"When we started thinking about judges, Janice Dickinson was one of the first people who popped into my head," says Tyra Banks, host and executive producer of UPN's America's Next Top Model (tomorrow at 9 pm/ET). "I'd never met her, but I'd heard the stories." One of the world's first supermodels (she claims to have invented the term), Dickinson lives up to her diva-may-care reputation with her merciless commentary on Top Model — and while talking with us. Meow!
TV Guide Online: What do you bring to the show?
Dickinson: Real-life experience, know-how, and a lot of frickin' fire. People want to get into brawling matches with me because I'm brutally honest. I feel I'm saving the girls a lot of time by telling them A) You're too fat, B) You're too old, C) You're too short. Tyra's way too nice. I'm not.
TVGO: Do you consider yourself the Simon Cowell of Top Model?
Dickinson: I look much better than Simon in a thong. Simon is truly just a judge. I am still a working supermodel. Simon's not even a singer. There's no comparison.
TVGO: Last season, why did you prefer skinny Elyse over plus-size Robin?
Dickinson: You have to be waiflike to be a model in today's world. When Robin was standing next to Elyse, I wanted to throw up — and that would've been good.
TVGO: Are the contestants more cutthroat than real-life models?
Dickinson: They aren't competitive enough. When I was starting out, girls like Gia [Carangi] walked around with switchblades in their back pockets.
TVGO: Has Top Model increased your recognizability?
Dickinson: Everywhere I go, I get recognized as, "Ain't that the model lady from the show?" Mostly urban ghetto chicks — they dig the show.
TVGO: Do you think more men will watch the show this season?
Dickinson: Are you kidding me? Last year, guys were just tuning in to see the girls' bikini [lines] get waxed. This year, the boys are going to want to see even more because the girls are much more sexy. Sexy, crazy, cool.
TVGO: How was the show received within the fashion industry?
Dickinson: The fashionistas can't get enough of this show. I'm not just blowing smoke up TV Guide's ass. The panel of judges is the full spectrum, from photographer to supermodel to editor to J. Alexander, that tacky queen who teaches the girls how to walk. We're all at the top of our game. People also will be tuning in to just to see what my breasts are going to be squished into in each episode.
TVGO: How realistically does the show portray the industry?
Dickinson: It's not artificial at all, because the industry is so artificial. The only thing that's artificial on the show are my breasts.
TVGO: Great. That covers everything.
Dickinson: Will you be running a picture of me, please? Thank you.