Thoughts of Miss Teen USA 1997


Well, of all the MTUs that I have on tape, this is the one that I watch the least. This pageant just didn't seem to have the spark that others have had. My prediction for this pageant and vote for Miss Photogenic was Amanda Penix, Miss Oklahoma although I had a feeling that Tennessee was going to win it. "Who Do You Think You Are" originally by the Spice Girls was a good opening number song and was choreographed nicely by Scott Grossman but something about this pageant seemed a little empty. J. Eddie Peck was a fair host but he did talk a little too much and Ivanka Trump was just trying way too hard to be mature for her age. It definitely was time to bring back the special commentators! There were also some fairly notable judges like Kerri Strug and Kobe Bryant. Kim Alexis made yet another judging appearance and Melissa Rivers (Joan Rivers' daughter) was among the panel as well as Anthony Michael Hall from "Weird Science". I was wondering what happened to him!

The introduction of the top ten girls was very stale and did not seem at all exciting. I can't forget how Ali Burr's (Miss North Carolina) sister or some relative was just screaming like mad when she was called. For the interview competition, J. Eddie Peck was doing most of the talking and rambled desperately trying to keep the flow of the competition. North Dakota's Julie Nagle was first and basically talked about her love of diving and Australia. After this, J. Eddie kept calling her Miss North Carolina for the rest of the competitions! WHOOPS!! Julie did okay but she needed more of a spark especially since she was first. Next was Colorado's Amanda Aardsma who had a stunningly low preliminary interview score of 8.39 but her 5'10" body obviously was what got her in top 10. She praised the Lady Liberties of the WNBA, South Padre, and said hi to her friends. But Amanda lost out on points because of her interview skills were perceived as inadequate by the judges. Next was my fave, Amanda Penix, Miss Oklahoma. She interviewed extremely well and told J. Eddie about her active involvement in the "True Love Waits" movement, y'know ABSTINENCE, the buzz word in Miss Teen USA! She also talked about her Sunday school class and handled the interview very well. She had excellent volume and projected her answers out to the audience. Next was Illinois' Autumn Waterbury. Her humourous remarks were not getting any responses from the audience which made me feel uncomfortable and J. Eddie told her father to raise his hand and the camera was on him but J. Eddie obviously couldn't see him because he said "I see where you get your good looks from, he's one of those handsome men out there!" Um..J. Eddie, if you couldn't see him...How could you tell?! Autumn usually was second to Shelly Moore throughout the whole competition. Next was Miss Virginia, Kimberly Grigsby. She was very funny and had such a free and fun spirit and I thought it was a shame that she didn't make the top 6 especially since she was 3rd in the prelims! She brought J. Eddie a special T-shirt with the image of Cleopatra Star who is a comic character inspired by Kimberly. She also did a very cute impression of Lily Tomlin's Edith Ann. She said in her voice, "I told my mama I wanted to be Miss Teen USA, but she said I could not until I was old enough to shave my legs, so I shaved 'em! Don't tell her! It's a surprise!" Next up was Hawaii's..okay, hold your breath!...Kaihikapumahana (Mahana) Elizabeth O' Ka'ahumanu Walters. She, like Autumn Waterbury, wasn't able to pull off any responses from the audience and the lack of audience participation really seemed to tell me that the audience didn't really want to be there but were obliged to because of their participating delegates. There was also no special musical guest which may have explained the decline in audience participation. She basically explained a hula dance and said how she thought that mainlanders thought that Hawaiians were different but she said they were the same. Next was Massachusetts' Jessica Gregory who really seems to know her Mass Teens! She also advised a young girl to not jump to conclusions in the "cheating boyfriend situation" and if it was legit then she should dump him. Jessica faired well but her scores were low because she was the contestant in this pageant that did not really stand out. Kansas' Mariah Bergmann was genuinely sweet and kind and expressed a love of her mother despite the fact that she did not want to go skydiving. Gee, I wonder why! North Carolina's Ali Burr talked about her joking family and her foul-smelling dog. To zip it up, Tennessee's Shelly Moore showed off her broadcasting skills for the Tennessee Volunteers and basically won over the judges because no matter what she said, Shelly was always on top.

The delegates dancing to "Men In Black" to substitute for the lack of musical guest was just plain cheesy. The swimsuit competition was next to a dance version of Paula Cole's "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" minus a lot of the words! First was North Dakota who was the worst of the ten because she looked rather pudgy and did not have a very ideal figure. Colorado looked good with her legs and all but I wasn't too impressed. Out came Oklahoma looking stunning with nice hair and body. Couldn't catch a flaw. Illinois also looked flawless despite her height. Virginia really lost her scores here because she did look fantastic but her score was a stable 9.33 which I thought was too low. Hawaii looked okay but she needed legs and a little less arm swinging please! Massachusetts looked severely tense in her stance and I honestly thought she was trying too hard unsuccessfully. Kansas really had the right stance because it showed off her form and made her look nice. 400 sit-ups a day can really pay off! Even though North Carolina was very tiny, she pulled off a very nice score because her stance was also good. Tennessee looked built and together but she did seem a little wide.

On to the evening gown competition. I have to say that Ivanka downplayed all the delegates with her gown but not all girls can afford the gown they want unlike Ivanka, the heiress. North Dakota had a very Barbie-ish gown. It was full and pink and didn't impress me. Colorado had a nice white satin gown but it needed a slit either on the side or the front and get rid of that bow! Oklahoma came out in a shimmering lavender gown ornated with floral patterns which looked nice. Illinois came out in the plain dark blue gown which fit her form nicely. Virginia was wearing what I think was one of her original designs. Her waist looked so tiny in this lavender satin floral breasted gown which was pretty good. Hawaii looked stunning in her gown. The silver flowers on the bust looked very nice and she also walked nicely to the music. Massachusetts chose a plain pink gown which coincidentally looked similar to Shelly Moore's especially in color! Kansas had an aqua shade gown with an over the shoulder attachment which looked nice. North Carolina wore a poofy white gown with a structured scarf which looked okay. Tennessee followed in a gown that looked almost the same as Massachusetts. Oddly enough, Tennessee was first and Massachusetts was last! This just goes to show you that it's the body that counts not necessarily the gown!

Now, when I was playing judge myself, I discovered that if I was also a judge, Virginia would have replaced Hawaii in the top 6 which was how I thought it should have been but Virginia did look a little surprised that she didn't make it. On to the judge's questions and I have to tell you that I thought the wrong three ladies made it in. The other three ladies were the ones who gave the better answers. Tennessee was asked who she would like to interview and she said Danny Warfield, a role model for all because of his win of the Heisman Trophy. North Carolina said that the biggest problem facing teenagers would be that teenagers cannot be themselves in modern society and I totally agreed with her answer. Hawaii had a question that was phrased in a rather verbose manner and she asked to have it repeated. In response to why teenagers don't really care about politics and a query to how they could get involved, Mahana said that all we can do is learn and vote for the one who best expresses us. But she didn't really answer the question! She didn't say why we don't care! Next was Oklahoma whose answer was perfect but those judges obviously couldn't recognize a good answer upon hearing it. The trend she would like to see changed would be the rise of premarital sex which is potential suicide and is producing unwanted children. She was undeservedly placed 6th. The injustice!! Illinois was asked who the most influential teenager was in our society and she said Tiger Woods. Um...Autumn, is Tiger a teenager?!! What happened here was that Autumn said that she thought the question was, Who was the most influential person "among" teenagers. But did those judges care? Nah, Kobe gave a 9.99 for this response. Last was Kansas who would like to interview the founding father, George Washington to see what he thinks of the USA today.

Bring on the wrong three, Hawaii, Tennessee, and Illinois and let's see what they'd do if Chelsea Clinton was their roommate. Hawaii said that she already said this because she'd like to know what Chelsea's life is like in the spotlight. Tennessee said she could learn a lot from her and...that would just be wonderful actually! Illinois said that she would inquire how she handles the pressures of being the president's daughter. To make a long story short, Hawaii was 3rd, Illinois was 2nd and Tennessee won. The only ones I hope to see again are Amanda Penix of Oklahoma and Kimberly Grigsby of Virginia. Take the stage, Shelly!!