Beauty does not equate to manners, writes Darren Devlyn
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.
Charlotte Dawson admits that she gets a little help to look this good.