Israel lures Russian tourists with beauty pageant

     The final of the "Miss Russian Tourism" pageant was held in Eilat this week as part of Israel's efforts to attract more Russian tourists. Out of more than 300 women who competed in the first of its kind beauty pageant, which was sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, 25 made it to the final round. The contestants, aged 18 to 30, all work in the tourism industry. The semi-finals were held in March as part of a tourism fair in Moscow. Israeli Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov, who served as one of the judges, drew harsh criticism for posting a Facebook photo in which he poses with one of the contestants.

     The 13 finalists landed in Eilat on Sunday, along with a large number of Russian reporters, cameramen and make-up artists. A special video showing the contestants at various locations, including the Dead Sea and Jerusalem, was aired in Russia in order to boost tourism to Israel. 

     The final was held on Tuesday at Eilat's Princess Hotel. The winner, Svetlana Dubovenko, was awarded a diamond ring and a week-long stay at an Isrotel hotel. On Wednesday she was invited to swim with sharks at the Underwater Observatory Marine Park.

Russian beauties in Eilat (Photo: Yair Sagi)
Svetlana Dubovenko

SOURCE: Ynet News, 4/29/2012

Taiwan beauty contestants to pledge no extra-marital affairs

     Contestants at an annual Taiwan beauty pageant will be required not to partake in extra-marital affairs, the contest's organisers have told the BBCThe unusual move by Miss Globalcity Pageant, the largest home-grown beauty contest, comes amid public concern over revelations of celebrity love affairs.
     To join, women must sign an agreement to abide by contest rules - this now includes not becoming a mistress. Any woman found to be involved in such an affair will be disqualified.

     Seven women (photo), including two past winners, have already made a public pledge representing this year's contestants, organisers said. Standing in front of news photographers and reporters, they shouted: "Happy City - say no to being a mistress!"
     Contest organiser Fifi Chang says the agreement will stay in place for a year, adding that the new rule is aimed at "preserving families". "In the past, we've never done this, but we decided to do it this year because it seems being a mistress has become a trend," Ms. Chang said. "We hope to teach the women to have a correct attitude. It's not a very good road to go down. So you first must refuse the man."
Celebrity revelation
     Although the agreement only stays in effect for one year, Ms Chang said she hopes the women will stay away from married men even after the year they are involved in pageant activities. It introduced the rule because of the recent admission by one of Taiwan's biggest baseball heroes, Chien-ming Wang, that he had an eight-month affair.
     The revelation shocked the public. Mr. Wang, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, is beloved by many Taiwanese not only for his pitching skills before he suffered injuries, but also for helping to raise Taiwan's international profile, at least in the world of baseball.
     The topic of "home wrecking" has also received a lot of attention. Many Taiwanese were engrossed in a popular soap opera last year that portrayed a mistress tearing apart a family. "Many girls think it's OK to be a mistress, because young people nowadays want whatever they desire. They don't think about the consequences," said Ms. Chang.
      Signing the agreement to abide by the contest's rules and not hurt the image of the pageant, inevitably meant not taking part in an extra-marital affair, Ms. Chang said, adding that she was confident the media and "netizens" would help expose women who lied. Dozens of women have signed up for the contest so far and up to 200 are expected to join by the end of registration deadline in late May. The contest will kick off in June, with the winner to be chosen in August.
SOURCE: BBC News, Taipei, 4/30/2012


Senegalese wins first Miss Black France pageant

      Miss Black France, the first all-black beauty pageant in France, was held last night at the Salle Wagram in Paris.  Eighteen young women (some sources give the number as 20), the majority of whom are university students, competed for the award.  The winner is Mbathio Beye, a 21-year old Senegalese woman who is pursuing a Master's degree in marketing strategy in Paris.  The runners up are Romy Niaba, a 22-year old political science student (French, of Ivory Coast origin; Rennes) and Aissata Soumah, a 23-year old business student (Guinean; Troyes).  Candidates could be as young as 16 or as old as 29 and had to reside in France, regardless of their nationality.  There were no weight or height restrictions for entry into the pageant.

     The competition has created lots of buzz, some of which is political.  There are those who believe that an event that features black beauty is long overdue and should be hailed.  Others, including Patrick Lozès - the first black man to declare intent to run for the French presidency - believe this is a divisive event that will further polarize the country in the face of the strong support that the National Front received in the first round of the presidential election.  CRAN, the organization that Lozès created and led for several years, is an official supporter of the pageant.

     Some are displeased with the choice of the English word "black" for the pageant, preferring instead the French word "noir." Many have pointed out that there have already been several black winners of the Miss France competition and question the necessity of an event that singles out black women.

Mbathio Beye

Mbathio Beye

SOURCE: Entrée to Black Paris Facebook
Photo credits: Miss Black France Facebook

Whites picket Miss Black France pageant

PARIS, April 29 (UPI) -- Right-wing protesters said they picketed the Miss Black France pageant because they oppose special treatment for minority groups.

Riot police kept an eye on the weekend rally in Paris by about 30 members of the New France movement, who said the nation should not be divided along ethnic lines.

"Why should Asians and Africans come here and have more rights than us?" one demonstrator who declined to be identified told Radio France Internationale. "This is why we are demanding a Miss White France."

New France maintains the Miss Black France pageant flies in the face of equality, a founding premise of modern France.

At the same time, pageant organizers said there is a significant element of inequality in the nation's famed fashion industry that has left models of color out in the cold. 

"All the black models tell me they can't find work in France, so they are going to London and New York," said Frederic Royer. "French magazines also never feature black women on their covers."

RFI said Saturday's first annual Miss Black France pageant featured 22 finalists culled from about 1,000 from about 1,000 entrants. The winner was Mbathio Beye (photo) a 21-year-old student who was born in Senegal.

SOURCE: UPI.com, 4/29/2012 

Miss Bulgaria 2012 crowned

A 17-year-old student of natural science and Miss PMG Vratsa, Ina Mancheva, has been crowned Miss Bulgaria 2012 by Peneva Vany at the grand finale of Miss Bulgaria 2012 which was held at the TV7 studios in Sofia on April 28.
The 1st-runner-up is Gabriela Vasileva, 20, from Byala Slatina, and the 2nd runner-up is Paula Koletzova, 18, from Plovdiv. Mancheva gathered the most votes on the official website of the contest, missbulgaria.tv, and was elected for the crown during a live telecast.
Mancheva will represent Bulgaria in the Miss World 2012 contest to take place in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China on August 8.

SOURCE: Livewireworld.info, 4/29/2012

Miss Ireland 2012 crowned

Maire Hughes was crowned Miss Ireland 2012 during a gala event Saturday night at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin. She will now compete in Miss World 2012 pageant to be held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China on August 8. In the photo, she is crowned by her predecessor Holly Carpenter who had to cut short her reign by six months due to Miss World 2012 being held four months earlier than usual.

The first runner-up is Rebecca Maguire (left) and the second runner-up is Katie McAuley (right)

Photos courtesy of Cozycot.com

Megan Lyman crowned Miss New Hampshire 2012

Megan Lyman was crowned Miss New Hampshire 2012 Saturday night, the Miss America Organization announced.
Lyman has a long history of participating in pageants.
She is a former Miss New Hampshire Outstanding Teen and represented her state at the Miss America's Outstanding Teen pageant.
She was a preliminary swimsuit winner at the 2011 Miss New Hampshire pageant, and is a former Miss Weirs Beach.
This year, she entered the state pageant as Miss Lakes Region.
Her talent is tap dancing, and her pageant platform is "Make-A-Wish Foundation: Providing Children with Hope, Strength and Joy."
Lyman will represent New Hampshire at the Miss America 2013 pageant, next January in Las Vegas. The final night of national competition will be broadcast live on the ABC television network.
SOURCE: Examiner.com, 4/28/2012
Photo courtesy of Katrina Bernard Photography, Megan Lyman FB

Mr. & Miss HIV Vaccine 2012

     Last Friday night, I had the privilege to judge the Mr. and Miss HIV Vaccine 2012 pageant held at Boston's Club Café. The event was sponsored by The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health, Latino Health Institute, and Brigham Womens Hospital, and organized by an amazing team led by my good friend, Coco Alinsug

     The contest attracted nine contestants, four in the Mr. division won by Archimides Maldonado, and five in the Miss division won by Jackie "Boquita" Tavarez (above photo).  The Mr. contestants were judged in casual dress introduction, athletic wear presentation, and evening wear Q & A. In addition to these three elements, the Miss contestants also had to perform by lipsynching songs of their favorite singers. 

     Since I have never judged this kind of pageant before, I made sure not to incorporate criteria associated with traditional beauty pageants, such as symmetry, proportionality, facial beauty, or perfection. However, there are certain elements during a competition  - regardless of the type of pageant - of which every contestant must be aware, such as eye contact with the judges and sashaying all the way to the stage and posing. Even though each Miss contestant was specifically asked to do a maximum of 2-minutes of talent presentation, all five performances had an average duration of at least 8 minutes. Some were better than others, and some were just dragging (no pun intended). For all it's worth, the general ambience in the café was that of pure fun - thanks to the divine talent of the guest performers Mama-savannah'georgia (a Bette Midler impersonator), Anthony Nikitalefemme Bovenzi (who performed Nicki Minaj songs), and the event's highly entertaining and amusing Lakia Mondale.  Lastly, the genuine camaraderie among the staff and the contestants, as well as the benevolent spirit behind the event, made it an affair to cherish forever.

Critical Beauty director Rafa Delfin (center) with the other judges
     During their reign, the winners will serve as ambassadors for HIV Vaccine Research, promoting the cause while appearing at local venues and performances and creating opportunities for community members to learn about research participation. They will also grace the float of the Fenway Health Institute during Boston Pride 2012 in June.
     To see more photos from the event, visit EdgeBoston.com and the Facebook page of the event.


Former Miss New Hampshire USA arrested for assault

Left: Nicole Houde as Miss New Hampshire USA 2010. Right: Houde's mugshot.

MANCHESTER — The former Miss New Hampshire USA is facing a simple assault charge in Manchester, according to police.
Police say 26-year-old Nicole Houde punched, kicked, scratched and bit her boyfriend 33-year-old Scott Nickerson during an argument on Wednesday. 
That argument reportedly began when Nickerson accused Houde of having an affair. At some point, Nickerson took her cell phone and wouldn’t give it back. That’s when police say Houde attacked him.
Houde won the Miss New Hampshire crown in 2010. She’s not the first 2010 Miss USA contestant to land in legal trouble. Earlier this month, 2010 Miss USA pageant winner Rima Fakih pleaded no contest to drunk driving charges.
The Miss USA pageant is owned by Donald Trump.
SOURCE: BostonCBSLocal.com, 4/28/2012

Nicole Houde's glamshot by Fadil Berisha at Miss USA 2010 pageant

Miss Indonesia 2012 crowned

The new Miss Indonesia 2012 is Ines Putri Tjiptadi Chandra, 22, who was crowned on April 28 at JOExpo in Kemayoran, Jakarta. She represented the island of Bali. Current Miss World Ivian Sarcos
who was a special guest, assisted in the coronation. 

Miss World New Zealand 2012

Collette Lochore, 18, was crowned Miss World NewZealand 2012 on April 28 in Auckland.  She will represent New Zealand in Miss World 2012 pageant in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China on August 8th. First runner-up Gloria Gofa Blake was crowned Miss Earth New Zealand 2012 and will represent the country in Miss Earth 2102 pageant to be held in Vietnam later this year.

Miss Honduras 2012

Jennifer Valle was crowned Señorita Honduras 2012 or Miss Honduras 2012 on the finale of the Pageant held at the Colegio de Ingenieros Civiles Auditorium in San Pedro Sula on April 27, 2012. She will represent Honduras in Miss World 2012 pageant to be held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China on August 8th. The first runner-up is Natalia Coto and the second runner-up isKarina Padilla.   

2012 El Salvador queens

Two new El Salvador queens were crowned during the Nuestra Belleza El Salvador at the Royal Decameron Salinitas Resort in Los Cobanos. Ana Yancy Clavel (left), 19, was crowned Miss El Salvador Universe 2012 on April 27, 2012. She will represent El Salvador in Miss Universe 2012 Pageant. Maria Luisa Vicuña (right), 18, was crowned Miss El Salvador World 2012. She is 18 years old and stands 1.75 m. She will represent El Salvador in Miss World 2012 pageant to be held in China this August.

Miss World Slovak Republic 2012 crowned

Kristina Krajčírová, 20, was crowned Miss World Slovak Republic 2012 on April 27th in the capital city of Bratislava.She will represent Slovakia in Miss World 2012 Pageant to be held in Ordos, China.

The 1st runner-up is Denisa Krajcovicova who will compete in Miss International. 
The 2nd runner-up is Silvia Kimlikova.


First 'Miss Black France' Pageant Causes Controversy

France is gearing up for its first ever “Miss Black France” pageant, and while many are excited about the show, others are calling it a step backward.
Saturday a bevy of French beauties will compete for the first ever “Miss Black France title in Paris,” an honor its promoters feel is long overdue.
“The purpose of this beauty contest is to shine a light on the many Black women in this country who are rarely given any media attention,” Frederic Royer, the pageant’s promoter, told France 24. “The Miss France competition is not nearly representative enough of modern France.”
The creators of “Miss France,” the country’s national pageant, called the “Miss Black France” contest “progressive,” noting, “France has a big racial mix and it must be emphasized as much as possible.“
The last time France had a woman of color take center stage in a beauty pageant was over a decade ago, in 2000, when Sonia Rolland - a biracial woman of Rwandan descent - won the “Miss France” title.
However, since then tensions in France, particularly an anti-immigrant sentiment, have continued to mount, culminating in a high percentage of voters (nearly 18%) supporting far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.
Critics of the “Miss Black France” contest claim it is “stupid” and “detrimental to French values” which officially ignores a person’s race (only seeing them as French), not even tracking it on the country’s census documents.
“This logic is detrimental to the values of French society,” Patrick Lozès, founder and former president of the French Representative Council of Black Associations. “If I think that there are not enough Black people in the most prestigious schools and companies, am I going to go create establishments exclusively reserved for Blacks?”
Despite many immigrants and people of color feeling increasingly discriminated against in France, Lozès says he’s afraid the new trend of singling out and acknowledging France’s black communities will further erode unity.
“I’m afraid that all of that will make French people even more defensive at a time when the National Front is more popular than ever,” he said. “It’s a contest that stipulates that white women are not welcome, which is very disturbing. This initiative could be perceived as a hostile event that will further erode national unity.”
While he doesn’t discount the discrimination currently at play in France, Lozès warns that having contests and intuitions catering toward France’s black communities is the wrong way to be recognized by the larger populace.
“We can’t start having ethnically exclusive contests if our ultimate goal is to have all-inclusive national contests. It’s a serious strategic error.”
What do you think? Is France’s first “Miss Black French” competition a good move or a step backward?
SOURCE: Clutchmagonline.com, 4/27/2012

Miss Fiji's hair is too straight, say critics

Miss World Fiji 2012; Torika Watters, 16 years old and stands 5'9.5". The 16-year-old defeated
several full-blooded Fijians to win the contest

The decision to award the title to Torika Watters, who is of mixed European-Fijian heritage, prompted hundreds of racist and violent comments which had to be removed from the official Miss World Fiji Facebook page.
The 16-year-old defeated several full-blooded Fijians to win the contest. The controversy was heightened because the judging panel consisted of several non-Fijians and was overseen by Rachel Hunter, a New Zealander.
The former British colony has long been beset by racial tensions, mainly stemming from its mix of ethnic Fijians and a large minority of Fijians of Indian descent.
Pageant organisers lashed out at the criticism and said the row would not affect the decision.
"In the past few days, there has been nothing but negative criticism and remarks from our own people," a pageant spokeswoman wrote on the Facebook site. "Instead of bringing all the wrong attention to our brand and country, why not start supporting our ambassador, building her up and praying that she impacts the world with her story?”
The pageant spokeswoman said the furore was damaging efforts to gain some good publicity for the island nation. The country has come under widespread international criticism and been suspended from the Commonwealth over the failure of the military ruler, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, to hold elections as scheduled.
"Fiji has received enough negative press already, shouldn't this be one for making up for lost ground?” the spokeswoman said. “Our forefathers promoted unity and respect and, sadly, in our society today this is not evident (among) many who call themselves proud Fijians."
The pageant had already attracted controversy over the winner’s age. This prompted a retort from Ms Hunter, who said she was 16 when first scouted in New Zealand as a model for a brand of ice cream.

SOURCE: The Telegraph, UK, 4/28/2012


Miss World Puerto Rico 2012 selected

Janelee M. Chaparro Colón, who was first runner-up in Miss World Puerto Rico 2011, has been handpicked by the Miss World Puerto Rico organizers as the island's representative to Miss World 2012 to be held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China on August 8th.  The 20-year-old student of criminal justice was crowned yesterday by her predecessor, Amanda Vilanova who placed third in Miss World 2011 last November in London. 

Janelee Chaparro with her predecessor Amanda Vilanova. 

Osmel Sousa says no to transsexuals


     Weeks after Miss Universe owner Donald Trump decided to allow transsexuals to compete in his pageant, the president of the Miss Venezuela Organization and the indisputable king of beauty queen makers, Osmel Sousa (photo), stated that he does not favor accepting transsexuals in the Miss Venezuela pageant. This is in the light of Jenna Talackova, the transwoman who was originally rejected by the Miss Universe Canada organizers but reinstated as a candidate after Trump modified the entry requirements as to include transsexuals.

     During a press conference yesterday to elaborate on the details of the Miss Venezuela 2012 pageant, Sousa said [my translation]: "That was an authorization that the Miss Universe Organization granted to Canada for its laws and the way that they live there, but the Venezuelan people - the common Venezuelan people, who are Christians, will not accept that position for now. We are not prepared for that kind of stuff."

     Although several countries are considering allowing transsexuals in their national pageants, Sousa said that it would also be a lack of respect to have a naturally-born woman compete with a transwoman.  "Transsexuals should be competing with other transsexuals; we respect them, but we don't share it." Sousa's fellow judge in the hit reality show "Nuestra Belleza Latina", Lupita Jones - director of Nuestra Belleza México - agrees with Sousa and thinks that it is not fair that people who are not naturally-born females should compete with naturally-born women.

SOURCES: Noticia al Dia, Venezuela, 4/24/2012; El Universal, 4/25/2012

Bali to host Miss World 2013 pageant

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika met with beauty queens and an international event organizer on Wednesday as the island geared up to host the Miss World pageant next year. 

Julia Morley, chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, told reporters that Bali would host the competition in September 2013 and that 131 national beauty pageant winners had confirmed their attendance. 

Pastika said the province was prepared to host the event, which he hoped would draw international attention to the island. 

“We’re ready, but we’re continuing to work on improving infrastructure and security for the competition,” he added. 

Joining Pastika in the meeting was Ivian Sarcos of Venezuela, who won the Miss World pageant last year, as well as Miss Indonesia Astrid Ellena Indriana Yunadi, who made it to the top 15 in the pageant and took home a joint award in the category of “beauty with a purpose.” 

Morley said Bali was chosen for the pageant because of its culture and global popularity. 

“I feel better when I’m here and surrounded by such friendly people,” she said. “Next year, I want to stay longer.” 

Bali to Host 2013 Miss World Pageant Miss World 2011 Ivian Sarcos, left, speaking with
Miss Indonesia 2011 Astrid Ellena Indriana Yunadi in Bali on Wednesday. Antara Photo

However, the one-month pageant will likely draw protests across the country from hard-line Muslims, who stage public protests every year when Indonesian contestants join any international beauty competition. 

In 2007, protests by Islamic fundamentalist groups in Bandung also forced a Miss Universe pageant winner to call off a planned evening charity event. 

The protesters said the beauty queen, Japan native Riyo Mori, went “against Shariah” law and was “a symbol of the world’s adultery and pornography.” 

An organizer of the charity event said that Mori suffered “psychological stress following a strong protest and decided to stay in her hotel” where the event was supposed to take place. 

This year, in the wake of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decision to form a controversial anti-pornography task force, observers say that radical groups may try to hijack the Miss World pageant in Bali to garner public sympathy by branding themselves as allegedly anti-pornography organizations. 

Pastika, however, dismissed the suggestion of possible protests, saying that Indonesians should be proud of Bali and the opportunity to host the international event. 

“This will ensure that Bali is even better known around the world,” he said. 

Bali hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit last year and will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November 2013. 

Pastika added that after the filming of “Eat Pray Love,” starring Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem in Bali, the island had a new nickname, the “Island of Love.”

SOURCE: The Jakarta Globe, 4/26/2012

***Do you think the Miss World girls will be safe in Bali? Back in 2002, radical Muslims bombed a Bali nightclub that killed 202 people, mostly Australians. Remember in 2002 when the pageant had to be moved from Nigeria to London because Muslims in Nigeria threatened to harm the girls? How safe will Bali be this time? Or is Julia Morley taking advantage of the Islamist anti-pageant view to garner publicity to her pageant?