Skip to main content

Miss Universe 1998

Venezuela places second

LACKLUSTER is the word that best describes this year's pageant in terms of production. Overall, the whole presentation lacked its most important quality - its international touch. The Miss Universe show has gone American, capitalistic, and plain dowdy. From the moronic comments coming from the two beautiful - but nevertheless historically challenged co-hostesses (Ali Landy and Julie Moran) who unsuccessfully attempted to enhance their job by injecting pseudo-cutesy comments on breasts and gowns (neither really should have been invited to host) - to the insipid lack of audio-visual esthetics (usually provided by the candidates wearing their colorful national costumes and introducing themselves). This year's candidates have been reduced to plain mute beauties who only gained their speech if they were selected as semi-finalists. The "Parade of Nations" was merely a copycat of the "Parade of States" in the Miss USA pageant in March; it goes without saying that the crew who organized and staged the Miss USA pageant was the same crew who had annoyingly imposed their too American, and alas, cheap vision, on the Miss Universe show.(See more of my negative criticisms below in the "Downers" section. 

This year's jury was hardly international. Actor Richard Chamberlain, although British by birth, has been a long-time resident of Hawaii. Alonso, who was a judge during the 1993 pageant in Mexico City, has lived in the United States for many years as well. There was no true European judge. Despite its large Asian-Pacific population in Hawaii, none of the Asian candidates, except Miss India (Lymaraina D'Souza), was even placed among the semi-finalists. 

Of the eight judges, three showed strong preference for their favorite candidate. Chamberlain gave elegant Miss Trinidad & Tobago (Wendy Fitzwilliam) an average score of 9.95, Adams gave the blonde - the only one for that matter - Miss Russia (Anna Malova) an average score of 9.99, and Tam gave Fitzwilliam an average score of 9.89. Alonso seemed to have favored strongly the Latin candidates by giving them scores in the 9.90s. The lowest score that Alonso could give was an 8.90 to Miss Ireland (Andrea Roche) in the interview competition. Since all the others were wearing off-white, white or pastel gowns, Miss Ireland dazzled the audience with an exquisite black gown with a lace design. 

The biggest injustice in scoring of all time during a Miss Universe competition was committed by judge Farley who gave Miss South Africa (Kerishnie Naiker) a 2.00 in the interview! Why even bother voting? Had Farley abstained from voting, Kerishnie would have probably overpassed Miss India (Lymaraina D'Souza). When asked by host Jack Wagner about what she learned from her Maltese co-candidate, Kerishnie gave a very structured and eloquent response. 

The Judges
  • Richard Chamberlain / actor (USA)
  • Maria Conchita Alonso / entertainer and former Miss World Venezuela
  • Cindy Adams / New York Post columnist (USA)
  • Vivienne Tam / fashion designer (USA)
  • Elaine Farley / senior editor for Sports Illustrated (USA)
  • Richard Johnson / New York Post columnist (USA)
  • Shemar Moore / soap opera actor (USA)
  • Elvis Stojko / world figure-skater (Canada)

How The Judges Voted

CONTESTANT Chamberlain Adams Alonso Tam Farley Johnson Moore Stojko
Swimsuit 9.50 9.20 9.90 9.90 8.50 8.30 8.90 8.70
Interview 9.50 8.00 8.95 9.10 2.00 9.10 9.50 9.78
Evening Gown 9.50 9.62 9.92 9.90 9.20 9.50 9.60 9.40
Swimsuit 8.60 9.99 9.90 9.50 8.60 8.40 9.20 9.10
Interview 8.50 9.90 8.94 8.80 8.30 8.20 8.30 8.97
Evening Gown 9.00 9.99 9.92 9.50 9.30 9.10 9.60 9.30
Swimsuit 8.60 9.50 9.50 9.40 9.00 8.45 8.90 8.90
Interview 8.60 9.10 8.90 9.10 9.00 9.05 8.70 9.55
Evening Gown 9.30 9.81 9.89 9.00 8.90 9.55 9.30 9.00
Swimsuit 9.90 9.10 9.97 9.80 9.20 8.50 9.20 9.50
Interview 9.00 9.00 9.95 9.20 9.20 9.15 9.30 9.80
Evening Gown 9.00 9.77 9.98 9.70 8.80 9.20 9.40 9.50
Swimsuit 9.50 9.50 9.95 9.80 9.40 8.48 9.70 9.60
Interview 8.90 9.00 9.92 8.00 8.90 9.00 9.10 9.79
Evening Gown 9.60 8.99 9.96 9.80 9.70 9.51 9.60 9.60
Swimsuit 9.00 8.90 9.89 9.70 9.05 8.60 9.00 9.00
Interview 9.90 9.30 9.50 9.90 9.40 9.09 9.20 9.65
Evening Gown 9.50 8.95 9.92 9.97 8.90 9.54 9.30 9.45
Swimsuit 9.99 8.99 9.94 9.98 9.40 9.70 9.80 9.75
Interview 9.90 9.75 9.99 9.90 9.30 9.30 9.60 9.85
Evening Gown 9.98 9.23 9.98 9.80 9.80 9.80 9.90 9.55
Swimsuit 9.97 9.99 9.96 9.80 9.70 9.68 9.90 9.80
Interview 9.00 9.99 9.95 8.70 9.00 9.18 9.60 9.81
Evening Gown 9.99 9.99 9.98 9.50 9.40 9.40 9.80 9.65
Swimsuit 9.20 8.65 9.98 9.90 9.30 9.75 9.70 9.90
Interview 8.90 8.90 9.20 9.90 9.30 9.07 9.30 9.83
Evening Gown 9.20 8.99 9.89 9.60 9.45 9.30 9.59 9.59
Swimsuit 9.50 9.13 9.95 9.80 9.80 9.73 9.50 9.85
Interview 9.20 9.23 9.97 9.00 9.04 9.27 8.90 9.64
Evening Gown 9.70 9.56 9.98 9.80 9.30 9.60 9.70 9.80

 - I liked the idea of pairing together two candidates so they could ask each other about their respective cultures. This element should be included in future pageants since it involves full concentration, communication and interaction. Remember that the contestants represent their countries, and as such they serve as ambassadors of goodwill. Even if a candidate is not placed among the semi-finalists, at least her country is being promoted to millions of viewers by a semi-finalist! 
- When asked the question, "If Portuguese is your native language, how did you communicate with Miss Cyprus?", Miss Brazil (Michella Marchia) wittily responded: "English is my second language." (applause from the audience) - Miss Venezuela (Veruska Ramirez), proved to be a far more likable candidate than last year's Marena Bencomo, who seemed less bubbly and lacked personality. Clearly, Veruska was the most radiant candidate from Latin America.


- As I had mentioned earlier, the whole production was too American, or should I say, pathetically homogenous. 
- Unlike its predecessors, this year's show was too fast-paced and too modernized; the "Parade of Nations" consisted merely of zooming in on a candidate for less than three seconds, and while this was going on, a big screen on the background showed an magnified headshot of the candidate - which was extremely annoying and distracting. 
- Equally distracting and visually tiring was the presentation of the candidates wearing their national costumes. The segment had been recorded earlier and was choreographed in a manner which allowed the contestants to do some voguing and even flirting with the viewer. Nothing wrong about flirtatious posing. What lacked was the harmony and dignity factor: the contestants should have been assembled on stage to be appreciated by the viewing public while displaying their full national regalia with pride. 
- Future hosts and co-hosts should take a crash course on the history of the Miss Universe pageant. Julie Moran's gaffe - "Trinidad and Tobago has never won the Miss Universe pageant"- will now go down in pageant history as the most absurd statement ever made. 
- Lack of mention of Hawaiian art, culture or diversity. Surely, everybody could see hula dancers and Hawaiian warriors on stage, but was there ever an instructional tour given at all about the host state? In the past pageants, the current winner would usually promote the host site by showing points of interest or by merely speaking a little about that site's history. Sadly, no culture or history was present this year; just picture perfect postcard settings of Hawaii.
- The pageant organizers, or whoever is responsible for selecting the jury, should make every attempt to invite a non-celebrity as a judge. As suggested by a pageant fan, too much money is spent paying off "famous" people if a big chunk of that money can be saved by hiring a professional pageant fan for less. 
- Although the stage setting was quite attractive, stage direction left something less to be desired. Pandemonium broke when Miss Ghana lunged on Miss Trinidad & Tobago as soon as the latter was announced as the winner. 

 Text by Rafa Delfin

Photo courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization  


Popular posts from this blog

Trans-Identified Male Crowned “Miss Greater Derry 2023,” Takes Home Women’s Scholarship

A local beauty pageant is attracting ample mockery on social media after a trans-identified male was crowned the winner of the competition and awarded a scholarship intended for young women. Brían Nguyen , 19, was awarded the crown in the Miss Greater Derry pageant, held on November 8 in the Greater Derry area of New Hampshire. The competition is a locally-run event under the national Miss America series of pageants. In addition to winning the crown, Nguyen will receive the  Miss Greater Derry Scholarship , a financial award established to support young women. Nguyen, who is male, is a freshman at Nashua Community College majoring in Business Management. After his win, Nguyen wrote on  Facebook : “ I am ecstatic to be the FIRST transgender woman to be a Miss America local titleholder, and I hope to make everyone proud and become the first to walk the Miss America stage. I am Brían Nguyen, your Miss Greater Derry 2023 .” Nguyen had previously announced on Instagram that he has intention

Miss America CEO & Others Resign Amid Scandal Over Offensive Emails – Update

2nd UPDATE, 12:03 PM:  Miss America Organization  CEO  Sam Haskell  resigned his post today amid an investigation into offensive emails he sent about a pageant winner. In a statement He has resigned along with president and COO Josh Randle and Lynn Weidner, the board chair who sent emails involved in the controversy. Related Two More Ex-Fox News Employees Join Defamation Suit Against Bill O'Reilly - Update According to a Twitter post from Dan Meyers, who is taking over as interim chairman, Weidner will remain on the board during a transition period: View image on Twitter Miss America Org ✔ @MissAmericaOrg Update from the Board of Directors... 3:01 PM - Dec 23, 2017   35 35 Replies     144 144 Retweets     291 291 likes Twitter Ads info and privacy UPDATED, 5:30 PM:  The Miss America Organization suspended its chief executive today, less than 24 hours after emails surfaced in which he disparaged the

Miss USA Vice-President Max Sebrechts Accused Of Sexual Harassment

IMAGE COURTESY: MISS ACADEMY  Max Sebrechts, the husband of Crystle Stewart, President of Miss USA organization (and formerly Miss USA 2008), has been accused of sexual improprieties by several Miss USA 2021 contestants, according to a YouTube video “Miss USA Scandal?” by Natly Denise, a “truther and pop-culture enthusiast.” You can watch the entire video here: On her video, Natly displays a screenshot  of an anonymous email sent to the affiliates of IMG/Endeavor including to Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO). The email was cc’d to Crystle and Michael Hannah (franchise director of Miss USA). The author of the email claims that MUO has been sent substantial evidence of Sebrechts’ sexual predatory behavior and Shugart has known about it for a while but didn’t say anything (obviously to cover it up and to protect Crystle). Natly also displays screenshots of direct messages sent to her by former Miss USA contestants (the names hav