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'True Beauty' winner revealed


Here's Janell with *sniffle* the True Beauty finale recap. Thanks for the laughs, Janell!:

It’s the season finale, Beauty-ites! I hope you’ve all performed your appropriate finale rituals and prepared refreshments. I brushed my teeth and fixed a party bowl of strawberry ice cream mixed with banana chocolate chip ice cream. Wait -- not in that order. I’ve already partied too hard.

Did you know that throughout these past seven episodes the contestants have been tested on honesty, loyalty, respect, kindness, integrity, compassion and empathy? Tested and found lacking, in the case of those seven people who got eliminated whom you’ve already forgotten about except for maybe that crazy drunk chick and the guy with the sticky-uppy hair.

As always, we begin with people waiting to see who comes back from the Final Face-Off. Erika and Taylor have prepared a food buffet, and the giant pink Goblet of Victory that Amy drank from last time is filled with her favorite pink screwdriver. Remember the last time that Craig returned from the Face-Off and he acted all humble and relieved? Not so much this time. He is all pomp and swagger as he snidely drinks from the goblet. He gets a little celebratory drunk. Erika asks what they should call the top three. Craig says, “Ménage a trois.” Erika does not jump on that very enthusiastically, so Craig explains to her that it means she's “sandwiched between two men.” Thanks, Craig, you wordsmith.

The next morning, Taylor can’t find his favorite pair of $200 jeans. He is frantic, upset, and complains to a “Contestant Wrangler” about the poor laundry service. He rants throughout the suite, then digs through a drawer full of other jeans and discovers … the missing pair. How about that? Whenever my husband loses something, he plays a game of, “If I were me, knowing me, where would I have put such and such?” And he always finds it. That’s just a tip for your, Taylor. Use it after you apologize to the Contestant Wrangler.

In the spy room, Vanessa explains the final challenge. The contestants will “host” a “VIP” for a night of partying. The trick is, after staying up all night, they’ll go straight to a commercial shoot. Who will be smart and polite after all that?

The contestant sandwich is driven to a private airplane hangar. Carson explains the VIP challenge (but not the commercial part of it). An airplane door opens. Craig is expecting maybe Cher, or Mariah Carey, or even Bon Jovi. Personally, I was expecting Executive Producer Ashton Kutcher. Nope, it’s Steve-O. If you were me, you did not really know who that was. He is helpfully captioned as “Daredevil/TV Personality,” and I know he used to be a crazy person but did I read somewhere that he’s a reformed addict? He travels with his “spiritual advisor Guy Friendly," but that is not important because Guy says and does nothing (that we are shown) all night.

Now it’s a night of doing stuff in Vegas that should stay in Vegas but doesn‘t. At 9 p.m. they go to dinner at a Greek restaurant and Steve-O encourages everyone to squirt lime juice into their eyeballs, as he is doing. No one does. That’s poor hosting, is what that is. Then Steve-O has a table brought out for them to practice removing the tablecloth without disturbing the dishes. No one is very good at it, but hey, it’s a Greek restaurant, so that means it’s OK to smash dishes. And then dance.

After dinner they go to a dance club and for some reason we only get still photos. Lots of pictures of Craig doing his drunken cowboy dance with his shirt open. What would you do next? This is a 24-hour city, remember, so it’s time to race go-karts! Poor Erika in her miniskirt and high-heeled sandals, that can’t be easy. At 5:07 a.m. they’re dropped off at the hotel, and Steve-O leaves them with some words of wisdom: “Sometimes you gotta break some eggs to make an omelette.” But what do you do the other times? Make the omelette out of unbroken eggs? Forego the omelette altogether? Don’t leave me hangin’, Steve-O, it’s almost breakfast time!

Carson meets the contestants to tell them about the commercial shoot. They get back in their limo and arrive at the Venetian at 6:30 a.m. Supposedly they’ve now been up for 24 hours, and Erika is not feeling it. Taylor claims he’ll survive just like every other time he’s up for 24 hours in Vegas. That man is committed.

They have one hour to memorize lines and get ready, and they’ll be judged on appearance, memorization, and connection with the audience. We see the contestants looking very sleepy and having a difficult time memorizing the short script. At one point, Erika walks out of the room
and has a small breakdown with a producer, saying she’s exhausted and doesn’t want it anymore. But then she pulls herself back into the moment.

The shoot is at the Venetian, which, by the way, is spacious and does not look at all like Spain. They have to walk and talk through a scene, interacting with puppet masters, opera singers, a juggler, and the living statue man. They all do pretty well, although we don’t know how many takes they get. Taylor has good energy, Erika does a lot of ballet arm movements and spinning, Craig smiles a lot.

Finally they get to sleep for a bit. I don’t think it’s quite long enough, but there’s no rest for the beautiful. The contestants meet with the judges to review the commercials and find out the winner. And the winner is… Taylor! And Erika! And Craig! How shocking to have a tie, now they will all have to go to the Final Face-Off.  But first they are given a key to the Spy Room. Dun dun duuuun!

After traveling through stairwells and underground tunnels and secret passageways, Erika, Taylor, and Craig are in the spy room by themselves, staring at monitors showing the suite. Then Vanessa comes on TV and actually introduces herself and says that the winner isn’t “just” the Face of Vegas, but a True Beauty. They react as if they’re familiar with the show, and now they’re worried. Cue the footage! We see Craig ignoring random strangers and stealing a vest, he realizes that he does not look good and he‘s ashamed. We see Erika peeking at an envelope that she was told not to open, and also mocking Liz. She says it was humbling, but she’s thankful to see that side of herself. We see Taylor laughing at the heavy bride, swearing at the focus group, and hunting for his not-lost jeans. He wisely says, “no excuses, the camera caught what the camera caught.”

Then the contestants are out on the Strip, where they see a giant electronic billboard flash each of their faces. In a shocking coincidence, a billboard truck drives by with a Chippendales sign on
it, featuring many chesty men. Someone points out that “Billy from last year’s True Beauty” is featured more prominently than the rest. Really? I didn’t watch most of last season, so I can only say, you expect us to believe that “Billy from last year’s True Beauty” is that recognizable on a drive-by billboard? I’m sure that moment was not at all staged. But was part of the prize becoming a Chippendale’s dancer, or did he get that job based upon his inner beauty?

Now the judges debate. Erika is spunky and kind, but she has been catty, does that mean she’s fake? Taylor is engaging, genuine, Mr. Personality but with a temper, or “diva-licious,” as Carson says.
Craig never gets involved in anything personal, he’s well-intentioned but makes bad choices, has determination and heart. Usually now Vanessa would say that there’s one more challenge, but I guess since they know the game now a final challenge would be pointless. So it all comes down to the final plea.

Ooh, Craig shaved his stubble! When judging the commercial, Beth mentioned that she could see a little Brad Pitt resemblance, so maybe Craig is trying to embrace that. Taylor is still stubbled, a few millimeters more on top of his head than on his face. Now, as Vanessa explains, the winner of Face of Vegas is also the winner of True Beauty, and they will get $100,000 and a photo in People Magazine. Does that mean that Face of Vegas is an actual competition with its own prizes and responsibilities? Spoiler alert: We’ll never know.

Final pleas. Carson asks Erika if she’s genuine. She is very solemn and sincere when she answers yes and talks about how she’s changed. Craig is asked if he loves others. He says he was competing hard core but was missing the whole point. Whoa, first he shaved, now he’s busting out a visual aid -- he’s returning the stolen vest! That’s a good move, I bet Erika and Taylor wish they had something stolen to give back. Taylor is called out on his temper and asked if he needs self control. He apologizes for his actions and says he wants to be a role model. The judges go to debate.

Finally it’s time to announce the winner. In third place: Craig! I thought the vest move might bump him up a notch, I’m glad that the judges didn’t totally buy it. Now they bring out a fake slot machine to reveal the winner. It’s a Taylor head! Now it’s an Erika head! Finally it’s another Taylor head! Whoa! Who was surprised? I thought Erika would win, but maybe she was a little too one-note for them? Maybe Taylor was just too awesome? Aw, they’re both good. Erika interviews that she’s sorry to lose, but happy for “Tay.” They’re all sprinkled with fake money confetti and hugs abound. Taylor’s take-home message is “always improve yourself.” I think those are better last
words than Steve-O’s, although suddenly I want to throw in, “be excellent to each other.” Seriously. Let’s all join in a virtual hug and high-five. And thanks for reading, everyone!

Photo courtesy of ABC

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