“This week I want to see from my girls whether they can deliver even in absolute extreme situations,” says Heidi Klum. The cut alternates between images from the nude shoot and the high-altitude shoot – although it quickly becomes clear that the viewers are to be lured in the first few minutes of the broadcast primarily with references to the upcoming nude shoot. The round of pictures begins very discreetly. While only naked backs are shown of the first participants, Luca is already photographed frontally, but with her arms protectively folded in front of her chest. And of course around her bosom blurred.
Ana follows, her upper body leaning back, her arms placed behind her on the back of the sofa, her breasts covered only by her hair. And Romina: how she strips off her bathrobe and poses in front of the camera, one hand in front of her chest, her head thrown back lasciviously, the other hand stretched freely away from her. Ana offers the most revealing pose in this teaser. Ana, who in the course of the seasons was staged mainly as a sweet, innocent girl, strictly religious and accordingly a bit uptight.
This is followed by short cuts to Luca belly-down on the sofa, her butt irritatingly pale due to the soft focus. And Yasmin, who has not been seen so far: stretched out on the sofa, one arm above her head, the other in front of her chest, her legs crossed in such a way that her crotch is just out of sight. Then once again Ana, who is running out of time and jumps up frantically to change locations once more. The camera pauses for a moment in close-up on her naked breasts – heavily blurred – but Ana’s head is half cut off.
The whole thing is interrupted by short interview snippets: Romina explains she’s a little nervous because she’s one of the few who don’t have a job yet: “I know Heidi’s taking a close look at me now.” That sounds at least a little ambiguous in the montage with the pictures from the shoot.
And Ana also has her say. She mumbles something about time pressure, which was not that high – only the time was just enormous (whatever). Cut to another interview with her, in which she bursts into tears, leans back and confesses: “One thing happens and I’m just totally scared.” What of is not clear at this point, because it is not clear what the interview was originally aimed at. But at least the editing suggests a connection to the nude shoot: the old cliché is served. Manipulation of the staging at its best.
That’s it for the intro. The most striking thing is that Dasha is the only one not to be seen in the montage. Or at least so briefly that I didn’t recognize her. A short dispute between Yasmin and Soulin follows. Then cut to Heidi, who runs towards her brother-in-law Bill Kaulitz, beaming with joy, and hugs him.
For a long time now, I’ve been meaning to take a closer look at the dramaturgy of GNTM’s nude shoots. It’s not for nothing that GNTM is one of the most watched shows in the target group of young women up to 25. For a long time now, I’ve noticed that everything that makes for good stories comes together here: an existential goal for which all the contestants compete and which most of them will fail at; strong emotions; interpersonal conflicts. And in the process, a reduction of the girls’ personalities to a few characteristics – because otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to keep track of and sympathize with the number of participants.
It is briefly shown how Heidi prepares the location for the nude shoot together with the Kaulitz brothers. Then it’s off to the races. The girls enter the changing room. First and foremost Alex, his jacket with fur collar up, behind him Soulin, with open jacket and deep cleavage. Soulin’s mouth is open as she enters the room. And Alex explains from offstage: “I look at the table and I see those sticky briefs again. And I realize: today is definitely going to be very, very much about this.” Cut to the interview situation. Alex with her head up, points down at herself and laughs sheepishly.
It is Soulin who takes the golden envelope with Heidi’s instructions and reads it out. At the same time, the girls are shown, some of them still looking rather irritated at the table with the briefs. Anna looks down at the floor in embarrassment. Ashley bites her lower lip. “Hello girls. In the past weeks I have thought of the most diverse stylings, looks and hairstyles for you. But now it’s time for something new. That’s why we’ll just skip the outfits today.”
The girls react differently to this announcement. Some are open-mouthed. Yamin looks incredulously, if perhaps a little bored, at Soulin. Cut to Heidi, who happily declares, “It’s time for our nude shoot.” In her hand, she plays with one of the adhesive briefs just mentioned. Dramatic music starts: “Toxic” in the version by 2WEI. A few short clips are shown in which the different girls get rid of their bathrobes – all shot from behind and only their bare backs are visible: Ana, Soulin, Liliana, Romina, Luca, Alex. Then a few pictures of the shoot itself, still underpinned by the dramatic “Toxic” intro: Ana again first, then Liliana, Luca, Dasha, Romina, Yasmin. Heidi explains: “As always, I make sure that the photos are beautifully aesthetic. So there is no reason at all for my models to be reserved. I want my top 9 to present their bodies proudly and confidently in front of the camera.”
Cut to Luca, who is standing next to Yasmin: “Everyone knows when you come here that there will be a nude shoot at least once. From there, you can be prepared for it.” While Yasmin now nods approvingly, it cuts to her incredulous look from earlier, now reinterpreted through her interview. “I think we’re both relatively relaxed about the subject of nudity,” Yasmin says, “I mean, we did run naked.” Cut to the episode with Yasmin and Luca at the nude walk, in which both actually walk very unselfconsciously naked across the catwalk. Luca adds, “Nothing can shock us anymore.”
Again, it cuts to Ana lifting her gaze from the table of accessories, gazing into the distance lost in thought and wetting her lips with her tongue. The corners of her mouth tug noticeably downward. A piano strums a few notes that sound like slapstick.
In beautiful contrast, the interview with her. She stands in front of the camera, laughing mischievously, her forearms spread wide, her arms close to her body: “The nude shoot is part of GNTM. People have become so attuned to it.” Cut back to the scene when Soulin read out Heidi’s letter: While Romina reacts to the announcement with her mouth wide open, Ana smirks to herself and finally starts laughing. The picture that is drawn of her is ambivalent.
Romina, in any case, is looking forward to the shoot: “I think it’s very unusual here, but it was so what I was looking forward to the most, because here it depends so completely on our body. We can showcase it beautifully.”
As in the past, the girls have to do their own makeup. Heidi explains this by saying that models have to learn to put themselves in the best possible light. To me, however, this seems to have more to do with the current Corona situation. Because never before in the past seasons have the girls been left to their own devices when it comes to makeup as often as in season 16.
Liliana is asked what Heidi probably expects from her this week. “This week Heidi expects me to be attentive, to stay professional, to pay attention.” She tilts her head, holds her hand over her chest: submission, uncertainty expresses her body language. In addition, she makes a very serious face. Her tension is evident.
And Ana again, who, in contrast to Liliana, seems very relaxed and smiles at the interviewer: “This week I want to prove to Heidi that I’m not only cute, but also tough and everything else …” She raises her index finger “… except cute.”
Yasmin plans to stand out this week and do a little more. And Luca explains that last week’s ejection of Elisa showed how quickly it could be over for the contestants.
Ana sits in front of the makeup mirror and seems a little hyper. She can’t decide whether she should apply more gaudy or natural color. “I’m a little lost,” she says and laughs. Again, a scene is counter-cut in which the corners of her mouth are clearly down and she just looks lost in the face of the various options for makeup.
Obviously, the whole dramaturgy is focused on Ana, even when she is not in the picture at all. Especially in contrast to the hesitant Ana, Dasha looks very clear and concentrated in her preparation. Alex is shown playing with his hair: “If the hair sits reasonably, the rest can’t look that bad already.” And Romina next to him confirms: “We just have to find such a mixture between hair/make-up – that you can see it, so it doesn’t look like we’re just standing there completely without make-up. But also not to overdo it.”
That’s the cue to flash back to Ana, who just gave herself an oversized blue eyeliner, explaining, “This week I want to show my other side. That’s why I’ve decided to go for the elaborate now.
Syrian Soulin also makes a clear color statement. She paints a red line along the entire length of her arm from her hand to her ear: “For me, this red stripe represents a red border. I want to send a message to anyone who judges me after this shoot, based on my background, based on my society, that they know that even if I do a nude shoot, I’m still me. But I am practicing my passion here. That doesn’t mean people have a right to judge me.”
By return of post – or just cut right behind it – Yasmin, who also has Arab roots, distances herself from this statement. She has a huge Arab family, she says, who don’t judge what she does. “They are very tolerant. And I know many Syrians who are also tolerant. Making a statement for everyone I think is right, but not generalizing it and talking down to one culture I don’t think works.” You can guess what she means.
So much for the beef that no episode should be without. But we promptly cut back to Ana, who walks around the room a bit aimlessly in her jacket. In the interview that follows, she wears only a bathrobe: “I think today I’m a little nervous. I think today I’m the most nervous. I don’t even know why. Because, I was totally up for it, and as time goes on, I get more nervous all the time.”
Cut to the D-Team, the self-proclaimed Team Diversity, which consists of Soulin, Liliana and Ashley. Just then, Liliana explains, “My goal for today is to make it all happen at once.” Soulin stares motionlessly into the distance. She is obviously listening intently to what her friend has to say. When she talks about the challenge she faces today, the corners of Soulin’s mouth go down, as if to confirm that this is a really hard task. And she confirms Liliana with a short “yes”. A counter-cut to Soulin, who grins all over her face. It is not clear in which context this close-up of her face was taken, because in the very next counter-cut she is serious and focused again. Or at least absent-minded, because while Liliana continues to pour her heart out, Soulin examines her fingernails in detail.
“Because Heidi also said the other day,” Liliana continues, “if I really stay focused now, and concentrate, it will get better.” And Soulin gives the tip: “As soon as you walk out that door, you should just throw everything you have in your head behind you and focus on one thing. Tunnel vision on and go for it.”
Cut to another interview with Liliana: “If I’ve already managed to be professional and focused backstage here, hopefully I can get that right on set – no matter what comes up – to be professional and focused.” There are quotes where I have the feeling that the editors wanted to make fun of the participants. The phrase about being professional backstage has the makings of sticking to Liliana.
Short cut to the shooting location with the preparations. The helpers are all walking around with FFP2 masks. Heidi explains that of course all surfaces on which the girls pose naked are disinfected every now and then between the shootings.
Romina is the first whose shoot is shown. I’m pretty sure that the photo sessions aren’t shown on TV in their original order, but that there’s a dramaturgy at play here as well. First, however, a few preparation clips with her are shown: Putting on makeup in a bathrobe, as she uses a brush to powder her nose. This is accompanied by an interview, initially off-camera: “I’m resolving this week to be relaxed, to approach everything a bit cooler and to completely put aside the pressure and insecurity.”
Dasha gives her another all-important tip in the interview: “Mostly I think to myself like this, okay, either it works out, or it just doesn’t.” Romina nods with a smile. “If you put pressure on yourself,” Dasha continues, “then you don’t have time, you get so stuck.” She gives Romina a hug, which she allows after a moment of shock when she realizes Dasha won’t ruin her makeup. “I’m taking it easy there,” Romina says in another interview snippet. “Because, otherwise, I couldn’t do it either. Otherwise I’d be so excited right away and not with myself.”
On set, Romina meets Heidi and photographer Markus Jans. He introduces himself to Romina and the TV audience, “I lived abroad for a very long time, fifteen years in Paris and New York, did different things there: editorials, advertising, celebrities. So the whole range.” As he talks, various pictures are shown that he has taken throughout his career. Among them are some nude photos where either an arm covers the chest or the breasts have been heavily blurred by the GNTM editors.
“It’s important to me today that they individually bring out their character,” he says. “That they just offer different things from the posing and that it gives an aesthetic image.” Didn’t we already have the identical wording as Heidi’s original sound bite? It seems to be quite important to the editors that the nude shoot stands up to aesthetic criteria.
The shooting of the participants follows. If I find the time, I will also go into this in more detail. Up to this point, it can be said that the main focus of the GNTM narrative was clearly on Ana and her ambivalence/uncertainty. The quarrel between Soulin and Yasmin seemed only like a small side show, which, however, was taken up again later in this episode. And Liliana seems to be for GNTM what the showmen are in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: She is paraded around and – at least in this episode – serves primarily to entertain. But that’s probably true for the entire format.
The photos on this page are all screenshots from episode 13, GNTM. Pro7 itself has not provided any photos from the nude shoot.
As always, you can watch the complete episode on Pro7.