SINGAPORE – Jason Chee. This guy has previously been photographed by Haruehun Airry with a bunch of sizzling layouts. Though some pageant fans and pundits may not find his very Chinese face appealing, no one can deny his awesomely beefy physique. With him overtaking Macau in the online popularity poll, he’s already assured of a finalist slot.
SLOVAK REPUBLIC – Karol Maly. I first have to discuss his predecessor, Martin Šmahel, who ended up 4th runner-up last year: I have to note he redeemed himself from his disastrous formal wear photo by pulling back his long-ish hair that better highlighted his handsome features, that was how he got to succeed. I don’t expect a similar showing for this guy, though–he has a haircut that kinda irritates me as it looks like a partial combover. He otherwise has a buffed frame and handsome features (with cleft chin), though there are more charismatic choices out there. I still regard him as a worthwhile contender, though.
SOUTH AFRICA – Armand du Plessis. He exudes a metrosexual vibe which could be appealing with the powers-that-be. There are some people buzzing that he could be a possible front-runner. I’m not totally sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.
SPAIN – Manuel Rico Rivas. There are some pageant fans and pundits who may dismiss him as an also-ran, complaining that his features are too mature for Manhunt. That may be true, but in my opinion, it’s a mature, sophisticated sort of handsome, somewhat akin to Rupert Everett in his career peak co-starring with Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding. Everything else he possesses seem to indicate he should be regarded as a more serious contender.
SRI LANKA – Madura Priyadarshana. Though he’s still on the raw side, he’s a quantum-leap improvement over his predecessor, Amila Karunanayake. What I noticed most about him is in shirtless photos his areolas (the shaded area round the nipples) are significantly larger than most guys. At the sight, the infamous “Nipple Song” as mimed by Miss Universe 1994 Sushmita Sen popped in my head.
SWEDEN – Peter Jonsson. His pre-arrival modeling photos stirred up major excitement amongst pageant fans and pundits, and he was regarded as the man to beat. Though buzz since his arrival became muted somewhat, he still exudes hotness and charisma that his status as a front-runner remains intact, though he may be overshadowed right now by the likes of Germany and Greece.
SWITZERLAND – Lavdrim Sylejmani. He has a scruffy sort of handsomeness that is highly appealing–he could be a sleeper possibility into the finals.
TAIWAN – Fu Sheng-Chieh. His key attributes are his beefy bodybuilder frame and his lantern jaw. There are some pockets of society who would find that highly appealing, but rarely in this pageant. Still, if Mongolia’s Amgalanbaatar Odongavaa got away with it last year, maybe there might be room for this guy in the Top 15.
THAILAND – Mookkapon Posakabuth. The first thing that came to my mind when I saw his coronation photo in his national pageant was that he resembles YouTube star Sam Tsui. Now, I am a big fan of Sam Tsui (I’m planning to write a blog about him soon) but comparing a person to him in terms of looks is not necessarily a compliment. But looking at subsequent pictures, I observed that he may not be classically handsome, but he still has strong appeal. He has obvious merits that he is almost assured of making the final cut.
TURKEY – Serkan Tanirgan. He possesses a swarthy sexy appeal that is too hot to resist. I originally regarded him as among the front-runners, but buzz on him started to simmer down as the days wore on. But he still got what it takes to upset the perceived front-runners.
AMERICA [U.S.A.] – Andres Santa Giraldo. He has a handsome boyish face that generated strong initial buzz amongst pageant fans and pundits, some rating him as a possible front-runner. He still made a strong impression when he arrived in Thailand, but he’s currently overshadowed by the stunning likes of Germany, Greece, and Sweden. Still, do not count him out as he also got what it takes to be in contention for the title.
VENEZUELA – Jeyco Edgar Esteba Ruiz. There are some pageant fans who decried that this guy is probably the homeliest representative fielded by this pageant powerhouse in an international male pageant. I’ve seen worse. Yes, he has the “too mature looks” syndrome that plagued Spain’s representative this year, but he still has an exotic appeal. There are a few fans who also compared his beefy frame and lantern-jawed features to actor Jerry O’Connell–I could see the comparison, and that’s not a bad thing.
VIETNAM – Nguyen Quang Huan. His early modeling photos are twinkyish and too boyish. He decided to “man” himself up by growing a beard. It worked and he now has a more manly image. But I don’t think he’ll fare as well as his predecessor Truong Nam Thanh, who was 3rd runner-up.
Images courtesy of Haruehun Airry and Manhunt International unless otherwise indicated.
Now that all 53 contestants are accounted for, let me trot out my leaderboard:
TOP CONTENDERS: AUSTRALIA, GERMANY, GREECE, SWEDEN
SHOO-IN: SINGAPORE, THAILAND
LIKELIEST: BAHAMAS, BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA, BRAZIL, CHINA, COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, FRANCE, INDONESIA, LATVIA, LEBANON, MALAYSIA, MEXICO, MONGOLIA, PHILIPPINES, PUERTO RICO, SOUTH AFRICA, SWITZERLAND, TURKEY, AMERICA (U.S.A.)
EXCELLENT: ALBANIA, BULGARIA, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, INDIA, MACEDONIA, NEPAL, PERU, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SPAIN, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
INSIDER FACTOR: MACAU
CONGENIALITY FACTOR: CAMBODIA
PHYSIQUE FACTOR: TAIWAN
VERY STRONG: BOLIVIA, HONG KONG, IRAN, NIGERIA, SRI LANKA
STRONG: PANAMA, POLAND
VERY GOOD: BELGIUM, JAPAN, LESOTHO
Now, here comes my “fearful” forecast:
TOP FIVE: AUSTRALIA, GERMANY, GREECE, SWEDEN, THAILAND
TOP 15: BAHAMAS, COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, LATVIA, MACAU, MONGOLIA, PHILIPPINES, SINGAPORE, SOUTH AFRICA, TURKEY
BUBBLING UNDER: BOSNIA (& HERZEGOVINA), BRAZIL, CHINA, FRANCE, INDONESIA, LEBANON, MALAYSIA, MEXICO, PUERTO RICO, SWITZERLAND, AMERICA (U.S.A.), ALBANIA, BULGARIA, COSTA RICA, CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK, INDIA, MACEDONIA, NEPAL, PERU, PORTUGAL, ROMANIA, SLOVAK REPUBLIC, SPAIN, VENEZUELA, VIETNAM
This year is the sort of year that you both relish as it is loaded with astounding contenders, but also lament as several of them would be unfairly but inevitably cut out. There are so many combinations from this year’s group that will be considered a satisfying result–hope wisdom and prudence prevails amongst the judging panel.
I close this review by posting a video of that campy Weather Girls’ classic, “It’s Raining Men”. Before the inevitable results are announced, at least we had time to relish at their sight–everything in this world is ephemeral and fleeting, anyway, just like rain or a wonderful dinner at a fancy restaurant, for instance. But even as they pass, witnessing these visions of gorgeousness would belong in my reckoning as memories worth cherishing.