Project Runway's Pamela Ptak Tells Movieline About the Real Reason She was Sent Home
Pamela Ptak, Project Runway's eliminated castoff from last night's episode, accepts that she is not the most telegenic contestant. She's a teacher at heart, and therefore she's not so willing to trash other designers -- a Project Runway staple. Still, the 47-year-old professor at Philadelphia's Drexel University is game for defending her aesthetic, clearing up why she lost the potato-sack challenge instead of Ping or Jesus, and explaining what the show is missing without her.
Ping's dress didn't even cover her model's ass. Jesus's dress didn't use much of the assigned materials. How do you feel for getting kicked off with your design, which fit the challenge requirements?
Well, you know, there are other reasons that I might be not be the best contestant on a show. And if you watched my face in the first challenge, or when I got the first critique from Tim, the very first pink dress, you watch my face: I show concern to some degree. I listen, etc. But I don't know if the judges see what Tim said. I'm not sure [about] the magic behind the scenes. But if they knew that I was that calm during critique -- I'm boring!
Look in the past at all the different people. Does Michael or Nina want to, let's say, prod or provoke somebody who stands there and takes it? Or do they want to prod and provoke, and maybe get a Santino (season two's motormouth) yelling back? I think it's a little more intriguing to have a Santino yelling back. You want an opponent who's going to play the game with you. If you're going to be a critic of something, you want someone who's going to jump in and battle with you. Unfortunately, some of the things I could've done to defend myself would've caused harm to the heart of someone. It would've either caused harm to the heart of a model, or it would've caused harm to the heart of a contestant, who I cared for. One of the parts that they put in the "goodbye talk," where I'm a little teary -- you can see my face is a little pink and puffy -- I said I fall in love very easily, but basically, what I was saying there was within a day, or a week, a tiny bit of time, I fell in love with the entire cast. And so once I give my heart to caring about someone like a brother or sister, I'm not going to do something that causes harm to them. Not just because they don't deserve to be jabbed at by me, but it damages my own heart and soul to do damage to another person. So I won't cross that line.
For that reason, if you keep me on there -- it's kind of like having someone saying, "Now, now, play nice" every five minutes, which is like, "Please. Another Hermione Granger, great." When you see judges giving a little bit of a hard time to somebody, who they just -- It's like, "You're not playing right. You're not fun. Let's find somebody who's fun." And I don't blame them. They know the back-and-forth is intriguing.
What did you feel your sense of design contributed to the show?
One thing that is extremely important to me is that... I don't view the human body as a shape to be duplicated. I reach out into space around the body, and I envelope the air around the figure into the garment design in an architectural way. I don't see anyone who's doing it as pronouncedly as I do. Ben, Ping, and Jay are the closest you can get to it. They're doing a little bit here, a little bit there, they're not doing it in a grand way -- except for Ping, I think Ping does it in a grand way. But she doesn't really understand the American woman as thoroughly, so I think she just needs to tweak it a bit. I think that's probably an architectural aesthetic. I would say one of my special things is my level of niceness in my art and designing. But I mean, there's nice people there. It's not that they're mean people. So, there's not a huge difference. There's a subtle difference.
There have been other teachers on Project Runway. Nick Verreos from season two comes to mind. Is it a help or harm to be a teacher on Project Runway? Do you want to offer your objectivity to the other designers?
You instinctively help people by mistake. You're not supposed to! I was unsnarling a machine that was snagged up, and Anthony was sitting at the machine and people were yelling at him. And I said, "Oh my goodness, no, no, you have to pull it out like this," and I walked over and started unsnarling it instead of sewing my dress. And that was while I was working on this challenge that I get kicked off for. So I'm standing there, and the cameraman came over, and I'm like, "Oh, great, here I am being a helper again!"
But a couple of times that happened. I actually helped Ping on the first one because she couldn't figure out how to do the belting that goes over the shoulder that held the pants up. It's funny, you just answer things. I caught myself doing it in the room when we were roommates, and we sat making coffee in the morning. They would ask something, and I would start sketching, and I'd have all three girls clustered around while I was sketching how you do a certain patternmaking thing. And I'm like, "Oh my God, stop it. Stop it, stop it, stop it. You can't do this. If they're going to fail, you have to let them fail on their own." But when you start liking people, you don't feel right not helping. So that was really hard. I don't know how Nick did it. He did help people, but he also balanced it with not making any dumb mistakes.