NIGERIA – Kenneth Nwadike. He’s the last to arrive and is the sole black contestant in this pageant. His prospects for making the final cut would depend how well the judges respond to his resemblance to actor Ving Rhames. But no one can deny that he has one of the buffest builds among this year’s batch.
NORWAY – Nikolai Danielsen. He may not have any standout features like his fellow Scandinavians from Denmark (jaw) and Sweden (hairstyle), but he still possesses a scruffy handsomeness that would give him an inside track into the finals. There are angles where he resembles “Dr. McDreamy” in “Grey’s Anatomy”, Patrick Dempsey.
PAKISTAN – Muhammad Yassir. His main assets are his outgoing personality and his reported $7 million fortune. Otherwise his best strategy is to enjoy his stay in Thailand.
PANAMA – Jafeth Gutierrez. He comes off like a typical Latin boy that you see on a street corner, not quite polished or sophisticated. Still, he is attractive, and there are people who would that kind of persona appealing.
PHILIPPINES – Fhrancis Oliver Lopez. He has a handsome face. Some might view his 5’8″ height as a disadvantage (it is considered short for male modeling standards), but he seems to be garnering photo-modeling gigs while at the pageant. He resembles American Idol Season 8 winner Kris Allen, who was a surprise champion over the major favorite Adam Lambert. Like Kris Allen, Fhrancis might end up being a “Little-Cutie-That-Could”.
PORTUGAL – Fabio Duarte. He resembles actor Matt Dillon. There is a rising amount of pageant fans and pundits buzzing and raving about him, so he could be a sleeper possibility for the finals. It would emphasize a pretty good pageant year for this relatively unheralded nation.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC – Jakub Lorencovič. It’s a good thing hot and gorgeous young Slovak men realize there is a career path other than those “famous” studios (this guy actually would’ve been perfectly cast in them, to be honest). I suppose with the victory of Peter Menky last year at Manhunt International, we are now treated with gorgeous contenders from this country in male pageantry. He is generating a major sensation amongst pageant fans and pundits as they practically swoon and salivate over him. This guy shares the same height as Philippines, and with his handsome boyish features and buffed physique, he could also be considered another “Little-Cutie-That-Could”. Another notable trait I’ve noticed is that some pictures also feature him raising one eyebrow at a time, reminding me of Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan
SLOVENIA – Žan Cvet. He somehow exudes a vibe of a young Elvis Presley before he hit the peak of his fame. Those looks, updated with a buffed physique, could help propel him into the semifinals and perhaps even beyond.
SOUTH AFRICA – Christo Du Plessis. A blurry arrival photo made me first think he might have an inside track into the finals as he reminded me of “Mad Men” star Jon Hamm. But clearer photos painted a starker picture, as he now reminds me of Jon Hamm if he decides to take the latter-day Mickey Rourke route, as he looked rather mature for comfort, and his frame is a bit too bulked up for the standards of this pageant. But then again, those looks reminded me of one of the most important people I have met in my life–if he speaks with the voice that sounds like smoked hickory, I will probably go crazy and weep my eyes out.
SPAIN – Gerva Moglio. He is not that buzzed about but he seems to also be a great package of good looks and buffed physique. I would not be surprised if he makes the final cut.
SRI LANKA – Anuj Ranasinghe. Prior to Nigeria’s arrival, this guy would be considered the “black” guy of the group as he had the darkest complexion. His rugged, swarthy looks oddly enough has its appeal, and it seems he’s trying to amp up his chances by adding a little sex–just look at where his hands are often going to, especially in his swimsuit presentation… With his buffed physique he’s actually a worthwhile contender.
SWEDEN – Marco Djelevic Virriat. There are pageant fans and pundits who are tagging him as a front-runner. Though his features are undeniably handsome and his physique buffed, I was more swayed with other contenders out there. I’m also slightly annoyed with his angular hairstyle–it’s too obviously a gimmick in my eyes, a shtick. Still, he should not be denied and he is still among the most likely to make the final cut.
THAILAND – Direk Sindamrongsi. Actually based on his intrinsic qualities, he is worthy to become a semifinals possibility. But it seems based on feedback from the presentation show / preliminary judging, the host candidate did not make as strong an impact as his other competitors. The question for the finals would be if merits would prevail or if a courtesy would be accorded to the host country. Considering the two occasions when Thailand hosted Miss Universe, Thailand failed to make the final cut, it could be possible he could miss the cut, too. Wonder why he chose to wear non-sponsor board shorts during the preliminary judging? And during the swimsuit fashion show, he sported a towel while other candidates carried on without any props?
U.S.A. – Rhonee Roxas. After representing Hawaii at this year’s Manhunt International even when there is no Mr. USA present, this Fil-Hawaiian finally got to represent all 50 states in this pageant. I was surprised when I compared his stature compared to, say, Philippines and Slovak Republic as he towered over them while back in Manhunt International, he was like a relative dwarf. Still he managed to make the final cut in that pageant. What I mentioned in my Manhunt International homestretch review still stands, but somehow, I’m also seeing a resemblance to the webmaster of a very popular though sometimes controversial pageant website/messageboard. Duplicating his Manhunt semifinal finish is still in the realm of possibility as his body remains superbly buffed.
VENEZUELA – Jeefry Rommel Rojas Torres. As much as I’d love to give him credit for his buffed bod and that he might be generally polished in his presence, in my reckoning he’s such a major letdown from all the drop-dead stunners coming from this pageant powerhouse over the years. In Filipino gay slang, he would be described as a hipon (shrimp) as he has a great body but the face is just, um, too underwhelming. I just want to say that well, still kudos to Belleza Venezolana webmaster Julio Rodriguez for his continuous coverage of this pageant over the years and I support his efforts sending a representative to male pageants. But I simply could not get myself to like this fellow. I heard that national directors (including Julio Rodriguez) were part of the preliminary panel, so this fellow making the final cut might be possible.
VIETNAM – Lê Khôi Nguyên. Prior to the swimsuit and national costume fashion show, this guy was regarded as one of the most likely to make the final cut. But his flamboyant catwalk in the swimsuit fashion show, which some likened to Shamcey Supsup’s “tsunami walk”, caused several to speculate on his sexuality (almost like the controversy when Mexico’s “kissing” photos were circulated), and several pageant fans downgraded their regard for him after that. I think we live in more open, liberated times, and I think this fellow still has a more than fair chance of going far and making the final cut.
Now that all 33 are accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard and show you how all of them stand in my reckoning:
TOP CONTENDERS: BRAZIL, CZECH REPUBLIC, MEXICO
SHOO-INs: DENMARK, NORWAY, PORTUGAL, SLOVENIA, SWEDEN
LIKELIEST: LEBANON, PHILIPPINES, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SPAIN, VIETNAM
EXCELLENT: COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, INDONESIA, IRELAND, THAILAND
UNCONVENTIONAL FACTOR: BELGIUM, GREAT BRITAIN, GREECE, KOREA, MADAGASCAR, NIGERIA, SRI LANKA, VENEZUELA
VERY STRONG: LATVIA, PANAMA, SOUTH AFRICA, U S A
STRONG: CANADA, FRANCE, PAKISTAN
Now, my “fearful” forecast:
TOP FIVE: BRAZIL, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, MEXICO, SLOVENIA
TOP 15: KOREA, LEBANON, NORWAY, PHILIPPINES, PORTUGAL, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SPAIN, SWEDEN, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
BUBBLING UNDER: COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, GREECE, INDONESIA, IRELAND, NIGERIA, SRI LANKA, THAILAND
All images courtesy of Thaicatwalk.com or Julio Rodriguez for Belleza Venezolana unless otherwise indicated.
This is the sort of competition that I actually like, where the weakest contenders still possess compelling qualities to still be worthy of compliments. It will be tough to determine a winner in this strong group of contestants. I have a feeling some upsets are in the offing. May the best man win!