SMIZE QUEEN: Philly Gay Man Makes His Top Model Debut
Crazy-ass Tyra Banks is back with cycle 20 (yes, 20) of America’s Next Top Model. I’m sure you’ll agree that after all these years the show has worn out its welcome, but a few new twists are drawing us back in: (1) For the first time in the franchise’s American history, men will be competing for the top prize, and (2) one of those men is Philly’s own actor/singer/drag queen wunderkind Cory Wade Hindorff. So to keep you up to date on how things are developing with our hometown supermodel, I’ll be recapping each episode every Monday morning. Before we get started, though, full disclosure: Cory and I have been friends since 2008. But come on, all of Philly’s a little biased about this guy doing well, right?
Last night’s episode started with 35 competitors, which included another contestant from the City of Brotherly Love: Ronald, who seemed to turn off the judges right off the bat with his arrogant claims that he’d been trained as a supermodel since he was a child. Another person of interest to our readers is Virgg, a stunning, 19-year-old M2F trans woman who was discovered by Tyra via an Instagram challenge.
RUNWAY CHALLENGE: The first part of the two-hour episode started with a masquerade-ball challenge, where, dressed in saucy Eyes Wide Shut-recalling lingerie, the guys and girls had to strut the runway together and then make out once they reached the end. (It’s apparent producers are really going to milk the whole guy-girl sex angle.) Things got a little predictable for a while, until Cory decided to choose another gay boy to walk with. The judges — Ms. Banks, fashion PR maven Kelly Cutrone, male model Rob Evans and social media guru BryanBoy — seemed to dig it. After the competition, the 35 contestants were whittled down to 26. Cory and Virgg made the cut. Sadly, Ronald didn’t.
During part two, the semifinalists moved into the Palatial Mansion in the Hollywood Hills, where nerves and sexual tension started to get the best of people. Virgg had a teary breakdown on Cory’s shoulder, saying her hormone therapy was making her sick and she worried that it would stand in the way of her being able to compete. And one male contestant, Chris H., made enemies right off the bat when he started running around punching male contestants in the balls.
PHOTO CHALLENGE: Posing in predictable sexy-leather wear, the contestants’ photos were projected on a tall building in downtown L.A. so passersby could see them and vote for his or her favorites. Like last season, social-media scores gathered by BryanBoy are a big part of a model’s score each week. Unfortunately, Virgg had a hard time in this challenge. When it was over, she asked producers to take her to Tyra’s trailer so she could drop out of the show.
After that, Tyra chopped another nine contestants out of the competition, leaving us with Cory (yay!) and a handful of other hot stuffs. The episode ended with a tease that contestants would have to walk down the side of a building for the next runway challenge. (Told ya Tyra was crazy.)
BEST SOUND BYTE: Cory: “OK girls, show me your stuff ’cause I am the one to beat. And you better hope they don’t put me in heels ’cause I’m gonna put some of your walks to shame.”
See some of my early-on faves below, and check back each Monday for my weekly recaps.
CHRIS HERNANDEZ: This is the guy who punched people in the balls, but I think this gorgeous-eyed stud will end up being stiff competition.
CORY HINDORFF: Our hometown boy made a great first impression in episode one. His androgyny will either be the strength that sets him apart from every other contestant or the thing that brings him down. One thing I know for sure is boy is gonna be a fan favorite. I’m biased but come on! Did you see those facial expressions and hear those one-liners?
DON BENJAMIN: This aspiring rapper makes me weak in the knees!
MARVIN CORTES: Marvin kept on the waterworks all episode, talking about his tough upbringing.
MIKE SCOCOZZA: Tyra plucked this hottie from an ice-cream truck in L.A., but his lack of experience may end up working against him no matter how good his body is.
NINA BURNS: Love this quirky 18-year-old blonde from Berkeley Heights, N.J., who also seemed to have a heart of gold after helping Chris H. with some of his social awkwardness. Also, she called Tyra an alien.
PHIL SULLIVAN: The bearded bad boy of the season will make for some good drama, especially considering he already hates Chris H. for punching him in the balls.
RENEE BHAGWANDEEN: This beauty has won some pageants before, and she reminds me of a better version of Miss. Minaj. I see her rising to the top this season and pounding the email@example.com.