9TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: AT THE HOMESTRETCH (PART 1)

Visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace

Originally, the Mister International pageant was scheduled to be held in October 2014, but a traffic accident involving four members of the five-member hosting committee in South Korea forced a postponement–first it was rescheduled to the end of November, but a Korean government directive precluding the holding of any international event after a concert accident that led to the death of 16 people forced them to move the event further to February 2015.  It was initially scheduled for Valentine’s Day (14 February) but in January they firmed up the finals date to two days earlier on 12 February, but then as the events were underway, it moved back to 14 February and the Wapop Hall is no longer the final venue.  Compounding matters was that there was a major attrition in the number of contestants, partly because of the rescheduling, and chaos with coordinating with the organizers in terms of flight arrangements, which caused the absence of the likes of Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Haiti, Honduras, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Spain, United States, and Venezuela (which happens to be the country of the reigning Mister International).  The expected 40-something contestants dwindled to 29 instead, with Puerto Rico and Slovenia becoming last-minute participants.  There was also allegations of favoritism and broken promises by the organizers in terms of accommodating plane tickets because of the chaotic rescheduling that caused ill will between several national directors (including the webmaster who used to provide most of the coverage on this contest, Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezolana) on one side and the organizers and the head of the Mister International Organization, Alan Sim, on the other.

On a rare positive note, despite the mishaps, the contestants who actually made it seemed to be having a great time taking in the sights and soaking in the culture of chilly, wintry Seoul, and just like we witness in recent editions of Mister World, the brotherly camaraderie is a delight to behold.  Despite the chilly weather forcing the contestants to generally wrap themselves up in layers of clothing, we still get treated to a whole bunch of shirtless pics, as the hotel seems well heated for the guys to do their workouts, and we get treated to a new trend, ab selfies, mostly instigated by a couple of the contestants. Because of above debacle, the usual guy providing the big coverage, Julio Rodriguez of Belleza Venezuela, is absent and in his place, we have the coverage from the popular (albeit occasionally controversial) pageant website Missosology.  Anyway, we should be grateful for their coverage (and the individual postings of the contestants themselves) as otherwise we would be in the dark regarding this pageant.

There were supposed to be 30 contestants in this year’s pageant, but part of the fallout of the acrimony between the organizers and national directors is that one contestant elected to drop out of the pageant just less than five days before the pageant final.  It was sad that he chose to withdraw as he was regarded as one of the big favorites to win.  The concerned contestant is…

ARGENTINA – Daniel Dario Cajiao.  He has a track record with a 2nd runner-up finish at Mr. Universe Model (now known as Men Universe Model) back in 2012.  He may not be classified as conventionally handsome, but his superbly buffed physique and smoldering sex appeal are just too undeniable to resist.  He was one of the front runners in this contest, and had the potential to continue a string of successes this country is having in the pageant realm.  His presence is greatly missed.

Abs selfie with Poland (L) and Bahamas (C)

Just like Miss Universe, I have to call this by the edition instead of the year as it’s expected that there will be a 2015 contest later this year.  Now, let’s take a look at the 29 remaining contestants, and let’s see how they stack up:

AUSTRALIA – Marco Antonio Gallego Sepulveda.  Apparently it took a guy with a Latin sounding name to bring this country back from the doldrums in this pageant.  He’s clearly a major upgrade after it fielded an overaged-looking “daddy” and an untoned twink in two previous editions.  However, he’s not really a front-runner, but it’s still conceivable that he can make the final cut.

Abs selfie with Poland (L) and Greece (R)

AZERBAIJAN – Ali Zahirli.  For those who like less-than-polished boyish types, this is your guy.  He’s actually not bad looking, but I don’t foresee him making the final cut.

Roommates: Philippines and Azerbaijan

BAHAMAS – Kenneth Kerr.  He stands out as the only black guy in this group,  He has a buffed physique, and those clamoring for diversity will most likely grant him a slot.  News that he also aced the judges’ interview seemed to also brighten up his semifinalist prospects.

Abs selfie with Poland (L)

BRAZIL – Matheus Martins.  There are people who may regard this scruffy fellow as highly appealing but to my eyes, he’s weaker than last edition’s 2nd runner-up Jhonatan Marko.  Still, he does have an inside track of making the semifinals.

At the gym with Czech Republic (R)

CANADA – Dan Marana.  I want to root for him because he’s Filipino and he has a scruffy-cute appeal.  But he exudes a raw vibe and his physique is not as toned so it will be an uphill battle for him to make the final cut.

CHINA – Shi Yu Quan.  There might be fans of his boyish, twinkish features.  I don’t know how Koreans respond to his sort of looks, but his less-than-toned frame seems to be a big disadvantage for him.

COLOMBIA – David Angel.  The jeans photos didn’t seem to reveal that he can have a rippled physique.  But other photos reveal that he does have toned definition.  But his ace in the hole is his outgoing personality–he made the effort to reach out to his fellow contestants and do video interviews.  Sure, his questions are occasionally silly, but he does bring an insider’s view of how things are going, and we should be grateful to him for letting us glimpse into their personalities–and all seem to be likeable chaps.

Mock roughhousing with Greece, Mexico, and Bahamas

CZECH REPUBLIC – Tomáš Dumbrovský.  He’s not as jaw-droppingly hunky as 5th runner-up Antonin Beranek last year, but it is still conceivable he can pull an upset and vindicate Antonin’s weak finish (remember, that front-runner was hurt by a weak Q&A).

Abs selfie with Poland (L)

ECUADOR – Nicolas Lopez Zamora.  You would wonder why he sported a ski cap for his jeans photoshoot and hats in other appearances?  Well, turns out he sports a haircut that is very dated–sure there could be flattering angles where he evoke Brendan Fraser in the 1999 film The Mummy (and sequels) but that haircut is so much of a certain decade that it dates him and most of the time his features seem to look too plain.  Another thing that might also work against him–his national director posted on his Facebook account denouncing the Korean organizers and the head of the Mister International Organization.  It’s interesting why he didn’t withdraw like Argentina did after such a fracas…

Haircut is so 1990s…

Brendan Fraser in The Mummy (image courtesy of Universal Pictures)

GREECE – Konstantinos Giagmouris.  He is actually good looking and buffed.  But my issue is he just doesn’t seem to project much charisma and tends to simply blend in instead of stand out.

GUAM – Richard Johnson.  He may have a very American name, but I have a feeling just like many Guamanians he also has Filipino blood running through his veins.  In fact, his sort of looks are actually going to make girls rather ga-ga here in this country–it’s a mestizo look prized by many people in my country.

INDIA – Parmeet Wahi.  Just like Australia, this guy is a quantum leap from the utterly bottom-feeding contestants fielded by this usual pageant powerhouse in the past two editions–in this case, a fey dwarf and an underworld thug.  This guy is the tallest of this year’s contestants at 1.91 m (6’3″).  He’s a model and aspiring Bollywood actor, and his Bollywood potential charisma shows.  There may be some unflattering angles, but his swarthy, beefy masculinity grows on me that I feel he can make major waves in the finals–he’s the closest thing to my favorite male pageant archetype, the Beefcake Behemoth (as embodied by Mister World 2003 2nd runner-up Fabien Hauquier of Belgium and MIster World 2007 finalist Patricio Laguna of Chile).

With former favorite Argentina (L)
Gentle giant with kid…

Beefcake Behemoths:  Fabien Hauquier and Patricio Laguna
Beefcake Behemoths: Fabien Hauquier and Patricio Laguna

INDONESIA – Kevin Hendrawan.  With the exception of not participating at all in 2007, this country always makes the final cut.  This guy is likely to be no exception as his main ace up his sleeve is his cutie-boy appeal–and there always is room for a cutie boy (or two, or three) in this pageant.  He also reportedly has strong communication skills that if he makes all the way to the Top FIve or Top Six, he can edge out the front-runners.

Cutie in Gangnam…

JAPAN – Masakazu Hashimoto.  It’s hard to believe this is the very first time this country competed in this pageant.  But this country is debuting with a major splash–this buffed fellow possesses a J-Dorama / K-Drama appeal that can be catnip for the judges.  I see him as a shoo-in.

With Lebanon (C) and Turkey (R)

All images courtesy of Missosology unless otherwise indicated.

COMING UP:  KOREA to UKRAINE plus the “FEARFUL” FORECAST

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