I thought we would start this year's commentary by reflecting on the 1993 Miss Universe pageant, which was the first to be held in Mexico City, but the third to be held in Mexico, following 1978 (held in Acapulco) and 1989 (held in Cancun). This was the pageant when it all began. The night started on a positive note as the delegates introduced themselves chanting, "Viva La Noche" in a spectacular grand opening. The host was well-known American icon Dick Clark and the color commentators were Miss Universe 1987, Cecilia Bolocco and Miss Universe 1989, Angela Visser. But after the top 10 was announced, the night became a disaster, largely due to the fact that then Miss Mexico, Angelina Gonzalez, placed 12th and narrowly missed the semifinals causing the crowd to erupt in boos and chants of 'Me-xi-co, Me-xi-co' all throughout the night. Cecilia Bolocco didn't shy away from the controversial reaction or ignore it entirely, rather she bluntly stated after the top ten was announced, 'Well, as you can hear, this Mexico City audience is very disappointed that Miss Mexico didn't make the semifinals. Now, Lupita Jones, one of our judges tonight, won for Mexico just two years ago and they really hoped for a repeat victory tonight." Lupita Jones is still the only Mexican to hold the Miss Universe title. As the judges were announced during that pageant amidst a loud wave of raucous boos and some desperate whistlers trying to cover up the boos, Dick Clark returned to stage only to be booed himself. A legend like Dick Clark certainly didn't deserve that kind of treatment so it was no wonder that that was the last Miss Universe pageant that Dick Clark ever hosted. As the show must go on, the unrelenting audience continued their boos and chants during the swimsuit competition, interview competition and gown competition. The audience seemed to especially target then Miss USA, Kenya Summer Moore throughout the telecast. However, Kenya handled it with such poise, composure, and confidence. Her presentation in swimsuit was particularly aggressive and memorable. As the night progressed, the judging started to become questionable as well since the winner of the preliminaries, stunning Leila Schuster of Brazil was inexplicably taken out of the running as well as the photogenic winner Eugenia Santana of Spain. Puerto Rico's Dayanara Torres pulled an upset win after emerging from 8th place in the preliminaries to take it all. That year, Colombia's Paula Andrea Betancourt and Venezuela's Milka Chulina placed as first and second runner up respectively and both were among the most commandingly well-spoken beauties that have ever competed in the Miss Universe pageant. The final response of Milka Chulina impressed me the most that year and was very relevant given the events of the night. When asked if she were to be crowned Miss Universe, what would be the single most important thing she would want to accomplish. Milka's responded that it would be to have human beings changed their negative attitude and turn into a positive attitude with positive energy. If everybody turned into a positive person, the world would instantly be changed. Let us love each other, starting right now. How wonderful it would be if that we would heed your words, Milka, but unfortunately 14 years later, it seems we are no better off than where we started. I thought that Mexico blew its chances of ever having the Miss Universe pageant return after the 1993 pageant but as Donald Trump stated during Miss USA 2006, Tara Conner's alcoholism controversy, 'Everyone deserves a second chance.' Cue Miss Universe 2007.

The delegates introduced themselves to the awesome song by Nelly Furtado (who hails from my beautiful province of British Columbia), 'Say It Right' produced by Timbaland who is also behind many of the biggest hits of this year and last year. While I do love this song, I thought the intros lacked energy and the music could have used a faster tempo. I do have a faster remix of this song used in one of my latest remix CDs as you can see in my DJ corner but the stage was really outstanding. I liked the idea of each delegate being in a stage cage. Many people likened the design to a recent Victoria's Secret show and still others thought it reminded them of the Muppet Show and even Madonna's video for "Human Nature."
Mario Lopez and Vanessa Minnillo did a fine job as hosts as expected. Mario recently placed 2nd on "Dancing With the Stars" which was won by Emmitt Smith, who is married to Pat Southall, Miss Virginia USA 1994 and 1st runner up to Miss USA 1994, Lu Parker. Mario seems to have become quite the sought after celebrity as he also hosted Miss America this year. Vanessa is no stranger to the spotlight herself. After being a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight, Vanessa is also Nick Lachey's girlfriend but what was up with that photo of Lindsay Lohan holding a knife to Vanessa's neck recently?? The interesting thing to also note was that Mario was the host of Miss Teen USA 1998 when Vanessa won as was mentioned during the telecast and I remember the moment they were discussing when Vanessa mentioned that during her winning moment that he said the wrong state. So for those of you didn't see it, Mario did announce it correctly, saying that South Carolina won and that Tennessee was the runner-up but as Vanessa was being crowned, Mario goes, "The crown and prizes are all yours, Miss Tennessee!" Mario said 'Tennessee' in a muffly, uncertain way and then a few seconds later, he immediately corrected himself as boldly said, 'Miss South Carolina, Vanessa, please take your walk!' Mario's defense was that he was mesmerized by Vanessa's beauty. But I think he was actually even more mesmerized by the woman who actually was Vanessa's runner-up, the stunning angel-on-earth, Bridgett Jordan. Bridgett was also a former Miss Teen All American but unfortunately was unable to win the Miss Tennessee USA title even though she came close when she did compete for that title. Reigning Miss Universe, Zuleyka Rivera also looked nice as she greeted the audience. Her hair was very reminiscent of Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996 when she was competing for the title.



Winner=Japan-Riyo Mori

Winner=South Africa-Megan Coleman

1st RU=Brazil-Natalia Guimaraes

1st RU=USA-Rachel Smith*

2nd RU=Venezuela-Lydimar Jonaitis

2nd RU=Venezuela-Lydimar Jonaitis*

3rd RU=Korea-Honey Lee

3rd RU=Tanzania-Flaviana Matata*

4th RU=USA-Rachel Smith

4th RU=Korea-Honey Lee*



6. Tanzania-Flaviana Matata

Estonia-Viktoria Azovskaja

7. Angola-Micaela Reis

Mexico-Rosa Maria Ojeda Cuen*

8. Mexico-Rosa Maria Ojeda Cuen

India-Puja Gupta*

9. India-Puja Gupta

Puerto Rico-Uma Blasini

10. Nicaragua-Xiomara Blandino

Brazil-Natalia Guimaraes*



11. Slovenia-Tjasa Kokalj

Italy-Valentina Massi

12. Czech Republic-Lucie Hadasova

Spain-Natalia Zabala Arroyo

13. Denmark-Zaklina Sojic

Colombia-Eileen Roca

14. Thailand-Farung Yuthithum

Slovenia-Tjasa Kokalj*

15. Ukraine-Lyudmila Bikmullina

Dominican Republic-Massiel Taveras


ALTERNATES:Greece, Japan*, New Zealand, Czech Republic*, Guatemala


HONORABLE MENTIONS:Paraguay, Israel, Serbia, Bolivia, Canada

* = made actual top 15

As you can see from my predictions list, I got 8 of the 15 semifinalists, plus 2 alternates (one of whom was the winner) and this is the first time that the woman I picked as the winner (South Africa) did not even make the semifinals. The 5 that weren't on my list were Angola, Nicaragua, Denmark, Thailand, and Ukraine. Of these ones, the one I regret most not putting on my list was Angola. The others were eliminated early as expected. So what happened to my girls that didn't make it? Well, if you'll notice that the 3 girls in my top 10 that didn't make it, South Africa, Estonia and Puerto Rico, all three were blondes. The only two blondes who did make it were Slovenia and Czech Republic, neither of whom managed to make the top ten. It was quickly becoming quite clear that this was an anti-blonde year. None of the actual top ten were blondes. South Africa's Megan Coleman was an outstanding contestant. She was tremendously well spoken and had a phenomenal body and gown and was a clear standout. Remember what I mentioned in 2005 about the fact that a white Miss South Africa would probably never win Miss Universe, due to the apartheid era and some politicalities? Maybe they thought Megan had great potential to take it all, that they took her out of the running entirely. What is it with me and my conspiracy theories?? Estonia's Viktoria Azovskaja was one sexy busty, blonde bombshell but I guess they just weren't going for her type this year. Puerto Rico's Uma Blasini certainly had the body and the walk and she looked very much like jailbird/heiress Paris Hilton but I guess some people didn't find her look too appealing. Italy's Valentina Massi had great spirit and a great catwalk and I thought that since Italy was absent from last year's pageant that they would be given a spot this year. Hey, they did that for Sweden last year, didn't they? Spain's Natalia Zabala Arroyo was a gorgeous candidate but I wasn't too sure about her gown. It was unique enough to get her noticed so I have no idea what happened there. Same thing with Colombia's Eileen Roca who really turned it on during preliminaries but I guess she wasn't much of a favorite going in and finally, Dominican Republic's Massiel Taveras had a great flowy gown and nice curves on her body but they decided to pass on her.

After the top 15 were announced, the finals judges were introduced. Dave Navarro gave a devil symbol with his hand to the camera which I didn't think was suitable for an international pageant. It was great to see Michelle Kwan. Dayanara Torres was also a judge which was most appropriate considering that she was crowned in Mexico City and we were very happy to see Miss Universe 1953, Christiane (Magnani) Martel de Aleman return and she looked stunning for 72 years old. However, I really wished that one of the top 5 has picked Christiane's question as I don't think I've ever heard Christiane's voice! Christiane was a judge in 1978 and although she was presented with a special award, she never said anything and then in 1989, she was also presented on stage but again, she never said anything!

On to the swimsuit competition, which saw the Latin version of S Club 7 by the name of RBD, lipsync some of their hits. And Vanessa said that their performance at the L.A. Coliseum was the second biggest there after the Rolling Stones, a group which I really don't care for. The scores are back and we are loving it of course! Venezuela returned this year and placed in the top 5 where they belong after they were inexplicably omitted from the semifinals last year and in 2004. They have made the top 6 in every other year since 1991. We all caught a strain of Jonaitis as stunning Lydimar Jonaitis would not alleviate the symptoms as she worked the stage with her awesome body. She looked fantastic with abs to die for. Thailand followed and she looked sweet but her walk was perhaps a bit stiff and rocky. Denmark followed and this was a second surprise entry in the semifinals in a row for Denmark. This may have been one of the Donald's picks but she was apparently quite the ham during rehearsals. Nicaragua followed and her styling reminded me so much of Holly Roehl who was Miss Georgia Teen USA 1990 and Miss Indiana USA 1996 making the semis both times. Interesting to note that Miss Nicaragua is also owned by Denis Davila who also holds the franchise for Canada's representatives in Miss Universe so if Miss Canada wasn't going to make it this year, then I guess it would be Nicaragua! She did have a nice body and I was actually happy to see her up there. Angola looked really hot and I was very impressed with her score. Slovenia followed and I was glad that Slovenia finally had its first entry into the semifinals because they have sent some great bodied contestants and this year's delegate was also excellent but Nicaragua managed to sneak ahead of her and take Tjasa out of the running. USA's Rachel Smith followed and the night was just beginning for her. At least since Mexico also made the semifinals that we didn't hear any boos at this point. Rachel looked awesome as expected but the same spark that she had at Miss USA seemed to have been weakened. Brazil followed and she really had a wow type of body. That cleavage was incredible. India's Puja Gupta followed and she looked decent but her walk looked a little clompy. Dave Navarro apparently took a liking to her and for the first time in history, Femina Miss India sent the first runner up to Miss Universe this year and will be sending the winner Sarah-Jane Diaz to Miss World but I thought Puja was far better than Sarah-Jane anyway so I guess it worked out in the end. Mexico's Rosa Maria Ojeda Cuen followed as suspected. She certainly had bigger hips, thighs and buttocks than the rest of the semifinalists and placed 9th in swimsuit which was enough to keep her in the running. Japan followed and you can tell she is a dancer because not only did she have that great dancer's body but she worked that stage like nobody's business. Her presence was unmistakable and she managed to get the highest swimsuit score. Ukraine followed and it was painfully clear that she didn't belong. Tanzania followed with the fabulous bald head and that amazing catwalk. Flaviana was easily the darling of this pageant as expected and she's just so likeable. Korea was another awesome delegate. Honey had a powerful walk complemented by a great body and I was very pleased to see Korea send a fantastic delegate like her who really knew the power of stage presence. Czech Republic followed and usually the tall, lanky blonde does well but the anti-blonde sentiment seemed to have taken its effect and she too was taken out of the running. I think the judging was very on this time around but I probably would have ranked Slovenia and Czech Republic higher.

Now after the top ten was announced, we moved on to the evening gown competition set to Sean Paul's "Give It Up to Me" and a memorable gown competition, it was, wasn't it?? First up was Brazil. Pleating on the top and at the bottom? It distracts me a little. I kid...I'm just quoting what Ali Landry said about Brazil's delegate in 1998. But Natalia really turned out to be quite the dynamo on stage. The gown really shimmered on stage and I liked her cutesy head movements. India followed in a black gown with cutouts in the waist but with more Indian designs on the dress. Her face was certainly mesmerizing but her presentation was a little on the dull side. Japan followed wearing an artistic Gucci number that was also worn by Oprah Winfrey herself. I liked how she opened it up and worked it to capacity. Notice the Oprah Winfrey connection to the winners this year? Rachel Smith interned for Oprah's Production company and Riyo Mori wore the same gown as Oprah...Quick, someone find out which Miss Teen USA contestant is linked to Oprah somehow!!! Angola followed and, oh my goodness, was she ever eye-catching in that bold red number and the stares she was giving to the camera were so sexy that you would probably have an orgasm just by watching her. Ew, did I have to be so graphic?? Venezuela's gown was an almost over-the-top number which was really intricately designed but Ly was stunning nonetheless. And then it happened...the fall of Rachel Smith. Miss USA started off just fine and she was the least likely person that you would expect to see fall given how poised she was during Miss USA. It looked like the bottom of her heel caught the edge of her sequined gown and once the sequins hit the slippery floor, all of a sudden, Rachel slipped and fell on her behind. The world collectively shrieked in horror at this sight. But Rachel got right back up and recovered very well after a subtle hair fix and subtle holding up of the gown but the smile never left her face. Other notable falls in pageant history include Miriam Quiambao, Miss Philippines 1999 who tripped on her gown during the preliminaries for Miss Universe 1999 but she recovered well and managed to get the first runner up position at Miss Universe 1999. Another painful fall was that of Kari Larson, Miss North Dakota Teen USA 1984 who, during the Miss Teen USA 1984 semifinal evening gown competition, fell on her shins while walking down a flight of stairs. Rachel's fall became one of the most talked about events after the pageant. I almost didn't want to believe that this actually happened to Rachel. I did think at one point that the Donald may have told her to fall on purpose and make it look as real as possible so that the media would talk about the pageant but it looked 'too' real. The thought that someone had a voodoo doll of Rachel and caused it to fall also crossed my mind. The crowd applauded loudly when Rachel got back up. Some applauded because she fell and others applauded because of her recovery. Korea followed and I'm sure the delegates were extra careful with their walk after witnessing Rachel's fall. Honey made a nice gown change and her walk was still fierce and powerful. Tanzania could have done with a better wardrobe but this white gown that she wore was clearly her best gown. Was it also really necessary to have a translator speak over her top 10 video when we could hear that she was speaking English? I thought subtitles would have been more appropriate. I often pondered how the crown would look on her bald head but it should be clear to anyone that when you look at Flaviana's expressive eyes, radiant smile and youthful innocence that she proves that you don't need hair to be beautiful and she is gorgeous. Britney Spears recently got a lot of guff for shaving her head but I still thought she looked pretty afterwards. Also note that Miss India 1965, the late Persis Khambatta also shaved her head when she appeared in the Star Trek movie and she too looked stunning. Nicaragua followed a ruffly white gown but it was clear that this was a far as she would go and the same with Mexico who followed in a sexier red number.

After Philippines won Miss Photogenic again thanks to the Internet vote and China won Miss Congeniality, we were introduced to the top 5: Venezuela, Korea, Brazil, USA and Japan. And of course after Mexico was eliminated, that unsettling air filled the room and the unruly behavior of some members of the audience began. The top 5 answered their judge's questions and Venezuela was first and chose Dave Navarro who said, 'Hi, baby' before asking his question. Boy, that Dave is a charmer, isn't he?? He went to ask if she would have a relationship with a man who is spontaneous and wild or one who plays it safe. She started by saying, 'Hello, beautiful Mexico' which was good for settling the audience. Then she went on to respond that the first thing you need to do in a relationship is to feel that it's a fair relationship, to have somebody that is good for you, somebody to be a companion. And she does believe that in every relationship, you must have a little bit of give and take so that you can have the flame of passion. I liked how Ly nicely evaded this question because something about the question didn't sit right with me. I also particularly like how Ly remained gender neutral which is the politically correct thing to do, much like how Shauna Gambill was asked during Miss Teen USA 1994 that she would choose a 'partner' who hopefully has the same beliefs as her. I also wanted to mention that I thought the translators were too interrupty again, for lack of a better term. This same guy who served as Ly's interpreter has made translating appearances at Miss Universe since the 80s and he did a fantastic job for Alicia Machado, Miss Universe 1996 but in more recent years has kind of cut the contestants off. Korea followed and she chose James Kyson Lee who asked Honey if she could have any type of superpower, what would it be and why. With again a lot of overtalk with the translator, she responded by saying that missionary work is her dream. If she were to have a superpower, she would like to have one that enable her to use all her power, authority and money to help people her missionary work and people around the world. A wallet that never dries up would be a good superpower for me to have. It was a very nice, cute answer, although I thought the translator could have a wallet that never dries up with a wallet that never empties. Mario caught on to Honey's wit and gave a little giggle but it felt like the impact of the answer was lost in the translation. Brazil followed choosing Michelle Kwan who asked if it better to live life following your heart or your mind. She responded by saying that in llife, there should be a balance. Both the heart and mind are important but most important of all is that you follow what you think is true to your heart and to the better of everybody. She concluded by saying, 'Thank you, Mexico' which I thought was cutesy but I loved how she played to the camera with her head cocking every now and then. Forward steps Miss USA, Rachel Smith and here come the boos and the chants of 'Me-xi-co, Me-xi-co' and we all had a deja vu moment of 1993. While Mario ignored the audience reaction entirely, perhaps thinking they would edit it out later, Vanessa seemed peeved by it saying, 'Una momenta, por favore.' Vanessa most likely empathized more with Rachel because she judged Rachel when she won Miss USA and she knew that Rachel was the least deserving recipient of all that booing. Like it was said later by Donald Trump, who was booed himself afterwards, that the booing was more regarding the U.S. immigration policies but this was clearly national bias aat its worst taken out on Miss USA who some regard as gaining favoritism at Miss Universe, but Rachel absolutely earned that spot in the top 5. Yes, she fell but she recovered beautifully and she set an example that one should never run off stage crying should such an event happen. You should just get back up and act like it didn't happen...Another echo of Holly Roehl...What's going on here? Rachel picked Tony Romo's question which asked if she could go back and relive one moment in her life, what would she choose and why. Rachel knew immediately that she would go back to January 2007 when she travelled to South Africa to volunteer with the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for girls in South Africa. During this portion of the answer, a wave of boos erupted at the absolute most inappropriate moment when Rachel was talking about the great work that she did at that great school. Shame times infinity on all those who booed especially at that moment. Rachel boldly continued stating that she is very passionate about education and being there in South Africa just sparked her interest even more for education and all that she can do for that. She concluded addressing the audience stating, 'Buenas noches, Mexico. Muchas gracias' which triggered strong applause and still some boos. A weaker girl probably would broken down in tears and you could hear Rachel coming close and getting a little choked up but she handled it incredibly well and she wasn't having it. After the crowd settled more, our future Miss Universe from Japan, chose Nina Garcia who asked her what was the one lesson she learned as a child that still affects her life today. 'Hola, Mexico!' said Riyo in a playful way to get the audience on her side right from the get-go. Riyo also used her translator well and broke her statements into pieces, learning from how awkward the answers from the delegates before her were. Concisely, Riyo stated that she had been dancing since she was a child. She lived her life growing up among many students and dancer. She learned how to always be happy, patient and positive and this is what she wants to teach to the next generation. Again playfully she concluded, 'Thank you!'

As Zuleyka Rivera took her farewell walk, you could tell she wasn't really pleased with the audience because they were booing her friend and former roommate Rachel Smith who finished 4th runner up. It was a heartwrenching moment but rest assured, Rachel Smith will definitely go down in history as one of the most admired and loved Miss USAs. 3rd runner up was Korea. After Honey left the stage, we saw Venezuela stepping forward a little too soon and then stepping back and then she was announced second runner up so she stepped right forward again which was a funny moment. Throughout the night, Ly seemed to be wandering the stage looking a little unsure of where she was supposed to stand but perhaps she thought it was just her and Brazil as the final two and she quickly realized the mistake. When it came to the final two, I thought Brazil had it but lo, and behold, Brazil was announced 1st runner up and Riyo Mori became Japan's second Miss Universe following Akiko Kojima who won for Japan in 1959, 48 years before, making this the longest gap between wins for one country in Miss Universe history. Mikimoto who created the new Miss Universe crown in 2002 is a Japanese company so it seemed fitting for Japan to win it. The camera panned away when as Zuleyka was crowning Riyo, the crown fell off but Riyo caught it and held it in place nicely. So here's to Riyo who elegantly stepped it the spotlight and aggressively worked it to take the crown. So now let's quote some 80s hits, like Idle Eyes', "You tell a story like Tokyo Rose." Or how about Duran Duran?? "Her name is Riyo and she dances on the sand!"
Domo arigato, Riyo and we wish you well during your reign.