By Bobby Walker
with photos by Aubrey James
The delegates from Dominica, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago quite literally got a leg up on the competition when contestants took to the National Culture Centre stage on Wednesday evening, in the first round of this year’s Miss Jamzone International Pageant.
The night began with reigning Miss Jamzone International Lesa Gayle Wee Tom being taken on stage, elevated by four well-oiled and strapping men in loincloths. Wee Tom, the reigning Miss Jamzone International, wore an extravagant yellow headpiece and long African-inspired dress. She gave her introduction and a short speech about her reign as Miss Jamzone International. And, like a true queen, gracefully held it together when her microphone stopped working during her speech by quickly fixing the problem and laughing it off. “You know how it go, you know how it go,” she told the audience.
She was hoisted back up onto the lift by the four men and left the stage. The women in the audience roared as the men left the stage, flexing their very fit and impressive rear ends.
Then, all 11 delegates came on stage in short black dresses and large head pieces dancing to an African beat. Each delegate danced her way toward the microphone and gave a short and sweet introduction. The 11 delegates are: Latisha Greene of Antigua and Barbuda; Kenlly Aranguren of Venezuela; Rhea Cummings of Barbados; Deandra Doyley of Jamaica; Davia Chambers of Trinidad and Tobago; Patrish Lionel of St. Lucia; Fatisha Imo of St. Kitts/Nevis; Ellen Lima of Brazil; Marcia Baptiste of Dominica; Stacey Norine Ceder of Suriname; and Jovan Wilson of Guyana.
Timeka Henry, Miss Guyana Universe 2010, outfitted in a short, silky red dress and sporting just enough cleavage to make the men in the audience clear their throats, co-hosted the ceremony with Godfrey Munroe, three-time National Table Tennis Champion, who wouldn’t win any awards for emceeing anytime soon.
Miss Jamzone is a beach pageant and the swimwear segment can either make or break a contestant. And so with Vybz Kartel’s hit song ‘Summer Time’ hyping the audience, all eyes were on the girls as they strutted on stage in their bikinis.
The delegates were judged on tone, fitness, eye contact and expression, which some of them failed to deliver. Although not all the contestants were fit and toned, the audience didn’t seem to care, especially since Caribbean women have, after all, been known for their curvy contours.
Miss Antigua and Barbuda pranced around on stage in her purple bikini and although she had an amazing body and lots of energy, she seemed a bit un-coordinated and lost. Miss Barbados failed to “wow” the audience but she was followed immediately by the laughing stock of the night, Miss Brazil, who sported a tiny pink bikini and also a muffin top. Through all the laughs and “Oh dear’s coming from the audience, she simply jiggled her derriere and made her way off the stage smiling confidently. Throughout the rest of the segment, only a few of the delegates managed to work the audience into a frenzy, with Miss Guyana, Miss Suriname, Miss Trinidad and Tobago and Miss Dominica being the highlights.
All swimwear was designed by local designer Pat Coates, but some persons in the audience complained that the bikinis were poorly sewn and did not “do the girls’ bodies any justice.”
With the swimwear segment over, the men in the audience could finally relax again. There was a thrilling Indian dance by the home group Dancing Delights, which kept the audience’s attention while the delegates changed outfits. There was also a rendition of an African song by the Whaul sisters. The song, entitled “Patta Patta” was excellently performed and even received a standing ovation. The night also saw the Classique dance group put on a signature fantastic performance, which was called “Grounded.” It lightened the mood of the event and was themed after The Year of African Descent as were many of the other aspects of the competition.
During the cultural presentations, the girls had three minutes to perform their poems, songs or dance, exhibiting their homeland’s rich culture. Most of the girls did a great job and the audience showed their appreciation, especially to Miss Guyana, by cheering loudly. Miss Barbados, however, droned on and gave the audience a history lesson. Nervous, she started to forget her lines and towards the end rushed through her ‘performance.’ Miss Brazil once again disappointed the audience, performing a lazy dance across the stage and failing to give a proper oral performance—though that may be attributed to her poor translator.
After the cultural presentation, Henry was in the middle of explaining that she had a surprise for the audience, when ‘Paper Loving’ started to play and out popped Jamaican singer Christopher Martin, sending the women wild. He did not perform at the Culture Centre, but later performed at the after-party at Mojo’s Club. He stated that Miss Guyana and, naturally, Miss Jamaica were his preferred delegates.
The evening gown segment was considered by some to be the best part of the show. The delegates displayed sartorial elegance as they made their way across the stage with sheer poise. The audience showed love for all the girls’ gowns, save for Miss Barbados, whose feathery concoction went just a bit too far.
The contestants were then required to answer two questions in the personality segment. All the contestants answered excellently although Miss Brazil had some problems as her translator butchered her responses. Miss St Lucia showed über confidence as she stated in a few words why people should visit her country. “Come to St Lucia, we have the most beautiful women with the most amazing bodies. Look at me.” Miss Venezuela’s pronunciation of Guyana as “Goo-Janah” endeared her to the audience, while Miss St Kitts and Nevis drew adoration when she complimented Guyanese on their ability to have real fun. Miss Jamaica, who gave everyone a good laugh in the cultural presentation, was still cool and confident. And finally, Miss Guyana proved that she had beauty, body and brains as she answered her questions with sharp, on-point answers.
The pageant winner will be determined tomorrow at the Splashmins Fun Park and Resort, where the girls will be competing in the fantasy swim wear and other events. The new queen of Jamzone will be winning US $20,000 and the bragging rights for an entire year.