Sunday evening found me doing something I never imagined myself doing: covering a beauty pageant. The Miss New USA and Miss New York Teen USA contests, held at the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, SUNY, were terra incognita for me, and I quickly filled my notebook with notes on the exotic. Some of those observations made it into this story, which ran in Monday’s edition of the paper, but, because of space constraints, a lot didn’t. Herewith, the worthy remainders:
- Beauty pageant contestants are really, really good about maintaining eye contact during a conversation. They don’t even blink.
- Miss New York Teen Belleza Latina 2012 Annamarie Murillo has business cards, which her mother doled out in the theater’s lobby. She handed one to me. It’s a marvel. Each side has a color photograph of Murillo, a 15-year-old from Newburgh. On one side, along with phone, Twitter, email and Facebook contact information, is the following tagline: “Inspiring, leading and encouraging Latinos all over the state of New York.” The flipside declares Murillo available for “Business, events and appearances.”
- Every contestant has a massive support team. Miss Teen Westchester, for example, the extremely polite and engaging Jacqueline Groccia, from Eastchester, meets with a gown consultant, a nutritionist, a fitness coach, a pageant coach, a runway coach and a pair of pageant directors. Oh, and her parents, Vivian and Al (nice as can be), are totally involved, ferrying her to and from New York City for meetings and driving up to New Bedford, Mass., to find the gown she wore Sunday night.
- Beauty pageant fans are really, really loud. They scream a lot.
- Of the 188 women who took the stage at the start of the adult competition, exactly two wore pants. The rest wore quite short skirts.
- I’d always thought the competition among the contestants would be pretty fierce, but the women I spoke with Sunday said it was friendly. Courtney Hejl, a former Miss Teen Maryland, who now runs a pageant consulting business, said sabotage and fighting were, for the most part, fiction. “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t happen, but mostly in the movies.”
- Assemblyman Robert Castelli from Goldens Bridge and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, both Republicans, delivered welcoming remarks at the start of the adult competition. Astorino wore a tux, Castelli a dark business suit.