messy and comes off more like KKK for Her.

13. Wesley -- Yellow minidress. Great details. He's going to stick around for a while.

14. Blayne -- Insane, volcanically stupid, belched-up thing made of drawer liners, shoelaces, jump rope, and potholders. His model has the word "Girlicious" written in marker on her thigh. It makes me wonder what the model is thinking. Naturally I turn to Elyse. Her e-mail back:

"Jobs where the clothing designer is present at the shoot are among the most psychologically rigorous for me. I'm trying to change clothes, fast, trying not to have a rampant double chin, trying not to eject my fake eyelashes off my face on a tide of sweat. I neither need nor want someone hovering around going, 'So what do you think of THIS? Do you like the cut of these pants? That's REAL CHINCHILLA, Elyse!' I don't give a fuck! Gimme it. I wear it. I don't like it. Actually, I don't even look down to notice what kind of garment is covering up my genitals. That's the agreement."

15. Kelli -- Cute, not completely boring minidress with nicely dyed and bleached vacuum cleaner bags made into a skirt and not-so-well-executed coffee filter bodice.

16. Keith -- Cute and boring minidress made out of a tablecloth.

Kelli is the winner, even though it should have been any one of a number of other people (I still vote for Terri's mophead top) and Jerry is out (even though Stella's was way worse and completely not ambitious). Blayne stays because he's going to be good TV.

Coming soon on Project Runway: Tim Gunn yells "Holla atcha boy!"

Which makes me die a little bit inside. Say it isn't so, Tim Gunn.

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