America's Next Top Model
Erin Wasson

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Life's a Ball

But I digress. Jay tells the girls that if you go backstage at any fashion show these days, you'll see a photo shoot happening. They're going to be doing the very same thing today. The girls will have a backstage photo shoot before they go out on the runway, shot by Top Model favorite Russell James. The girls are beside themselves with joy. Backstage, hairstylist Abby Roll works on Nicole. Russell says that in his book, which is called Russell James and which he feels not at all cheesy about shilling, there is a whole section devoted to backstage shoots. They've become even more important than what happens on the runway, he says, and it takes models with a very special talent to understand what's going on.

Russell shoots Brittani first, and she seems to feel relatively comfortable despite her excitement about working with Russell. Ondrei's face has an intensity that translates well to film. Alexandria loves to push her upper lip out, and also to engage in bitchface. She interviews that she has natural swag, which is something that you either have or you don't. She also doesn't care what anyone else has to say about her, or if they like her. Thought she doesn't say it, the implication is clear: Alexandria isn't here to make friends. Mikaela looks sleepy-eyed but lovely, while Sara looks terrified. Kasia tells us that she has a leg up on the other girls given her experience, but she knows that as a plus-sized model she has to work harder to achieve the same success. Monique looks sexy even while rolling her eyeballs back into her head. Jaclyn tells us that she's there because of her babyface, and with the help of the Jays and other folks in learning her angles she hopes a good picture will come out. She is really the absolute cutest. Nicole looks icy and Nordic, while Dominique looks sort of uncomfortable despite her resolve to go hard or go home. Dalya has a rather beautiful jawline, while Molly, 23 from Charleston, is at this point rather indistinguishable from Nicole. She tells us that she's a big dork, and was in fact a band geek and jock who hates losing. Hannah fills me with joy, while Angelia has pretty hair but unclear potential. She tells us that she grew up traveling as part of a military family, which helped her become a better person. Everyone poses for a group shot as Jay tells them that they'll be looking for elegant, chic walks. In their hamster balls. Nice try, Orange One.

The luckiest audience in the world files in to watch the girls hopefully humiliate themselves. Miss J. and Erin give pep talks, and Erin suggests that they pretend that the bubble is invisible. That will be harder to do once they see that it has all kinds of motherfucking red confetti in it. Erin also notes that she'll be the guest judge at panel this week, so will be watching them closely. Russell, Jay and Erin take their front row seats, and it's time for the show to begin. Alexandria is first, and proves that it is really difficult to look graceful while walking in a giant hamster ball filled with confetti. She does not, however, fall off of the runway, which I view as a triumph. Monique is so inwardly elated about not falling that she swishes a hand over her head at the end of the runway, which Miss J. instantly mocks. The best thing to do is not give him material. Ondrei, who is 18 and from Muskegon, Michigan, is next and tells us that she doesn't have much experience with the runway. I think the twelve-inch runway and hamster ball sort of evens the field in this case. She's scared to death, as she should be. And then it happens. On her return pass, Ondrei wobbles and falls back-first on the runway, encased in her plastic bubble. As we contemplate how much that shit must have hurt, it's time for a commercial break.

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America's Next Top Model




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