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Monday, February 17, 2003


The Eagerly Anticipated Are You Hot? Post

I am a pig. And reality television is my slop.

I greedily eat from its trough. I coat myself in a blanket of its filth to protect me from the heat of the Southern California sun, eagerly devouring the bits that flake off from the vigor of my flailing.

ABC's Are You Hot? The Search for America's Sexiest People is not the Joe Millionaire, first-season Survivor quality, grade-A stuff. But I'll roll around in it for a while.

If reality television is the SUV of the entertainment world -- unsafe, popular in spite of all arguments against it, and probably in some way benefitting terrorists -- then Are You Hot? is going to manage four miles to the gallon on the highway and roll over at school-zone speeds while launching an ad campaign trumpeting these shortcomings. It's probably produced on a Korean assembly line, paying thirteen cents a month in wages.

If Are You Hot? were a horrible, extended, mixed metaphor, it would probably involve both pig slop and sports-utility vehicles. And quite possibly a reference to the thing that's perched where Michael Jackson's nose used to be.

AYH? is disarmingly unapologetic in its aims. The show's host, J.D. Roberto (soon to be shipped off to the Logan's Run disposal of Bland Reality Show Guys), tells us up front that they've hacked away the "talent" portion of the American Idol-style competition like so much gristle and left the only the meat of "Face. Body. Sex Appeal." You're not going to see anyone dismissed from the proceedings for having the ill-advised fetish film in their pasts. If these people are HOT enough to earn their ropes and gimp masks, they can parade underneath the enormous, fire-and-ice HOT and NOT signs and await the judgment of the celebrity panel: will they live to HOT another day or be banished to the backstage NOT crying room?

And ah, our celebrity judges. Those so versed in the ways of HOT that they can parse exactly what's NOT with the flickering dot of a laser pointer or an equally scorching barb. Our panel consists of Lorenzo Lamas, "international sex symbol"; Rachel Hunter, supermodel; Randolph Duke, fashion designer.

Lamas is quite obviously striving to fill the Simon Cowell Memorial Meanie role. He's a sex-symbol who, when viewed from certain angles, seems to resemble a cross of a wild turkey and Leona Helmsley. (You know, a Hot, Harley-Riding, Samurai-sword-wielding, Turkey-Helmsley hybrid.) His bonafides in the HOT realm have been proven by causing spontaneous panty moisture in many a Ding-Dong pounding, Falcon Crest devotee haus frau of 20 years past. He's able to hold forth on the HOT of women and men alike with equal aplomb, flaunting a comfort with his sexuality no doubt earned by banging countless Valley waitresses that have mistaken him for Lou Diamond Phillips and who in all probability have never experienced a proper orgasm. And either the show's wardrobe supervisor or Lamas himself is deadly determined to reframe the Renegade biker rebel into an underground gay cigarette ad from the 1950s. In the prelimary HOT rounds, Lamas wears outfits that alternately cast him as the Gay Cowboy, the Gay Bomber Pilot, and the Gay Gold-Rush Miner, an effect unintentioanlly exaggerated in his desire to butch it up for the camera whenever possible (sample line: "Shut up and let me look at you").

Next to the Lamas Outlaw Biker Kendo Hour sits Rachel Hunter, a supermodel whose litmus test results skew slightly more acidic than those of AI's Paula Abdul. She's the lone female voice of HOT. She immediately displays an aversion to the bulked up, Pumping Iron "gorillas," a predilection not entirely unheralded by her aborted marriage to the ancient, doughy Rod Stewart.

Randolph Duke, the least notable of the judges, looks something like a young George Hamilton, but thankfully upholstered in material much less leathery. It's unclear if the men or ladies are catching his eye; he often looks as if he'd get down with someone in stripper-pumps or the ridiculous Jams they've strapped all of the pec-deck meatheads into.

If there's one thing that AYH? proves beyond the shadow of a doubt, it's that the nature of HOT is unpredictable and mysterious. A random sampling of things that are HOT: guys from Rahway, Asian guys whose barbers are obviously inspired by anime, black guys (all deemed HOT at one point or another, though strangely none making the final cut), chicks named Skylar, sunglasses on top of heads. The NOT platter includes strung out bellydancers, guys who hook their thumbs in their pockets, chicks named Skylar (maybe her real name was something like Mildred and Eustice), guys who have asymmetrical shoulders and who cry. Points were deducted for teeth and for having difficulty with the superlative form (blabbing about wanting to be the "most sexiest," "most funnest" or being "most comfortablest" amongst the HOT got you a ticket home on the first Greyhound--and I don't need to tell you what type of person rides the bus). Some who seemed HOT enough to the untrained eye were dismissed. In the end, though, it did seem that somehow HOT did prevail through the machinations of the pagaent: all of the finalists did indeed seem to pass HOT muster.

Tough choices have to be made.

And in the end, I'm glad it's a guy dressed as a Gay Marlboro Smokin' Sailor (outfit to follow in Hot Zone 2) who'll make the HOT call, and not me.

[Make sure and stay tuned Monday as WFOoBH presents its Joe Millionaire Finale Pregame Show!]

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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