There seems to be an overriding trend for international pageants in 2012:  the winner comes from the host country.  Whether this is an alarming or disturbing trend, it might depend on how pageant fans and pundits regard the person chosen as winner.  Though most would assume this began with this year’s Miss World pageant last August, it actually began earlier…at a male pageant whose prestige is under debate.

Mr. Universe Model is a male pageant held annually in the Dominican Republic since 2008.    The organizers would most likely would’ve preferred to use “Mr. Universe”, but unfortunately that is a long-established name of a major international bodybuilding contest, so the “Model” has to be added to the moniker.  Arguments for considering this pageant in the same league as Manhunt International, Mr. World, and Mister International would be the quality of its winners, like for instance the 2010 winner from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Tarik Kaljanac.

Mr. Universe Model 2010, Tarik Kaljanac (Image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana)

But arguments against treating this pageant in the same league as the other three pageants are the presence of dubious entries from non-countries like Saona Island (an outlying island that is part of the Dominican Republic) and Mayan Riviera (whatever that is–seemingly referring to a coast in Mexico; I couldn’t help but think of a famous Filipina actress when I hear of that territory’s name); the generally threadbare staging and Third World beach settings; and some controversial and potentially scandalous moments like having some of the contestants posing nude with some strategically placed towels preventing it from becoming a full-out porn fest back in 2010.

This year’s edition held a bit later than usual last July had some controversies like the near-disqualification of the late arrival from the Philippines (Jhon Marlon Marcia) because apparently there are some issues with the payment of the franchise fee (but in the end, at least he was permitted to compete in the finals).  But the biggest controversy in this year’s edition was when the winner was announced–all the other contestants turned their backs on the winner, apparently because the winner, Erick Jimenez Sabater, did not conduct himself according to the rules of the contest unlike the rest.  But then again, when you look at his photos prior to the competition, most (including myself) would argue that he’s the best looking of the bunch, and based on looks alone he was the front-runner going into the finals.  Still, if stories of his conduct during the pageant were true, the hometown victory in this case does leave a horrible taste in the mouth–no matter how buffed and handsome the winner is.

Latecomer from the Philippines, Jhon Marlon Marcia (image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana).
Top Three at the Best Body Competition (also Top Three in the finals as it eventually turns out) [from L-R]: Messrs. Dominican Republic (Erick Jimenez Sabater), Argentina (Daniel Cajiao), and Slovenia (Miha Dragos). Argentina eventually ended up as 2nd runner-up and Slovenia as 1st runner-up in the finals, though their placements were reversed in this event.  (Image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana)
Hollow Victory: Erick Jimenez Sabater immediately after coronation, with the rest of the contestants’ backs turned away from him.  (Image courtesy of Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana)



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