“Face Off” Episode 102 Recap: “I Came For the Nudity, Stayed For the Artistry”

Let’s get one thing straight before I get to the actual discussion of this week’s episode of Face Off — even though I’m a huge fan of Top Chef, and loved Top Chef: Just Desserts, and was surprised Work of Art worked so well, I am sick to death of reality competition shows.

I’m tired of Project Runway, much less The Fashion Show. I don’t want any more reality shows about florists, people trying to lose weight, or grade Z celebrities trying to dance, skate or do synchronized swimming.

That’s why when I heard that Syfy’s Face Off — which pits special-effects make-up artists against each other — actually featured a Team Gay, I still wasn’t interested in watching. Then I saw the promos for this week’s episode which showed the make-up artists painting completely nude models and suddenly I was slightly more interested. 

Yeah, I’m really that shallow. Hey, I’m a gay guy so the idea of one guy painting another naked guy is, um, intriguing.

Come on, you know it’s exactly what Syfy was hoping for! Anyway, that was enough to get me to tune in and watch an episode.

On the plus side, at least Face Off is about something your average viewer knows very little about, but has seen a great deal of. We’ve all watched Star Trek or CSI or Spartacus and marveled at how make-up artists create such convincing aliens, dead bodies and chopped off heads. But most of us have almost no idea of what’s involved. (As opposed to floral arranging about which most of us can grasp the basics of even if we wouldn’t be very good at actually doing.)

On the minus side, Face Off was produced with pretty much the exact same cookie cutter format as every other competitive reality show. I swear, I kept expecting Padma Lakshmi to show up and announce the Quickfire Challenge sponsored by Nabisco!

So back to the episode. The Quickfire Challenge, or whatever they call it here, was for the contestants to design their own tattoo that “means something to them.”


Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to think so as one of the artists spent the majority of the time reading a book and then tracing over an existing tattoo he already had. Then the “world famous” chef/hairstylist/artist/assassin these sorts of shows always trot out, passes judgment on the tattoos and at least he and I are in agreement on the two best tattoos.

He picks a winner, but I’m not really paying attention because A) I don’t really care and B) all am I really thinking is “When do we see the nude models?”

Finally, we do. They come out as a group and each poses in front of a different background — a seascape, an elevator door, a waterfall and so forth. The challenge will be for the artists to paint their models so that they fit into the picture which will then be shot for a magazine cover. Think Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair painted like she’s wearing a suit.

(BTW, it seems almost all of this sort of art is done with female models. Just Google “body painting” and see how many male models you get. It took me a while to find just one.)

Then the Padma Lakshmi wannabe tells the models to drop their robes.

Next page! Naked at last!

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