THOUGHTS OF MISS U S A 1997
THOUGHTS OF MISS U S A
A Miss Universe was in this crowd, little did we know it then but the sudden hype over the Miss USA pageant paved the way for USA to be crowned Miss Universe. Alicia Machado was the story over the hype because her appearance at this pageant would allow everyone to see her for a moment in an issue concerning her weight gain. A controversy that sparked and brought an irregular popularity to the Miss Universe ring of pageants. In an Entertainment Tonight interview preceding the pageant, Alicia Machado stated that she weighed 147 pounds and that at least it was not 165 and that she was no cow!! But the following week, the weighed her on a scale after some workout routines which didn't look strenuous to me at all and said that she was 143 pounds. Alicia then went on to say that she lost 12 pounds that week which meant that she would have to have been actually 155 pounds. It's not 165, Alicia? The controversy was alive and Ali Landry who would be giving up her crown that night stated that Alicia should be commended because she was not anorexic or bulimic like so many young girls and that it didn't matter.
The spectacular Miss USA production was modernized and was by far the best I have ever seen started with a reminiscent glimpse of the previous year. Ali Landry and Danielle Boatwright stood together on a TV screen in front of an onlooking, anticipating audience which consisted of various members of Ali's large family. Bob Goen announced the 1st runner up was Miss Kansas and this audience who was holding hands and wishing Ali would be queen had their wish come true. They jumped up in excitement and a frenzy of smiles and colours broke loose as Ali from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana was announced the new Miss USA immediately followed by Ali's commentary on what a tremendous year it was for her and then BOOM! Marla Maples Trump, then happily married, and George Hamilton, then happily divorced, (gee, what did happen to Alana?) were backstage with the ladies preparing for the parade of states runway show. The best Miss USA opening ever was about to begin with a flash of cameras and a very excited audience in Shreveport, Louisiana looked on.
This opening was so awesome, they must bring back whoever designed and picked the music for this one! To an awesome sound of fashion show background music, the following was who I noticed the most, First, Illinois' Jennifer Sarenas (32nd place and of Filipino descent) stepped on the runway wearing a white pant suit with a flashing big see through white jacket which she "flew" around in. Minnesota's Melissa Hall (24th place) then stormed onto the stage with her spectacular leg movements whipping that body and black dress into shape and blatantly flaunting! South Dakota's Jamie Swenson (38th place) really caught my eye because of her fabulous body. Missouri just missed it at 11th place. There was a report on her on "Extra" which showed that she was a journalist and hoped that would help her in the interview competition but she competed well as her first pageant turned into her first victory and she looked stunning in a tight white open back bellbottom suit which looked great on her. I was hoping she would be in top 10 and she was so close. Indiana's Trisha Nosco (17th place) flew out on stage in one of those short dresses and a long train in which she spun around nicely. Moving to the Northwest, Washington's Sara Nicole Williams (37th place) spun violently and suddenly as if she was possessed by the music but I love that! Look out now, here comes the first Miss Teen USA to be Miss USA!!!!!!!! She is the enchanting Brandi Sherwood of Idaho who was 8th in the prelims but went on to snag the title after Brook Lee won Miss Universe. She has a stunning body and her red sock-tight sock-like outfit looked very nice on her. She was my 2nd favorite right from the beginning. Pennsylvania definitely had the look of a journalist. I liked how Connecticut's hair flew when she spun. Massachusetts' Jennifer Chapman did a nice spin in her cocktail dress. DC's Danielle Groves was fun and I love how she spun two ways when all the ladies from the east side were on stage.
Afterwards, the music got even better as soon as Miss Colorado stepped on stage, the music suddenly included an awesome techno rift as if the Miss USA pageant was taking us into another dimension! And you could tell it really got a hold of Miss Texas who always moved so nicely to the beat and caught each one dead on. I loved it! Man, did Alabama's Autumn Smith have a cheering section! They screamed so loudly as Autumn burst out on stage. It was no surprise that she made top 10! The moment soon came for my prediction and my vote for Miss Photogenic, the enticing Towanna Stone of Tennessee. She looked so beautiful and stunning! She was followed by Georgia's Denesha Reid who was also a finalist at Miss Teen USA but surprisingly fell to 33rd place! Her red dress like pants were very interesting and fashionable. Virginia's Audra Wilks stepped on the stage and the first two words that came into my mind were "Reba McEntire"! This girl definitely had her look! Out comes Miss Florida, Angelia Savage, who was the favorite up until the judge's questions, in a very 80s look. The checkerboard outfit was nice and her hair also had an 80s sort of look. But I loved the 80s so I loved Angelia. Then came Mississippi and Louisiana and all the ladies paraded the runway and stepped into place.
While George and Marla were babbling away on stage. I heard somebody in the audience yell, "Okay, let's start!!" That was funny and I must say that if they were going to talk on stage, they should have brought back Bob Goen and Daisy Fuentes. George Hamilton was just a little too slow. Now the delegates were announced. First was Florida in her 80s outfit. Miss DC pretty much went nuts clapping for her and Angelia let out a sigh of relief as she stepped on stage. Next was Rhode Island. Next was Alabama's Autumn Smith who, of course, had a big cheering crowd response! Oklahoma's Trisha Stillwell, who fell from 2nd in the prelims to 10th place, followed giving Rhode Island another big hug. Utah's Temple Taggart came next and somebody behind her gave her a friendly smack on the back as she came forward. Next was the future Miss Universe, Miss Hawaii who hugged Missouri and took her place. Next was former Miss Teen USA and future Miss USA, Brandi Sherwood of Idaho. New Jersey's Jennifer Makris was next. She also competed and placed 3rd in Miss America. I hope there were no problems because she had to miss her best friend's wedding! You could see that Texas' Amanda Little was genuinely happy to be in the top 10. And we saved the best for last, Towanna from Tennessee. On to the interview.
Angelia Savage gave a wonderful interview just like she killed them in the preliminary interview with her genuine nature. I loved that she noticed that she admitted to having two left feet after watching herself dance in the Miss Florida pageant. She's so fresh and fun and her semifinal interview deserved higher scores but she won the semifinals anyway so I guess I shouldn't complain. Rhode Island's Claudia Jordan was put on the spot and had to talk about the unfortunate incident when her friend was shot and murdered. She started an anti-gun rally and tried to discourage gun violence by promoting helpful alternatives. She did well placing 3rd in the interview portion. Next was Alabama's Autumn Smith who had such a bright personality. Her answers were good and she was funny so I have no idea where the low interview score came from. I liked her clever conceit in saying that her brothers weren't as good as she working the bobcat and the funny speech her father gave her about making up for this lost time when she gets home. Oklahoma's Trisha Stillwell somehow lost her triumphant reign in the preliminaries to discourage us in saying that we weren't close to a cure in migraines. Utah's Temple Taggart did well but somehow she didn't really have a spark until she sung a little Shania Twain out to the audience. Her mother looked somewhat like Susan Sarandon, very serious at first but her smile started twitching when Temple was singing showing that she was very conscientious of her daughter's performance. Out comes Brook Lee, y'know Miss Universe?! She cleverly responded when George asked what a professional hula dancer does in saying that means that she's a hula dancer and she gets paid to do it! She said that in a cute manner and followed with a hula performance to "Roll Out the Barrel". That Brook has got skills--interview skills, that is. Next was Idaho's Brandi Sherwood who accidentally stated that the director of a commercial in which she was was the actor's grandfather but she meant to say grandson. But Brandi was so funny and outgoing that it was surprising for me to see that she place as high. Next was New Jersey who was so amusing but unfortunately her body kept her away from the finals. I loved how she admitted to watching her one performance on "Another World" everyday and that she can peel crawfish herself! She was pleasant and mature and I liked her personality. Texas' Amanda Little followed and what I noticed most about her was her sharpness. She immediately catches on to things without hesitance. For example, when George said "Don't swallow the necklace" because it would put a butterfly in her stomach she immediately caught on and laughed. She also had a nice spirit. Tennessee's Towanna Stone was my favorite and very verbose and mature. She knew what to say and how to say it and I expected this from my blessed prediction but she didn't manage to beat out a certain Miss Universe.
Okay, on to the swimsuit competition. The music was good for this one because it had a nice beat. Florida's Angelia Savage was the first out and you could tell that she was a former Venus Model Search because of her spectacular body. She was muscular, had excellent form, and was fit. I think she probably should have worn a bikini because she definitely has the body for it. Rhode Island was fit, healthy, and looked very natural, which is the look that the Miss USA pageant says it is going for these days. Out bursts Alabama's Autumn Smith looking heavenly in that two piece. She had abs, bubble busts and long luscious legs. Autumn's only problem was the hair. It looked too mussed up, other than that, she was excellent. Next was Oklahoma's Trisha Stillwell. Who couldn't help but notice Trisha's chest jiggle with each step she took?? Utah's Temple Taggart was next and obviously works out a lot because she showed off her body but I think she also should have worn a two piece for more flattering purposes. Next was a certain Miss Universe, Hawaii's Brook Lee. She looked okay and was one of the more natural looking contestants. Next was Idaho's Brandi Sherwood looking stunning in swimsuit. Her form was just excellent and surprisingly enough, this competition was what got her into the top 6! Next was New Jersey's Jennifer Makris. She looked slightly wide during the swimsuit competition. It might have helped to work out a little more. Sure she was fun but her body needed help. Texas' Amanda Little looked fantastic. Tennessee's Towanna Stone, needless to say, was perfect with her long legs, big busts and fabulous frame. It was obvious that she was a top three contender.
Next was the evening gown competition to the song "Diversity" sung by a gospel choir. It was very nice. I liked the cloud like smoke on stage from those cloud machines but there was a little too much when Florida was on stage. She looked very nice in her black sparkling bust and slinky gown. Her body flattered the gown. Next was Rhode Island. One of my friends told me that Carol Burnett once wore this same gown at an awards show. I think the gown would have been better without the black shirt over it but some delegates are told what to wear. Next was Alabama who didn't make the best choice for top ten gown. She looked much better in that white gown shown in the little video segment showing all the delegates in gowns. Oklahoma was next and this gown was unique but a tad too risky for top ten. The see through skirt showing her legs is what I'm referring to. The diamond necklace she was wearing looked good on her though and it did match the top part of the gown. Next was Utah wearing a sumptuous satin gown. She had an aura that was very Danielle Boatwright in this look so it was no surprise that Temple made it in. Next was Brook Lee with a simple black gown with silver lining and she scored fairly well. Next was Idaho's Brandi Sherwood looking absolutely spectacular. She looked so perfect in this gown which was the same sparkly kind of gown that Chelsi Smith wore as her farewell gown. The score of 9.30 that she received was way too low. Next was New Jersey who got part of her scarf caught in the stairs. She pulled it out viciously and laughed on the way down and so did the audience. We loved Jennifer Makris but that little act wasn't enough for her to make the finals. Next was Texas in an elegant black gown with a see through part covering the sleeves and up to the neck. She looked fantastic. Next was the breathtaking Towanna Stone of Tennessee in lavender satin and scarf around the hands. She looked so amazing that I thought her scores would just shoot up the roof but she ended up third only.
On to the judge's questions. Hawaii was first picking the first judge asking her about the legalization of marijuana and if she would take it for medicinal reasons. Brook responded that she had friends hooked on marijuana and her father who was involved in the drug industry passed away and she knew the pain it would cause therefore she would not take it. It was a good answer and Brook pulled off third place. Idaho was asked what she would do if someone asked her to help him/her die. Brandi said that she would respect their wishes depending on how close she was to this person but she would try to change their mind. A well expressed answer which put Brandi in first place. Tennessee was asked what she would do if someone made a racial comment in her presence. Towanna stated the obvious, that she would ask that person to refrain from that inappropriate manner of speech in her presence but she phrased it very well and this put her in 2nd position. Utah was next and was asked a question with a potentially funny answer considering whether or not she would want to be Miss USA if it meant refraining from dating. Temple said that she definitely would and then went on to explain that the Miss USA title is a sacrifice of a year of a life devoted to helping others. She finished in 6th because her answer just didn't have that spark. Next was the favorite, Florida, who chose a judge then put it back instinctively and then chose a question that was too simple. The judge asked what sole item she would save if her house was burning down. Angelia stated it was have to be her dog, Sasha, and her pictures which are very precious. She then gave a little smirk that semantically said, "What else can I say?" She pulled off 4th place just a few points off Brook. If one of the judges had given her 0.1 higher then she would have taken Brook out of the top 3 and Miss Universe would have been a completely different story!! We love you anyway, Angelia, there was nothing you could do. Texas followed and was asked to highlight when she turned a negative into a positive. Amanda recalled her cheerleading experience in which she was named drill team captain in high school but she had to cope with being the leader of older students and through communication, the problem was overcome. Amanda's skills in fast thinking on her feet were impressive in my opinion, but she only came in 5th.
Now the final question that changed it all. Focusing the attention on Alicia Machado, the three contestants were asked what they would do if they were in her situation concerning criticism of weight gain. Tennessee started to say what the other two said, there wasn't a weight restriction but then suddenly changed her mind and said she would lose the weight to be healthy. That answer was just beans compared to the two answers that followed. Brook gave the politically correct response and phrased it humorously seeing herself as Miss Universe and saying that it didn't matter because she would know that she was the same girl crowned that day and her inside was what won her title. The audience reaction said it all. Everyone agreed that this truly was the right answer. The humor came when she said that if she goes up or down, gets taller or shorter, or her nose gets bigger or smaller, she is still the same person and is a good representative no matter what. Brandi Sherwood had a tough act to follow but her answer was also excellent but she didn't say specifically what she would do if it happened to her rather she defended Alicia Machado. She said it is difficult to deal with weight fluctuations but she recalled that Alicia's inner beauty was what really won her the title. Children was love her regardless of her appearance and her inner beauty was all that counted. Another loud round of applause came from the audience and I felt so sorry for Towanna Stone because she just didn't have a chance at this point but she handled her loss well. When it came down to Brook and Brandi, I just didn't know who it was. Hawaii or Idaho was running through my mind all through the commercials.
Ali said her farewell in a rather unusual see through gown with crumbly things scattered all over it. Towanna Stone was 2nd Runner Up and Brandi Sherwood was 1st Runner Up and Brook Antoinette Mahealani Lee won the Miss USA crown and then three months later won the coveted Miss Universe crown as well which meant that Brandi Sherwood, who was Miss Teen USA 1989 was now Miss USA making her the first Miss Teen USA to be Miss USA. So now both Brook and Brandi are double major winners. Alas, for poor Towanna Stone, my prediction who lost it at the final question. Oh well, Brandi Sherwood got to be Miss USA so for that reason, I'm happy. The 1997 Miss USA pageant was well formatted especially the opening runway fashion show and I hope there will be more like this one.
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