Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Our next top
lesbian model

Our next top
            lesbian model

Stolz’s sexy androgyny might not be the kind of look
that fans of UPN’s America’s Next Top
would expect to go far on the fiercely
competitive reality show, but the brainy beauty managed to
make it all the way to the top five. While her
elimination might seem questionable to some—why
she got cut before the irritating Jayla is a riddle
for the ages—Stolz established herself early as one
of the show’s most engaging personalities,
especially after memorably crowing, “One down,
11 to go” (after kissing fellow competitor Sarah) and
winning one of the show’s best prizes—a
guest shot on Veronica Mars.

In an exclusive
interview with Advocate.com, Stolz talks about what
really went down with Sarah, and dishes a little dirt about
bratty Bre and the infamous “granola bar

I always like to ask reality folks—do you think
the show’s editing was fair to you and to
what you experienced?
I think that for the most part the editing was
fair. The only part that was a little bit exaggerated
were the parts that involved Sarah and me. That was
exaggerated to a pretty ridiculous point. With Sarah, there
were conversations that we had that were left out that
made the whole experience with her obviously much less
serious than it was portrayed.

Are you still with the same girlfriend you had when you
started the show?

And did you have to explain to her what wasn’t
being shown?
Yeah, we had a few of those conversations.
[Laughs] In the episode, it was clear that I
was interested in my girlfriend, and my girlfriend
only. There might have been some instances where someone
questioned it—not my interest in my girlfriend, but
questioned what was going on with Sarah—but in
the end I think it was very clear that there was
nothing meaningful going on between Sarah and me and that my
heart belongs to my girlfriend. And my girlfriend
understood—I was on a reality show, which is
sort of an out-of-life experience and very out of the
ordinary. We worked through it, and obviously it
wasn’t her favorite thing to watch [laughs] but
she knows that I love her and that I’m not
interested in anyone else romantically.

I am a bit of a conspiracy theorist on this one, so talk
me down if I’m wrong. I felt that no matter
how well you did on the show, they were going to
have to cut you at some point because Cover Girl
isn’t ready for an out lesbian spokesmodel.
I have the same conspiracy theory as you, and I
certainly am not in a position to say, “Oh
yeah, I know, Cover Girl’s not ready for me, so
forget them!” I think the person who wins deserves it
more than I do; I think a lot of people took better
pictures than I did. At the same time, had I been
completely successful with every picture that I took and
perfect in every challenge, I’m still not sure that
Cover Girl, being the reflector of a relatively
conservative U.S. society, was ready for someone who
thinks that gender is a socially constructed term or someone
who’s really out and open with her sexuality.
I’m not sure that Cover Girl would have been so
keen on that.

Do you think that maybe by not winning, you dodged a
bullet? Because judging from those “My Life
as a Cover Girl” spots, it doesn’t seem
like last year’s winner, Naima, is keeping
all that busy.
I think that, of course, winning the competition would
have been a huge opportunity for me and opened a lot
of doors, but at the same time, I think a lot of doors
are open just from being on the show itself. I think
that “My Life as a Cover Girl” maybe
doesn’t necessarily fit the Kim Stolz image.
[Laughs] I’m not sure I could be a Cover Girl
for my life. I think maybe there will be a lot of
other opportunities that might arise that
wouldn’t have, had I won.

I thought it was very cool that you guys got to meet
butch icon Jenny Shimizu, because she’s
definitely a pioneer when it comes to challenging
traditional concepts of gender and beauty. Was there
more from that visit that we didn’t see as
far as direct advice or anything else you took out
of that meeting?
I definitely think I might have talked more extensively
with her about her gender expression, especially on
the runway, because obviously that was a huge
challenge for me. But for the most part, she did exactly
what the show portrayed—she came in and talked about
her life as an out model, and about how being a tomboy
really played to her advantage and her individualistic
talents. I think that those really came out there, and
that’s really exciting.

In your last episode, Bre—with whom you’d
had a pretty amicable relationship, apart from
that whole limo throw-down—went a little batty.
Was that something that caught you by surprise, or had
they just edited her to look nicer in previous episodes?
It caught me by surprise, for sure. After the limo
thing, things were pretty sour. But before the limo,
Bre was one of my best friends—she was one of
my first friends on the show. We really enjoyed each
other’s company, we made each other
laugh—and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere,
in the limo, she burst out with all these insults to my
character. And that came as a surprise to me, because not
only was I very clearly scapegoated—I mean,
everyone talked about everyone, and when Bre said,
“I love Jayla, because she never talks about anyone
else,” clearly [Bre] had no idea what was going

Just look at
Jayla in the earlier weeks, talking about Bre’s
friend Nik in a really harsh and negative way. We all
talked about people. And I was insulted because, with
all of my talking behind girls’ backs, I never
talked about my friends negatively. I never talked about Bre
or Kyle or Sarah or Coryn, none of those girls. So to
be told that my character is ugly, and that
“God don’t like ugly,” and whatever.
[Laughs] God don’t like gay, either,
Bre, if that’s what you’re trying to tell me,
so obviously I’m pretty screwed when I get to
my final day of judgment.

And then Bre
started stealing things from Nicole, and I just looked at
her as a sort of lunatic, and I became relatively fearful of
her actions, especially after she tackled me. That was
scarier than it looked.

Yeah, that whole wrestling thing, I couldn’t tell
if it was friendly or not or...
I just sort of laughed it off, because I was
really uncomfortable and kind of scared of her. And
I’m not one to be scared easily. I mean, the
girl got kicked out of college for fistfighting and she
wasn’t the kind of person I wanted to mess
with, especially since we both live in New York. So
she tackled me and threw me on the ground and said,
[hissing] “Just go back to your room!”
And she called me “Inspector Gadget,” I
believe, at one point? So I’m thinking, Jesus, who is
this? I thought I knew her. But apparently not.
Sometimes people surprise you, and not for the better.
And I guess that’s just what happened.

Now who ate the granola bar? Because that’s what
we’re all dying to know.
This is definitely something I would like to know. I
wish I’d eaten the granola bar, I really do,
because that would be so hilarious! I didn’t,
unfortunately, and I don’t think that any of the
other girls did either. I know that sounds crazy, but
I don’t think anyone wanted to mess with Bre at
that point. She had scared us all enough that I don’t
think anyone really wanted to eat her granola bars.
Also, I hate granola. [Alonso laughs] Maybe one of
Bre’s other personalities ate it.

Did you ever get the impression, being in this bubble
where it was female-only most of the time, that
the other girls in the house started seeking your
approval as a sort of surrogate man, or at least someone
who could provide a masculine gaze?
I didn’t feel it that much. I definitely felt at
times that people were treating me like the boyfriend
of the house. People were looking at me as the
masculine one who they could sort of flirt with innocently,
and I wouldn’t be freaked out by it. It was
clear that I played some sort of boyish role in the

While the show was running, did you go to Web sites like
Television Without Pity to see what people were
saying about you?
Yeah, I went to Television Without Pity; I went
to a few sites to check out the reactions. You know,
they could be hurtful at times, but if you go on a
show like that, you have to be able to take things with a
grain of salt and to realize that the guy writing from
Oklahoma about how he thinks you have a chubby
face—when the show hasn’t even started yet and
all he’s seen is the introductory picture—if
you’re going to get broken down over that, then
you shouldn’t even walk outside.

Most people I know who are fans of the show love Miss J.
Alexander and can’t stand Mr. J. Manuel.
How did you respond to them?
Before I went on the show, I liked Miss J. a bit and Mr.
J. annoyed me at times. But when I got there, I had
some really good times with Mr. J. and I grew to like
him a lot as a person. When he’s off-camera and
talking to you, he can be an excellent role model and a
really funny guy, very down-to-earth. I really enjoyed
my time with Mr. J. As far as Miss J., I like him, but
he was the first and the harshest to criticize my
gender-identity expression. And that really confused me.
Because of all people, I think he should be the one to
understand. I thought perhaps he felt like,
“It’s so easy for me to be feminine, why
can’t she be?” I guess I could see where
he was coming from, but that was really offensive to
me, that he would constantly harp on my gender. After a
while, it was like, enough is enough. At one point,
you’re telling me to be myself, then
you’re telling me to be someone else. If I did that
to you, Miss J., you’d have a hard time with

So what’s next for you?Well, I was working at a law firm for a while, but I
quit that because I really do want to try modeling and
acting. My appearance on Veronica Mars was
really exciting for me, and it showed me that acting
could be an interesting and exciting field for me to compete
in. I’ll go to some acting agencies and see
what I can do there, and go to some modeling
agencies—who knows, maybe both of them will work out.
We’ll see. At some point in my life,
I’ll probably get back to my academic side. I
majored in international politics and I wrote my thesis on
foreign policy; I want to get back to that at some point,
but right now I want to try modeling and acting.

Are you ready to become a queer icon?Yeah! I hope I made the queer community proud.
I’ve gotten some letters saying that
I’ve made some people proud, which makes me very
happy. Anything that I can do for the queer community, I

Tags: World, World

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