Monday, December 28, 2015

PageantSmart's Review of the Miss Universe 2015 Pageant .....An epic and magical trip to Las Vega$

Viva Las Vega$... Anniversary, Neon, Pageantry and all the crowning chaos of Miss Universe 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015
What started off as a regular early morning getting ready to head off to the airport, should have been a sign of what was to come! While our flight to Atlanta went without a hitch we soon found ourselves stranded after a few flights with no open seats to Las Vega$. Rick worked like a mad man to try and find a way to Las Vega$ and finally found us a flight to Houston, TX and then a connection to Las Vega$. By the time we arrived, all we could do was check in and get our beauty rest.

Friday, December 18, 2015
Happy 2nd anniversary to my husband Ricky ! Vegas is a fun place to celebrate an anniversary.
A full day needless to say : visited MUO staff office and was able to chat with Tricia and Carlos from the MUO global franchising team; worked some afternoon appointments including Miss Nevada Teen USA, Carissa Morrow....a complete doll! She had become the unofficial hostess for the Miss USA girls as she and her Mom were helping folks run errands, picking other contestants up from the airport, etc. We did some late afternoon sightseeing visiting the holiday displays at the Bellagio and Paris. After a quick stop at Walgreens to stock up on water and snacks, we headed for a fun date night at the Neon Museum ! We especially wanted to do the guided tour in the evening so we could see the refurbished (and not so refurbished lol) neon signs all lit up ! An actual not for profit 501C-3 organization runs the museum and with the entrance fees collected, they fund projects to bring back old neon signs from Las Vega$ back to life ! One of their most recent projects refurbished a Liberace neon sign complete with a chrome baby grand piano display for over $50,000! Afterwards, we ended the evening with dinner at the Palazzo's Grand Lux CafĂ©, one of our favorite restaurants :)

View from our room at Planet Hollywood

Saturday, December 19, 2015
Quick Starbucks breakfast and off to client appointments from girls from New York, Florida, Georgia and New Mexico. HUGE SHOUT OUT to Mimi Diebold, mom of one of my Nevada clients (Sarah Diebold, Miss Nevada US Pre-Teen) for taking time out of her schedule and picking up our guest Manuela Osk who was flying in from Los Angeles. We met Manuela and her Mom, Alda, during our recent trip to Iceland and just became instantly great friends. Manuela, as many know, was one of the last Miss Iceland's to compete at Miss Universe in 2003 (Panama City, Panama). In 2003 while in Panama, unfortunately she became ill with food poisoning right before preliminaries and was not allowed to compete (under strict doctor's orders)...a story quite ironically like Miss Slovenia this year. The highlight of Saturday evening was attending the Miss Universe Welcome Party hosted by Mac Duggal and Shanna Moakler. Our evening emcee was none other than the fabulous Lulu Orange.  It was soooo nice to reconnect with friends from all over the US and the world including several clients I only knew via Skype or FaceTime !! Manuela was asked to be one of the catwalk competition judges (along with Chelsi Smith, Grace Levy, Jade Kelsall and others) and it made her night!! Tons of photo ops for everyone. Congrats to Daniela Albrecht and Gracie Smith, both PageantSmart clients, on taking 2 of the top 4 spots and winning Mac Duggal dresses courtesy of Antoinette Romero! What to do after the event was over...? Well of course, head on over to In and Out Burger. Funniest moment of the evening? Running into SEVERAL current USA state titleholders eating there. I was sworn to secrecy as to whom was spotted know who you are! lol :) We all had a good laugh!

With Manuela Osk , Miss Iceland Universe 2003

With Manuela and Chelsi Smith, Miss Universe 1995 (from the USA!)

With client, Miss USA 2014, Nia Sanchez (and 1st runner-up to Miss Universe 2014)

With Sydney Halper, Miss Idaho USA 2016 (and PageantSmart interview client)

Manuela finally getting her crowning moment! 12 years later !

With PageantSmart interview clients, Carissa Morrow and Emmy Adams (Nevada USA 2016 titleholders!)

With PageantSmart interview client, Dallas Ezard, Miss MO Teen USA 2016

With long time friend, Sydnee Stottlemeyer, Miss MO USA 2016

With PageantSmart interview client, Gracie Smith, Miss FL Teen USA 2016

With longtime friend, Elena LaQuatra, Miss PA USA 2016

With client, Brie Gabrielle, Miss FL USA 2016

Catwalk Competition Judges : Manuela, Chelsi and Jade

With Virginia clients - Gracyn and Desi

With Arizona clients - Nicole and Darby

With Wisconsin client - Regina

With the amazing Alissa - Miss Iowa USA 2016

Rick, Jackie and I

With client - Christina Denny, Miss Maryland USA 2016

With Miss Texas USA 2016, Daniella Rodriguez

Sunday, December 20, 2015
Early morning wake up call to attend Miss Universe 2015 dress rehearsals...doors opened up at 8am.
I typically like to attend the dress rehearsals because you get some insight as to the run of the show plus you get to meet for the first time many of the contestants. We were lucky enough to be treated to seats IN THE PIT right by the stage so to watch from the second row was really fun. Some of the mock top 15 that actually made it to the top 15 later that day included Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Australia & Japan. Miss Philippines actually made it to the top 5 in the mock pageant. The top 3 in the mock pageant were Netherlands, Lebanon and Great Britain (all failed to make the cut later that day). The mock winner? None other than Lu Sierra herself ! It was fun to interact with host Steve Harvey, a really fun personality and he was connecting with audience members real well. Also enjoyed hearing the musical acts of Charlie Puth, The Band Perry and Seal.

Manuela and I in the pit by the stage

Dear Steve Harvey

Both Curacao and Japan made the cut later that day

Charlie Puth - Let's Marvin Gaye and Get it On

Mock Top 5 - Lebanon, Netherlands, Gr Britain, Philippines and Peru

Pia answering onstage question

SMART girls wear glasses! Go Vietnam


And the winner is ...Lu ! Love DR's reaction lol

After a quick power nap, it was time to get ready for the actual Miss Universe pageant ! Manuela brought her Miss Universe 2003 gown by Versace that she never wore and actually wore it to the Miss Universe 2015 pageant! Our seats were great and had a great cross section of fans from Colombia, Peru, Curacao, Dominican Republic, USA, Philippines and Mexico. We sat with Dana Olsen (mom of Miss South Dakota USA 2016 Madison McKeown) & husband and Cassie Bunner, 2RU to Miss NC USA 2015. We dished the entire was so much fun and loved our color commentary.

Manuela and I

Sec 208 Committee !

The top 15 were not a total surprise but I was shocked by the exclusion of Vietnam and Italy. The head scratchers for me in the top 15 were South Africa, Mexico and Indonesia. The top 10 were spot on except I felt Brazil had one of the most amazing bodies (those legs!) and was cut after this round. I truly felt Philippines did not deserve to move past this round but again the judges sent a huge sign to the audience and viewers by advancing her. I picked up on that hint and knew she was a favorite of theirs. My sentimental favorites were USA, Curacao, Dominican Republic and Venezuela, they were HOT HOT HOT. Gown segment started ON FIRE with Miss USA and her bridal & cape gown (wow!), I think this alone propelled her into the top 5 if not 3. Other gown favorites were Venezuela, Colombia, Philippines, and Australia. With SS & EG combined my personal five would have been: USA, Colombia, Philippines, Dominican Republic and France with Venezuela & Curacao as the wild cards. Again, once Philippines was called into the 5, I got the message loud and clear lol.  The Q&A segment did provide a lot of insight into the delegates and their ability to be natural and engaging. After both rounds of Q&A, my final placements were Winner- Philippines, 1RU - Colombia, 2RU - USA. While I firmly believed that Q&A was Olivia's strong suit at Miss USA, I don't believe she was  as focused or confident (or even herself) during this segment. She played up to the crowd and that cost her critical time (she got dinged for time!) and her second question I think she started with a general patty answer and then found her way but almost screamed out her final few sentences. She certainly ended it with a lot of passion ! I had heard Colombia lives in Miami for a majority of the year and does speak English so I think that the interpreter angle certainly gave her an advantage. Pia spoke from the heart and while the second answer may have been a tad bit patty, she had so much momentum at that time, that it was hers to lose.

Top 15 in Swimsuit

Evening Gown competition

Olivia with her USA cheering section

Sole purpose of this picture? Capturing the hairspray cloud !

Top 10 in Evening Gown

Now comes the crowning..... several of us were shocked but not surprised (if that makes sense lol)...that Colombia was named the winner. Shocked because Pia had just wowed everyone and got better as the evening went along but not surprised because Ariadna was well prepared and very conceivable that Colombia had won back to back. The Colombian fans were celebrating big time and the Filipino fans were in total disbelief that their countries' delegate had again come so close to winning. As Steve Harvey started to come back to center stage accompanied halfway with a gentleman all dressed in black (MUO Production staff I would surmise) was so surreal. For me, we had gone off the air as is customary (typically 15 to 20 seconds after winner is crowned - the live telecast ends). He makes his way towards Ariadna and says, "Folks.... I have to apologize!". My first gut reaction was he's just pulling a prank or joke at those of us in The Axis Theater in Plant Hollywood because he is a comedian. But after a few seconds you could sense in his tone that this was NOT a joke. Instantly the crowd went crazy whether you were a Colombia fan, a Filipino fan or ANYONE there.... most people were just like this cannot be happening. The confusion that reigned supreme in the audience was almost mimicked by the delegates on shock and disbelief. Once he named Pia as Miss Universe, Olivia (Miss USA) motioned to her along with other delegates on stage to take her rightful place on center stage. My personal take on what happened with the erroneous crowning was that the teleprompter read "Miss Universe 2015 is... (READ CARD)" and Steve mistakenly read the next name on the listing which was Colombia. He, later in a press conference, stated he noticed the error himself and asked for confirmation. Several delegates have gone on interviews stating that the teleprompter said Philippines won. The results are NEVER on the teleprompter; what the delegates saw was after Miss Universe was named, it scrolls forward and read Miss Philippines please take your first walk as Miss Universe (which Steve Harvey did end up reading that as well). He went on to show the audience the actual results card. Another great reason I am a big fan of naming the first runner-up and then the winner.

Paulina Vega, Miss Universe 2014 and fellow Colombian like Ariadna, handled the chaotic situation on stage beautifully. As she took the crown away from Ariadna and folks started booing, she told the crowd, "she is NOT the winner" and rightfully crowned Pia as Miss Universe 2015. Post re-crowning there was a huge amount of girls that went straight to Colombia to console her while maybe 20 or so delegates, including Miss USA, were with Pia. After a few seconds, Pia made an attempt to go speak to Colombia but was not able to break the outer circle of girls. A few seconds later, Esther Swan from MUO guided Pia off stage and to her first press conference!

Top 3 - Philippines, Colombia and USA

Paulina Vega, Miss Universe 2014

Miss Universe 2015 is.....

Colombia !!

Folks....I have to apologize

The 1st RU is Colombia, Miss Universe is Philippines !

Paulina removing crown

Crowning rightful winner

Sashing the correct winner

Take your first walk as Miss Universe !

Post crowning support of Colombia

Contestants offering their support to Colombia

Pia escorted off stage

Official Results Card

With Instagram friend, Francesca Cipriani, Miss Ecuador

With client, Madison Moore, Miss KS Teen USA 2016 after pageant

The audience members were like an episode of The Walking Dead. Everyone was in disbelief that they had witnessed history and lots of conspiracy theories started to float around. Was this a hoax? Was this a publicity stunt? Was the emcee coming back out and make another announcement? Did Philippines really win? The production staff and theater ushers had to make several announcements to PLEASE leave the venue to no avail.....just people walking around still in a daze easily 15 to 20 minutes after. Outside in the lobby more chaotic scenes as groups of people tried to make sense of what had just happened.

Word then quickly spread that right outside Planet Hollywood that there had been an incident were some people were possibly hurt and even killed during the pageant. We quickly made our way up to our room and put on the local news and were able to get some more information but they still were not sure if it was an act of terrorism. They were citing that it was an intentional act. We decided to just hang out in our room. eat snacks and re-watched the tape delay of the pageant !

In conclusion, it was an EPIC night for oh so many reasons. My heart goes out to the last two delegates as well as their countries for this very unfortunate ending to such a great pageant. Simply put it was the worst mistake to make when the entire UNIVERSE is watching.

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