When I first got the call to be one of the judges at this year’s Mr CHIN bikini pageant held Canada Day weekend at Exhibition Place, I have to admit to feelings of trepidation alongside my girlish glee.
Being more of a, shall we say, “unconventional” beauty (save me, Xtreme Makeover!), I’ve always been curious as to what it would be like to be fêted solely for one’s appearance and sexual magnetism.
But what if the studly contestants objected to a screaming nelly scanning every inch of their buffed bods as they strutted and preened before their target audience of screaming females?
I fought to suppress imagined scenarios of the resolutely hetero (more on that later) studs, angrily tearing me limb from lisping limb as I was introduced during the pre-contest meat-and-greet.
Alas, the boys proved quite harmless and answered questions in an amiable if slightly cautious fashion. I couldn’t help but notice that most kept a discreet distance and weren’t as chatty as they were with, say, Miss Canada World (where I was also a judge).
They also shared some slightly disturbing pageant tips for the serious competitor.
“I haven’t had anything to drink, no water or anything, since yesterday morning,” boasted one of the strapping studs. “Me either,” piped in his brawny friend.
Apparently, dehydration causes the skin to tighten up into the muscles as it desperately searches for moisture in the underlying tissue.
Also disquieting was the lack of queer content in such an obvious display of male beauty. One lone contestant (I’ll call him Fifi) confided in a lilting voice to recent go-go gigs at Fashion Cares and the Pride Parade, only to revert to a distinctly butch persona when a colleague appeared nearby. “My girlfriend got me into this,” Fifi protested in his best John Wayne voice.
“Your girlfriend named Kevin?” I wanted so desperately to ask, but instead added two points out of solidarity for the closeted sistahs.
As we moved into the main event, I was struck by the sameness in each of the men competing: fake orange tans were the order of the day, with some truly uneducated depilatory fiascos (I deducted two points for each instance of ingrown hairs and razor-burn).
The parade of tangerine tigers quickly grew uninspiring, as perfunctory biographies were read (“Steve likes working out and is single!”) and we judged contestants on stage presence and appearance.
Sadly, my three picks (poor Fifi) were absent from the winner’s circle as victor Justin Cowley and two runners-up (Brock Picken, Floyd Taylor) were celebrated in all their apricot-hued glory to the delight of shrill fans rushing the stage.
I admit to being slightly disappointed with my brief foray into celebrity judging. I guess I was expecting more variety than a typical Pride float assemblage of cookie-cutter men, and couldn’t help but feel annoyed at the other judges’ uninspired choices.
Still, like pizza, even a “bad” day of boy-watching is still pretty enjoyable, and I remain willing to do my duty in regard to any future event involving scantily-clad men and free food.