By Desilon Daniels
After much contemplation, the one word that adequately describes last Monday’s Miss Guyana World 2014 Pageant is disappointing. The execution of the pageant just did not live up to the hype; in fact it was miserably below par.
For months, pageant lovers waited in anticipation for the annual competition. With new management, Guyanese had been expecting what had promised to be something new and fresh.
On Independence Day, throngs of patrons turned out in their very best at the National Cultural Centre to witness eight beauties strut their stuff and vie for the coveted crown and title.
After the typical delayed start synonymous with local events, the show got underway, beginning with a masquerade procession followed by a high-energy dance number by the contestants and Miss Guyana World 2013 Ruqayyah Boyer.
The audience visibly got into the performance, rocking to the pounding drums and screaming as the girls presented themselves to all in attendance. With shimmies and wild gyrations, it seemed as though each girl was trying as hard as she possibly could to outperform the competition.
The show swept along smoothly into the introduction of its host, Joel Steingold, an American actor who appeared in a number of small productions.
With his accent and comical personality, Steingold warmed the audience up and made us (almost) forgive the organisers for the late start. For about half an hour, the show was on the right track.
Then it all went downhill.
The talent section came and five of the contestants who had been shortlisted – Cherese James (Region 1), Rafieyah Husain (Region 2), Atisha Gaskill (Region 4), Ayana Whitehead (Region 6), and Tiffany Megnath (Region 9) – performed.
Each contestant performed a dance and almost all of them were mundane and lacklustre.
Notable in this section was Ayana Whitehead’s performance, an interpretive dance closely related to her platform, which was suicide. Though Ayana’s message was commendable, it was dimmed by a placard she bore with the words, “Faith, Love, Strenght” (You read that correctly, folks; “strenght” not “strength”).
Ayana was nevertheless a crowd favourite and later earned herself a prize for the talent display.
Tiffany Megnath also stood out in this category with a Bollywood-inspired dance incorporating her Indian and Caribbean cultures.
The show lost more points when one of its slated performers, local band Y3K, was unable to perform due to malfunctioning microphones.
The next section, the swimwear category, was scheduled to begin soon afterwards but was delayed as the backstage crew attempted to sort out its multiple issues.
As the problems were being resolved, Steingold tried his best to keep the audience entertained. However, his efforts were stymied by his co-host Ruqayyah Boyer who came on and made somewhat awkward conversation with him.
Some members of the audience had no reservations about voicing their displeasure and at one point this prompted Ruqayyah to snidely request their silence.
Thankfully, the swimwear section got underway soon afterwards and saved any further unpleasantries. Each of the beauties was ensconced in curtains which raised to reveal them to the audience. The girls were all clad in green monokini-styled bathing suits designed by ColeFacts.
Admittedly, the concept was a good one but could’ve been better executed, especially when one considers that this pageant had been in the planning stage for months.
A 15-minute intermission which turned into a 40-minute wait followed and, on recommencement, more waiting came between items.
It seemed like the organisers forgot that there is more to the arts than dance; the pageant was comprised entirely of Bollywood and dancehall dances along with one interpretive dance that no one paid attention to due to the lip-syncing male singer on the side of the stage.
The man lip-synced along to Fantasia’s “I Believe” and earned himself the name “Mantasia”.
There was hope for redemption in the form of the evening gown segment and that section managed to live up to many of its expectations.
Some of the dresses were pretty, but others fell flat; almost all of the girls carried themselves gracefully. Designer Randy Madray must be highly applauded for his creation “Amazonian Twilight” worn by Ayana, a beautiful,
creative piece that stood head and shoulders above the rest.
The audience went crazy as she posed on the platform and, as she confidently paraded around the stage, many were heard voicing their beliefs that she had earned herself a top spot.
They were correct; along with Cherese, Rafieyah, Atisha, and Denicia Williams, Ayana was placed in the top 5 to answer a question.
“Yes! Now we gon’ see who really smart,” one nearby woman said excitedly. “No reading from paper here.”
The question and answer category was just as disappointing as those that preceded. The contestants had apparently learnt all about their platforms, but not how to interpret and answer lengthy questions.
Rafieyah kept her answer short and to the point and avoided the rambling of the other contestants. She was also the one who came closest to answering the actual question asked.
Her combined efforts earned her the top spot with Atisha, Denicia, and Ayana becoming first, second, and third princesses respectively.
The other contestants were Gericia Francis and Rebekah London.
The audience was not pleased. When it was announced that Ayana placed fourth, several persons got to their feet and left the National Cultural Centre. Others chose to remain and yell, stamp, and berate loudly.
Though the entire show was a disappointment with its poor organisation, the audience was even more disappointing. The pageant managed to show largely what is wrong with the Guyanese mentality. Throughout the night, audience members heckled and threw rude comments towards the dancers, the hosts, and especially at the contestants.
Numerous arguments broke out between patrons who yelled rudely back and forth to each other, much to the enjoyment of others.
It was disheartening to hear Guyanese hurl out comments such as, “Watch Fat Girl!” and “Her body just looks wrong!” and laugh loudly and cruelly as the contestants walked around the stage in their swimsuits.
Though some of the contestants tried to keep it together, at some points throughout the evening their smiles faltered; the unpleasantness towards them was overwhelming.
Pageants are supposed to be empowering and not an opportunity for insecure persons to hit out at those confident enough to embrace and showcase their beauty. Given the uncouth behaviour in the National Cultural Centre on Monday last, it’s a wonder any young woman enters these pageants anymore. There should be an award for bravery for those who endure the foul commentary without having a breakdown on stage.
Guyanese have yet to master the art of clapping politely or not and simply being quiet.