Cat­walk cat­fights

Beauty does not equate to man­ners, writes Dar­ren Devlyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

ON THE eve of its se­ries fi­nal, Aus­tralia’s Next Top Model has con­firmed its sta­tus as tele­vi­sion’s most spite­ful cat­fight.

Though last year’s se­ries was crit­i­cised be­cause con­tes­tants were al­lowed to bully each other and al­ready-thin mod­els were pres­sured to lose weight, the 2009 girls have proved bru­tal in the tac­tics they’ve em­ployed in the race for the ti­tle.

In the first episode, there were tears, hissy fits, bitch­ing ses­sions, even vom­it­ing — from fi­nal­ist Cassi Van Den Dun­gen — as they bat­tled to gain a psy­cho­log­i­cal edge.

Con­tes­tant Lola Van Vorst, 21, said of Sun­bury’s Van Den Dun­gen, whose anger led to her punch­ing a wall: ‘‘She gets on my nerves. I think I’d just end up shoot­ing her in the head if I spent too much time with that girl.’’

Be­fore ex­it­ing the show, con­tes­tant Clare Ven­ema de­scribed Van Den Dun­gen as ‘‘a scary, an­gry fiveyear-old who had their lol­lipop stolen from them’’.

‘‘It sad­dens me,’’ Clare says, ‘‘that Cassi has made the fi­nal two. I hope Aus­tralia has the brains to vote for Tah­nee.’’

The show’s judges have also been harsh and Alex Perry apol­o­gised for some of his catty re­marks.

Perry said of alabaster-skinned con­tes­tant Clare: ‘‘I’m loving her. Slightly psy­cho, slightly beauty pageant-looking. OK, she’s like a mur­der­ous beauty-pageant queen.’’

Char­lotte Daw­son added: ‘‘Eyes slightly too close to­gether and could knife you in the back— she’s good.’’

In Daw­son’s de­fence, the 43-yearold wields a ver­bal sledge­ham­mer when it comes to as­sess­ing her own life and phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance. Fif­teen years ago, she be­came one of the first peo­ple in Aus­tralia to try Bo­tox. She’s also had an eye cor­rected, a boob job and li­po­suc­tion. Tell us about your cos­metic surgery . . . I’m held to­gether by that s---I am! What are your mo­ti­va­tions for do­ing it? If you think you look good and feel con­fi­dent in your­self, it’s much eas­ier to get through the day. I had it be­cause my prob­lem was when I got to my early 30s and was do­ing pieces to cam­era, I was frown­ing. And when you have some­body frown­ing at you on the TV, you are not re­ally lik­ing them as much. Ini­tially, I did the Bo­tox so I could look a lit­tle more friendly on cam­era. The sun­shine prob­a­bly burnt the reti­nas in my eyes as a re­sult (of the cos­metic pro­ce­dure) and I’m prob­a­bly go­ing to be blind very soon! That’s (em­ploy­a­bil­ity) ini­tially why I did it. And then it be­came a van­ity thing. It looks good. When it wears off, it doesn’t look that good and I’d rather look good and feel bet­ter about my­self. I’m not go­ing to sug­gest 16-year-old girls should run off and do any­thing, but cer­tainly in your 30s I reckon if you can get a help­ing hand from a nee­dle that hasn’t poi­soned any­body or hurt any­body, I’m all for it. You wit­nessed a stab­bing in Syd­ney re­cently. That must have been har­row­ing. It was. I’d bumped into (a re­porter) who was stak­ing out some­one else at my lo­cal cafe in Kings Cross and I had not a stitch of make-up on and in my ugg boots and was looking an ab­so­lute dog. They (re­porter) asked if they could get a photo and I said ‘‘fine, you can put it on the ‘fugly’ pages, I don’t give a s---’ Out of that meet­ing (with re­porter) I just hap­pened to ex­plain how I’d seen a stab­bing. Aw­ful. On the work side of things, there’s never a dull mo­ment with the­seTop Model girls. How do you raise the stakes with this lot? We’ll have to put a se­rial killer in next year. Fly-on-the-wall en­vi­ron­ments like that are cringe­wor­thy, train-wreck TV that you have to watch through your fin­gers. There was an episode a few weeks ago where con­tes­tant Mikala said: ‘‘Char­lotte scares the s---out of me’. What does that mean to you? I feel aw­ful (laughs). I don’t mean to scare any­body. They (girls) be­have like but­ter wouldn’t melt in their mouths when they’re in front of us, then when we see the be­hind-thescenes in­ter­views, we are mor­ti­fied by their be­hav­iour. There’s no greater ex­am­ple of that than Cassi, who has an­noyed every­one with her at­ti­tude and be­hav­iour. Cassi re­mains a heavy smoker. She’s been a heavy smoker since she was eight, so it’s kind of a life­long habit. She pretty much had a fag from the mo­ment she popped out of the womb. Crikey. I don’t know how they breed them down there in Sun­bury. She’s caused a bit of grief in her home town, hasn’t she? Yeah, I’ve been looking on web­sites and there are peo­ple from Sun­bury go­ing: ‘‘I want to kill that bitch.’’ I’d love to see some­one like (fi­nal­ist) Tah­nee win the com­pe­ti­tion. To have some­one like Tah­nee, size 10 with am­ple bo­som and sexy bot­tom . . . if she won it would be send­ing a nice mes­sage out there. Do you think drug use is as big a prob­lem in the mod­el­ling in­dus­try as out­siders think? Look, I don’t think so much (for keep­ing weight down as a model). I think recre­ational drug use is big­ger and bad­der than it’s ever been and I don’t think it’s just across the mod­el­ling in­dus­try. It’s so preva­lent it shocks me. Af­ter com­ing back from New Zealand af­ter five years . . . New Zealand has a huge drink­ing cul­ture, but it cer­tainly doesn’t have the drug cul­ture of Aus­tralia. When I came back here I thought surely the crowd here would be over just go­ing out and do­ing lines of coke. I think it’s still very preva­lent and it would be hard as a young girl not to be caught up in it. How­did you deal with the temp­ta­tion of that be­ing there in front of you? I was a Kiwi girl, so drug abuse for me would have been smok­ing mar­i­juana and that’s not ex­actly con­ducive to los­ing weight . . . you go straight to the fridge and eat the cat food. It’s never been a prob­lem for me. It’s around, but it’s some­thing I’ve never re­ally ex­isted in that much. I’m a class-A chardon­nay girl. That’s as danger­ous as I get. But that’s not the health­i­est thing to pro­mote ei­ther. Al­co­hol is just as danger­ous as drugs.

Bo­tox fan:

Char­lotte Daw­son ad­mits that she gets a lit­tle help to look this good.

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