Miss J is a beacon of fierceness for the droves of starry-eyed, wannabe catwalkers on "America's Next Top Model." But there was a time — way back when he was just a starry-eyed teenager — when the reality judge and runway coach didn't even have the most rudimentary sense of the biggest movers and shakers in fashion.
On the latest episode of "When I Was 17," the style maven recalled heading to an open casting call for one of renowned French designer Jean-Paul Gaultier's events — even though he had no idea who the sartorial master was.
"I went to Bergdorf Goodman for the casting," he said. "There was hundreds of people waiting. I thought to myself, 'What's gonna make me stand out?' and I just thought, 'Be yourself, personality.' I had nothing else to sell."
Armed with his famously dramatic personality, Miss J sold it. He brought the attitude and booked the gig — despite leaving an important piece of his wardrobe at home.
"When I got to see him, he said, 'Hello.' And I said, 'Hello.' He put me in clothing, and I remember I wasn't wearing underwear that day. I wasn't wearing panties, but I hid in the corner, put on the outfit and I put on this attitude... but I got the show."
When Cee Lo was 17, he had no trouble getting a job, and rotated through an array of random gigs. The "F--- You" singer remembered one job, however, that got a little off track.
"I remember one that was really funny — I worked in a warehouse where they were putting together the Frito-Lay variety boxes of chips," The Lady Killer singer explained. "I was on the end and I would push them through the plastic part where they would kinda do the overlay of plastic.
"One time I look back over the conveyor belt, and I just remember potato chips just falling all over the floor," he says. And when the chips hit the ground, "Closet Freak" star decided it was time to make a run for it.
"I was like, 'Oh, no. I'm out!' " he said.
"The Hills" good girl Audrina Patridge tended to stay out of trouble when she was 17, but she wasn't able to resist a day spent lounging by the shore instead of hitting books.
"One day, my friends and I decided to ditch school and go to the beach, and I wrote a fake note: 'Please excuse Audrina Patridge. She wasn't feeling well today. Any questions, call,' " Patridge recalled. "So I just ditched school and I went [to the beach], and our counselor at the time called my mom and asked where I was, and so she covered for me."
While mom stuck to Patridge's lie, she didn't let the episode slip under the rug. Instead, she exaggerated the fib so much that the "Dancing with the Stars" alum kind of wished she really was sick.
"She told them that I was really, really sick and that I was throwing up, and she did it to embarrass me, because when they called me into the office the next day, I had to sit there in front of all of them and tell them that I was throwing up and that I had diarrhea and I had to stick to her story," she remembered. "It was probably one of the last times I ever ditched — first and last."
"When I Was 17" airs Saturdays at 11 a.m. on MTV