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 "A Bit More
Progressive and to the Now"

 "A Bit More
Progressive and to the Now"


The Olympics are stopping by Project Runway for a little NBC cross-promotion. Stella is thinking sharp, jabby spikes on black leather. For the synchronized swimming team.

Progressive and to the Now" " >

First things first. I think I accidently stole an expression from the GoFugYourself ladies without knowing it. I wrote last week that Leanne's dress resembled a HEPA filter. Then I was informed that that was something the brilliantly funny GFY women say all the time. I must have absorbed it into my brain without realizing I was plagiarizing. Sorry GFYers. My mistake. You win at inventing clothing descriptions. I'm not fit to carry your Goyard bags.

In my dreams there's an opening bit like there was in seasons past, where the designers prance around and say silly things about their potential to take it to the most fashiony limit, yelling "I'm gonna fuck his corpse!" and other charmy little pronouncements about how full of win they are. But I've resigned myself to the fact that we're just not going to get that this year. No Chris March squealing, "Let's go!" or Nick saying, "Heck, yeah, I'm gonna win this!" No Malan murmuring, "I'm better than they are." Just Heidi. And normally that would be plenty, given my weird love for her. But it's not. It feels deflated. It's like someone opening the door to a party they're hosting and muttering a glum "Oh, all right, come on in."

Look, there's Mary-Kate again on this week's Elle product placement. Did you hear that she wants immunity from prosecution before she'll cooperate in the Heath Ledger investigation? I read that on the super-reliable Internet today. If you hadn't heard about it, then you must be reading some other, less entertaining news source that's all about how the president is a war criminal and how this whole offshore drilling ping-pong match between McCain and Obama is just about an oil industry land grab and nothing more. I'm firmly fixed on the real news myself, like whatever tabloid it was this week with a picture of Tom and Katie on the cover with the screaming headline "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" I saw that one at the grocery store and tried to read it in line, but the damn checker was being too speedy with the people ahead of me. I almost bought it but then realized that that's just what they want me to do. Anyway, so yeah, Mary-Kate wants immunity. Is that a standard legal operating procedure or is it only about when you have something to hide? I need to call my lawyer friend Dennis.

[Break in the recapping to call a real live lawyer]

OK, he says that it's pretty much what you'd do if there were even a millimeter of a chance that someone could say, "Oh, that bottle of your pills was in his luxuriously appointed apartment? Time for you to go off to the big house. The big full house. In a New York Minute. So sure, give her immunity. And take notes on what she wears to the questioning sessions. She's on the cover of Elle, you know. She won't just show up to the precinct in something unchic. But yeah, it's a good move for her to demand immunity. All those celebrities have tons of free drugs coming out of their asses. No reason why she shouldn't too.

Now, on to the show. They're all waking up. Keith is hunched over the sink, shirtless, giving us more tattoo presentation. There's a big giant one on the side of his torso that's been hidden by clothes until now. And to the guy who wrote me last week complaining that I was being too hard on his favorite Utahnian, I have the following response: OK, OK, KEITH'S HOT! YOU WIN! DANG!

And I will concede that, generally speaking, more tattoos tend to make me happier than fewer tattoos. Unless they're awful. And Keith's look OK from a distance, even if I can't identify what they are. Just don't let it be said that I piss all over what the gays are into these days unless it's something truly awful like biceps implants or those T-shirts with the word ACRIMONY on top of a skull on top of a flaming bush erupting with thorny roses and cobras. Keith's none of those awful things. He's just a guy -- a really quiet, unsmiling, seemingly crushingly dull guy -- trying to fashion-design his way out of Salt Lake City. Brilliant designer Jared Gold sees fit to stay in that Mormon-thick, landlocked hometown, but if you want to scram, then more power to you. I can get with that. I just can't get with that rat tail. Seriously, fuck that thing. Keep the bandannas. Wrap whatever you want around your head. Just get rid of that fuckin' parsley sprig of a ponytail.

Tonight, once again, my husband/partner/whatever is shirking his watching responsibilities and is instead out working because he has to review the new Woody Allen movie about Penelope Cruz making out with Scarlett Johansson. Fat lot of help he is. But I still have Xtreem Aaron on the couch nearby and he's already making an out-loud list of what he thinks the tattoo could be:

1. Spawn 2. Zorak 3. Angelica Huston in Captain Eo

Oh, wait. Now Keith is wearing a T-shirt with a big giant skull on it. Shit! Stop making it easy, man!

They get to the runway and Heidi greets them in a see-through ruffled gray top and some skintight pants that look like she was dipped into a vat of molten black tar and her unusually chilly body temperature simply willed the liquid into becoming clothing with no harm to her. "You know her hands are cool to the touch," offers Xtreem Aaron as I pause the TiVo. "Like a really nice marble countertop. Do you think she knows she's dressed like the ending of Grease? And do you think her next sentence to the designers is 'Have you guys seen the part when they are driving the car AND IT BEGINS TO FLY? IT IS AMAZING! TODAY I WEAR THAT MOVIE ON MY ASS!'

"I believe she might say that, yes," I respond.

"And do you think she ever cries?" asks Xtreem Aaron.

"No, I don't," I say. "I thinks she only knows victory piled on top of victory and her tear ducts have simply evolutionarily inverted and become vestigial from a lack of functional necessity."

Heidi dispenses with last week's losing model and tells the designers to get up and go meet Tim Gunn. He's going to take them to meet their challenge. Everyone gets in a van and speculates for the camera. "We're going to the Boogie Down Bronx," says Korto. "This is a hip-hop challenge."

"That would be awesome," ways the unimonikered guy with the blue fauxhawk, "Suede loves that." This makes me wonder just what kind of hip-hop Suede likes and what would happen if Suede met an actual rapper face-to-face. Like how would that go down? Xtreem Aaron says, "I can see Jay-Z taking a meeting with Suede if he somehow won this whole thing and became a big deal. Like Jay-Z would want to know what the next shit would be and he'd be OK with Suede. And then after Suede left the room, Jay-Z would turn to B-Day and say, "What was up with that faggot?"

In the van Tim Gunn engages Blayne in a discussion about tanning, during which we learn that Blayne enjoys tanning every other day. Tim Gunn expresses concern about the amount of time that must take. Blayne says, "Other people, like, go to the gym. I go tanning."

I can sort of understand that. Not the tanning part. That makes less than zero sense to me. But I know I spend at least as much time tracking down vintage Japanese monster toys on eBay and trying to find the perfect flavor of loose-leaf green tea and wondering about where my next piece of cake is coming from. Also furniture. I think about furniture a lot. Like I need a new desk. The old one's a big piece of particleboard on some dumb boxes. But I need a grown-up desk. I can waste hours looking at furniture websites figuring out which desk is going to keep me until I'm 95 years old. And then I look up and it's time for lunch and I've accomplished no work. So if Blayne wants to spend his time getting his skin dyed the color of a yam's innards -- or worse, baking himself like a yam -- then that's his choice. It's a shit-for-brains choice, but still. He lives in the freedom-loving USA. We all do. My Megalon is your Mystic Tan.

Jerrell leans toward the weird.

Korto ponders in Mood.

The van ride stops at the Armory Track and Field Center. Oh, good, Joe's thinking, Sports. I win already. A guy on Rollerblades comes zooming around the indoor track they're all standing on. It's Apolo Ohno, longtime soul patch-haver and five-time Olympic medalist, two of them gold. Terri's a fan, and she grins in that way that Kevin was all smiley last season when Tiki Barber walked in. As for the rest of the designers, we see blank faces all around. Apolo explains that they'll be designing an outfit for the Olympic team to wear during the opening ceremony. Well, not really. Ralph Lauren did that already. You might remember him. He came in third on season 2. It falls to Daniel to be ridiculous about it on interview-cam: "I've never watched the opening ceremony for the Olympic games at all. I'm guessing somebody holds a flame and runs around a track field."

Yes, gaywad. That's totally everything that happens. And then it's over. Takes about five minutes.

"Heck, yeah, I'm going for the gold!" says Blayne, doing his best Nick. Terri's into it too. She loves the Olympics, she says. Possibly even went as Flo Jo once for Halloween. She's thinking "classic Americana sportswear," and you know she's thinking correctly. When has Terri not thought correctly so far? She's proving herself to be quietly excellent, and I may now begin enjoying the show in a sincere way because of her, as opposed to the insincere way that I enjoy, say, Stella. Except for her King Diamond studded vest. That vest I enjoy in a totally sincere way because it could hurt you if you touch it wrong. I also sincerely enjoy it when she says stuff like "I'm a true cavegirl." And she just did. Jerell says he's instantly drawn to an incredibly old photo of the team in straw boaters and blazers. Jerell isn't drawn to shirts for his own personal daily use, but it's good that he'll deign to design cover-up garments for other people. Jennifer is equally drawn to the past. You know she's going to wind up with something that looks like what an Olympian's mom would wear to cheer on her child. Daniel, as expected, is "stumped." And Joe says, "Let the fashion games begin!"

So. Super-theme dressing. Get ready for an ocean of red, white, and blue. And because I'm nowhere without paid professionals to help me shape my thoughts, I ask model pal Elyse Sewell for her thoughts on dressing for themed events. She says, from Hong Kong, where she's busy modeling the shit out of the place:

Themed clothing is a potential minefield of sartorial gaffes, and there are no hard-and-fast rules. I rely on my instinct: Dressing up for a costume party ('80s, cowboy, white trash wedding) is cool; not to do so is lame and curmudgeonly. However, green on St. Patrick's Day should be ignored and all pinching attempts met with a withering scowl. A giant hat at the Kentucky Derby is good. Buying a T-shirt before the concert and donning it immediately is unspeakably wrong. But an appropriately silly boyfriend/girlfriend matching accessory (HUGELY popular here in Asia) can be stylish if the couple is fun and not all slobbery about it. When airlines ask all the passengers to wear a sticker on their shirts so that they might be more easily identified when boarding time rolls around? I have threatened to shank stewardesses for even daring to suggest this violation of my outfit. So, you see, it's complicated. But I am confident when I say that breaking out the same red, white, and blue monstrosity that you wore during the Fourth of July is not the best way to support the United States during the Olympics. Take pride in your nationality by selecting something extra-tidy and cute to wear. Hint: Loose-fitting styles will facilitate genital access during Michael Phelps masturbation moments.

Then they go to Mood, where Keith takes Terri's fabric that she's laid out on a table and turned her back on for a few seconds and then cuts some off for himself. OK, guy who wrote me last week, defend your boy now. Hotness points taken away for uncool moves like that, you have to admit. Terri's response: "A sista gotta keep one eye open."

Actually, Terri, two eyes open would be, like, one better. Right?

After a commercial break, they start work. Joe says, AGAIN, "Let the fashion games begin!" like those guys who keep repeating a joke when no one laughed the first time. Knock that shit off, Joe. You're likable. Don't test. He rekindles his place in my heart by announcing that he's going to make a skort, which is the funniest item of clothing anyone could make. And this proves he's more of a gentleman than his past that-sure-would-look-good-on-my-bedroom-floor cocktail dresses would indicate. Because a skort refuses to offer the kind of easy access Elyse alluded to earlier.

And Jennifer -- wait, is that Jennifer or Leanne? -- OK, it's Jennifer. She's making a little skirt and a camisole and a sweater jacket. Because China just decided to make a tea party happen this year in the middle of the opening ceremonies? That has to be it. Not that I'm going to watch. I got annoyed the year the announcers mocked Bjork's stadium-size dress, the one where the skirt covered up everyone on the field, remember that? It was too awesome for the Olympics, the TV announcers were stupidly derisive, and if I ever watch it again, it'll be with the sound down.

Sewing sewing sewing, etc etc etc.

This is the episode where things start to turn, thankfully. Not only am I getting on board with Terri, but people are starting to bitch at each other. Joe's patience for Kenley's and Daniel's incessant giggling is wearing thin. Even Korto takes time on interview-cam to impersonate them with a mock "AHHHH-HA-HA-HEE-HEE-HA-HA!!" Then Jerell does it too, but his impersonation sounds like a cackling bird. Either way, I'd be more into mocking Kenley if she weren't so darn cute. "She's the Bettie Page you could take home to your parents," says Xtreem Aaron. And that's no mean feat. Lots of those girls are simply too drunk and naughty for mom-and-dad consumption. They've all got those pompadour-having boyfriends in rockabilly bands where all the songs are like "hubba-hubba, hubba-hubba, in my Mustang!"

They're focusing a lot on Korto tonight, so that means she's going to win or get sent home. We learn that she was born in Liberia and her family had to book it out of there when she was a kid because of civil war. And then they moved to Little Rock, Ark. That's a story I know well. I used to be an ESL teacher back when I lived in Texas and about 50% of my students in any given class were refugees from one horrifying war or another. Iraq, Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia. Name a country, and my kids had all seen someone's head get chopped off at least once. People were always like, "How do you have all these Bosnian kids in your class in Fort Worth, Texas?" and I'd say, "The refugee services like to put them in boring towns because it's quieter there." And when I say that Fort Worth is boring I mean that in the best, most complimentary way, because I really did love living there. I roll up the sidewalks at 6 p.m., myself. That place was designed for people like me.

Jennifer (above) goes home.

Jennifer's outfit: Not a medal-winner.

OK, back to nonbummer topics. Joe mixed one half of a red zipper with one half of a blue zipper. Snappy! Tim Gunn, on a workroom visit, likes it. Uses the word "wit" to praise it. Then he moves to Blayne's table, says that Blayne's garment looks "a little Sgt. Pepper."

And Blayne's retort?

"I don't even know what that is."

Tim Gunn winces. "Oh, God, youth," he groans. Then Blayne talks about how he doesn't "do the Beatles" and how much he liked Across the Universe because it was other people singing it. "Maybe I like the Beatles but a bit more progressive and to the now," he goes on, digging himself a deeper and deeper hole of dumb.

And now for a genuine fight. Awesome! Daniel rethreaded Joe's machine. Except none of the machines are assigned or anything. And Kenley worked on the same machine between the time Joe left and Daniel arrived. But Joe had already spiritually lifted his leg and peed on that machine, and now in his mind it belongs to him. But Daniel doesn't care. And Joe thinks he should. He thinks that Daniel should pay attention to shit like that. "Is he serious?" Daniel asks Terri. Terri keeps her head down and says nothing. Good move. Korto is making funny baby noises. Best part = Joe saying, "There's too much drama because there's too many queens around. It's crazy."

Except that Straight Joe is the one who started this particular bit of queenly drama. Otherwise I'd agree with him. It's like Sharon Tate said that one time, "You know how bitchy fags can be." But in this case it's a heterosexual fag. And for this I'd like to thank Bravo and Project Runway for once again blurring the line between us and them. The moral here is that it doesn't matter who you stick it in because you're all jerks.

Elimination Day:

Today Jerell has chosen to dress like Mace Windu, if Mace Windu were in the Andrews Sisters and about to sing at the USO and give out donuts to the G.I.s after their set. He's got on something that is clearly of his own creation. It's cowl and/or flap-intensive at the neck, oversize and vest-like everywhere else, possibly trailing a huge cape in back, and his pointy little hat has dangly medallions on the front. It is, as Tim Gunn would say, a lot of look.

But even weirder is how Kenley has turned on Daniel, her suitemate from the Gigglesnort Hotel. Now she's filling him with doubt about the very color of his dress and says, on interview-cam, "I'm worried for him." Diabolically played there, Ms. Page.

In come the models for fitting, for TreSemme-ing and L'Oreal Paris-ing. Jerell's model puts on the giant floppy hat Jerell has created. "My first one!" he says, all proud, like when your cat brings you a dead bird. Or that time that Laura's kid offered a handful of turtle poo to Tim Gunn. I think it was a turtle, at least. I'd go look it up, but I'm on deadline.

Commercial time: It's season 3's Laura Bennet for Saturn. The husband/partner/whatever has just walked in the door and squealed, "Laura!" because he's crazy into her. Even now, two seasons later. He adores everything about her, especially how she's given birth to a clown-car's worth of children and still manages to look like she's about to prance off to a cocktail party at Diana Vreeland's place. Laura has designed a soccer-ball-emblazoned, Wonder Woman-ish outfit to wear while driving the Saturn. It has a cape. This excites the husband/partner/whatever because he's one of those comic book supernerds (hence my presence at the San Diego Comic-Con two weeks ago; I am, in the words of Entertainment Weekly, a "Dr. Girlfriend") who gets really, really, really bonered-up about stuff like the new issue of Ambush Bug. When he sees Laura's design for the commercial, he says, "I'd read her comic book." From him, that's as serious as a marriage proposal.

Runway time:

Korto -- Long white linen pants with white, red, and dark blue sleeveless leather jacket. It's smart and clean, and even though I'm bored by it, I get what she's doing.

Suede -- Flouncy blue skirt trimmed in red and white. White sleeveless top. To be worn by the girl working at the Pepsi kiosk in the stadium's concession area as she grumbles about how rude all the customers are and how not enough people are telling her how cute she looks.

Kelli -- Blue skirt with white trim, red top with floppy collar bow. If there's not a picture in her family's photo album from 1959 of her grandmother wearing this exact same outfit while hosting a Fourth of July party, then I'll eat Jerell's hat, medallions and all.

Joe -- Blindingly white jacket with red and blue trim. Matching skort with USA on it in big red letters. This shit pops and looks like it's made of neoprene. The first thing on the runway that seems as though it could be actual Olympian gear.

Leanne -- White shorts and futuristic flared top with big giant stand-uppy neck piece in red and blue. If the Olympics were sponsored by the Gattaca Aerospace Corp., this would be their choice.

Daniel -- Made a blue and red cocktail dress and lives in a dreamland where there are no sports ever.

Jerell -- OK. Black tights under narrow pinstriped blue and white skirt with a big cummerbund and a poufy-sleeved red and white top and a black panel on the front and two scarves wrapped around the neck and a gigantic UVA/UVB-ray-deflecting red, white, and blue polka-dot floppy hat. Did you ever see the astounding and excellent early-'70s movie from Jacques Rivette called Celine and Julie Go Boating? No? You should. It's insane. Anyway, this is a get-up that Dominique Labourier would wear in one of the weird dream-house sequences and she'd jump around and say "Look at me! I'm mad!" But she'd say it in French. As freaked-out and un-Olympic as this whole thing looks, I can't say that I hate it.

Stella -- Black pants and black top. It's sleek and hard, but not interesting. It should have big spiked armbands like those guys from Immortal wear.

Keith -- Fluffy blue and white shirt under white jacket and red and blue scarves. Terri must have pitched enough of a fit at Mood to get her fabric back, even though we never saw that happen on camera.

Terri -- White pants like Korto's but less sophisticated in the cut. More sporty. Really tight, horizontal-red-white-blue-striped, boob-smashing top, awesome '70s-cut blazer in blue and white pinstripes and the disputed red-striped fabric made into a very voluminous scarf popping off the front. I love it. I love her. She's officially my lady here now.

Jennifer -- Gold and white striped skirt, white top, jewel-adorned collar on blue sweater. So, um... hey Jennifer... the Olympics, I don't know if you know this or not, but they're about sports. Yeah, I know, weird, but some people are into that shit. Not me, mind you. But some people. And so your garment is cute and all, and I think that this model would look really adorable holding some freshly-picked daisies and going to a sweet spring cotillion where everyone gets to sip lemonade and eat dainty petits fours with raspberry filling. I know, sounds nice, yeah? I think so too.

Blayne -- Made a red, white, and blue unitard. Oh, wait, that's two pieces. It's mostly white, and that looks great against freshly tanned skin. No doubt he wants to wear it himself.

Kenley -- Cute, progressive, narrow blue-plaid skirt and white top. Kenley would wear it. Daniel would pat Kenley on the head for wearing it. Then they'd giggle uncontrollably.

In: Suede, Kelli, Leanne, Stella, Keith, Blayne, Kenley

Bottom Three: Jennifer, who gets ripped by Heidi: "I don't see Olympic, and I don't see America in it at all." Nina says, "She almost looks silly." Daniel is roundly mocked for his not-athletic dress. Nina calls it irrelevant, and neither she nor Heidi can see that it's blue. Now, on my TV it looks blue and has looked blue for the entire episode. But something about the runway lights are making it look purple to them. Daniel's shirt is purple and looks very different to me. Heidi is like, "Is your shirt blue too? It's the same! You guys match!" But they're wrong. Kors says the model is from "The Republic of Cocktail-Land." No one can figure out a single fucking thing about Jerell's outfit. Nina says that she's "puzzled." Heidi is on the verge of laughter. I want her to say, "Sam Jackson, who is a friend of mine and Seal's because we are all very famous celebrities, would admire your own choice of fashions today, Jerell. Also, he would like your assistance in getting all those motherfucking snakes off that motherfucking plane."

Top Three: Terri, whose outfit Kors refers to as "Lauren Hutton in the '70s." Nina says it's "very smart." Joe is praised for his red/blue zipper. Heidi smiles. Korto is lavished with praise. Nina loves her stuff and calls it "chic." Even Apolo Ohno is on board.

Everyone leaves the runway. The judges chat and talk shit about the ones they don't like. Kors says, "It's almost like they heard the challenge in another language" and delivers his best one-liner for Daniel's: "If her sport is drinking, then it's a good dress."

Above: Korto's winning outfit takes home the gold.

Winner: Korto. And Terri smiles big and claps for her. Look how nice Terri is!

In: Terri, Daniel, Joe and Jerell, who's as surprised as Daniel is pissed off.

Out: Jennifer

She manages to get in one more assertion about her "surrealism," which is hilarious. But at least now I won't be confusing her with Leanne all the time.

Next week: Brooke Shields shows up. She's one of the stars of The Midnight Meat Train, a film I saw just this past week. Lots of people get their brains smashed open with a big metal mallet in that one. It's pretty great. Lots of Olympic red all over the place.

Progressive and to the Now" " data-page-title="

 "A Bit More
Progressive and to the Now"

" >
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