|Thursday, September 23, 1999||
Volume 65, Issue 23
Whitlock on Clinton
|Is Miss America finally Y2K ready?
By Wendy Miller
On Saturday, Miss Kentucky was crowned Miss America 2000 -- and I think the right girl won. Am I qualified to make this statement? I competed in pageants for 15 years and, at 20, I made the leap to director. For most of the pageants that I coordinated, the 10 age groups covered boys 0-7 years and girls 0-25 years.
Every weekend, I surrounded myself with little ones. That was the part I loved. I could live without most of the adults. The schizo, live-vicariously-through-my-child parents eliminated the fun. They were demanding to know why their child didn't win Tuesday, but calling Wednesday wanting an invitation to my next event.
After five years of trying to please everyone, I retired last year. My accomplishments as director include a preliminary to the state level in Miss America. The pageant is for women ages 17-24 (www.missamerica.org). Here is what happened in Atlantic City, Sept. 18.
This year, the 51 women made individual one-minute home videos that ABC aired last week. This was an excellent idea. It gave the non- top 10 state winners exposure before shoving them to the back of the stage. Miss Kentucky and Miss Maryland were my faves.
Swimsuit: Miss America has relaxed its rules on the bathing suit to include revealing 2-pieces. I agree with the swimsuit competition, although it seems to
outrage others. If you've got it and want to flaunt it, then by all means, go for it. A national title winner should be healthy and physically fit.
Evening Gown: A competitor wants to be noticed, but not overpowered by a dress. If judged on poise and beauty alone, Miss Texas could have won this segment -- but the designs on her gown took away from her.
Talent: The trick is to make it age-appropriate in costume and skill level. Miss Illinois and Miss Pennsylvania played a mean piano and violin, respectively. Talent had obviously been their ticket to placing. Miss Texas and Miss Kentucky had good vocals. My criticism belongs to Miss Maryland. I thought she had a shot at the crown -- until then. Her tutu was too big, and the ballerina salutes while marching on her toes were, well, embarrassing. In crackling Joan Rivers style, "Miss Maryland, what were you thinking?"
On-stage Interview: All the basic rules of public speaking apply. It is important to actually answer the questions asked.
I didn't agree with the interview arrangement. They interviewed all five in the format of the TV talk show The View.
The contestants built on one another. Miss Texas had a disadvantage as the first speaker. The winner's circle was in the order that they interviewed: Texas - 4th runner-up; Maryland - 3rd R; Pennsylvania - 2nd R; Illinois - 1st R; Kentucky - winner.
I feel the producers brought the show into the next millennium. When Marie Osmond announced the winner's name, it was the first time in the pageant's 79-year history that a male didn't make the announcement. Also, the show included bloopers from the contestants' home videos. One showed a Miss America-hopeful declaring her life views -- while her dog decided to take care of business on the lawn behind her. It was a classic.
The first step toward winning any title is to look like a winner. It is 10 percent beauty and 90 percent attitude. If you are considering becoming a contestant or a pageant mom, watch for scams. A worthwhile pageant will award scholarships.
Many smaller pageants are done for profit. Keep the pageant paperwork handy -- make sure that the director does what he promises. For example, make sure that the promised prizes equal the actual awards on pageant day. Watch for local-yokel judges. Contestant No. 11's Uncle as a judge is a definite no-no.
Miller, a junior philosophy major,
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.