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 "I Wanted
to Stay Away From Pretty"

 "I Wanted
to Stay Away From Pretty"


And Kenley does just that in both word and deed on this week's Project Runway. But darn it, Heidi and Co. have misplaced their box of consequences...

to Stay Away From Pretty" " >

We're in the last lap now, the home stretch, anticlimax, like when the beat-box kid wound up last in the pool with the Disney princess/future silliest enemy of Russell Brand. No one cares what happens, really, except the people on the other side of the camera. But we, the innocent audience on an entertainment quest, are in this too deep to back out now; we might as well stick it out until the end. And that's the downside of getting hooked on a reality show that has nothing to do with your own life experience, one you only watch because you just need an hour a week where you can get away from the fact that Sarah Palin can't give a straight answer to anything or that the entire fucking country is melting down before your eyes and it's about to all turn into The Trigger Effect with Kyle MacLachlan suddenly aiming a gun at your face for your last bottle of VitaminWater. Why not think about fashion instead? Or at least project all your accumulated work-life-rent-gasoline rage onto Kenley? It's not like she's really in your house or anything. She can't hear you. And even if she were in your house it's not like she'd listen to what you had to say. Or look at your collection.

And it seems that just about everyone except me is sick of Kenley's shit. Well, me and Xtreem Aaron. He still harbors not-homicidal feelings toward her. And this is in marked contrast to every single person in my apartment watching the show. Tonight's viewing group includes XA's coworker Job (yes, like in the Bible) and his boyfriend, Corey, who also happens to be one of my Advocate editors. I know, it's a much-less-than-six-degrees thing happening tonight. I've come to realize that for someone who doesn't like to leave the house I seem to know a lot of people. The husband/partner/whatever is here, as is neighbor Jill. You might remember Jill from last week when she announced that she wants to see Kenley punched in the face. I also seem to know a lot of people with violent impulses.

The show starts with Korto talking about her husband and her kid and how she wants to show the child that Mommy pursued her own dreams, which entailed leaving the precious little one at home for a month with Daddy and 30 boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. I kid, Korto. You're my current favorite and probably an excellent mother who left a month's worth of delicious, wholesome meals in dated freezer bags. Please do not come punch me in the face. Cut to Leanne on interview cam stating that Kenley should have been eliminated a long time ago. Her reason? Kenley's been disrespectful to everyone. Not that extra-fashion reasons probably don't come into play when deciding who stays and who goes on this show. But rudeness = entertainment, Leanne. Don't you watch The Hills?

Kenley's interview-cam counterpoint is "I'm not talking to Leanne." Reason? Leanne spent every second on the runway acting a fool in Kenley's even-less-hip-hop-than-PM-Dawn outfit. I'm going with Kenley on this one. Leanne was quite the little saboteur. And it was overkill. That garment could act a fool all by itself. It didn't need bolstering. And what I love the most at this moment is how Korto and Leanne have decided that the gloves are totally coming off. They openly mock Kenley to her face in the Atlas apartment, Leanne whining, "I'm not even going to smile!" Korto repeats this sentiment. Kenley ignores them both. Meanwhile, Jerell is the last male standing and he's been reduced to creating puppets from two pieces of fruit, a Tim Gunn bobble-head doll, and a bottle of Aunt Jemima syrup for companionship.

Maybe you don't watch the show. Maybe you only read these recaps. I've heard from some of you for whom this is the case. And if you're one of those people, I want to stress something here: I wasn't making that last part up trying to be funny. Jerell is actually performing a puppet show for the camera. He's drawn faces on the fruit. Joe is a grapefruit. The syrup bottle is Jerell? Maybe? Anyway, Aunt Jemima Bottle says, "Goodbye, Joe."

Joe Grapefruit says, in a baby voice, "Bye-e-e."

Then Suede, represented here by an orange that sounds vaguely like Michael Jackson, wishes Jerell all the best. "Suede wants you to go and represent [garbled, unintelligible words of encouragement]." So yeah, Jerell is Aunt Jemima Syrup here. Tim Gunn Bobble Head observes the scene silently. "It was fun at first," says Jerell on interview cam. At first? You don't see the endless puppet high jinks possibilities here, Jerell? That proves you don't deserve to win this competition. I've already developed three increasingly scatological one-act syrup-based mini-plays in my mind while making TiVo replay this moment. Next we see Jerell leaving Atlas and saying goodbye to Joe Grapefruit and Suede Orange. "Later, Joe. Later, Suede. Don't rot on the counter. Goodbye, Aunt Jemima bottle of Me. Stay high-fructose-corn syrupy. Friends forever."

The final four meet on the runway. Heidi pops out from behind the scrim in a leopard-print minidress. The model filler stuff is dispensed with, and then they're all off to meet Tim Gunn for a field trip. When they wind up at the New York Botanical Garden, Jerell says on interview cam, "I'm thinking we might go do something with plants." And this amazing guess is brought to you by the gay tilty mini-fedora he's got on his head. How much longer do we have to put up with these things? I hate them more than Crocs, and here's why: Talk to someone who owns a pair of Crocs, and they'll just shrug and go, "Whatever, man, they're comfortable." But a tilty-hat-wearer will start in on a monologue about how cute they think the hat is and how jaunty they feel in it. Then they'll show you their favorite pair of $250 jeans they like to wear with it when it's going-out-for-drinks time. Then you're stuck. And ultimately, now matter how much Jerell is doing to turn my attitude about him around -- and it would be too demanding to ask for something even better than syrup bottle improv theater -- it's little pointy thorns like this tilty hat that make me unsettled and cause me to continue questioning his presence in my life.

At the gardens the five of them walk down some stone steps. I expect Jay Manuel to jump out from behind some azaleas at any second. And look at Korto there, in her royal blue outfit, like she's about to shoot her own music video. Is there nothing she can't wear? Every color pops off her deep brown skin, and she knows it and is constantly turned out. In her way she's the Laura Bennett of this season. Jerell, speaking of the flowers, says they're therapeutic. Tim Gunn, whose mind, it would seem, is never far from all things Mommie Dearest, responds, "It's therapeutic unless you're Joan Crawford. And a control freak. And you don't want the bloom to fade."

This moment, for some reason, reminds of last summer when I went with my favorite gays to the beach and one of them threw a really hard Frisbee right at my head. It drew blood. The rest of the people in my group thought my injury was the best thing they'd ever seen in their life. No one spoke of Joan Crawford once. And I've just decided that I don't have enough Tim Gunn-style gays in my life. My existence is lopsided, and I'm surrounded by loutish post-Jackass homo-dudes who throw things at me. As I think this quietly to myself, Job lets out a giant belch, the product of multiple cans of Coors Light. He and Xtreem Aaron are having a contest and will soon begin crushing the cans against their foreheads. Not that I want to trade that in for a crew who only dish about Bette Davis and Judy Garland. But it's nice sometimes when an old-school faggot comes around and really lays it down the way they used to, you know? Like what's going to happen when they all die off someday in the gay nursing home? The rest of us will all just sit around talking about Mario Kart.

So no Jay Manuel. Instead we get the annual season appearance of Collier Strong. His job is to remind you that L'Oreal Paris makeup should be trowel-dumped all over your face-bricks 365 days a year. He's also going to tell the final four about their challenge. That means it's picture-taking time. That's the challenge. Take pictures of the pretty flowers. Let them inspire you into making an evening gown. "No sniper?" asks Job.

Now, see, that would be a good challenge. This is the kind of show-watching guest I like, megaburps and all.

"I love this challenge because I use bright, beautiful, crazy colors," says Kenley. Like purple. Strong purple. Rebellion, strong and purple. She goes on to talk about how all the great colors come from flowers.

And rain? Comes from the sky.

So they take the pictures, go back to the workroom, print out their shots, and then they all sit around deciding what flower they are. Jerell is a flower with exposed nipples. I swear I can't think of a more teat-displaying man on television in recent history. The entire cast of Baywatch Nights weren't this nipply. Anyway, flower dresses. They're on. Kenley is the most excited about hers, of course, but not in a way that suggests she's bringing any sort of editing eye to her impulses. She's so excited, in fact, that she's completely misplaced her Mood bag full of tulle. This leads to an interview-cam smackdown where Korto and Jerell talk shit about The Lady Miss Bangs. Korto is particularly jabby and eye-rolly with a "I don't feel sorry for her." (Pronounced here as "HUH.")

"Kenley's now the underdog," says Xtreem Aaron. "So I like her. And she's going to become shorthand for every awful white girl with bangs. 'Oh, that bitch? I hate her. She's such a Kenley.'"

Second day of the challenge:

Jerell walks into the women's Atlas apartment. He's got on a wacky hat made of ... corn husks? Prairie dogs? Parchment once used by Laura Ingalls Wilder? It's hard to know. But shit, Scarecrow, I'm going to miss you most of all. He jokes around with Korto and Leanne. Kenley sits pouting on her bed. Do we think the producers stole her tulle just to make her even more unhinged? If they did then that was an awesome strategy. Back in the workroom, Kenley begs for tulle from Jerell. Will he sell it?

"No," says Jerell. "My tulle is not for sale. I'm going to use it for [blah-blah bullshit excuse that is a lie]." Cut to Korto making a show of picking up her own tulle and stuffing it back into her Mood bag with a "Bam." There should just be a chorus line of animated dancing cats on the bottom of the screen all hissing and meowing and growling at each other. Dang. And by "dang" I mean THANK YOU, SHOW. MORE OF THIS SORT OF THING, PLEASE.

Tim Gunn walks in to see how everyone's doing. Kenley tells him her terrible tale of tulle. Tim Gunn says he'll try to help her out. He says he doesn't want her to be handicapped. Cut to Leanne wearing what appears to be two stretched-out yellow "LIVESTRONG" wristbands around her head. Don't know what that's about. The models come in for fittings. And now I see that all four designers have some kind of bright yellow fabric on their head and the show is not explaining why at all. Collier Strong comes back in too, for one-on-one makeup consultations where words like "drama" are freely dispensed. There's always got to be drama with makeup, I guess. Also glowy-ness. I e-mail professional model and professional wearer of makeup Elyse to fill me in on makeup drama, the whats and the whys. Her response:

"In the context of the batshit ridic vernacular of makeup, 'drama' is pretty tame. I've seen hair 'pudding' and cleansing 'sherbet,' 'volume' truncated with an apostrophe ('volum'' - Why?), twee misspellings and perfectly cromulent words wrung out and rendered meaningless through dogged overuse. 'Pop,' 'fresh,' 'poppin' fresh.' They've been ground into the ground by makeup artists and their ilk. I guess 'drama' is just the next word doomed to die in the jaws of that lexical wolfpack."

Thanks, Elyse!

After Kenley's makeup consultation she leaves for Mood, and we see her backstory with family photos. Apparently she grew up on a tugboat. No lie. Her dad was Popeye or something (evidenced in her statement while walking out of Mood, tulle bag recovered: "I yam who I yam"). It made Kenley feel left out her entire life. She even uses the words "loud and obnoxious" to describe herself. This is supposed to make you feel a touch sorry for her, because when you live with sharks and gulls and buoys you don't learn manners or gracious behavior. You become a little girl version of Robert Shaw and you walk around your floating elementary school barge saying shit like "Here's to swimmin' with bow-legged wimmin'" and showing off your scars.

Then it's time for Tim Gunn consultation. He starts with Korto and wants her to rein in the fancy-ladyness. "You have got to talk to me," he says. What I like about the Tim Gunn consultations is that you can tell who he respects by how he talks to them. The dialogue is always kind of elevated with Korto, as opposed to people early on to whom he gives the "Walk me through this" comments. When he gets to Kenley it's very awkward and standoffish. He doesn't want a rematch of the last workroom meltdown. But he does say the bottom of the gown looks like fish scales. Her response: "Oh, cool!" to which he recoils as if she has just farted in his face. Xtreem Aaron asks, "Does the woman who's going to wear that thing look like Daryl Hannah and is she named IH-IH-IH-IH-IH-IH-IH?"

And with each of Kenley's "But it's ... " and "Oh, yeah, well, I meant to do that ... " the camera cuts away to Jerell and Leanne looking more and more smug. Meanwhile, what happened to "Make it work?" Tim Gunn hasn't said that in more than a few episodes, it seems. Is he retiring his catchphrase? Does Randy Jackson know this? Because he might take it if it's going to be available.

Tim Gunn likes Jerell's layered deep purple cabbage dress. He's noncommittal about Leanne's determination to make a lavender stalk into a gown. But she convinces him she knows what's up. If only lavender plants came in dark charcoal gray, you know? Then Tim Gunn gathers them all around to tell them how proud he is of all of them. He can do this now, of course, since Suede's finally gone. Then he leaves them all to work late into the night and have miniature breakdowns on interview cam. Leanne cries the tears of the overly stressed.

Elimination Day:

It's daybreak and we're getting somber ablutions music while people brush their teeth. Jerell weeps while ironing to the "Theme From Blow-drying Loneliness Bangs and Ironing Anxiety Clothes and Stuff." The Aunt Jemima syrup is pretty misty-eyed herself. This is a very poignant ironing sequence. My question, though, is what exactly does Jerell need to iron? Everything he wears looks like it came from a bag of Mood scraps. "Oh, look, a button that's five inches in diameter. That will make a nice penis shield on this breakfast gown that I'm fashioning from strips of leftover Mylar. Now I need to ... sniff ... honk ... weep ... iron this thing and ... OH, SYRUP BOTTLE, YOU'RE THE ONLY FRIEND I HAVE LEFT IN THIS WORLD!"

And now even Korto is crying. Honestly, I didn't think she came equipped with the requisite ducts. And the show still has, like, 15 minutes left. If this is just a prelude to a lachrymose runway meltdown, then I'm about to become happier than I've been all season. Cut to one bathroom mirror with all three of the female contestants muttering "best wishes to all" sentiments to each other. None of them means it, of course, because within moments Kenley is back on interview cam talking shit. She hates Korto's clothes and she says that Leanne's "pleated details and muted color palette" has "been done." Kenley feels confident saying these things because no one's ever done the retro-'50s-June-Cleaver-lezzes-out-with-Bettie-Page-at-a-Tiger-Army-show thing before. Ever.

"What's that smell?" asks Job on the couch. I pause the TiVo, but no one else can smell anything. Something with notes of plastic mixed with peanut butter has invaded my watching guest's nose holes. No one knows what he's talking about. Boyfriend/editor Corey to the rescue: "Job can smell things other people can't. He can smell the past. It may be a residual aroma from people who lived here 20 years ago."

Now that the house-odor issue is settled, let's watch the lackluster runway show alongside Georgina Chapman, guest judge and queen of the fancy-schmance Marchesa line. Marchesa is all about the red carpet, so she's going to tear everyone a new rectum.

1. Korto -- A long orange gown. Fits her model very well. Not super exciting. It looks like what would happen if Tang were a dress. Which makes me think of astronauts. Which makes me think of Russian dogs in space. Which makes me think of Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

2. Leanne -- Well, she did it. She pleated it into looking like a lavender plant. A lavender plants with a saggy royal blue dish towel hanging out of the butt crack. I know I just mentioned rectum a second ago. But it's not my fault if these people are ruining clothes in the butt crack area.

3. Jerell -- Like I said before, deep purple cabbage with layers of other colors underneath the skirt. Heavy on volume and, therefore, makeup-related "drama." Best one so far.

4. Kenley -- Scaly purple mermaid costume. Tacky, dumb, and embarrassing. "The flippers at the bottom, or whatever they are," begins the husband/partner/whatever, "remind me of all the homemade banners people used to hang in churches in the '70s. My mom even made some of them for our folk mass at the Catholic church we went to. She stuffed this giant dove with cotton balls and sewed it to the panel."


Leanne tells them how she wanted to re-create the structure of a lavender plant. Chapman likes it. Nina calls it harmonious but then says, with her now-patented Subtle Sneer, "Can I have her turn around?" Translation: "Can I see her tragic ass-cloth and snap a quick photo to provide evidence for the defense when I go up there and wring your little organic Portland neck?"

Kors loves the shape of Korto's dress. But he and Heidi both call it pageant-like. Korto cries. Chapman and Nina question the color and fabric choice. Korto cries more. Verdict: She cared more about impressing the judges than doing her thing.

Nina calls Jerell's the most youthful but then says it's messy. Kors says it's off. Jerell gives the "I ran out of time" excuse. Shut it, Jerell! No time-based excuses allowed!

A close-up of Kenley's dress reveals it to be even more dumpy and hideous than it looked while the model was walking. For her delusional part, she says it's "really cool" and "edgy." Nina says it looks like a reptile. Kenley loves this and opens her mouth wide to laugh. Nina adds, "But not in a cool way," Ouchie.

Then Kenley digs herself a deeper grave with "I wanted to stay away from pretty." Well, then, mission accomplished.

"This girl does not look young, hip, or cool at all," says Nina. Then Kenley says she also wanted to stay away from cliche.

"But I wrote 'cliche,'" says Kors.

"It is NAWW-AAAWWT!" squeals Kenley.

"The petals don't look very elegant either," chimes in Heidi.

"I wasn't going for elegant ... Heidi," snaps Kenley, adding a little snorty exhale for emphasis. I know! Gah! Dang, Heidi! Stop criticizing everything all the time! Cut to Heidi rolling her eyes and motioning her hands to the ceiling, counting the days until this season is over.

Nina calls Kenley's attitude bothersome. Heidi says, "It is a little bit annoying, I have to agree," to which Kenley rolls her eyes and shakes her head and claims not to know what anyone means by such a thing. And you know, she may not have known while the show was being shot. Sometimes it takes a picture or a recording to get you to really see yourself in action. And you know she's watching now. And if she doesn't understand after seeing this air on TV, then she never will.

Finally, the best part. Heidi gets to interrogate them. "Why should you move forward to Fashion Week, and which two designers do you want to have come with you?" she asks.

Weeping, sobbing answers abound. I've dreamed of this. I've worked so hard. I've shown my point of view. Etc. Also? Fuck Kenley. I think she should be pushed off the roof of Atlas. Naturally, Kenley disagrees and a big argument breaks out on the runway. "I'm not trying to throw you under the bus, Boo-Boo," says Jerell. "But they asked me which two designers -- "

"They didn't ask you to elaborate on why," Kenley lobs back.

"Korto and Leanne and Jerell at the tents," snaps Jerell. AT. THE. TENTS." And I'd spell out how Jerell just said the word "tents." But I don't know how. There's a "y" in there somewhere, like "teyents." It's weird. Georgina Chapman looks really uncomfortable right now. Heidi, however, is on fire. So happy. "Leanne, same question to you..."

Leanne requests the presence of Jerell and Korto. Heidi's eyes sparkle with evil glee. Korto says she wants Leanne and Jerell, "not just because of what they do but because of who they are as people."

Kenley says, "Well, now that I've just been trashed ... "

And on and on and more boo-hooing and profuse apologies as the dams of emotion burst and Nina just looks away and takes notes on the madness and Heidi steels her frozen flinty gaze and takes in the human destruction she's helped create as the fighting moves from the runway to backstage. Judge chat? Fuck judge chat! Korto and Kenley gotta have some more words!

And so ...

Due to this excitement, the first major fireworks of the season, the judges are completely at the mercy of what have to be producers' decisions. And what that means is that no one's getting kicked off. It should be Kenley, obviously. But do you want her to be gone? Do you really? No, you don't. You want more of her electric whining and dazzling emotional immaturity. OK, maybe it's just me. Look, they got rid of Keith, her only competition on that front. We need somebody who'll mix it up in the final two episodes.

Oh, by the way, Jerell wins this one. No one's out. See you next week.

to Stay Away From Pretty" " data-page-title="

 "I Wanted
to Stay Away From Pretty"

" >
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