I’m (Especially) Mad as Hell: Kenny Schachter on Episode Four of Bravo’s ‘Gallery Girls’

Terence Koh and Holzer. (Courtesy Bravo)

Seeking a professional opinion on the Bravo reality series Gallery Girls, we asked the London-based art dealer, curator and writer Kenny Schachter to weigh in. His most recent recap, of episode three, had us convinced that the program was just too much for him, and, as we slipped episode four into a FedEx envelope, we wondered if we would hear back. When the following recap landed in our inbox last night, we were assured that all was well, relatively speaking. With each passing week we are newly impressed with his resilience. Stay tuned for (we hope) further musings on the program from Mr. Schachter, whose writing has appeared in books on architect Zaha Hadid, and artists Vito Acconci and Paul Thek, and who is a contributor to the British edition of GQ and Swiss money manager Marc Faber’s Gloom Boom & Doom Report.

I’m Peter Finch, hands clenched, contorted, pleading, imploring—I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore! Oops, I did it again. I’d sworn to make a credible stab at empathy in getting through the latest episode of Gallery Girls (GG), sworn that I would do it without, say, burning effigies of Bravo execs. I lied. I need a negative-themed thesaurus; I’m depleted of expletives. Granted, this is close to therapy, but we are around midseason now (please), and I could definitely benefit from some professional help.

Speaking of which, I haven’t yet touched upon the show’s resident alcoholic—it was too easy, the sloppy mess she is, a muddle so deluded as to think it’s an attractive human, physically and mentally. There is an upside to having this character foisted on me four weeks running; since watching, I’ve quit drinking. Come to think of it, the belligerent drunk is the only one I could name check if forced to do so. (But you might recall that due to disgruntled spouses we are being stingy with names here.) If you look deep enough into her eyes, you can see little olives like a Vegas slot machine; I half expected her to disgorge a mouthful of coins. “To be honest I don’t have a drinking problem,” she protested with a face suspiciously swollen, like someone with a fairly advanced drinking problem. In the end, she convinced me to the contrary with her unassailable wisdom: “I’m, like, just a fun blonde girl who, like, likes to have a good time.” Well said, case rested.

Another thing I haven’t dealt with much in these columns is references to art, and that’s because there just aren’t many of them. The closest these petulant petunias came to remotely expressing anything about art in episode four was a fleeting mention of a photo show where all that was missing were the photos, which in effect could be a metaphor for this entire series. “Art” here is no more than a ruse on which to hang the hat (a beret would be fitting) of yet another vacuous unreality show. This seems like a good enough time to say that I made a personal best this week: I lasted a full four minutes and 11 seconds before I reverted to catching up on emails. I must pat myself on the back for that—it was no easy feat.

The boyfriend of one GG wanted to buy her a skydiving lesson, which immediately sent me dreaming of how I’d forgo the chute just to make this stop. And then—oh no, there was Jane Holzer again. Jane don’t, don’t do it to yourself, don’t do it to me. Luckily she didn’t get off with much more than a few art world air kisses, mwah mwah, mwah mwah.

But back to the cat-fighting camaraderie of the girls that I found so touching. Take this for example: “How does she have, like, a house full of furniture after moving in, like, only a day ago? My apartment is so much nicer than hers, but why is hers so big, I just don’t get it why she has such a big apartment.” It’s the classic zero-sum, frontal stab. Reminds me of a Jackie Mason joke, along the lines of: this food is so disgusting, why are the portions so small? Okay, that isn’t really pertinent, except in the sense that this show is stomach-turning and tiny in content.

And now, a serving of my weekly quote soup: “Secretly I have this thing for curly-haired Jewish guys.”; “I do have an Asian fetish.”; “You are getting Yoko Ono on us.”; “Gays and Asians, I can’t handle either of you anymore.”; “Next to her, like, even Brooklyn girls look good.” Positively Shakespearian! The rampant racism is rather ridiculous, really, and is nonchalantly bandied about like casual volleys in a poisonous country club tennis match (no Jews or African Americans need apply).

Doesn’t it drive you nuts when someone, like, doesn’t like you, and won’t tell you, like, why? A friend you have known since, like, childhood? I hate when that happens. And then they drop a bomb that crashes me back to earth with the force of the true import of this show: “The hotness of guys here is, like, negative 47.” As Andy would say: “Gee.” Negative 47 would better characterize the show’s art content: there are plenty of boys, but no Beuys.

The a-word, a dark curse usually only faintly alluded to, did, however, come up a second time more than halfway through the episode when a group of GG’s go drunk-bowling: “I’m good at art but definitely not bowling.” I’m, like, definitely not convinced she got that right; she hasn’t shown much facility for either. Until that point I’d forgotten it was a “reality art TV show”. How do you follow such priceless broadcasting brilliance? A sorority slut party? Oh, surprise! The wacky girls had a food fight and, wow!, they managed to slip in another tit shot, a true taste of what it’s like to be a “professional” in today’s art world.

The GG version of Richie Rich, an uncut diamond very much in the rough (with a leg-up on blood stones in gruesomeness) states that even though she is wealthy, gorgeous and smart, at least she can, like, care for herself. Yes, it’s made all the more easier by the generous monthly allowance for food, rehab and a plush NYC apartment, though one that’s not as big as what’s her name’s. Every word out of Richie Rich sounds like the very girl bemoaning being hated on is doing an awful lot of hating herself. And always with her puckish lips curled into a menacing, Dr. Evil smirk of self-satisfaction.

Then came an appearance, late in the game this time around, of the art dealer Eli Klein (you may remember him as the Greasy Bear of last week’s recap) accompanied by a woman (somehow) wearing a “poodle haired” jacket. (Talk about a stray. Why couldn’t they make garments out of my poodles? Then at least I would have found a viable reason to identify with the show.) In this episode, the formerly greasy head was inexplicably sporting a sort of Afro, with curly Q’s flopping onto his forehead. After this week’s allocation of torture, I welcomed back and even found I’d missed the greasy gallerist. I apologize for all the horrible things I have said in the past, forgive me.

Not surprisingly, there have been no revelations, no paradigm shifts, no cathartic light bulbs going off, nothing. Just more of the same pain, delivered slowly with no anesthesia. Then something terribly strange happened: my 13 year old, who picked up on my GG assignment, downloaded the entire series so far (which I of course, never figured out how to do) and has been following the show of his own accord. Not only has he not been commissioned to watch like me, he paid for the privilege. I was concerned, very concerned. But he quickly rebounded in my eyes when he announced: “But oh my god they are as unattractive as they are uninformed—I knew more about art when I was 5.” Whew, I was worried for a moment. Another kid wanted to know if I had to write at least one positive sentiment about each episode. As Paul Simon sang in “If I Could,” “Yes, I would. If I only could I surely would.” But I can’t, or haven’t been able to yet. Don’t hold your breath.

I’m (Especially) Mad as Hell: Kenny Schachter on Episode Four of Bravo’s ‘Gallery Girls’