Normally, I can devote half an eye and a quarter of a brain cell to watching any reality show. It’s a gift. But with the amount of characters the A-List graces us with each week that invariably need subtitles, I’ve been forced to drop everything, glue myself to the TV, and ultimately sacrifice a small part of my soul to every episode. In exchange, I’ve acquired conversational proficiency in both Portuguese pidgin and Cockney. I’m fairly certain at this point that despite my assumptions about the A-List being a show by gays for gays, it’s really just a seven-part promotional video for INS and the entire country of Brazil.

Austin gets his groove back

Austin has been called fat for the last four weeks – mostly by Derek who, by comparison, is Crypt Keeper thin. And though I’ve poked fun at Austin’s flab myself, to be fair, he’s actually gay fat. In heterosexual-speak, that’s totally fit. But to the ab-obsessed queer eye, Austin is just a cheddar-topped slider short of being Gabourey Sidibe’s body double. This week, we’re supposed to forget about Austin’s brief bout with obesity, because Ryan’s massive network of industry contacts has magically made him model-ready. Thankfully, Austin is self-aware enough to recognize that he isn’t yet prepared for the taut and trim world of high fashion. But it’s not due to his lack of height, boy-next-door looks, or inability to take a decent photo. It’s because he lost his eight-pack.

Not surprisingly, the photo session is only a popped collar away from an end-of-season special at Glamour Shots before quickly devolving into a full-frontal ode to Robyn Bird. It all conveniently comes together to make Austin’s plot for keeping his unintelligible, Cockney-tongued lover stateside with the aid of an immigration lawyer seem almost logical. Too bad he ruins it by giving the boyfriend a beatdown in Times Square (not televised) and subsequently skipping out on the free legal advice arranged courtesy of that crazy-connected Ryan.

Derek hosts a summer soiree

With a jam-packed party schedule and an unmanageable amount of appointments at Hollywood Tans, Derek does what any responsible 26 year-old would do: hire an assistant. Her name is Gina, which through Derek’s clever mispronunciation, becomes short-form for a female body part he undoubtedly hasn’t seen since birth. I’m pretty sure the situation could only have been made worse by calling her Cooter. In any case, the duo’s task du jour is to scout out party locations for “sexy people” to celebrate New York City Pride. That, of course, means a gathering at the exclusive, members-only Soho House sans Austin, because, well, he’s basically a big, unwelcome ball of drama and fat. After being assaulted several times by Derek’s perma-tan in an array of cleavage-bearing American Apparel tees, I was pleased to see him button up in a more modest polo for a date with yet another Brazilian and a slew of subtitles. Translation: Derek wants a guy with looks and money to compensate for his orange face and entry-level modeling agency job that rakes in a whopping $25K a year. Unfortunately, this De Janeiro dreamboat works the floor at Barneys. Designer discount, yes. But not exactly A-list. Still, Derek concedes that his date’s hotness factor may be enough to cancel out the career path at Co-Op.

Mike shows off his softer side

The uber-famous fashion photographer does his weekly drive-by to discuss what he refers to as “fun stuff.” Sadly, his dearly departed mother never got to enjoy Mike’s “fun life”, which is filled with said “fun stuff”. In fact, it’s so much fun that the camera crew is never able to capture a moment of it, and we’re left to endure a photo shoot to promote something called a “cancer hat library” (essentially a collection of hideous rhinestone-studded Ed Hardy hats that are loaned out to chemo patients) and a producer-staged sob session between Mike and his visiting father. Super fun.

Ryan takes time out for the four Rs

Rest, relaxation, Reichen, and Rodiney (pictured at left – you’re welcome). It’s a spa day for the girls and the perfect opportunity for Ryan to get the inside scoop from Reichen in the massage room while Rodiney and Derek dish in the mineral pool. Reichen admits his relationship is open to threesomes, but only if they’re partner approved – a level of commitment that brought tears to my eyes. And speaking of eyes, Ryan’s roll back into his head a few times during the mud mask facial. I can only assume it was a petit mal seizure induced by a combination of bright camera lights and listening to Reichen talk about his favorite topic – himself.

Reichen & Rodiney seek professional help

The pressures of moving to Manhattan, buying a posh pad, and starring in a shitty off-Broadway musical are weighing on Reichen’s repulsively tattooed back, which we had the pleasure/pain of being introduced to over a 2(x)ist underwear-clad brunch with Rodiney. The pretty pair calls in a couples counselor to help sort out the non-marital marital problems of their six-month-old relationship. Reichen finally comes clean by telling Rodiney that he’s a jobless freeloader who requires an inordinate amount of attention. Then, the two argue about which one of them is more self-obsessed before embracing in a tear-filled, musclely manhug.

In true Real Housewives fashion, the Soho House Pride party is prime time for Ryan, Derek, and a noticeably redder-headed/bearded T.J. (who quite obviously isn’t pretty enough to be part of the core cast) to confront an uninvited Austin about being a no-show to the immigration attorney. Between rapid-fire finger pointing and getting distracted by Derek’s shimmery black Member’s Only jacket, I almost missed Rodiney’s relatively quiet exit from the festivities. That, of course, leaves Reichen with a gaping hole that Austin is more than willing slip into next week.