I was approached by the Record to write about my experience preparing for the Mr. Williams Pageant, the all-male beauty contest that took place last Wednesday as part of Spirit Week, run by All- Campus Entertainment (ACE). I was nominated by my entry to participate and was convinced to register after much cajoling. It is, after all, all about the frosh. But during the show I realized why this is one of our greatest Homecoming traditions.
The contest consisted of five sections – a Q-and-A session, school trivia, formal wear, spirit wear and a talent section. For the clothing sections, I was able to pawn some great clothes off some friends, including some ancient plaid pants and a great ’90s jungle sport coat – a pair of suspenders added the final touch to my truly innovative formal wear dress.
For the spirit wear segment, I got a little creative. I chose to wear some purple yoga pants – which are incredibly comfortable, and I may start wearing them under my jeans, but I digress. Combined with my purple tights, a ’70s neon yellow sport coat completed the costume. I must add that I faced some stiff competition from one of the other contestants who rented out the Ephelia costume from the College. That was a winner in my book.
In my opinion, the Q-and-A and trivia rounds proved to be the most challenging. Questions like “What is your ideal date?” and “How would you change the world?” are always tricky.
In preparation for the contest, I had watched a few beauty pageants online an hour before the show. The women in these events were always reciting rehearsed answers like world peace, end poverty, etc. I knew that this wouldn’t be enough. In a male beauty pageant, you can’t get by on looks alone. To get the judges on my side, I had to be more creative. So when I was asked, “If you could be a fusion of two animals, what would it be?” I made sure to include a bald eagle as one of my answers. Because America. Everyone likes America.
The trivia was incredibly difficult. In fact, very few contestants even got one of those questions correct. For example, I was asked how many books were housed in Sawyer. I was only one million off the mark. What I thought would be the easiest category was quickly becoming my sinkhole.
At that point, I knew I would have to retaliate with the talent section. The other contestants had some great performances, all of which I readily admit were far more impressive than mine. There was some belly-dancing, a great guitar solo and a remarkable strip show.
Intimidated by my rivals, I switched my talent at the last second. When I saw the guitar solo, I knew I had to call an audible. My original plan was to hypnotize someone from the audience. I had read an article online that said volunteers in hypnosis usually feel peer pressured into faking that they are hypnotized. But I couldn’t take any chances. Instead, I decided to take the advice of my co-Junior Advisor and some of my frosh to perform a dramatic reading of something silly. With no Cosmopolitan magazines readily available, I had to settle for the lyrics of “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus. So I pulled up the words to the popular song on my iPhone and went on stage. With no practice, I read the lyrics verbatim. It worked. Saying, “I came in like a wrecking ball” with a straight face got a few laughs.
And that’s it. I think I can speak for all of the contestants when I say that there was very little preparation for the event on our side. The show, perhaps like the College, values resourcefulness and ingenuity. My favorite part of the night was certainly the natural and spontaneous performances. No rehearsed acts. No practice. No false fronts. Just self-expression, innovation and creativity.