Oh yes! Venezuela is the first country to win the Miss Universe title two years in a row and they are by far the most deserving country to do so! And if you thought it was going to stop here, you better watch out because Venezuelans bring it like no other country can! Can Venezuela keep the streak going just like when Texas won Miss USA from 1985 to 1989?? All eyes will be on Venezuela! In a league of their own, Venezuela has now won 6 Miss Universe crowns which means they are one crown away from nearly matching the 7 title record from the country with the most Miss Universes which is the U.S.A. (Also note that Miss Universe is American-owned.) Venezuela has also enjoyed similar success at other international pageants like Miss World and Miss International. Some Venezuelans live and breathe pageantry and Miss Venezuela is always a grand spectacle and the renowned director of Miss Venezuela, Osmel Sousa has consistently trained, coached and prepared Venezuelan pageant hopefuls and his critical eye has even made him the Simon Cowell of 'Nuestra Belleza Latina', which is an American Idol-esque show in search of the most beautiful Latina women. Osmel had a goal to see Venezuela win back to back titles and his dream has come true and some thought he would retire after it happened but he's still going strong and he obviously would like to pull a hat trick (3 in a row and possibly more?). Venezuela has made the top 6 every year since 1991 with the exception of 2004 and 2006 when Ana Karina Anez and Jictzad Vina were mysteriously excluded enitrely from the semifinals. Since Maritza Sayalero won its first Miss Universe crown, Venezuela also made the semifinals except for 1980 and 1982 which coincidentally were the years right after Venezuela won Miss Universe (Maritza in 1979 and Irene Saez in 1981.) The Forgotten Miss Venezuelas: Maye Brandt (1980), Ana Teresa Oropeza (1982), Ana Karina Anez (2004), Jictzad Vina (2006) Those excluded ladies (Maye Brandt in 1980) and (Ana Teresa Oropeza in 1982) both looked like worthy semifinalists to me which leads me to believe that they were purposely excluded back then so that Venezuela wouldn't win two years in a row. And then in 1997, after Alicia Machado won Miss Universe 1996, Marena Bencomo came so close to making it two years in a row for Venezuela but she finished as 1st runner up to Miss Universe 1997, the USA's Brook Lee. So this further demonstrates how much Venezuela deserved this victory and has consistently worked hard to achieve this goal. Alicia Machado's reign as Donald Trump took over the pageant was wrought with controversy because she had gained weight but the whole episode may have steered Alicia in an alternate direction making her the first Miss Universe to appear in Playboy Magazine and she dedicated her pictorial to Donald Trump and Alicia was also seen engaging in sexual relations under the sheets with another houseguest when she was on a season of her country's version of the popular 'Big Brother' show. The excluded Miss Venezuelas after Venezuela's first Miss Universe win in 1979 were all deserving to be semifinalists but wrongs were righted with Venezuela winning two years in a row. Maye Brandt, Miss Venezuela 1980 had her promising life tragically cut short at age 21 when she killed herself with a gun in 1982 after suffering from nervous breakdowns possibly due to arguments with her husband. Ana Teresa Oropeza, Miss Venezuela 1982 was noted for trying to fix the scrambled order of the parade of nations by speaking at the same time as the delegate that was supposed be after her (Miss Wales) but ended losing most of her airtime at Miss Universe 1982 as a result. The mix-up happened when Miss Greece didn't introduce herself at the 1982 Miss Universe parade of nations and Guam ended up introducing herself before the country alphabetically before her which was Guadeloupe. Guam and Greece oddly enough both made the top 5 at Miss Universe 1982. Ana Karina Anez, Miss Venezuela 2003-04 was my prediction to be 1st runner up at Miss Universe 2004 and I was disturbed to see Venezuela's long-running streak in the finals abruptly disrupted and I didn't understand it either as Ana Karina was magnificent. Finally, Miss Venezuela 2005-06, Jictzad Vina was also very much a favorite of mine placing also as 1st runner up in my predictions list and she was also excluded and I personally witnessed her crying after I attended Miss Universe 2006 and it stung my heart because Jictzad surely did not deserve such an exclusion.

The Miss Universe pageant had the highest ratings of the night that it aired! Woo-hoo! But they certainly did many things right this year. They kept the music contemporary, young and hip. Having Heidi Montag debut her single on the show probably helped generate some publicity and I actually thought it was good to hear Donald Trump's voice at the beginning introducing the show because people associate his name with power and to make his presence more known seems to help. Stefania Fernandez, Miss Universe 2009 with her runner-up Ada Aimee de la Cruz of Dominican RepublicAnd so it began in the tropical paradise of the Bahamas, at Atlantis, Paradise Island. The lovely ladies introduced themselves to us to the contemporary hit sounds of the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" and Sean Kingston's "Fire Burning". I think Venezuela and Kosovo both got the memo to model themselves after Audrey Hepburn. Venezuela's national costume was a sexy version of the 'My Fair Lady/Pygmalion' outfit and both Venezuela and Kosovo notably had the Audrey Hepburn bun in their hair during preliminaries although Venezuela changed to have her down and sexy for finals. Both of these ladies also made the top 3. France was also very fun in the opening. They started with 84 contestants this year but the day before the pageant, Jewel Selver of the Turks & Caicos withdrew supposedly due to dehydration...
So in terms of my predictions, overanalysis didn't really change too much. Earlier on, I was convinced that Venezuela had it because when I saw Dayana Mendoza crown Stefania Fernandez at Miss Venezuela, I was amazed at how stunning Stefania was and that convinced me that Venezuela could win Miss Universe two years in a row but with time, I literally became a 'doubting Thomas' as I started thinking of ways that it couldn't happen. I got 7 of the 15 semifinalists plus 1 alternate (Belgium) and 2 honorable mentions (Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic). The 5 ladies that missed my list were: Kosovo, Albania, Croatia, Sweden and Switzerland which are all European countries but the Europeans that I wanted were eliminated much to my dismay. Kosovo was a big miss for me especially since she got 2nd runner up and Switzerland managed to get to the top 10 but she was a tune-out delegate for me. She fell under my radar but I still don't think she was that strong. Albania, Sweden and Croatia were all eliminated in the first round but I was really surprised that Croatia made it. So what happened to the 8 ladies in my list that didn't make it. First up was Ukraine who just could not go unnoticed. That big, long blond hair and her standout style and mannerisms made her a force to be reckoned with and I likened her to Miss Estonia 1997, Kristiina Heinmets and Miss Latvia 2005, Ieva Kokorevica but some may have thought she was a little too over-the-top and perhaps that is what caused her omission but I still really think she made a tremendous impact even when she was dancing in the background among other delegates, she definitely made her presence known. Ukraine and Hungary both made recent appearances in the semifinals in the past few years to the surprise of many and yet when these two countries actually send worthy candidates, they don't make it. It's not fair. Hungary's Suzan (Zsuzsa) Budai also had gorgeous hair and I thought she would go far in the competition. Her gown was a bit of a question mark but I think she competed very well and deserved to make it. I really liked Paraguay. She has a very nice face with a beaming smile and a bangin' body for sure. I thought her gown was a unique twist on the classic mermaid design with black gloves but I guess because Venezuela was making it this year that Paraguay wasn't. In 2004 and 2006 when Venezuela were shockingly omitted, Paraguay made it to the top 5 in both of those years... Spain was a classy looking understated beauty but I guess she wasn't strong enough to be noticed considering everyone around her alphabetically (South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland) all made the semifinals. Nicaragua also had unmistakable presence during the preliminaries and I thought she competed extremely well in spite of a gown that could have been a little more stellar, she certainly worked it. Honduras sent a really fantastic delegate in Belgica Suarez and I thought this would have been their triumphant return to the semifinals since they haven't placed the longest of any country that has ever made the semifinals. Their last placement was back in 1955. Belgica had a bit of a smaller frame but she presented exceptionally and I was surprised with her web interview because she really stood out to me. I liked Angola and the way she worked her gown but I'll admit I could see her being omitted due to her soft spokenness and Vietnam was the only Asian in my list because I thought she looked like she could do it but it seems they wanted to erase any memory of Vietnam (last year's host country) for some reason. Even the crown made in Vietnam for Dayana Mendoza was replaced by the Mikimoto crown when Dayana did her farewell. Earlier, I commented that my list was a little Europe-heavy having 6 Europeans in my list but apparently it wasn't Europe-heavy enough since 9 of the actual top 15 were from Europe but even though I thought the European contingent was particularly strong, surprisingly only Kosovo managed to make the top 5 and all 3 of the Latin delegates (Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) made the top 5 with Australia being the other woman in the top 5. Asia had no semifinalists this year but that wasn't very surprising since the delegation from that continent this year had some faultiness.



Winner= Venezuela-Stefania Fernandez

Winner= France-Chloe Mortaud*

1st Runner Up= Dominican Republic-Ada Aimee de la Cruz

1st Runner Up= Ukraine-Kristina Kots-Gotlib

2nd Runner Up= Kosovo-Gona Dragusha

2nd Runner Up= Hungary-Suzan Budai

3rd Runner Up= Australia-Rachael Finch

3rd Runner Up= Paraguay-Mareike Baumgarten

4th Runner Up= Puerto Rico-Mayra Matos

4th Runner Up= Spain-Estibaliz Pereira



6. France-Chloe Mortaud

USA-Kristen Dalton*

7. South Africa-Tatum Keshwar

Venezuela-Stefania Fernandez*

8. Czech Republic-Iveta Lutovska

Australia-Rachael Finch*

9. Switzerland-Whitney Toyloy

Czech Republic-Iveta Lutovska*

10. USA-Kristen Dalton

South Africa-Tatum Keshwar*



11. Albania-Hasna Xhukici

Iceland-Ingibjorg Egilsdottir*

12. Belgium-Zeynep Sever

Nicaragua-Indiana Sanchez

13. Sweden-Renate Cerljen

Honduras-Belgica Suarez

14. Croatia-Sarah Cosic

Angola-Nelsa Alves

15. Iceland-Ingibjorg Egilsdottir

Vietnam-Hoang Yen Vo


ALTERNATES:Netherlands, Belgium*, Japan, Slovak Republic, India


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Ireland, Puerto Rico*, Dominican Republic*, Peru, Slovenia


* = made actual top 15

After the top 15 were announced, we got to see more of Dynamic Dayana Mendoza who was introduced to audience being accompanied by the children of Bahamas after which Dayana joked that she still kept her figure after having all those children! She acknowledged how proud she was to bring Venezuela the Miss Universe crown 12 years after Alicia Machado had done it for Venezuela. Dayana said she will continue travelling, working and loving life as she always does. During the tourism segments, it was interesting to see Dayana swimming with small sharks, pigs and stingrays but she still kept that undying smile on her face. They also revealed the choices for the new crown as designed by the new crown sponsor, Diamond Nexus Labs and I'm glad that Peace won over Hope and Unity because that crown was my choice. Heidi Montag performs at Miss Universe 2009 I felt it was the most elaborate and Miss Universe should have an elaborate crown and it also had some of the oval shapes like the classic most-identified Miss Universe crown from 1963 to 2001. Heidi Montag who originally appeared on the show 'The Hills' then performed her song 'Body Language' interspersed with the Fadil Berisha photoshoots of the top 15. I have to admit I really liked the song itself especially since it used the same synth hook from the awesome 80s hit 'Situation' by Yazoo (also known as Yaz). Sing it with me now! 'Move out. Don't mess around. Move out. You bring me dowwwwn.' I really don't know much about Heidi but from what I've heard, a lot of people seem really determined to destroy her music career before it even starts. Yes, I could see that she was being Britney Spears-ish when she took off her black shirt to reveal a sexy flesh-toned bra and Heidi does have a great body but you could tell she was lipsynching even if she claims she wasn't. It was as if they had her microphone turned off until the very end when a very different-sounding Heidi said thank you to the audience. I also thought I'd point out that there were two judges on this year's panel which we have seen at previous pageants. Dean Cain was a judge at Miss World 1999 and Andre Leon Talley was a judge at Miss Universe 2000 and the results of both of those pageants had India as the winner and Venezuela as the runner up so it seems only natural that Venezuela would win this year. India didn't make the semifinals this year for the second year in a row which hasn't happened since 1976. I thought I would point out that at Miss Universe 2000, Andre Leon Talley dared to give the stunning Miss Venezuela 2000, Claudia Moreno a disturbing 7.00 in swimsuit yet Claudia still managed to place 2nd in swimsuit in spite of it. Oh yes, my friends. Claudia Moreno's body was really THAT amazing!

The swimsuit competition saw Flo Rida perform his hits, 'Jump' and 'Right Round' (another song which borrows from an 80s hit, 'You Spin Me Right Round' by Dead or Alive, a song I loved then and still do! Puerto Rico was up first after missing the semifinals for two years, they returned under the new direction of former Miss Puerto Rico 1995, Desiree Lowry who placed 5th at Miss Universe 1995 just like Mayra Matos placed at Miss Universe 2009 interestingly enough. Desiree certainly knows what she is doing and that seemed to have helped Mayra because I was very unsure that she would even make it. I certainly didn't consider Mayra to be as strong as last year's Miss Puerto Rico, Ingrid Rivera who was another shocking exclusion especially since Ingrid was 2nd runner up at Miss World 2005. Mayra had mousey features in comparison but her body was decent. Iceland followed and she was my winner at one point until studying her more carefully in preliminaries when I realized in spite of her astounding fitness coupled with her gorgeous curves, she didn't have the long, lean body general associated with what they are looking for and as a result stunning Ingibjorg got a low score and it really made me sad because she really was a sensational delegate. Albania came across as really cold and carried herself more like a supermodel with no smiles. I must admit I was surprised to see her up there especially after seeing that black and white fluffy nightmare of a gown with red shoes during the preliminaries. I wonder if she would have subjected us to have to see that same gown if she advanced to top 10. Czech Republic followed with her nice tall body but she did seem a little mother-like. Belgium was one that was in and out of my list so many times and wouldn't you know, I place her as an alternate but she makes it. Gah! I thought she had a great body and hair but she was eliminated at this stage. Dominican Republic was one that was purposefully refusing to give in to the hype for. I tried to see it in preliminaries but I still think her body looks a bit on the too-thin side with not the definition I was expecting but she does have nice dimples and she reminded me a bit of Ashley Coleman, Miss Teen USA 1999. Sweden did make it after all! I wonder if it was the whole theory that she may have been Tom Cruise's long lost lovechild since many people think Renate Cerljen does look a bit like Tom Cruise. Because we know that Tom Cruise can't get enough of the ladies... Renate actually looked decent in swimsuit but she wasn't going to advance past this stage. Kosovo was an interesting story and yes, I've always thought she had a great face and hair but I still think her frame is too thin, even if she did score well in swimsuit. Her walk was very on target though. A song change and that Australia wows us with her awesome body and wins the swimsuit competition. France carried herself exceptionally well. I was really impressed with her walk and body. Switzerland was a surprise to me. I tuned her right out but she was okay, I guess. She had attitude but oh, that belly button. South Africa had tremendous presentation skills with her long, lean body. USA looked fabulously toned of course but I will say that I was surprised that she wasn't scoring very well. She was 10th in both swimsuit and gown. I wonder if the judges were confusing Kristen Dalton with Carrie Prejean? Or maybe they wanted to make sure that Kristen wouldn't win so that Carrie Prejean wouldn't even come close to being Miss USA, even though Carrie has already been fired? Croatia followed and this is a first time placement for that country which I actually expected to happen last year. This year's girl was okay. She had a nice body but no spark whatsoever. And finally, Venezuela showed us what she's made of. In spite of a little stumble with the sarong, she presented her gorgeousness with supreme confidence.

Top 10 evening gown: Australia, Venezuela, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Kosovo, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Puerto Rico, USA, France

Kelly Rowland and David Guetta perform at Miss Universe 2009After the top 10 were announced, we witnessed the evening gown competition. It was set to the awesome song, "When Loves Takes Over" by Kelly Rowland and David Guetta and I'll tell you, I always liked Kelly Rowland but I fell madly in love with her after this incredible performance. Oh my God, was it ever amazing! Those American Idol contestants have nothing on Kelly. Adam Lambert should have won by the way... I think I've watched this evening gown competition 100 times already. I loved it! David Guetta produced a great track but didn't it look like he was enjoying his equipment a little too much? Australia blew us away with her gorgeous white gown with metallic designs. This gown was a magnificent choice and it really accentuated her form. Venezuela followed in her bold red feathery gown and I'm sure it really looked strong on stage with her red matching lipstick and she worked it well. She was going for young and free but some thought it may have looked a little circus-ish. South Africa had some great gowns with her and I hoped she wasn't going to wear this gown but she did and I knew it would do her in. I just didn't like the design of the gown. It was too sloppy looking. Dominican Republic followed with a greyish gown with flower design going over the shoulder. Again, I was reminded of Ruth Ocumarez, Miss Dominican Republic 2002 who was heavily hyped during her year and had a similar gown color and I was drawing too many parallels between Ruth and Ada Aimee de la Cruz but Ada did present with confidence. Kosovo followed in a gorgeous purple gown with silver midsection and the Audrey Hepburn bun. As classy and Audrey Hepburn-ish as she looked and as gorgeous as the gown was, I still thought her frame was too thin and that is essentially what kept her off my predictions list. Czech Republic's stunning blue gown really blended with the background but as I said earlier, her working of the gown wasn't as enthused so she didn't advance to the next stage. Switzerland's self-designed yellow maternity gown was just screaming for the judges to eliminate her right then and there. It just wasn't flattering at all. Puerto Rico had a pink gown with black designs on it. I didn't really care for this gown but she managed to pull off a decent score. USA's Kristen Dalton followed and I don't think I've ever seen a Miss USA with so many variations of the same gown. I'm beginning to think it was the same gown she wore at Miss USA, preliminaries and finals but with some sort of attachments or extra capes to make it looks slightly different. I think the judges might have thought this gown was a little too dress-up but again, I was surprised at the lower score. Finally, France followed in her stunning silver ensemble that I loved from the very beginning but unfortunately she finished 6th so this would be it for Chloe as well.

Miss Universe 2009 Top 5After China was named Miss Congeniality and Thailand was voted Miss Photogenic (mm-hmm), Dayana unveiled the winning which was 'Peace'. And so the top 5 were asked their final questions. Dominican Republic picked Tamara Tunie who stated that the World Health Organization says there is an urgent need for HIV testing across the globe and she asked her if she thought it should be made mandatory. Dominican Republic blurted out, "Good night, Bahamas!" My hand immediately went over my face. It's 'Good EVENING' not 'Good night'. Immediately, I remembered how Venezuela's Veruska Ramirez who was 1st runner up at Miss Universe 1998 did the same thing. She went on to say she definitely believed the necessary tests to prevent AIDS should be done and by not being careful, in one minute, we could lose our own lives. Are you implying sex only takes one minute Miss Dominican Republic?? No, but in all seriousness, the question asked if she thought it should be made mandatory and she didn't really answer that. Australia followed and picked Valeria Mazza who indicated that some countries don't allow women to wear swimsuits and asked how she felt about that. Australia said that wearing a swimsuit is a beautiful thing especially in a pageant and it gives them a chance to show off their figures, toned bodies and what they've worked hard for and that the body is a beautiful part of a woman. I didn't really think this was a particularly strong answer as she could have said something about the need for women's liberation in certain countries, religulousness, and that sort of thing. A woman who can choose to wear a swimsuit is a free woman. Puerto Rico selected the mystery special guest who was Miss Universe 2007, Riyo Mori who appeared via Skype. Skype ain't all that flattering is it? Riyo asked if being a beautiful woman has made her life easier of it has prevented people from taking her seriously in business situations. Puerto Rico replied that to her, beauty is a compliment. One must be organized and have her own personal studies and that is what you show when your inner beauty is reflected on the outside and that's what makes you look more beautiful and that is why people do take her seriously. A decent answer for a winded question. Venezuela chose Andre Leon Talley's question which asked. In many parts of the world, obstacles still exist which impede women from achieving their goals in some corporations. What can women do to overcome this? I believe that nowadays that woman have overcome many obstacles and I do believe that we have reached the same level as men have. We must realize there are no longer any obstacles amongst us. A nice answer that promotes equality among sexes but I think what set Stefania apart was the way she controlled the interpreter. Her web interview indicated that Stefania is very full of life and her gestures and great answers showed me that this was a supremely confident and self-assured young woman even at age 18 and I think judges were also able to feel that and gave her the crown. Finally, Kosovo. Oh dear, that interpreter. Dean Cain said Pop superstar Justin Timberlake said the worst part about being famous is the invasion of privacy and asked Miss Kosovo what makes her want to be famous. I heard the interpreter wasn't quite speaking her dialect but she managed nonetheless. Kosovo said all the experiences she's had so far have given her fame and she feels like famous... There are though other ways to be famous and feel famous which are intelligence and also beauty. Not a particularly strong answer but I think the judges empathized with her a little more.

Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008 says her farewell
Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008 says her farewell Dayana Mendoza, Miss Universe 2008 says her farewellAs a grand finale, Dayana Mendoza said her farewell and I particularly loved how she held her arms open as the camera panned from right to left. It was like she was giving the world a big hug and yet at the same time, it was like an on-the-cross pose. Puerto Rico's 8 year chain was broken with the announcement of Mayra Matos as 4th runner up, much to her dismay and visible shock. Australia fell to 3rd runner up. Kosovo managed to get 2nd runner up leaving us with Dominican Republic and Venezuela. As host, Billy Bush indicated that this could be a repeat or not, he was right in more ways than one because Dominican Republic and Venezuela were also the top 2 of 2003 but the results were reversed and history was made as Venezuela won for a second year in a row. It had never been done before and we wondered if it would ever happen and it did. Venezuela reigns triumphant and it was a classic moment as Dayana Mendoza with such pride and joy on her face embraced Stefania and the two hugged and jumped in a circular motion like sisters. What a classic moment! Unfortunately, they may have been a little too caught-up in the moment because just as Dayana placed the crown on Stefania's head, it fell to the floor and Dayana held Stefania's arm as she picked it up and placed it on firmly. Stefania revealed in a later interview that the crown had a slight crack in it as a result of it falling on the floor but no one can rain on Venezuela's parade! Bahamian dancers celebrated in the isles as Stefania Fernandez graced us with her presence as the new Miss Universe. But can Venezuela do it 3 years a row??? Until next year!

Prethoughts - Miss Universe 2009


Some photos courtesy Miss Universe L.P., LLLP