Category Archives: Pageant Reviews

11TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: TRIUMPH OF THE ULTIMATE BEEFCAKE BEHEMOTH (CONCLUSION)

For the formal wear round, the non-finalists and the Top Nine walked to Coldplay’s “Adventure of a Lifetime”.  Eight of them are highly worthy of belonging here–the ninth, I still maintain got his slot because of host country advantage and if I have my way, would yank him out and replace him with someone like, Czech Republic, Brazil, Venezuela, or even Sri lanka.

LATVIA – Matiss Pastars.  With Poland (Jan Dratwicki) out of the way, he holds the fort for the pale-skinned, handsome Eastern European contingent.  I can’t fault anything about his performance at all–he could’ve ranked higher and advanced if it weren’t for favored treatment for the Peninsular Southeast Asian contestants (as reflected on the mix of this year’s panel of judges).

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INDIA – Mudit Malhotra.  I’m glad he is the guy to bring India back to prominence in this pageant after six years.  His face may register some harsh angles but his Bollywood charisma could never be denied.  A commendable finish for this guy and hope to see more of his caliber in this pageant.

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SPAIN – Daniel Torres.  I’m upset that again this country is screwed over, garnering a finish that is beneath what it deserves.  Last year, his namesake surnamed Barreres did not advance from the Top 15 to the Top Ten (at least), despite heavy prior buzz due to his Filipino heritage.  This year, despite this guy’s undeniable charisma and enviable physique (arguably the best physique of them all this year), he didn’t advance to the Top Six.  Sure, some might argue his stage presence is a tad muted, but in my eyes he’s still awesome, and my goodness why in the hell those judges can’t appreciate the perfection that is his physique.  It’s such a shame he’s made a sacrificial lamb by the Thai and Vietnamese judges so that their bets would make the Top Six.  Some might say it’s consolation enough that he improved upon his predecessor’s finish, but to me he should’ve been up there in the Top Six.

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The Top Six question-and-answer format basically borrows from Miss Universe 2015–each of these finalists were asked a question relevant to their country.  Like I said before, I’m slightly mad Spain was not in this mix.

VIETNAM – Nguyen Tien Dat.  I concede he has a cute appeal that he does make a standout impression.  I can concede he is worthy of belonging in the Top Nine.  Still, was he better than Latvia, India, or Spain?  Again he won favor because there are a significant number of Vietnamese in the judging panel alongside the Thais, which also would look upon him with favor on the basis of his nationality.  He was asked “What do you think is the next big thing in your country in the next decade?”  Though it was translated into Vietnames, he had to have the question repeated and simply answered that his country is opening up and that his country is ready to welcome people from other countries to visit his country.  It does make sense, but I’ll dock him a bit for lack of comprehension.

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THAILAND – Kittikun Tansuhat.  I have to give him credit that when he combs his hair up instead of letting it fall into a bowl cut, he looks cute.  And he stands out in his black velvet tuxedo.  But still, was he better than Sri Lanka, Brazil, Venezuela, Czech Republic, Latvia, India, and most especially Spain?  I don’t think so.  He’s fortunate it is held in this country and the composition of judges are mostly of Thai and Vietnamese nationalities.  His question was “What is the biggest challenge you faced hosting the Mister International contestants in Thailand?”  To his credit he gave a solid answer about introducing to his fellow contestants Thai tourism and being nice to everyone.

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NETHERLANDS – Chris Veltkamp.  I forgot to note in my Homestretch review that he reminds me of Survivor: Outback runner-up Colby Donaldson (who later participated in a couple of All-Star editions).  He earned his place as he exuded charisma onstage when it counts, admittedly edging out Spain in this respect, and his 6’3″ stature also generated impact.  He was asked “How has your past experience in life shape you into becoming who you are today?”.  His sincere answer: “I had a rough youth and it made me challenge many obstacles in life which made me the man I am today.  I am proud to be the man I am today–it was hard to become and stand here and together with my friends, they are golden, they helped me, and all grace to them and I’m proud to stand here.   Thank you.”  There are many who argued he deserve to advance to the Final Three instead of Japan based on his answer, but I suppose the judges were simply just so into Japan that they can’t drop him to let this guy through.

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Colby Donaldson (image courtesy of CBS)

The host Ryan declared the Final Three are subjected to one more challenge–to be blunt it’s not really much of a challenge.  It’s simply the Final Look, where they simply walk onstage as the judges review their overall impression of them.

2ND RUNNER-UP:  ITALY – Vinicio Modolo.  He was a big hyped favorite who garnered buzz with his very handsome face and lean but sinewy physique.  His question was, “Do you think being handsome would get you ahead in life?”  He gave a candid answer saying yes, being handsome would help one reach far in life, especially if he is handsome on the inside.  With that solid answer, he secured his place in the Final Three.  Now, with him delivering a stronger answer, why was he only in third place instead of second place?  Let’s discuss that further with…

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1ST RUNNER-UP:  JAPAN – Masaya Yamagishi.  He is like the male equivalent of Miss Universe 2003 4th runner-up Miyako Miyazaki.  He made an indelible impact by conveying sex appeal with his come-hither presence in the swimsuit video and that provocative skimpy mini-yukata.  Apparently they weren’t able to secure a Japanese interpreter so he was forced to ramble in halting English, first after being called to receive his question, he started with greeting the host and cheering crowd with “Hello, I’m Masaya Yamagishi, nice to meet you.”  His question was:  “Japan has always been a world leader in technology.  Why is this so?”  His halting response goes:  “Japanese people is so kind, and uh, how to study, and friendly, and uh, I’m sorry, uh… thank you… Japanese people help us, we love everyone, we love anything, so, uh, I hope, Japanese people hope peace and happy, and so…”  He exudes a lot of charm to his credit, but the East German judge in me would penalize him for his weak answer and have Netherlands advance in his stead.  But I suppose the judges and sponsors, not only do they love him to bits, but they appreciate what a struggle it is to speak a non-native language like English.  Anyway, he also has undeniable stage presence (which helped him earn a Getz Emperor sponsor’s award), and made an impact sporting a green tuxedo with a black shirt.  Hence it’s understandable how the judges propelled him all the way to a first runner-up finish, his country’s best finish thus far in any major international male pageant.

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11TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL:  LEBANON – Paul Iskandar.  His imposing 6’6″ height made him unforgettable, and compounded with his beefy physique and handsome features (with those sweet doe eyes), he was the favorite to win it all from the get go.  Turns out he doesn’t let go and the judges are not intimidated by his gigantic stature.  His question was about the fact that his national director was one of the victims of the New Year’s Eve shooting at a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey, and how was he affected by it.  He delivered an answer that was kinda heartfelt:  “This event affected me emotionally and mentally, because my national director was supposed to be here with me, representing my country, Lebanon.   At the end he’s more than my nationla director–we spend every day together, helping and dong charity works in Lebanon after I got the title of Mister Lebanon.  So I wish him to be well, and I’m doing this to [sic] Lebanon and I’m very proud.  Thank you so much.”   By looking like a pillar of strength while showing he doesn’t hesitate sharing a softer side of himself, he proved to be a deserving winner for this pageant.

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With this victory, Paul Iskandar proved that beefcake behemoths like himself have what it takes to ultimately win it all.  Before in Mister World, the likes of Fabien Hauquier from Belgium*1 back in 2003 and Pato Laguna from Chile back in 2007 had to content themselves with Top Five finishes while slightly shorter but handsome and charismatic charmers edged them out for the win.  Let’s see if more beefcake behemoths will emerge in the male pageant scene after this, but with his astounding stature of almost 2 metres, at this pount I’ll dub him the Ultimate Beefcake Behemoth for now, and I’m very pleased he deservingly won the title.

*1 Yes he won a lesser international pageant called Zeus of the World a few years later, but that is a lesser pageant that was staged only one time.

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Now the challenge ahead is how this pageant can garner the support to step up its production values as the international male pageant scene is starting to become increasingly competitive, with the splashy introduction of Mister Supranational and the rise of upstarts like Mister Global and Mister Universal Ambassador.  Hope with a winner as well-regarded as this guy, this pageant can generate the ammunition to respond to the  gauntlets thrown at it.

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

Images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide and Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.

11TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL: TRIUMPH OF THE ULTIMATE BEEFCAKE BEHEMOTH (PART 1)

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After the grand (albeit imperfect) presentation of the 10th Mister International in Manila at the end of November 2015, the expectations for the staging of the 11th edition naturally was scaled down a bit, especially since it endured a postponement due to the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  Hence the stage setup is spare with a stark black backdrop with singular video screen, a singular five -step platform, and a slightly elongated catwalk.  It’s generally spare to the point that it could be considered threadbare.  It’s actually a sleek look, but the budgetary constraints are obvious.  Clearly this pageant could no way yet answer the gauntlet thrown by the grander production delivered by Mister Supranational last December.

One element they got right was to not subject the contestants to cheesy pageant choreography for the opening unlike that cringeworthy costume dance during the last edition.  However, since the opening video did hot show the 35 contestants speaking to the camera, this would have been the perfect opportunity to add live introduction of the contestants in their costumes, but they chose to keep it spare and simply let them parade in their national costumes with voiceover country introduction and that’s it.  It resulted in a low-energy, even turgid opening sequence.

After an interlude featuring a Muay Thai demonstration (a welcome element showcasing the host country’s culture), the 35 contestants changed from their national costumes to model fashions from the brand Getz Emperor.  It looks like it’s a mix of streetwear and loungewear.  The obviously Oriental prints and embroidery on the robes and jackets do spark interest, but in my opinion it clearly pales behind the utterly elegant Francis Libiran formal wear fashion show in the previous edition.

I’ll be discussing the rest of the pageant proceedings and competition format as I discuss the Top 16.  The event was hosted by Filipino Ryan Tercero who was also the host of the last edition in Manila, this time accompanied by Miss Supranational 2010 4th runner-up Maythavee Burapasing.  Although some observers may find Ryan’s fey bombastic style a tad grating, he is a poised, competent host.  Now, many pageant fans also found Maythavee’s speaking voice irritating, but the thing is, she can’t help it–remember her first language is Thai, and Thai is a tonal language that makes speakers sound nasal (think Fran Drescher nasal, not French nasal).  You can’t force her to modulate her voice when her primary language is set up the way it is.  Otherwise she’s an okay host.  One thing that is highly welcome is that they don’t constantly read out the sponsors’ names throughout the show–the video screen does all the acknowledgements for them in between sequences, as it should be.

Before I discuss the Top 16, I will discuss two guys who missed the final cut but garnered special awards.

MISTER PHOTOGENIC:  PUERTO RICO – Francisco Vergara.  He’s a highly regarded contender who at least was granted a consolation by winning this award.  His Oriental eyes with his swarthy Latino features, along with his buffed body, do register very well on camera.

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BEST IN NATIONAL COSTUME:  NEPAL – Rokesh Tandukar.  It was already previously announced prior to the finals that he won this award, and it’s a nice touch that during the announcement of the special awards he got a special spotlight as he showcased his costume depicting a devil god.  As previously mentioned, his costume featured a mask, so it’s a rare national costume where we don’t see the wearer’s face.

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Now, let’s discuss the competition format.  Though Mister International copied the format directly from Miss Universe, good thing they still stuck with a Top 16 instead of Miss Universe’s Top 13.  So there are more quarter-finalists to appreciate.  I would also note that there was only one interview round in the Top Six–unlike in the recently concluded 65th edition, there are no live chit-chat when the Top 16 were called out–just like in Miss Universe 2015, though, instead of chit-chat we see video interviews for each of them.  The guys then changed into black Raenrra swimwear for the swimsuit competition.  I have to note just like in Miss Universe before the Top 16 shows up, the non-finalists would march onstage before the Top 16 would do their parade–but in this instance, each non-finalist actually got an individual moment in the spotlight as they actually came in one-by-one instead of en masse as practiced in Miss Universe.  It’s almost as if each of the non-finalists still got their individual moments in the spotlight as if they made the cut, too.  All of them walked to a remixed version of Bon Jovi’s 2000 hit “It’s My Life”.

PHILIPPINES – Miguel Guia.  It looks like he put in some last-minute sit-ups and some additional workouts to add definition to his frame.  Still, because he made it due to popular vote, if it weren’t for it we won’t have a presence in this group and obviously his physique is still the weakest of the Top 16.  The Thais and Vietnamese apparently felt there is no need to rally their bets for the online votes as they are more confident of making the cut in this arena.  At least he was able to salvage our campaign in this pageant and sustain a four-year-streak.

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MEXICO – Manoly Diaz.  His good looks, buffed physique, and outgoing personality are worthy of belonging here, though compared to other Latinos out there, he faded a bit.  After not advancing to the Top Nine, he was conspicuously absent in the non-Top-Nine formal wear march–it was reported after not making the cut he left the venue to catch his flight back to Mexico.  Why did he do that?  I speculate it wasn’t because he was upset by the results as by all accounts these 35 contestants developed a brotherly camaraderie–I think it was because of his (or his director’s) lack of awareness of how timezones work, he scheduled his return flight too early (like thinking that leaving at midnight or dawn on February 14 Bangkok time is the same as midnight or dawn February 14 Mexico time–he should’ve booked a February 14 flight later in the evening or an early morning February 15 flight).

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AUSTRALIA – James Carne.  As expected there is a slot open for the “little-cutie-that-could” and that went to this guy.  He does have handsomeness, charisma, and a buffed physique to belong here.  He also earned a Mister Congeniality award.  Hope this country continues to field contestants of this standard unlike the debacles of 2012 and 2013.

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SRI LANKA – Daniel Rene Dezilva Wijewardena.  This guy has a bright sparkle and strong communication skills to accompany his boyish good looks and buffed physique.  He was awarded by Oxin Entertainment (the team that filmed those well-produced videos for this pageant) as Mister Telegenic.

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BRAZIL – Ivo Cavalcanti.  Admittedly I only placed him on my “Bubbling Under” list but it turns out Alan Sim and company have a stronger preference for the masculine, beefy types like this one, and so, they advanced in lieu of, say, Hong Kong (Kyle Lee) or Guam (John Kanemoto).  He probably only missed the cut by a few slivers, along with…

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VENEZUELA – Walfred Crespo.  See BRAZIL.  He does radiate a gregarious smile.

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CZECH REPUBLIC – Josef Kurka.  See BRAZIL and VENEZUELA.  With his badass tattoos, he exudes a the most testosterone of this aforementioned trio.

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COMING UP:  THE TOP NINE

Images courtesy of Jory Rivera for OPMB Worldwide and Drew Francisco for Missosology unless otherwise indicated.

RESULTS REACTION: 11TH MISTER INTERNATIONAL

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1st runner-up Japan given a congratulatory toss by his fellow contestants. (Image courtesy of Drew Francisco for Missosology)

I’m generally pleased with the results, especially the choice for the ultimate winner.  Though the buzzed-about favorites made the cut, there was room for some surprises.  I got 11 of the Top 16 correct, six of the Top Nine, three of the Top Six, and one of the Final Three, but that one was the one that counted the most–the winner.

Of the guys I didn’t get, four were in my Bubbling Under list, so I deem them worthy enough.  The one in my Striking Distance list was the host candidate, Thailand (Kittikun Tansuhat).  I don’t find him charismatic enough, but with this year’s mix of judges consisting predominantly of Thai and Vietnamese personalities, you understand why he ended up faring as high as he did.  Still I grouse that he took over one of the Top Six slots at the expense of one of my top favorites–more on that in my full-fledged review.

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Host country factor: Thailand (Kittikun Tansuhat)

Now, let’s go to the Lucas Malvacini awardees.  The fifth guy I thought would go far, I presumed was because I thought the prominent national director still held major influence like he did last year–Korea (Gooyoung Jung).  Though he has merits, I’m glad influence-peddling is generally not as prominent (except for the host country).  In fourth place is Guam (John Kanemoto)–he was not able to equal his placement in Manhunt International as despite having strong communication skills, they don’t dig him that much as they did in Manhunt.

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Lucas Malvacini fourth and fifth placers: Guam (John Kanemoto) and Korea (Gooyoung Jung)

Taking the bronze for the Lucas Malvacini award is Puerto Rico (Francisco Vergara).  I thought his lean, rippled, sinewy physique and his Oriental eyes would give him an edge, but apparently he fell a tad short.  A big shocker for me is the exclusion of Hong Kong (Kyle Lee) who takes silver, but in hindsight, perhaps his excellent communication skills and buffed-enough physique are not really enough for him to stand out and he may register as a tad effete to the judges’ tastes, and they prefer their contestants to be more virile.  I pegged him as a possible upset Top Three choice, but that didn’t pan out.

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Lucas Malvacini Silver and Bronze Medalists: Hong Kong (Kyle Lee) and Puerto Rico (Francisco Vergara)

Though I didn’t predict him to rank as high as Hong Kong, the winner of the Lucas Malvacini award is the handsome Poland (Jan Dratwicki).  Lots of pageant fans and pundits (including myself) saw him as a shoo-in for the very least, as his communication skills are an improvement over his predecessor.  Perhaps his interview skills are simply not good enough, but there are conspiracy theorists who noted there might be another factor at play–Alan Sim may have been livid that Poland created Mister Supranational that it stole this pageant’s thunder and prestige, and as Mister Polski (the national pageant for Poland), Jan is guaranteed to see action there later this year.  Hope Alan Sim’s ire dissipates next year and let merit prevail.

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Winner, Lucas Malvacini Award: Poland (Jan Dratwicki).

It’s nice to salute that Netherlands has its breakthrough with Chris Veltkamp.   This strapping 6’3″ gentleman won a lot of fans and the quality of his answer in the Top Six question-and-answer round was something pageant fans and pundits would debate that he deserves to advance to the Final Three instead of one of the actual finalists.  Again, I’ll discuss more about that issue in my full-fledged review.

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Welcome breakthrough: Netherlands (Chris Veltkamp)

The two runners-up (Japan’s Masaya Yamagishi and Italy’s Vinicio Modelo) were heavily buzzed about favorites to begin with, so even if I only pegged them in my Top Six, I’m definitely fine with them earning their runner-up honors.  Of course, I’m mighty happy that the Ultimate Beefcake Behemoth that is Lebanon (Paul Iskandar) won it all and brought forth his country’s third Mister International victory.  Congratulations for a well-earned deserving victory!

JUST ME!

JOSEPH

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The winners: 1st runner-up Japan (Masaya Yamagishi), Mister International 2016 Lebanon (Paul Iskandar), 2nd runner-up Italy (Vinicio Modolo), and Mister International 2015 Pedro Mendes.

All images courtesy of Jory RIvera for OPMB Worldwide unless otherwise indicated.