Street Smart Chicago

The Beautiful People: Clamoring for a bit of reality on “Beauty and the Geek”

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Beauty—how to describe such a boundless thing within the narrow confines of a page? It is a question with which many a great poet has struggled. It’s obviously giving these girls some problems, too. Brows knitted and shivering in the brisk autumn breeze, they’re hunched intently over clipboards searching for just the right words with which to fill the blank page. The guys have fared better. They’re done, for the most part, and stand waiting patiently, applications in hand. “I’m gonna keep them out here a little longer,” says a guy who emanates L.A. from every pore. “The longer they stand here, the more the anticipation builds.” This is an open casting call for TV’s hit reality-show “Beauty and the Geek.” Everybody standing in line outside of Martini Park on this cold Saturday afternoon is hoping to be officially designated one or the other.

Once anticipation has climbed to acceptable levels, the applicants are finally led inside. An army of cocktail waitresses clad in short black skirts stands off to the side giggling. The beauties give them a quick once over. The geeks avoid eye contact. A security detail, complete with monochrome suits, earpieces and, in some cases, sunglasses, mills about the premises. If things turn ugly—or should the president happen to stop by—they’ve got it covered.

Interviews are being conducted in an area cordoned off by thick velvet ropes. A guy advertising his affinity for reclusive electronic endeavors by every means available (Nintendo backpack, Xbox windbreaker) is escorted in. Within seconds, he is escorted out. The next seems to do better. He issues a loud cry of victory and is immediately surrounded by the gaggle of waitresses. It’s the waitresses, he explains, to whom he owes his success. “Girls make me nervous,” he stammers. “They talked to me before I went in and helped break down the activation barrier.” There’s no time to figure out what the hell he means because he’s got to go. He needs to study.

It’s the beauties’ turn now. Frantic last-minute touch-ups are underway. A girl with long blonde hair spends a few minutes beyond the ropes before emerging with a dazed look. She starts for the door and then stops to cast a bewildered look behind her. “They said I was too smart,” she says with a weak laugh. “I mean I guess it’s a compliment, but…” Her voice trails off as she absently combs her hair with her fingers. (Sarah Nardi)

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