Because of a feed drop by Livestream which they couldn’t rectify when they rebroadcast the Presentation Show, I can only assess the gown performances of the ladies from St. Lucia to Ukraine based on photos and the callback after Miss Vietnam’s presentation.
ST. LUCIA– Joy-Ann Biscette. She has the exotic facial features that have the potential to turn major heads if she knows how to create a distinctive persona. Unfortunately, she only blended with the crowd throughout her Brazil stint, and during the Presentation Show she wore one of the worst frocks of the night, a frumpy yellow gown. She didn’t make a fierce impression in swimsuit as I noticed how small her frame is relative to her head.
SWEDEN– Ronnia Fornstedt. As hers were the first pictures that appeared online as the Miss Universe activities began, she initially made a big splash with pageant fans and pundits. She’s then overshadowed as other favorites came in, but she’s still strong. I don’t know how well she worked her pink sequined evening gown onstage, but the gown looked good. She is the winner of Miss Photogenic (polled by a group of judges instead of public vote after a long time, just as it ought to be). A Trump Ticket may be in order for her.
SWITZERLAND– Kerstin Cook. There were pageant fans and pundits who like her and believe her to be in serious contention, but to my eyes she’s just another pretty face in the crowd. She’s solid, but not really memorable, during the Presentation Show.
TANZANIA– Nelly Kamwelu. She already had an international pageant experience winning the Miss Southern Africa International earlier this year. But even with that on her belt, in my opinion she is one of the weaker delegates out there. I find her face rather unattractive, and her figure is not trim and fit, as reflected in the Presentation Show.
THAILAND– Chanyasorn Sakornchan. Facewise, she couldn’t compare to her predecessor, Fonthip Watcharatrakul. But she has enough skills to generate some charisma and make a positive impression. In photos, the blue one-shouldered midriff-baring sequined number she sported during the Presentation Show seemed like a hot mess, but if I gauge her swimsuit catwalk and if she did a similar catwalk in it, she may have worked that dress well. She’s another above average contender from Asia, but she is likely to be drowned out by the three Asians-Most-Likely (China, Malaysia, and the Philippines).
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO – Gabrielle Walcott. This Miss World 2008 2nd runner-up suffered a bit from the Zizi Lee Syndrome—losing luster three years after causing a sensation and placing high at Miss World. She’s still attractive, and her personality, communication skills, and intelligence are still very much intact, but she seemed to have aged significantly and that is hindering her from maximizing impact. Wrong choice of makeup during the Presentation Show (bright red lips instead of a more natural shade) detract from her otherwise strong performance. The way her face was made up make her look like a relative to Mayra Aldana and Chloe Beth Morgan. A Trump Ticket would be needed for her to advance.
TURKEY– Melisa Aslı Pamuk. It’s a good thing thatTurkeydecided to field its winner to compete her instead of a runner-up. Her face is gorgeous, and the fact that she actually resides in the Netherlands makes me dream that she could be the new Azra Akın (Miss World 2002). Well, she does have solid communication skills and likability as displayed in her web interview, but she doesn’t possess Azra’s legendary effervescence. I think her strapless red gown during the Presentation Show had a nice silhouette and she looked beautiful in it. But I have an issue with her swimsuit presentation as her belly looked like she ate something heavy—if she has modeling aspirations, she will not be able to book her go-sees this way. Still, I would rate her as a worthwhile contender and stronger than your typical Turkish Miss Universe contestant.
TURKS & CAICOS – Easher Parker. She’s one of the better representatives sent by this country to this pageant, though she’s no Carmelita Ariza (the semifinalist from 1987). Her Presentation Show performance was solid, and she made the most of what she had.
UKRAINE– Olesya Stefanko. She exudes the vibe of a modern-day Brooke Shields with a touch of Vanessa Paradis thrown in. Though I thought during the pageant activities that she seemed overshadowed by Miss Russia, during the Presentation Show she was luminous. I didn’t see her individual gown performance, but the way she flounced her billowy white gown during the callback made me infer she performed sensationally in it, and she was awesome during the swimsuit round.
URUGUAY– Fernanda Semino. When I looked at her from afar during the Presentation Show, she resembles Alyssa Campanella for some odd reason—I think she shares the same shade of red hair as Alyssa in my eyes. She’s actually a worthwhile contender, performing solidly in both rounds of the Presentation Show.
U S A – Alyssa Campanella. Rare is a Miss USA delegate that pageant fans and pundits actually root for to win Miss Universe. I think the last two instances this happened were in 1983 (with Julie Hayek) and 1996 (with Ali Landry). All pageant fans and pundits have been rooting for this charming and gorgeous former Miss Teen USA 1st runner-up to triumph on the road to Miss Universe, starting from her two less-than-successful Miss New Jersey USA stints, then her eventual victory as Miss California USA, and finally nailing the whole shebang as Miss USA.
There were already murmurs of concern amongst pageant fans and pundits that Alyssa seemed rather skinny even during her Miss USA victory. But it is still believed she has the qualities to become USA’s 8th Miss Universe, as she is a stage dynamo and is a bright communicator. We willingly overlooked concerns over her skinny frame until it is revealed in stark relief during the Presentation Show.
Several pageant fans and pundits panned the short-sleeved gold-embroidered blue gown but in my opinion she actually pulled it off rather well. But her gaunt frame is already such an uncomfortable sight that could not be distracted by her still-awesome stage skills. Then came the swimsuit round, where jaws dropped in shock at her stick frame. It didn’t help that she seemed to have an uneven spray tan that made her look rather splotchy. My heart broke as I sincerely wanted her to win it all.
She tried to assuage those anorexia concerns in Facebook by stating she actually eats six times a day. I think this would be possible only if: a) she suffers from bulimia; b) she is suffering from a rare metabolic disorder; or c) she is recovering from Churg-Strauss syndrome, the disease that almost felled Everything But the Girl member Ben Watt. I still want to keep the faith and want this lovely girl to succeed, but I’m not comfortable with the message she’s sending with her current body frame.
U S VIRGIN ISLANDS– Alexandrya Evans. Her best quality is her communication skills, as displayed in her web interview. Other aspects are below par, especially her figure (too thick for pageant standards).
VENEZUELA– Vanessa Gonçalves. As Osmel Sousa displayed her progress prior to her arrival in Brazil, many pageant fans and pundits felt sick to the stomach with the way she looked obviously manufactured, that she’s like a fem-bot. Some have even coined a term for her: “Frankenzuela”. So it’s such a turn-off that during a press call while being asked about plastic surgery, she denied through her obviously botoxed face that she had anything beyond a boob job at age 19. Her supposed Brazilian heritage also seemed tenuous at best as reports in Brazil state that locals found her Portuguese incomprehensible (they say Bolivia and Costa Rica did a better job speaking the language).
I found it amusing how a fan-constructed YouTube video speculating how her web interview would end up like actually turned out to be very similar to the actual thing. The key differences though are that Vanessa sounded rather pleasant when she speaks and she has hand gestures to make up for her frozen facial expressions. I also thought that the makeover Osmel gave her made her look like Trump’s ex-wife Marla Maples, which I don’t think is a good thing considering the relatively acrimonious divorce.
But Venezuela definitely could not be denied. Besides the feathery blonde-streaked hairdo she sported throughout, Vanessa delivered sensationally during the Presentation Show. She was fierce in a nude and sheer (with floral accents strategically placed all over) one-sleeved number, and her figure during the swimsuit round was indeed one of the best, if not the best, and she strutted fiercely to showcase that hot figure. I suppose this is like the Claudia Moreno factor—despite objections with the person’s lack of facial beauty (or in this case, the fact that it’s artificial), ferocious stage moves would help you go very, very far.
VIETNAM– Vũ Thị Hoàng My. I have to be honest that I’m not that into her the way other pageant fans and pundits were raving about her. I suppose it’s like how Brazilians may not appreciate the gorgeousness of Miss Earth 2009 Larissa Ramos, or how a Nordic pageant pundit may have a low regard for blondes that other pageant pundits adored with a passion. Anyway, she actually won me over as she did sparkle during the Presentation Show in her red lace-and-satin number during the evening gown round and strutting strongly with a trim figure during the swimsuit round. If there will be an extra slot for a fourth Asian, she’s the one who is most likely to get it.
All photos courtesy of Miss Universe Organization, L.P. LLLP unless otherwise indicated.
Now that all 89 delegates are accounted for, let me now trot out my leaderboard and present it to you:
TOP CONTENDERS: AUSTRALIA, CHINA, MALAYSIA, VENEZUELA
SHOO-INS: FRANCE, GREECE, NICARAGUA, PHILIPPINES, PUERTO RICO, U S A
LIKELIEST: ALBANIA, ANGOLA, ARUBA, BRAZIL, CHILE, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, CYPRUS, ESTONIA, FINLAND, HAITI, KOSOVO, MEXICO, NETHERLANDS, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, PORTUGAL, SWEDEN, UKRAINE, VIETNAM
TRUMP FACTOR: CROATIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, INDIA, ISRAEL, ITALY, RUSSIA, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
VOTE FACTOR: INDONESIA, THAILAND
EXCELLENT: ARGENTINA, BAHAMAS, BOLIVIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, GHANA, HONDURAS, JAPAN, KOREA, LEBANON, MAURITIUS, MONTENEGRO, SERBIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SWITZERLAND, TURKEY, URUGUAY
VERY STRONG: CANADA, CAYMAN ISLANDS, CURACAO, DENMARK, EGYPT, GERMANY, GREAT BRITAIN, POLAND, SINGAPORE, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, ST. LUCIA, TURKS & CAICOS
VERY GOOD: BELGIUM, GUYANA, SRI LANKA, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
GOOD: BOTSWANA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, GEORGIA, GUAM, JAMAICA, NEW ZEALAND, NIGERIA, TANZANIA
FAIR: EL SALVADOR, IRELAND, KAZAKHSTAN
If justice were to prevail, I want to see at least three Asians, two Central Americans and two black ladies representing countries beginning with the letter “A” in the finals. So here is my “Fearful Forecast”:
TOP FIVE: AUSTRALIA, CHINA, MALAYSIA, PHILIPPINES, VENEZUELA
TOP TEN: FRANCE, GREECE, NICARAGUA, PUERTO RICO, U S A
TOP 16: ANGOLA, ARUBA, BRAZIL, COSTA RICA, NETHERLANDS, UKRAINE
BUBBLING UNDER: ALBANIA, CHILE, COLOMBIA, CROATIA, CYPRUS, CZECH REPUBLIC, ESTONIA, FINLAND, HAITI, HUNGARY, INDIA, INDONESIA, ISRAEL, ITALY, KOSOVO, MEXICO, PANAMA, PARAGUAY, PERU, PORTUGAL, RUSSIA, SWEDEN, THAILAND, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, VIETNAM
STRIKING DISTANCE: ARGENTINA, BAHAMAS, BOLIVIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, ECUADOR, GHANA, HONDURAS, JAPAN, KOREA, LEBANON, MAURITIUS, MONTENEGRO, SERBIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SPAIN, SWITZERLAND, TURKEY, URUGUAY
I have this gnawing feeling that there will be surprises in store for the finals, though I do hope the final outcome would be something that we would all serenely find aceeptable.