Student pageant parades onto campus

Micheal Prather was chosen as the first-ever Mr. American Friday night after a two-hour competition that included categories of opening dance, swimwear, talent, impromptu questioning and an interview. Prather, Mr. Hughes Hall, competed against nine other contestants who each represented a class, hall or fraternity.

The night began with all of the contestants dancing around the University Club with feather boas, sashes and children's plastic umbrellas.

Scott Goldstein, president of the Residence Hall Association, which co-sponsored the event, warned the audience about the swimsuit competition that followed the dancing.

"This is a college campus and it's no-holds-barred," he said. "They might be wearing swimsuits. They might not be."

Billy Hughes, who won the smaller Mr. Anderson competition last month, said he wanted to push the limits.

"It gives me an opportunity to go borderline indecent exposure," said Hughes, who ripped off his swim trunks to reveal a blue Speedo.

Between each competition, Zia Hassan, sophomore in the Kogod School of Business, sang and played guitar.

The talent competition featured a variety of creative and funny talents. Ezra Chaskelson, Mr. 2008, performed on the piano, and Ted Leugers, Mr. Letts, sang an off-key rendition of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers.

Prather performed a poem about his experience at track and field races. Andres Pavia, Mr. Pi Kappe Phi, asked the audience, "Do you like to party? I like to party!" before he stripped down to a blue bowtie and Speedo and danced around the room to techno music.

Each contestant answered one randomly chosen question for the impromptu question round.

Then five finalists were chosen based on scores from the competition categories by judges professor Joe Campbell, McDowell faculty-in-residence; Polson Kanneth, Student Confederation president; and Dana Williams-Johnson, Student Activities assistant director.

Points were also added according to how many canned goods each contestant raised from audience members before the show. Each finalist was interviewed, answering both realistic and hypothetical questions, including "If you had the opportunity to speak to President Ladner one on one, what would you say?"

Pavia, Mr. Pi Kappa Phi, won first runner-up; Guy Seeman, Mr. 2007, won second runner-up; Danny Friedman, Mr. Park Bethesda, was third runner-up; and Piankhi Zimmerman, Mr. Leonard, was fourth runner-up.

Prather said he enjoyed the experience and is looking forward to participating in the game show "Singled Out," along with first runner-up Pavia, Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Tavern.

"I was glad to make it to the second round," Prather said. "I didn't know how it would go because my talent was [just poetry], and for the swimsuit competition I got up there in shorts and a cowboy hat."

Out of about 300 spectators, Prather's supporters were most noticeable, sporting bright orange "I (heart) Mike" T-shirts and carrying white-and-orange pompoms. About 35 people from the seventh floor of Hughes, the group that went to Alternative Break to Bolivia and his sister came to cheer him on.

"[Mike] did beyond what we thought he was going to do," said Erin O'Shea, a junior in Kogod.

Friends were excited for Prather and agreed that he deserved to win.

"The thing about him is that he's just a generally nice guy," said Laura Kurland, a senior in the School of International Service. "He rocks all the ladies' socks off."

The audience enjoyed the energy, excitement and lack of clothing in the Mr. American competition.

"It was very interesting," said Sarah Johnson, freshman in the School of Public Affairs. "I liked the Speedos and tight underwear a lot. I would like my own private show."

Event coordinators for the show, who included members from the Residence Hall Association and the Talon yearbook, said they were amazed by the show's success.

"This was one of the most successful events of the year," said Amber Lange, Letts Hall resident director.

Jackie Hyland, national communications coordinator for the RHA, editor in chief of the Talon and dance choreographer for the Mr. American competition, was glad both organizations worked together so well and that the program was well received.

"It was freakin' awesome," Hyland said. "They loved it. They looked so damn hot. It was fantastic"

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