Gaspar Cruz ... what can't you do?
Critical Beauty gets candid with one of pageantry's most versatile celebrities
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED FOR JUNE/JULY 2009
REPUBLISHED ON 2/19/2012
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I am a native of San Diego, I come from a multi-ethnic family, my mother is a Caucasian and Filipino mix and my father is Spanish! I am 36 years old and have had the same partner for 11 years (Paul). We have two dogs, Delilah Ann (Chocolate Lab) and Sadie Michelle (Dalmatian). My mother is a former beauty queen!
How did you get interested in pageants?
I had a cousin and some good friends growing up that did pageants. My cousin Diane Schock became Miss California USA 1991 and 2nd runner up to Miss USA. A few years later, my best friend Jocelyn Soriano became first runner up to Shauna Gambill and the rest is history! I also designed the gown Shauna wore at her state pageant and at Miss USA 1998!
What prompted you to create Miss Teen United States World and Miss Teen World? And what sets your pageants apart from the others?
I witnessed the process of Shauna Gambill, Angelique Breaux and Lisette Diaz compete for Miss World and knew that I wanted to do something that was related to pageants but had no idea what. Then it dawned on me that there was not a reputable international teen pageant where teens could compete internationally! Thus marked the beginning of my trademark/servicemark and other legalities of the pageant. Although the trademark is being re-submitted due to some application errors, I started this whole process back in 2004. There have been quite a few imitators but ultimately everyone in the pageant business knows that I was the first Miss Teen World Pageant!
What are the some of the most challenging aspects of organizing your pageants?
Dealing with other unethical directors trying to create a pageant similar to mine and claiming to be affiliated with me has been the biggest problem so far. Other than that, putting together a show for ladies with the different languages and different needs has been quite a task. For the most part, it has been so fulfilling getting to meet so many ladies from different countries and realizing that teenagers, no matter where they?re from, are really all the same! They all have the same issues they're dealing with, just in different languages and in different parts of the world! There are really more similarities among people than we want to admit! Now that I have been to the Ukraine, France and Russia dealing with teens, I see they really are all very similar!
What is the most challenging aspect of preparing a candidate for a pageant?
The mental preparations are the most challenging aspect. If a contestant for one second thinks that she can be beat, she will be! I have seen some contestants that were not physically prepared to win but were mentally prepared; that's what separated them from the other contestants. I think wardrobe is a big factor! I see so many promising young ladies that get to their national or international pageants and then I see their wardrobes and know it can possibly eliminate them from the competition. The contestant then looks around to see the other ladies in their beautiful clothes and they know they are not competitive! This can mentally break down a contestant before the show even begins.
What is your take on the whole Carrie Prejean controversy? Do you think Carrie should have been dethroned as Miss California USA?
I have personally worked with Carrie Prejean and her opinion on gay marriage was just that: her opinion. As a director, what bothered me was the contract that she had signed with the Miss California USA Pageant was not fulfilled. The fact that Donald Trump did not hold her accountable to the contract she signed - this opened up the doors for other young ladies to think that rules and contracts have no merit, not only in pageants but in life! That just proved to young people all over the United States that you can break the rules and still keep your crown, your job, your freedom! That was just additional chunk of ethics that just got thrown out the window in our country.
What do you think of Shanna Moakler's decision to resign as co-director of the Miss California USA Organization?
I have the utmost respect for Shanna Moakler! I sat right behind her and Keith Lewis at Miss USA! I think her decision to step down as the director made a statement to the Miss Universe Organization that people can walk away from them without being fired by Trump. She made a statement that spoke volumes without having to be ostracized by anyone within the organization. I have a really good friend that was a state director for the Miss USA organization and we spoke about the whole situation and that person said to me, ?I am so glad I quit when I did because I was still able to walk away with my dignity!? And I truly believe Shanna still has her dignity and everyone's respect!
|GASPAR AND KATIE BLAIR, MISS TEEN USA 2006|
Which person or persons do you admire and why?
This is tricky and I think a few people will not like my answer but I have never cared what people thought of me! I have the utmost respect for Katie Blair, a recent titleholder! She lived through that whole reality show ordeal with MTV adding burps in scenes she didn't actually burp in and the way she was portrayed by the Tara Conner scandal! I knew the whole story and everything that really went on in the New York apartment, so I knew that the media twisted the stories around to make them more media worthy! Katie is a true fighter and is the epitome of the phrase ?Be true to yourself!? Katie would never let anyone believe she was anything other than who she really is. The people that judge Katie and talk about her win not being worthy are the pageant fans that have missed out on meeting a real representative of what Miss Teen USA should be like: genuine, loving and compassionate! Those that really know her know that she is 100% Katie Blair all the time and will never be anything else!
I am going to go on the record by also saying that I admire anyone that has passion! I admire people that do what they love and do it with passion! I think in life we worry so much about being judged by who we are and what we do we that we sometimes lose ourselves trying to please others. I respect people that do what they love to do with PASSION!!!
What is your definition of beauty?
I worked in the cosmetic industry for 15 years and have been involved in the pageant industry for about 17 years. I have seen every aspect of beauty! The good, the bad, the ugly, the processed, and the natural beauty and ultimately I think the true definition of beauty is simple. Rebekah Keller Negrete, who was Miss California 1998 and Miss California USA 2000, always said it best ?pretty is as pretty does!? This to me defines the complete opposite of what Hollywood over stimulates as beautiful. Being nice, having integrity and compassion are more beautiful than being famous, being in tabloids or being rich!
Who are some of your favorite beauty queens and what impression have they left on you?
I have a few favorite beauty queens one is a good friend Chelsi Smith. She has never let being Miss Universe 1995 affect how people should treat her. She is always sweet, kind and caring. My other favorite beauty queen is Miss Universe 1997 Brook Lee! To me Brook defines what the words "beauty queen" should be. She is smart, exotically beautiful, charismatic, witty and redefined what a winner should look like, act like and be like!
What is happiness? If you were not in the beauty business, what would you be doing?
If I wasn't in the beauty pageant industry I would probably be a magazine editor or a news correspondent. I have an opinion of things and although it may be different from the average gay male believes, I think that it reflects the other side of how gay people think. I read the book ?The Last Lecture? and the very end of the book the author asks the readers, ?When you are gone what will the people who know you say you did for humanity? I thought about that and although being gay is a small part of who I am, I do not want that to define Gaspar Cruz as a person. What I would like people to say I did for humanity is that I taught young ladies that went through my pageant program to be better leaders, I helped them earn a higher education, I taught them how to define themselves with fashion and make up. I want to be remembered for my contribution in helping young ladies believe in themselves! This will benefit the human race by creating more confident, outgoing, intelligent, women who will know how to say NO to things in their lives that are not healthy for the progression of women in our society! To accomplish this in my life would make me really happy!
|GASPAR AND BROOK LEE, MISS UNIVERSE 1997|
You are a very busy person. What do you do to relax or relieve stress? Describe an ideal evening.
For me being busy makes me more efficient and progressive. If I sat at home all day and did nothing I would feel useless! I love to lay by the pool and read which I rarely get to do, I have this amazing pool that I use maybe 10 times a year if that! My ideal evening would be spending it with my partner Paul on the beach in St. Barts!
What one question would you like people to ask you and what would you respond?
Gosh, I have no clue! Hmmm...
Any message to our Critical Beauty readers?
Pageants have been an amazing journey of self discovery not only for the contestants but for myself and everyone involved! I think that pageants are a great opportunity to meet amazing people with the same interests. I believe that as a community the pageant industry is small and that we need to be supportive of each other and our endeavors. I want everyone that reads this to know how I feel about pageants. I think that we are in the business of providing young ladies with an experience they will never forget, step away and ask yourself have you done everything you can to give your titleholder the best year of her life? This is about the young ladies and the impressions we leave them will be the stories they share and the memories they have.
My last saying: "Be kind, be creative, be sincere and never separate the life that you live from the words you speak!"
Interview by Rafa Delfin
PHOTOS COURTESY OF GASPAR CRUZ
***UPDATE: GASPAR'S PAGEANT HAS BEEN RENAMED "MISS T.E.E.N. PAGEANT". CHECK THE OFFICIAL WEBSITE.