After a Fashion

Our resident fashionista delivers a play-by-play account of the newest (fictional) reality game, Shopping Survivor; he also recommends the straight-to-video feature Intern, a bitchy, insidery take on the high-fashion industry, and Swap & Bop, an open-air flea market / music event at Waterloo Brewing Company this Saturday.

SHOPPING SURVIVOR Please, anyone could survive the jungle in Belize or the Australian Outback. The toughest test of endurance, as any real survivor can tell you, is shopping. From the Madison Avenue Marathon to the Rodeo Drive 500, shopping utilizes all of the facilities for survival that Mother Nature gave us. The hard-core shopper is subjected to tests every bit as grueling as those the television show contestants endured -- and they do it in high heels.

The first event begins as the contestants arrive at the mall parking lot in a caravan of SUVs, and the first order of business is finding a parking place. They are immediately beset with obstacles to overcome -- surly parking attendants, gigantic speed bumps, and aggressive street vendors ... it's just horrible, and they haven't yet begun. Contestant No. 1, a savvy housewife from New Jersey, plows through the parking barricade. Contestant No. 2, a veteran of the outlet malls, uses her vehicle's off-road capabilities to scale the speed bumps and arrogantly breezes into a handicapped-only space near the door. Contestant No. 3, a debutante who memorizes her credit card numbers, shoehorns her Explorer into a space so small she (and her neighbors) cannot open the doors and must exit through the sunroof. Contestant No. 4, an executive VP, is forced to double park. Armed only with a clear shopping bag (so that they never get stopped by store security) containing their few pitiful possessions -- a credit card or two, a bottle of Evian, and, of course, a cell phone from which they will receive their instructions -- the contestants are ready to do battle with the forces of retail.

Once contestants are given their destination, we have a preliminary round in which they vie to see who can put the most items in a shopping bag before it breaks, who can carry the most full bags, and the 100-yard shopping-bag dash. Contestant No. 1, already having proven her leadership potential, and Contestant No. 2, whose skills in strategic planning are legendary, fare very well, exhibiting an amazing combination of physical strength and endurance. Contestant No. 3, our debutante, lags through two of the three events, eventually breaking down and admitting that she usually has her purchases delivered to her home. Contestant No. 4's initial slow-ups continue to plague her. At the end of this exhaustive event, a meeting is held in the food court, and one contestant is voted out of the mall. Sadly, but predictably, it is Contestant No. 4, who has to be apprehended by security, photographed and told never to return to the mall, and escorted out. The final three contestants enter the in-store portion of the competition, in which they battle the forces of evil fragrance-sprayers, nonexistent sales help, and unorganized racks of clothes. After a meeting at the fragrance counter, Contestant No. 1 and Contestant No. 3, who made an incredible recovery, are the winners, as Contestant No. 2 is allowed to select one item from the sale rack and escorted out of the mall. Down to just two, the contestants engage in a do-or-die battle that includes events to determine how many clothes can be taken into a dressing room, how much can be carried to the cashier, and how fast the charge cards are whipped out. Contestant No. 1 stumbles by pulling out a credit card that the store does not accept. She is given a $100 gift card, and Contestant No. 3, after exhibiting a stunning display of courage by entering an overcrowded ladies room, is declared the Shopping Survivor, winning the opportunity to drive her SUV into the shoe department and load it with all the shoes she can carry. She is victorious, she is radiant, she is ... a shopper.

REEL LIFE If you look askance at the fashion industry -- like I do -- but still think it's the most entertaining thing around, go directly to your local video store and look for the new straight-to-video release Intern. Co-written by the daughter of the owner of the House of Chanel, this little feature is loaded with bitchery and in-jokes. While the rest of the world can wonder why anyone would want to watch something like this, we fashionistas will delight in the stereotyped, but oh-so-accurate, characterizations portrayed here. The cameos are practically a who's who of fashion, and while the story line is not very strong, the dialogue can be a scream. Don't look too deeply -- it isn't fraught with meaning, but then, again, to paraphrase Karl Lagerfeld, fashion is not the same thing as curing illness or feeding the hungry.

SWAP & BOP Celebrating its sixth anniversary, this open-air flea market/music event will be held Saturday, June 9, 11am-6pm, at Waterloo Brewing Company (401 Guadalupe). With more than 40 vendors, six bands, and refreshments, this event is a new Austin tradition. Admission is $3.50.

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Shopping Survivor, Belize, Australian Outback, Madison Avenue, Rodeo Drive, shopping, shoes, clothes, SUV, mall, outlet mall, Intern, Karl Lagerfeld, Swap & Bop, Waterloo Brewing Company

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