Congratulations Natalie Glebova, Miss Universe 2005!
It's a wonderful feeling to know that our beloved country has captured its second Miss Universe crown after 23 years of anticipation. It was nice to see this win being covered in some capacity on Canadian newscasts. It wasn't really headline news but it was treated more like a feel-good feature story to end the newscasts and some featured phone interviews with Natalie in Bangkok. Many of them mentioned that Natalie was born in Russia and came to Toronto with her parents 11 years ago.

On to the pageant held for the second time in Bangkok, Thailand. The format was pretty much similar to the previous two pageants but they featured more ethnic details, like the Thai dances, the Thai children greeting the reigning Miss Universe, etc. But oh, how I long for pageants to be as they used to be. 1997 was perhaps the most ideal for me, complete with scores and a more exciting feel and so on. Instead of the national costume video where you see the delegates dancing but not all of them are featured, the introductions should be done in the national costumes. If they have to feature scenery of the host country, they can do that with video screens in the background. I also wish we could hear the delegates greet us in the country's language and then say something about their own country that makes it unique and introduce themselves (i.e. From 1996, "Hola, I'm Sandra Abreu from the land where your heart flames to the rhythms of merengue, the Dominican Republic.") I know I may never see this again with the new tighter format but I can reminisce. I'd also rather see the whole top 15 compete in gown and swimsuit and show video introductory segments featuring all 15 of them and then cut to the final 5. It seems really unnecessary to cut 5 delegates just because of the evening gown competition. Although, I will probably always follow Miss Universe, I hate to say that I find myself becoming less enthused. For the intro though, I liked the gong sounds and Jennifer Hawkins doing that ritual ceremony as she introduced herself.

As for the hosts, Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell, I have a few things to say. First of all, Access Hollywood, which is the show that these two host did not feature any pre or post pageant coverage for Miss Universe which I found to be beyond odd since they did much more last year. It was nice to see Nancy enter in a tuk tuk and Billy make an entrance on an elephant but both really need to be a little more careful about what they say. For example, Billy said during the top 5 question round that Canada was representing North America, when Mexico, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic were also in the top 5. Think, Billy, Think. Nancy also read out a question to Miss Mexico without saying who wrote the question first. What if Miss Mexico picked her own question??? I want Daisy Fuentes back (pout). Also back to the national costume video, they opened with Trinidad's vibrant costume but Thailand won the costume competition which made us all go hmmm... Among the judges were Queer Eye's Carson Kressley who was the only interviewed judge. Last year's Miss Ukraine, Alexandra Nikolayenko was among the judges, reflecting Donald Trump's indication that he was not satisfied with last year's top 15, saying that he was so sick of the most beautiful women standing in the background as others were chosen. Selecting Alexandra as a judge showed that he was talking about her. Also it was great to see Miss Universe 1988, Porntip Nakhirunkanok Simon return and this is the first time that she has actually judged! Porntip recently married billionaire Herb Simon and truly is living like a Cinderella. During an E! Special on pageants, Donald Trump talked about having "professionals" from the Miss Universe organization select semifinalists but I think the tampering with the preliminary selection process is doing more harm than good which brings me to this year's top 15.



Winner=Canada-Natalie Glebova

Winner=South Africa-Claudia Henkel*

1st Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Cynthia Olavarria

1st Runner Up=Aruba-Luisana Cicilia

2nd Runner Up=Dominican Republic-Renata Sone

2nd Runner Up=Canada-Natalie Glebova*

3rd Runner Up=Mexico-Laura Elizondo

3rd Runner Up=Puerto Rico-Cynthia Olavarria*

4th Runner Up=Venezuela-Monica Spear Mootz

4th Runner Up=Ethiopia-Atetegeb Tetfaye Worku

FINALISTS (alpha'l)


Israel-Elena Ralph

Australia-Michelle Guy

Latvia-Ieva Kokorevica

Colombia-Adriana Tarud Duran

Peru-Debora Sulca

Serbia & Montenegro-Jelena Mandic

Switzerland-Fiona Hefti

Dominican Republic-Renata Sone*

USA-Chelsea Cooley

Thailand-Chananporn Rosjan



Greece-Evangelia Aravani

Venezuela-Monica Spear Mootz*

Indonesia-Artika Sari Devi

USA-Chelsea Cooley*

Norway-Helene Traasavik

India-Amrita Thapar

South Africa-Claudia Henkel

Sri Lanka-Rozanne Diasz

Trinidad & Tobago-Magdalene Walcott

Latvia-Ieva Kokorevica*


ALTERNATES:Czech Republic, Japan, Mauritius, Netherlands, Chile


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Antigua & Barbuda, Greece*, Brazil, Switzerland*, Croatia


* = made actual top 15

A few hours prior to the pageant, I should mention that there was an article on a Vietnamese news website that said that the top 15 was leaked and then they posted a list. I looked at the list and thought it was very plausible. The first four names called in the semifinals were on that list but then South Africa was called and immediately I was relieved and then I knew the list was wrong but it did have 9 of the 15 semifinalists in it but instead of South Africa, Norway, Switzerland, Indonesia, Trinidad & Israel, it had Serbia, Thailand, Antigua, Chile, Philippines and Brazil. Now back to my list...I got 7 out of the top 15 plus 2 honorable mentions. The ones that weren't on my list were Mexico, Israel, Peru, Indonesia, Norway and Trinidad. Although Mexico has a nice face, I thought she was short and not tone enough. I'm guessing that Israel was a Miss Universe organization pick included to appease all those rich bank and movie studio owners just like in the old days. Peru was an okay choice but she wasn't super spectacular for me. Norway was half-Thai but she clearly did not have the body. Indonesia was this year's controversial figure so that should have told me something since there were protests in Indonesia because she had to compete in a swimsuit and it just makes me roll my eyes and want the rest of the world to get with the times. Finally, Trinidad was the only black delegate in the semis but was not that facially beautiful but I'm guessing that may have been a spot since she probably should have won National Costume. There were a lot of better black delegates this year. So there were some very political choices and what about my picks that didn't make it? First was Aruba and she had it all--a dynamite presentation, the body, the height, the look, but unfortunately she must have been passed off as drag queenish which was a shame because had she competed in the 90s or perhaps even worn the Venezuela sash, I think would she have done much better. She clearly had the best presentation. Ethiopia sent a stunning delegate with a captivating smile and she certainly did everything right. When she speaks, her mouth looks a bit awkward but I thought she was very deserving of a spot in the semis at least. Australia sent a great delegate. Some people said she was working the gown too much. Colombia, as you know, is one of those countries where normally when I put her in my list, she doesn't make it and when I don't put her in my list, she does, as was reflected this year. She had a bit of a nose on her and some say she came across as arrogant which may have done her in. Serbia was sexy but the gown and perhaps interview did her in. Thailand, the host delegate didn't make it again, just like in 1992 but I really thought she would make it. India was hefty and did not look good facially at some angles which brought India's chain in the semifinals full-circle. Allow me to explain...India placed in 1990 and 2004. They missed it in 1991 and 2003. They placed in 1992, 2002, 1993, 2001. They won in 1994 and 2000. They placed in 1995, 1999, 1996 and 1998 and the chain centers on 1997 on the Miss India, Nafisa Joseph that has now passed away. The chain has come full-circle with 2005 reflecting 1989 and if it continues, then India may not make it again until 2020, 2021, and 2022-reflecting 1974, 1973, and 1972. Or perhaps the chain will go in reverse and 2006 will reflect 1990, 2007 reflects 1991 and so on meaning India wins again in 2010 and 2016. I already have Puerto Rico slated for 2009 reflecting their recent wins every 8 years. Note that India did not compete in 1988 so don't be surprised if for some reason, they end up not competing next year. (Cue spooky music now.) I really liked Sri Lanka this year and hoped that she would be recognized but she wore a one-piece swimsuit and simply did not deliver.
Gowns: Mexico, Latvia, Dominican Rep., Canada, South Africa, Venezuela, Norway, Switzerland, USA, Indonesia, Trinidad, Israel, Peru, Greece, Puerto Rico
On to the evening gown competition starring the top 15. The music had a nice Thai feel to it and it reminded me of music used in some of the recent Miss World pageants held in China. First up was Mexico who was facially lovely but she seemed short with just an okay gown to me. Latvia followed in her blue gown but I preferred the red one she wore in some other pictures. Like I said before, she has a gorgeous head but when you look at her whole body, she looks more like a girl rather than a woman. Dominican Republic made a much better gown choice than in the preliminaries. Canada had a lovely white gown with the thigh-high slit always opening nicely and revealing the leg. Expect this gown to be copied a lot in other upcoming pageants. South Africa definitely should not have been cut at the gown stage. I felt very weak when she wasn't announced in top 10. She was clearly the tallest but height seems to be becoming less of a determining factor and she was my pick to win which brings me back to my little conspiracy theories. The first being..."Did Canada rob South Africa twice?" Back in 1982, South Africa's Odette Scrooby had all the highest scores in the competition up until she received a suspiciously low swimsuit score in the semifinals although she had the highest preliminary swimsuit score. This low swimsuit score ended up putting Odette in 6th place, thus eliminating her from the top 5 and in the end, Canada's Karen Baldwin emerged as the winner. Compare that to this year, when I picked South Africa to win but she was eliminated too early and this year again Canada emerged as the winner. Even former Miss Universe, Michelle McLean, who was in the audience (and was so rudely unacknowledged after Miss Universe 1965, Thailand's Apasra Hongsakula was) favored Miss South Africa. This got me thinking of yet another conspiracy theory..."Will a white Miss South Africa ever win Miss Universe?" Let's go back in time to 1985 when South Africa was denied entry in the Miss Universe pageant up until their return in 1995 due to their apartheid era, classifying people according to race. Granted, South Africa has one Miss Universe in 1978, Margaret Gardiner who is white and in 1984, Leticia Snyman (also white) was first runner-up. The following year, Andrea Stelzer was affected since she won Miss South Africa 1985 and was denied entry in Miss Universe until determined Andrea went on to win Miss Germany 1989 and ended up placing 6th at Miss Universe! As much as I'd like to think that we are now past the race issue, I don't know how receptive the rest of the world would be if a white South African won Miss Universe, kind of like a certain black Miss Italy by the name of Denny Mendez in 1997. Or maybe I should just forget these conspiracy theories since other people said Miss South Africa looked old somehow and that she had a chin issue. In any case, I was surprised that she was eliminated that early. Next up in the gowns was Venezuela who I considered one of the weakest Venezuelans, I've seen in years but still managed to return Venezuela to the top 5 after last year's shocking exclusion. Her gown was a nice, safe one and she was going for the Oxana Federova look with the hair parted down the center. Norway had a gown that almost looked like yellow tissues stuck together and it was clear that she would be eliminated here. Although, I didn't care much for Switzerland's gown, I started to take a liking to her during the competition because of her nice legs and face. USA had a better gown than in preliminaries but it still made her look stumpier in comparison to the others. Indonesia had a tiny body in a big bushy black gown and although, it was nice to see Indonesia's first semifinalist, this was the farthest that she would go. I was expecting a better spin from Trinidad's huge floor-sweeping gown. Israel had a sexy gold gown but I wasn't too impressed with her presentation. Peru looked okay in her yellow gown. Greece's skin looked so pale. I just don't get the hype around her. Puerto Rico concluded the competition in a nice simple black number and she looked flawless as previously described.
Swimsuits: Puerto Rico, Canada, Peru, Switzerland, Latvia, Dominican Rep., USA, Mexico, Venezuela, Israel
For the final ten in swimsuit, Puerto Rico came out looking fierce. Canada's narrow waist complemented the rest of her sensational body. Peru slipped and yes, we all saw it and yes, we all gasped. Switzerland again has great legs but her midsection could have used more toning. Latvia has a girl's body like I was saying earlier but facially, she is stunning. Dominican Republic also has a great body. USA took some notes from Brittany Hogan and went wild on stage with head snaps and energy but it didn't hide her stumpiness. Mexico just didn't look tone enough to me and I seriously didn't think she'd advance. Venezuela looked okay but just that. I never really understood how she was worthy of becoming Miss Venezuela and finally Israel finished up with a "should I throw my overcoat away or not" presentation. Well, at least she looked better than Ilanit Levi in 2001.

After Thailand was given the National Costume award and Philippines won the photogenic award...I said it before and I'll say it again...There should be a separate award for the delegate that gets the most internet votes (call it Miss Internet) and let the press photographers choose Miss Photogenic. And finally US Virgin Islands won congeniality. Then we moved on to the selection of the top 5, which according to Billy Bush looked like a South American dog fight even though it had only ONE South American in it. So we had Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Canada and Venezuela. 4 latins and Canada... Sure, let's mention Miss Universe 1988 (4 Asians and Mexico) and while we're at it, let's mention Miss USA 2002 (4 blacks and Kansas). It was nice to have a moment of silence for the tsunami victims with the lights although they were hard to see. The top 5 picked questions and you could really sense the desperation among the Latin delegates and all 4 used translators, yet they answered in English making the translations appear like a tactic to buy time. Mexico picked Venezuela's question (Read who the question is from first, Nancy.) asking what book she would recommend to someone and why. Mexico said she had the opportunity to meet the writer of "The Story's Not Over Yet" and she recommends it because it talks about how we can change our lives and how we are the writers of our story and that we can change whatever's in our desire to change and she would encourage everyone to believe in themselves reading this book. Not a spectacularly convincing answer and I would have liked to have known who the author was. Puerto Rico selected Canada's question (the same question USA's Shandi Finnessey asked last year picked by Trinidad's Danielle Jones) asking what one failure in your life that you learned the most from? Puerto Rico said that all the experiences we have in life that we can do it and just overpass all that and she remembered when she tried to compete in Miss Puerto Rico before and she didn't make it and after getting the opportunity again, she said to herself that this was for her and thought this was the moment and she did it. She never surrendered and that's important to just go for what you want. A great answer but not delivered as well as I would have liked. Dominican Republic picked the question of reigning Miss Universe, Jennifer Hawkins, reminiscent of Miss Universe 1996, What can men learn from women? "A lot." says Nancy. Dominican Republic said she believes men and women are different in personality and physically but women have sensitivity and every man has to be themselves, act as they believe and not try to copy anybody because that's what makes you a real man. Another nice answer. Next comes future Miss Universe, Canada who was the first to give the "wai" Thai palms pressed together greeting instantly creating a positive impression. She picked Dominican Republic's question asking what the biggest challenge in her life was. Canada replied that it was trying to stay positive. She considers herself as the kind of person who sees the glass as half-full rather than half-empty and even though sometimes it's difficult to look at life this way, she always tries to maintain a positive outlook on life. Ending with "kop khun ka" (thank you in Thai) but it came out mispronounced as "kapoonka" but she made the effort, the audience loved it and cheered loudly for her instantly setting Natalie apart from the others. Venezuela ended up picking Mexico's question asking what is one of the difficult situations your country is going through and what would you do to help solve it. I'm guessing Lupita Jones inspired this question as it was similar to the final question she was asked at Miss Universe 1991. Venezuela said her country is in a bad situation political and economic. Talkin'. She believes the problem is that they are so into themselves and forget about helping others and that's one thing that she would do, just help each other and um... The bell tolled for Monica and she clearly did want to leave. You could see on her face that she wanted to change her answer entirely and she also looked disappointed as the final 5 were voted on.

At the finale, Miss Universe 1965, Apasra Hongsakula was acknowledged with Michelle McLean, Miss Universe 1992 who won the title in Thailand sitting next to her going unacknowledged. Lupita Jones, Miss Universe 1991 was also in the audience since she runs Miss Mexico now. Jennifer Hawkins' farewell walk looked like she was competing all over again. But the results were announced, Venezuela as 4th runner up, Mexico as 3rd runner up, Dominican Republic as 2nd runner up, Puerto Rico as first runner up and Miss Universe 2005 is Canada!

Non-winners who came back triumphantly. Natalie Glebova competed at Miss Universe Canada and placed 3rd runner-up to Venessa Fisher who didn't make the semifinals at Miss Universe 2004. Natalie came back the next year winning Miss Universe Canada and then ended up winning Miss Universe! Also Miss Universe first runner-up Cynthia Olavarria of Puerto Rico competed at Miss Puerto Rico Universe and was 1st runner-up to Carla Tricoli who also didn't make the semifinals at Miss Universe 2003. Cynthia's triumph is also worthy of recognition.
Canada is one of the few countries along with France and Germany which has competed in each Miss Universe Pageant since the beginning in 1952. Sweden did not compete for the first time ever this year and USA was disqualified in 1957. You can't help but wonder how Miss UK, Brooke Johnston reacted to this win. Brooke Johnston competed earlier this year in Miss Universe Canada and surprisingly somehow showed up a few months later as Miss UK, a country that has also been absent since 2000. It almost seems as if she paid the entrance fee herself claiming that she was Miss UK and probably has relatives there or dual citizenship to make the residency thing not an issue. It makes me go hmmm... but then again Porntip Nakhirunkanok, who judged this year won Miss Universe 1988 and was a resident of California and claimed she had the right to represent Thailand because she is of Thai descent and spoke the language. This issue has plagued the pageant several times over. A few former Miss Philippines were dethroned for actually being citizens of other countries. I supported Miss Germany 2002 who competed at Miss Venezuela prior to win in Germany but I actually saw proof that she entered and won the pageant whereas I have seen no proof that there even was a Miss UK Universe pageant this year. Watching the coverage on Canadian newscasts both disappointed and impressed me at times. There were times when the anchors asked each other what the difference between Miss Universe and Miss World was not even knowing which one Donald Trump owned. Another set of anchors asked if the crown was real and whether she gets to keep it or not. Sigh. At least, one weatherguy acknowledged Canada's first Miss Universe, Karen Baldwin and he said he met her when he was working in London, Ontario where Karen is from. But let's give a big cheer to Natalie Glebova who earned a well-deserved win by delivering where it counted, keeping her cool and playing to the audience getting them on her side.
Kop khun ka, Natalie for making us proud!