Don’t know if you saw it (actually, can’t believe if you didn’t see it), but Miss USA fell on her ass in the Miss Universe competition last week, where the only thing she really had to do was to try to look pretty and not fall on her ass. I can only imagine the chaos if they made contestants chew gum at the same time.
At this point, I’d like to clear up the confusion that often exists between Miss USA and Miss America. Consider me your foremost authority on both pageantry and pork rinds.
Miss USA is essentially based on hotness. There is no talent competition and you don’t even have to prove you can speak a coherent sentence unless you make it into the Top Five. Then you only have to be as coherent as the other four finalists. Which is a lot like being as in shape as the other guys in your bowling league. If you win Miss USA, the prize package includes a $200k crown and a $17k tiara, a $30k watch, a crystal trophy, a crapload of wardrobes, a swimsuit wardrobe, a shoe wardrobe, salon services, fitness membership, dermatology services, hair care products, PR training and representation, modeling portfolio and contract, an American Airlines vacation, a NYC apartment for a year with living expenses, access to all hip NYC events, and a salary just for being hot. You also get to represent the good ol’ USA in the Miss Universe pageant. [They can call it Miss Universe because if there is life outside of our own solar system it probably consists of those ugly-ass alien life forms you see on the Sci-Fi Channel which are no competition for our Earthly beauties.]
Even though this year’s Miss USA fell on her ass, she seems to be doing much better than Miss USA 2006 – Tara Conner. After winning, Miss Conner dropped out of community college, moved from her small town in Kentucky to her NYC apartment and got right started on the big city moonshine, making out with other hot chicks, adding some Bolivian marching powder to her diet, and allegedly adding more than a few notches to her new designer lipstick case. She was allowed to keep her badass crown as long as she promised to do the rehab thing and not shave her head or beat up any SUV’s.
There is no scholarship money in Miss USA to help with an education to fall back on after the hotness fades away, so Miss USA is encouraged to hook up with a top tier professional athlete to support her unless she plans on hawking that crown on eBay for pennies on the dollar.
So that’s Miss USA for you. I’m sure Mr. Trump will correct me if I got any of it wrong. The Trumpster owns the thing in partnership with NBC.
Miss America, on the other hand, makes you prove you have some talent beyond strutting and places a little more emphasis on not only stringing together a coherent sentence, but seeing that it makes sense. If you can do that while keeping the swimsuit from riding up your asscrack, then they'll throw some cash your way for school. They still do the swimsuit and evening gown thing, but it’s only about one-third of the competition. The rest is based on the talent and personal interview. The actual percentages are a little unclear, since they’ve been adjusted slightly over the last few years as the organization struggles to find a network that will broadcast their exciting scholarship competition. ABC dropped them, and now CMT (yes, Country Music Television) has dropped them. That places Miss America just a step below NHL hockey on the American public’s “who gives a crap” scale of interest. How can you expect to hold a viewer’s attention with some baton twirling or tap dancing when a simple Google search will yield seemingly unlimited links to women who possess exponentially more captivating talents depending on your own particular turn-ons (or perversions). But I digress (no wonder it takes me so long to research and write these posts). It may seem like I’m ripping the organization but they do end up giving out something like $50 million a year in scholarship money instead of designer shoes and a key to hedonism. In return, the contestants agree to spend the dough on their education, usually to pursue their dream of becoming a special ed teacher or a veterinarian. Miss America also has to show support for a platform and promise to spend a year telling people around the world that stuff like AIDS, domestic abuse or homelessness is bad, so don’t do that stuff. I know that sounds cynical, but again, it beats doing blow off of Lady Liberty’s ass as Miss USA.
So how did I get so informed about the ways of pageantry? I used to be a woman. Not really… that’s still just a dream. Years ago, I dated a girl that did the pageant thing and claimed to be a something runner up in the Miss Florida competition. I’m not sure what place she got because I wasn’t really listening but instead just staring at her breasts. I’m kidding. In retrospect I realize that I wasn’t really listening because if you’re not first, you’re last. If she had won, then I could tell people I had dated Miss Florida and that might garner a little street cred. But a runner-up? That’s like dating the bass player in a band. (Unless it’s The Police or The Beatles.)
So anyway, while we were dating she got back involved with Miss America and was helping organize a local competition that would qualify contestants for the state-wide smile-off. Being such a high-profile local celebrity, I was asked if I would be a judge for the Miss Teen Farmers Branch contest. This was way too good to pass up. I’m sure you’re picturing me in the front row of a large auditorium, wearing a tux with perfectly coiffed hair and deliberately working an electronic scoring tablet. Not quite. I did, in fact, wear a suit, but I was sitting in a metal folding chair behind a folding table in the local community rec center, sniffing the fresh purple ink from scorecards that were just pulled off the ditto machine. I think there were six contestants that Saturday afternoon and a handful of family members in the crowd to cheer them on. We had to be done by 5 p.m. so that they could set up for the weekly senior citizen Bunco tournament that evening. Honestly, it was less than memorable. A couple of contestants were embarrassingly unprepared. Like a George W. Bush presidency. A few others were what one might expect from a Miss Teen Farmers Branch competition. I seem to recall the obligatory baton twirler (non-flaming, rec center rules), some singing and some dancing. There was an obvious winner, so I didn’t feel any pressure from potentially messing up the voting and pissing off my fellow two judges who had significantly more qualifications on their CV’s. No need to identify any misplayed hemidemisemiquavers in a classical piano piece. Our winner did some modern dance thing that looked pretty good to my untrained eye, and was much further removed from the awkward teen phase that plagued the other contestants. I only wish I could remember the lame questions I threw down for the personal interview portion.
I know it did inspire me to take pageant questions back to work to ask of potential job applicants. Great fun to ask an interviewee for a customer service position what they would hope to accomplish as Miss America. I highly suggest trying it some time.