On ''America's Next Top Model,'' the girls had a lesson in voguing, then did some of their best work posing as the recently deceased

By Vanessa Juarez
March 22, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
De Yonker

”America’s Next Top Model”: Playing (drop) dead

Hi Top Model people:

When last’s night epi of ANTM began, only 10 girls remained. The drama started early, when Felicia tried to get Jael’s mind off of the death of her friend with a little dancing, while Renee slinked in a corner feeling sorry for herself. ”I feel like a lot of the girls in the house don’t understand me,” she said, ”like they’re just looking for ways to be offended by me. I don’t know why; I feel like they just don’t like me.” In that moment, I hoped — no, I prayed — that she’d recite a rap she had written about the experience (à la Marcel from Top Chef). Alas, she woke up the next day ”changed,” with a new anti-bitch attitude. Marcel, what did you put in her Corn Flakes?

But wait! As a peace offering, Renee drew a portrait of Jael…in a straitjacket. And. Gave. It. To. Her. ”I don’t mean it offensively,” Renee said as she handed it to Jael. Um, call me superrr-loco, but on the spectrum of gift-giving, I can’t think of a gesture that would have been more insulting — other than maybe FedExing a box full of elephant dung. ”It’s a straitjacket,” Renee explained, ”but it’s not tied.” Oh. In that case, it’s water under the bridge, unless of course you want to throw Jael in the river wearing the straitjacket.

Next came the traffic cop who — surprise, surprise — wasn’t a traffic cop, but instead a poor man’s combination of Kevin Federline and Cris Judd, except with a better name: Benny Ninja. Other than the tidbit about how voguing got started in Harlem, he didn’t seem to teach the girls squat — they certainly learned nothing about the actual moves. Even Mr. Miyagi would have been more hands-on.

Maybe we should track down the director’s cut, because at the challenge, Benny Ninja said, ”Yesterday, you learned about posing and movement” before announcing that the girls would be able to show him their catlike agility while slinking through a crazy maze of lasers. But it wasn’t a total rip-off of Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment: At least they could actually see the lasers. Felicia and Whitney got through the maze most poetically, while there others took the ”cat” thing a little too literally, stretching their paws out at my Benny Ninja.

I was startled when, later, Renee considered quitting the competition. Renee, I’ve openly touted my disgust for you, but please don’t go. No tears, muffin. Alas, it does seem that your man Jason is a little dense. You were sobbing, and he asked you if you’d had a good day. (I sure hope he’s not taking care of your child all by himself. Hungry? What? Babies get hungry?) But you came back to life, didn’t you? Your old fearless and hateful self came back: ”I can’t stand these girls, Jason. I swear to god I’m going to beat them all [bleep] down.”

Which leads me to believe that if Renee had written a rap, here’s how it would have gone:

”These Girls”
As soon as I came to the spot
You started to make me out to be something I’m not
It’s taken every ounce of Aqua Net that I’ve got
Not to pop you in the face
And you have no grounds to base your accusations on
Because your poses are built on something other than grace
You say my modeling fundamentals are as icy as my feelin’s
And I’m like, yo, girl, whatever
I don’t even get stressed because at the end of the day
I know my modeling is f—in’ better

If Renee is going to fight anything, let it be her urge to quit. The official boot from Tyra will be so much more satisfying to watch. But I could be wrong about Renee’s fate. Twenty-four hours after the lasers beat her down, during the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) shoot, Renee nailed her pose and took the best photos. Every frame of Renee, Jay said, was ”so editorial and high fashion, I wouldn’t expect this out of a real supermodel.” But when it came down to it, all of the girls were convincing. The makeup was nice and fleshy — even more juicy that the pus-laden pimples I watched Tyra pop a couple of days ago on her talk show…egad! And all of the girls, with the exception of Felicia — who got kicked off this week — connected with the camera in that ”If I’m resurrected, you’re going to be sorry (but in a less creepy than Michael Jackson)” kind of way.

Cumulatively, this was a toughie to judge. Renee, I’ve got to hand it to you: You’re good at playing dead. And you were going to quit?

My top models:

OUT: Felicia

9. Whitney

8. Diana

7. Dionne

6. Sarah

5. Jael

4. Natasha

3. Brittany

2. Jaslene

1. Renee


PS: If you were the Top Model ”decider,” would you have booted Felicia? Do you love to hate Renee, or do you hate to love her? And who were your top three?

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