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Kenley Doesn't
Give an EFF

Kenley Doesn't
Give an EFF

Pr_ken_dress

But whatever. She loses anyway. Later, Project Runway.

I have a new favorite show. Destroyed in Seconds. It's on Discovery. The whole show is about stuff getting wrecked and smashed and obliterated: cars, buildings, planes, towns; all the things a person can think about destroying get thoroughly decimated. In the episode I just watched, this one guy in Colorado got himself a bulldozer and then armored it with layers of steel and poured concrete, and then he went on a town-destroying rampage. His real-life Killdozer was, luckily, caught on tape while doing its thing. He even won a game of chicken with this other giant construction vehicle, and he just shoved the whole thing out of his way. I spent all three viewings of this footage -- twice for me, one to share with special friends -- fantasizing about having my own steel-reinforced battering ram and just driving down Wilshire, letting valet guys have fun parking it, crushing the vehicles of celebrities I find annoying. Like...well, dang, I had this whole rant written naming names of famous people's cars I'd like to see compacted and then I realized that if someone actually went and played out my Killdozer fantasies by proxy that I'd get sued for it like Judas Priest by those suicide kids' parents.

Why couldn't this entire season of Project Runway have been more like Destroyed in Seconds? Why no challenges that involved ejecting from a burning air-show plane and sewing a chic parachute before hitting the ground? Why not more fireballs in the Parsons workroom? Why no Tim Gunn careening through Diane von Furstenberg's showroom in an out-of-control Saturn? Why, oh Runway, was this your least awesome season ever? WHY NO REUNION SHOW?! (And by the way, the blog called Project Rungay did its own pretty darn funny reunion show composed of still photos and captions, and I recommend it. I have no idea who does that blog. I'm not part of its "street team" or anything. But I like to help out fellow obsessives where I can. You're welcome, PRgay; it's a near-certainty that tens of readers will now check you out.)

I'm watching tonight's finale with the usuals: Xtreem Aaron, his ex-BF Gary, and our friend Job (rhymes with "strobe"). The husband-partner-whatever lugs himself into the living room too and announces, "I can say it now: I have lost whatever give-a-shit-ness I had for this show. I no longer care."

"I care," I whisper earnestly. "I care a lot." And just then, neighbor Jill walks in the front door unannounced, needing the Pyrex dish she brought over a couple days before. It used to be filled with a homemade meat pie. Now it contains the memory of meat pie. She knows I still like Kenley, in spite of it all -- because I enjoy chaos when it's safely contained inside a TV -- and asks, "Who do you want to win, Dave?"

"Terri," I say. Everyone in our house agrees that Terri was the raddest. But the past is past and it ain't coming back. We have to pick up the pieces of our lives and move on. Gary wants snacks. We have Rice Krispie treats and Cheez-Its. Also beers. "Don't eat all my Cheez-Its," Xtreem Aaron says to Gary. "That box is part of my earthquake-readiness kit. How did they even get opened? Who's been eating all my Cheez-Its?"

I'm about to unpause the TiVo and start the show, and now Job wants a retraction for something I wrote about him in an earlier recap. His beef is that, by omission, by stating that only XA and I were pro-Kenley, that I had painted Job as a Kenley-hater when in reality he's actually Kenley-ambivalent, Kenley-unconcerned. His favorite is Leanne, and she has been his Cat Power-y choice since the first episode. There. Record set straight.

Opening caption on bottom of screen as I finally unpause TiVo: 3 DAYS UNTIL RUNWAY SHOW

The final three ladies enter the Bluefly workroom and Tim Gunn hurries in behind them. Somewhere, off-camera, lurk Jerell, Suede, and Joe. They showed at Fashion Week too because Runway hadn't finished kicking them off yet by the time the big event rolled around. I wish we could see where they were the whole time. Did they just have to set up their work space in the alley outside somewhere? Did the producers make the guys give the ladies piggyback rides to different places? Did they get a worse craft services table? These are questions I have. No one ever answers them. So many secrets in TV production.

Tim Gunn tells them that it's time to pick models. Leanne goes straight to the highly desirable subset of big-buggy-eyed Close Encounters-headed Eastern European models. For several years now those girls -- Leanne calls them the alien-looking ones -- have been all over the place. I notice shit like this. War-haunted faces = hot hot hot. During the casting Korto, Leanne, and Kenley josh around like old pals, all playing nice, getting jokey about swiping each other's girls. Oh, us. We're so fun. Meanwhile, Jerell, Joe, and Suede are down the block at the check cashing/pay-your-electric-bill-here place begging random strangers to walk in their shows.

Then Tim Gunn comes back to the workroom to get a first look at their completed collections. He starts with Kenley, who has, against reason, decided not to remove those black ropes from anything she affixed them to on the previous episode. Tim tells her that the ropes are not "organic" and that they "strangle" the pieces. And then? Kenley says, "I have to disagree with that. I'm sorry."

Whoa! Someone's been going to finishing school in her months away from the show, maybe even the one Mary J. Blige went to. Tim responds courteously in return and backs off. "Well," says Gary, "What you didn't see was her giving him the double bird when his back was turned. And then she called him a faggot."

But we get back a little of Old Kenley when he asks her if she's going to send the Alexander McQueen-y wedding dress down the runway with the same model wearing it, reinviting the judges to dislike it for its similarity (read: near-exact copy) of the earlier, more famous dress. Kenley adopts her buffalo stance and tells Tim Gunn that she's not going to let the judges boss her around and that they tell her that her pieces look knocked-off frequently and that "I'm sick of it. It's insulting." She fails to get inside her armored, concrete-reinforced Kenleydozer and crush the life out of Tim Gunn, but in her mind I think it's happening. As Tim Gunn walks away he makes a "I just got told, but by a crazy young woman, so it kind of doesn't count, yet watch me as I back away slowly all the same" kind of face. That's a shot I need to look at a few times.

Finally, though, Kenley concedes that Tim Gunn might have a point and makes the decision to take her lead model Topacio (I think that's how you spell her name) out of the wedding dress so that...what? The dress suddenly becomes magically different? I'm not sure what the logic is here. But whatever. I've paused the TiVo because Job's telling us all about the time he unsuccessfully burgled a post office once when he was 18. Totally got arrested for it. It's exciting to have actual crime-makers in my home. Then he says, "There's something Kermit-y about Tim Gunn," which leads to a discussion of how it would be awesome to see Tim Gunn singing "Rainbow Connection" in a No on Prop. 8 ad. For you non-Californians, Prop. 8 is the asshole christian-right constitutional amendment that would ban marriage for people of the same sex. You know they think that if it doesn't pass then the next thing would be frogs marrying pigs. KILLDOZE!

After Tim Gunn leaves, Korto asks Kenley if she's still going to put her wedding dress in the show. Kenley says that she is and that she doesn't "give an eff" about the judges before blotting her lipstick. I freely admit to being wrongheaded about a lot of things, but how can anyone not find this brand of muleheaded snottiness adorable? Meanwhile, Korto is going to take her poorly received wedding dress out of her collection and MAKE TWO ENTIRELY NEW PIECES FOR THE SHOW AT THE LAST MINUTE. What you don't see on camera is that she has Christian Siriano hidden in her big Mood bag and he's going to just stay put in there. She'll drop fabric in and five minutes later he'll spit it back out, finished, ready for Vicki Becks.

Title on screen: 2 DAYS UNTIL RUNWAY SHOW

Cut to Kenley blow-drying her huge amount of hair. I don't know where she puts it all when it's done, but somehow she manages to tuck it somewhere. And even if you don't find Kenley completely entertaining you have to admit that, watching this moment, she's got minx-y good hair. Not as good as Korto's, obviously, but objectively excellent.

They're all going to meet with L'Oreal's Collier Strong to talk about their models' makeup needs. Two good things about Collier Strong:

1. He's wearing an Angelyne T-shirt. Angelyne is still awesome. You can see her driving her pink car all over Los Angeles, making people's lives happier every moment she's awake. She's better than having a mayor.

2. The husband-partner-whatever and Xtreem Aaron saw him last week on our block at our favorite burger stand, Irv's. If you come to Los Angeles and you don't eat at Irv's and get a majorly delicious cheeseburger served to you by the astoundingly good Sonia, who runs the place, then you didn't really come to Los Angeles. Tell Sonia your name and she'll write a note to you on your paper plate. She might even hug you when you leave. She's that cool. By extension now, Collier Strong is nearly as great as one of Sonia's cheeseburgers.

The designers get their makeups consulted or whatever. "Kenley wants all of her models to look like Wanda Jackson," says Xtreem Aaron.

"If I put that in the recap no one's going to know who that is," I say. But look, I just did it anyway. That's why they made Google. Next is model fittings, which means you get at least one shot of a super-flaca lady get totally starkers with no thought at all to who's taping her. And because it's not a batch of male models, the cameras barely seem to care anyway. Cut to Kenley, on interview-cam, bad-mouthing Leanne's neutral color palette. Then cut to one of Kenley's zonked-out 1980s-inspired dresses whose colors are brought to you by a rerun of Miami Vice. So yeah, it seems like rockabilly has left the building and Wang Chung has stepped in. Wanda Jackson reference officially not relevant now.

Title on screen: 1 DAY UNTIL RUNWAY SHOW

Hair consultation time with TRESemme. Korto wants fake buns on models' heads. And voila, here are fake buns in the exact hair color she needs. They kinda look like cereal bowls made of hair. Wouldn't that be funny to eat some Cap'n Crunch out of in the morning? A bowl made of hair? I mean, you could at least try it once before you make that ewww face, couldn't you? Listen, my hair-bowl digressions are way more interesting than watching models get their hair consulted upon.

More models come into the workroom for more fittings. One of them brings her dog. Of course. Everyone wants to bring their fucking dogs with them everywhere now. Especially city people. They realized, AFTER getting the damn thing, that their apartment is only 600 square feet and there's no room for the poor creature to run around and shit. Solution? Bring it with you everywhere you go in your purse or on one of those extendo-leashes so it can run freely and slobber on strangers and take big dumps wherever. Like the model's dog just did here. On the floor. The model laughs hysterically at this. Look! It made a doodee! So cute! I'm a model with a dog! Life is amazing! Kenley's measured response to the poop situation: "You better keep that [bleep]ing dog away from me."

Title: DAY OF FINAL RUNWAY SHOW

The women get up at 3 in the morning. They go to the tents. They walk on the plastic-coated runway. Jerell, Joe, and Suede have to clobber three janitors and steal their uniforms to be let in, but they persevere and the plan works. Now they have to make sure their models from the check-cashing place got their kids dropped off at day care and will make it on time. At one point Jerell accidentally gets into one of the shots while doing his "In the Teyents" dance and then there's a coin toss among the production assistants for who gets to chop off one of Jerell's hands as a consequence.

Title: 2 HOURS UNTIL RUNWAY SHOW

Korto welcomes her team of unpaid interns and puts them all to work sewing and fixing and ironing. Kenley, who is wearing some really bouncy arugula antennae on her head, shuns hers: "No one touches my clothes. They don't know how to iron painted fabric. I'm the only one who does that." And seriously, you know that's true. They'd just ruin everything. When shit's important you gotta do it yourself. Neighbor Jill told me I liked megalomaniacs the other week. She may have a point.

Title: 1 HOUR UNTIL RUNWAY SHOW

The tent turns into a celebriteria. Blayne shows up too, as do Daniel and Wesley, looking couple-ish. We see Michelle Trachtenberg air-kissing Christian Siriano. Then there's Nick V and the best Runway cast member ever, Malan Breton, who's also showing at Fashion Week. That proves that runners-up and cast-off people can bounce back and make that shit happen.

Shots of models being made up (one with a really weird-looking little spray hose thing aimed right at her face -- gotta ask model pal Elyse about that) and haired and dressed. Suddenly, one of Leanne's models doesn't fit into one of her pieces. Like she got demonstrably skinnier in the past 48 hours. And I just got a little fatter, so there you go, my high school science teacher was right, energy is always conserved. In another part of the tent Kenley barks, "Suck in, Tapacio!" (I figured why not spell it with an "a" instead of an "o" this time. Then at least once in this recap I'd be doing it right.)

Finally, the show begins. And even more importantly, at minute 27 of this episode, we finally get some Heidi. "Welcome!" she yells. "Don't I look great?!" Then Heidi tells everyone that J.Lo was supposed to be the guest judge for the show but that she had a foot injury and couldn't make it. I wrote about this before. Still smells like a lie. And even if it were true, you know you can still SIT DOWN IN A CHAIR when your foot is hurt. In fact, I understand that it's preferable. So Tim Gunn is brought out as guest judge. Daniel V. applauds. Kenley's response: "ARE YOU KIDDING?!" She knows she's fucked now. "Maybe I should have improved my attitude," she mutters. Ha-HA! Cut to Chris March in the audience. He's sweating. Heidi says "Let's start the show!" and she and Tim Gunn go to their seats, where Tim Gunn leans down to kiss some lady -- OMG IT'S MICHAEL KORS'S MOTHER, KARL LAGERFELD!

Kenley's show is first but right now we're all just too excited to see Michael Kors's mother, Karl Lagerfeld, back again and more ponytailed than ever. We begin discussing her life. What does she do with her days?

"Oversees things," says Gary.

"Has procedures done," says Xtreem Aaron.

"Inspects braids," offers the husband-partner-whatever.

I like to think that she has one amazing lunch after another at all of NYC's best dining establishments. Then she goes and shops for things and says out loud, "This is nice, but MY SON MICHAEL KORS COULD, AND HAS DONE, A LOT BETTER SEVERAL SEASONS AGO, DON'T YOU AGREE?" And then she leaves without buying anything.

OK, Kenley's show. Now I'm not about to describe 30 outfits for you in detail. If you want to see the actual clothes you can find them online. You can also see Jerell's, Suede's, and Joe's. It's all out there. I chose not to look at shows until this episode. But this is more or less how it goes with Kenley's looks: Ruthless People dress meant to evoke a piece of Italian Memphis Group design from 1984, teal-green shoulder boulders, the ugly purple-waves-meets-flowery-explosion tugboat disaster of '08, that really cute bridesmaid dress from last week, poufy tutu skirt beneath hot-pink bustier for ladies with giant square nipples, tight black thing with more rope, a totally amazing silky dress with hand-painted flowering tree running the entire length (and it gets applause), and a Balenciaga Jr, painted flower thing with puffy shoulders. (I know this dress already, but you know Kenley will say she's never seen it before. Oh, and by the way, fuckin' Michael Kors is watching this show while wearing sunglasses. If I were Kenley I'd go yank them off his head.) And then some more stuff. A new model in the wedding dress. Wow, it looks like not exactly the same thing as before at all.

Cut to Stella in the audience. Xtreem Aaron says, "You know she's thinking, 'Fuckin' metal detectors! They wouldn't let in Ratbones and his blade!' "

Korto's show: Everything is eye-gougingly green or earth-brown taupe or Golden Grahams-yellow. It's African but also not, it's grown-up looking, it's simple but has all these off-kilter details that make it stand apart, it's for women and not girls. With the exception of maybe one long white dress that's just too ruffly, it's all kind of amazing and beautiful. And that means she's going to lose.

Leanne's show is cool and fluttery and pleaty and tucky and gathery, very modern and ghostly white and shimmery blue -- the antithesis of Christian's severe black bondage tops from last season. Nothing you could sit down in. Some Matmos-y music plays while her models walk, reinforcing the aspirational thing of "This could be a future version of you if only you were definitely and seriously committed to being better and skinnier and taller and less encumbered by emotions and breasts." Very salable and almost wearable.

Show's over. Jerell and Joe and Suede have been given their bus tickets back to wherever along with strict gag orders to keep all this shit quiet. And we're back at the runway for judging. When Tim Gunn's name and title (he's chief creative officer at Liz Claiborne Inc.) come up on-screen, Xtreem Aaron says, "Hey, I didn't know Tim Gunn worked for Liz Claiborne. Did you know she's a devil worshiper?"

"Untrue," I say.

"Yes, really. You Wikipedia her name. A picture of her making out with Anton LaVey will come up. It's true. She's the Deicide of fashion ladies."

"Go to Snopes.com and you will learn things," I say.

"You go to Snopes.com and you will learn about Liz Claiborne being a high priestess in the Church of Satan," says XA.

Because we're at a facts-based impasse in which I am correct and XA is just talking shit, I'll just go on to the judging bit. My favorite parts of this lengthy discussion:

1. How Heidi pronounces the word "idea" as "idear."

2. Nina calling out Kenley on the Balenciaga look-alike dress. I like this because I thought of it too. Me and Nina, we're mental together.

3. Kors tells Kenley that it's necessary for her to know what's going on and not create (a.k.a. totally copy) things in the dark like that.

4. Nina tells Korto that her clothes would appeal to every woman. Too bad they have a strict "No Fat Chicks" policy at Marie Claire.

5. How Kenley and Korto keep up the crying. Welcome, surprise guest judge Ricky! He's here to see who's best at blubbering. He will hand-count the tears. I lean toward Kenley because she's not afraid to get boogery with the tissue-nose-dabbing thing.

And the winner is Leanne, which means that her model, Tia, also wins! Congratulations, Tia! You get a check for one HUNDRED dollars and a gift certificate to Roy Rogers Restaurant! Also you will be mentioned in an online Advocate column about this show!

Kenley's final wept words: "I think it's bullshit!"

Korto's: "Am I disappointed? Hella yes...my heart is bleeding."

I asked Elyse the model, who's lived in Leanne's town of Portland, Ore., and who is currently modeling all over China, to weigh in on this win. Her response: "As a former resident of Portland, I'm glad and proud to see someone reppin' a PDX steez more advanced than the uniform of a rain-mildewy hoodie and tight pants. And since this may be the last season of Project Runway for eons and eons, I'd like your readers to perform the sartorial equivalent of pouring a 40-ounce out on the ground in memory of makin' it work: Get something out of your closet that you've been 'saving' for a special occasion, or something that you'd forgotten about, or a piece of jewelry your great-grandma gave you, and wear it today! Don't do the Chanel thing of removing one accessory; pile on one more! I'll do it too, look, I'm putting on my Ann Demeulemeester platform mules that I never want to touch the pavement because they came sheathed in individual cotton shoe bags and I love how pristine they are. They're going on my feet and I'm walking out the door looking 10 times fresher than I would in the filthy black Vans I'd be wearing otherwise.

"And I am writing this from perpetually under-construction Shanghai. All around my apartment are enormous rubbly killing fields full of demolished concrete buildings. I've seen the weirdest rare demolition equipment, like a big crane with one colossal metal tooth at the end for pecking holes in defunct masonry. When I look at the men (and women -- that's a very noticeable difference between Chinese and American construction crews) laboring away, covered in toxic white dust, struggling, I think, 'There but for the grace of not having my own concrete-and-armor-fortified bulldozer go I.' Please do not give me my own armored bulldozer. Please."

Thanks, Elyse!

OK, that's it for me for now. Dear Project Runway, please come back soon. Or as soon as all your lawsuits are settled. Or whenever. But could you make it after the season finale of American Idol? Double duty would make this professional typist's hands fall off. You know how we gays all have those limp wrists, right? Have some compassion.

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