Most male pageants consist of flexing and fitness contests, but the Mr. ULV contest I quickly learned mixes things up.
Think of it as a comic version of the Miss La Verne pageant.
Eight men participated in the — Clive Brennan, Ken Colby, Ben de Ayora, Taylor Harry, Wilson Hawkins, Manny Lopez, Mario Rodriguez and Melvin Ward.
It started when nine men signed up more than two weeks ago. The original goal was to have 10 men participate in the pageant; however, one of the men dropped out a week before the event.
Sophomores Sara Johnston and Michelle Ajemian were the two Campus Activities Board members who planned the two week’s worth of events for Mr. ULV.
Meet the Candidates
“I feel like a Hollywood star,” said de Ayora, a senior television broadcast major.
The first event CAB hosted as part of the Mr. ULV activities was on April 17, a meet-and-greet with the contestants. This event was held in Davenport Dining Hall.
About 50 people attended, and contestants served ice cream and an array of toppings to any student who was at the event.
All contestants wore Mr. ULV shirts with their names and a number on the back.
I was surprised to see a karaoke set ready for the contestants to perform. The first song of the night was a duet with Hawkins and de Ayora singing “I’ll Make Love to You” by Boyz II Men.
A few other contestants sang and then handed the microphone over to the crowd.
The next event was a Mr. ULV calendar signing in Leo’s Den on April 19.
Attendees of the meet-and-greet at Davenport received a voucher for a free calendar.
The men were in Leo’s Den for two hours signing the calendars for anyone who wanted to pick one up.
The next event was entertaining, but this one was not open to the public. The contestants had to meet on April 20 to rehearse their opening dance.
I went and sat in the background to watch the men learn the dance. Johnston and Ajemian choreographed to “The Lion King’s” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King.”
Senior communications major Colby seemed to be the only one of the contestants to get into the dance.
The other men laughed and expressed their skepticism of the opening dance.
“Man-pageants don’t have opening dances,” said de Ayora while he jokingly argued with Ajemian.
Several of the contestants are involved in Greek Life on the ULV campus and were preparing for Greek Week while preparing for Mr. ULV.
“I’m just tired and this is another dance I have to learn on top of what I have to know for the Greek Week Lip Sync,” said Hawkins, a junior business major.
This was starting to take a toll on the contestants: de Ayora decided to pull out of the competition because of his dedication to Greek Week and in order to finish his senior project.
Mr. ULV Pageant
April 27, the big day, the Mr. ULV pageant was held in Founders Auditorium.
Chip West, director of student life, estimated roughly 150-200 people were in atten?dance.
I took the opportunity to get to the auditorium early and meet up with the men. They were preparing for the show in a classroom on the first floor of Founders Hall.
Meanwhile, Founders Hall was filling with fans.
“I’m not really nervous,” Colby said. “I’m actually more excited than anything.”
“I’m in it for the money,” said Mario Rodriguez, a senior international business major.
First place would take home a $200 gift card and second place received two tickets to Disneyland. Everyone else just got the satisfaction of being in the pageant.
“I’m in it to represent my school,” said senior Thomas Allison. “I’m also in it for the children, and to have a good time.”
Joking with me and other people involved in the pageant was a way for the contestants to ease their nerves.
After I was able to ask a few questions about the pageant some of the men decided to change the subject.
ULV sports was the topic of choice.
Johnston and Ajemian called the men upstairs to get ready backstage.
I followed the men up the stairs and waited backstage with them.
Johnston and Ajemian hired comedian Sarah Tiana to host the event.
They went through the National Association of Campus Activities to find her.
Tiana’s job is to travel to different schools and host shows like Mr. ULV.
Backstage a few of the men flirted with the pageant’s host, Tiana.
While some were busy getting shot down by the host, others, like Rodriguez were busy texting on the cell phone.
“I cant help it, texting relaxes me,” Rodriguez said.
The contestants were getting ready back stage for their five events for the night.
The first was their opening song, the second was the swimwear, third was the talent portion, fourth was the eveningwear and the last was their question and answer portion.
Before the men came out on stage for the swimwear portion of the show, a few of them were backstage doing push-ups to look more toned without their shirts. While the men prepared their bodies, Tiana shocked and entertained the audience with her ‘R’ rated humor.
Scattered laughs came from the crowd as she used the so-called “f-bomb” in her jokes. This came as a surprise to some students as they know ULV usually does not allow such entertainment on campus.
Although, Tiana did warn the audience about the language before the show.
“I just want to go to bed,” Hawkins said.
He appeared exhausted backstage as we talked about the upcoming portions of the show.
“I can’t wait to go out there and show them what I’ve got,” Colby said before he walked on stage with a stuffed wetsuit.
Allison came out wearing only boardshorts and flexing his muscles.
Winner of the previous Mr. ULV competition, Taylor Harry, stole the show walking on stage with breakaway warm-up.
And of course he ripped them off halfway to the front of the stage.
“I was completely shocked because he played the shy role in the beginning, then out came these little white legs with gold shining briefs,” said Danielle Davisson, a senior liberal arts major.
Colby came out during the talent portion of the show playing the electric guitar.
This was more comical than musical, as Colby was pretending to play the keyboard.
He raised his hands and the preset music was still going, not missing a beat.
Rodriguez was the most choreographed performance, as he came out dressed as Disney’s Aladdin.
Midway through his dance he had five women dressed in short skirts and small tops to dance on stage with him.
Hawkins awed the crowd when he announced he would be singing John Michael Montgomery’s “I Could Love You Like That.”
The awe factor came in when he called his girlfriend Kristina Miller on stage to serenade her.
As the judges tallied the votes the contestants held a dance off with cheers from the audience.
Clive Brennan was awarded the Mr. Congeniality award.
The winner of the gold Mickey Mouse ears and $200 gift card was Taylor Harry.
“It feels the same as last time,” Harry said. “It’s better this year because all I got last time was an XBox.”
“I took second place so that means I’m going to Disneyland,” Hawkins said.
Rick Montañez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.