One might wonder what the Victoria’s Secret fashion show has to do with reality. One might sit around for a considerable amount of time pondering the matter, letting images drift and repeat, until eventually falling into a flesh and lace induced stupor, only to be woken by the piercing shriek of Tyra Banks, who between her daily talk show, America’s Next Top model and her Victoria’s Secret swan song is omnipresent and loud. Each year (coincidentally around Christmas time!), we are presented with the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. It’s a weird confection, one that projects the false back stage hysteria of Entertainment Tonight and the insider giddiness of Fashion TV with just a dash of Cirque de Soleil added in a surreal and feeble attempt to make it “arty.” I think the idea might be to turn this thinly-veiled infomercial into a Christmas TV tradition (think “the Grinch” or “A Very Brady Christmas”). In truth, it’s just an excuse for men to feel OK about leering at sex fantasies while pretending to get gift ideas for their wives. Whether these gifts make anybody feel any better or sexier is a matter for debate. I imagine that many women, clad in their husbands’ idea of fantasy lingerie, might feel distinctly unlike Giselle Bundchen and just, well, ridiculous.
A friend of mine who lived for a time in both New York and London, claims to have seen a number of super-models out in the city. He also claims that they’re not attractive. Preternaturally thin and curvy, they seem a different species, alien. Striking, yes, but attractive? No. Cubist renditions of women, particular features exaggerated to alarming effect, he said that he wasn’t at all attracted to them, that they bore no resemblance to the women of Earth. And so it is that the genetic marvels that comprise the super-modeling community of the world really only exist in and for our imagination. They’re visual projections of the media that have nothing to do with reality, conjured as if by magic to sell us a sense of want, inferiority and ill-fitting jeans.
The show is absurd and very nearly impossible to watch. I mean it. I’m not just saying that because I think my girlfriend will get mad at me if I say it was hot, hot, hot. It is not hot, hot, hot, it is stupid, stupid, stupid (once again I ask you to think “A Very Brady Christmas). It commences with the soft core trumpet-stylings of Chris Bolti and slo-motion shots of the various models standing around back-stage getting primped and buffed like the high performance vehicles of fashion they are. There are quick cuts everywhere. Behind the scenes of the fashion show it is a frenzy of activity and gathering momentum as beautiful women collide and jiggle, an obviously gay and obviously French man is brandishing a mike, telling them “to make it as ‘ot, ‘ot and sexy as it ‘as ever been!!” Somebody else yells GOGOGO!! and the models gallop onto a stage that’s festooned with a huge stuffed bear, gift boxes and a multitude of candy canes. With wings attached they Rock n’Roll down the catwalk like the saucy colts they are.
If this is not enough charisma and sexual energy for you, then you are blessed to discover that there are live musical performances. Seal. Remember him? A bald, black man who looks like he could have been a character on an episode of Star Trek? Well, he’s married to Heidi Klum now, and since she is both a super-model and the nominal host of the show, he got to sing his hit song Crazy. Models marched past as he and his wife blew kisses at one another. It was touching in a gratuitous and completely fake kind of way. We were also treated to the spectacle of Ricky Martin who once again tried to gamely proclaim his heterosexuality through song. His gestures toward dance indicated that he could be afflicted with any number of physical or mental disorders. It was very embarrassing, like watching the drunk guy at the office Christmas party dancing to Rock Lobster.
Tyra Banks officially announced that she was retiring from the runway after this, her last show. Like the aged professional athlete who just doesn’t know when to quit, Tyra looked a little lost and out of place. In comparison to the other models, Tyra has super-sized things. Most were wearing thongs made from dental floss or the slenderest thread from a spider’s web, but Tyra was pretty well concealed. They didn’t have her in flannel pajamas, but it was pretty clear that by next year they would. To compensate for her special wardrobe, Tyra struck a variety of fierce poses, showing us that personality counts, too. She ended by marching off the stage holding a scepter above her head, proclaiming that her interests had evolved, and that now she wanted to help people (through her daytime talk show, which it turns out was marketed with just as much zeal as any of the lingerie that was modeled), rather than seduce them. Me too, Tyra, me too, I know exactly how you feel.