By now we all know that Miss Soufriere Regional Development Foundation, Licia Jn Paul, is the 2014 Carnival Queen. The Soufriere native beat out seven others in the July 5th pageant at the National Cultural Center. First runner up went to Toxik Nation’s Crystal Octave, followed by Miss Piton Natalie Girard, and St Lucia Tourist Board’s Herma Demacque. The coveted prizes were awarded to Jn Paul for Best Interview, Swimwear and Eveningwear, Digicel’s Michelle Vitalis for Miss Photogenic, and Radio Caribbean International’s Michelle Johnny, who won Miss Congeniality and Most Outstanding Talent. But I decided to give a few nods of my own to the best and worst of the night.
Most Overused Phrase:
There’s an old tale in queen show lore that tells of a young woman, who when asked what her favourite dish was, responded ‘Pyrex.’ Still not sure how factual that is but it illustrates the pressure the contestants face in trying not to repeat the mistakes of their less articulate predecessors.
Co-host Shayne Ross did not help by constantly reminding us that ‘the dreaded interview’ segment was upcoming; over and over. Okay, we get it Shayne. Even his hosting partner appeared wary of the line eventually interjecting with, ‘Stop saying the thing is dreaded Shayne!” Amen sister . . . and speaking of the interview section lets segue right into . . .
Worst Queen Show Budget Cut:
When ‘the dreaded interview’ segment finally materialized, intermediary and venerable media man Jerry George, informed us that unlike past contests, the question would only be asked once. It was obviously a tad off-putting for some of the girls who could have used the second reading to gather their disjointed thoughts. To be fair, George did add that if asked to he could repeat it, but that should have just been a given considering the already pressure packed environment.
Not cool, planning committee. Not cool.
Best Guest Cameo:
What’s a queen show (or any show for that matter), without an appearance by local lady-about-town Patra. And boy did she leave her mark. Between dancing vigorously during the arduous wait for results, correctly answering a question to win a make-up kit and assisting the house band in a rendition of ‘Hurt it’, there was no shortage of the crowd favourite.
Most Unfortunate Wardrobe Choice:
Although, to be honest, I’m not necessarily sure she had a choice. Miss St Lucia Tourist Board and Canaries darling, Herma Demacque, emerged in . . . nevermind, because I’m not really sure what it was. But the nude bedsheet-like ‘creation’ begged so many questions.
Was that a sequined panty underneath? Was it a chastity belt? What on earth was it? But the biggest transgression turned out to be the way the structure of the ‘gown’ forced Demacque to keep her hands outstretched Christ-the-Redeemer-style, drawing jeers and ridicule from our notoriously unforgiving attendees. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see Brazilians flocking to her feet. Lord knows they could have probably fit under the make-shift tent. Whoever did this to her should be tarred and feathered. Or even worse, forced to wear the dress themselves.
Worst Guest Cameo:
A night out is a great way to decompress after a week at the office, even if it’s a work assignment. And if you’ve ever suffered through a ‘short’ four hour meeting with Rick Wayne, you would completely understand. So you can imagine my horror when I heard a similarly booming voice powering through the sound system as part of Herma Demacque’s talent segment. (That poor girl couldn’t catch a break).
Of course it was not our loquacious leader, just an impersonator, “Nick Vain”, but it still left me wondering if I was being punished for some unknown peccadillo.
And while we’re on the subject of talent:
Most Impressive Segment:
This is normally the cringe-worthy moment of the night for me; watching young ladies warbling songs wayyyy out of their range, giving non-Oscar-worthy perfomances of skits, and the list goes on. But this year I found myself impressed with some of the choices and the production quality. The contestants were awesome but three stood out.
Crystal Octave gave a gut-wrenching dance interpretation of Sara Bareilles’ ‘Gravity,’ displaying flawless lines, extension, and enviable flexibility. Michelle Johnny recreated a cemetery scene with wisps of smoke emanating from the tombstone filled plot, before rising from a casket. She then launched into Pep’s ‘Victim’s Story’; paying homage to the several young women murdered in the past year. This brings us to . . .
Eventual winner Licia Jn Paul took a jab at the carnival machine with her dramatic piece where, as the deceased character ‘Reveller Rose,’ she mourned the state of what she called a ‘carnival in chaos.’ With clever wordplay, she poked fun at the movement of the festival to the rainy season, the introduction of swimwear as costumes and the lack of any discernible lyrics in modern day soca. The crowd was in stitches save for Minister of Tourism and Creative Industries, Lorne Theophilus, who sat stone-faced throughout.
Best hometown crew:
Saturday night should have been a killing for thieves in Soufriere and Canaries. I don’t think anyone stayed home. The two towns were in a dead heat for supporters of the year. And when they do it, they do it big. Pictures of their two girls were plastered onto signs, t-shirts and whatever else they got their hands on. And in the ultimate display of showmanship, they cheered for each other as well.
And my final nod goes to . . .
Most enthusiastic supporter:
The guy in the back who randomly yelled Digicel at every opportunity whether Vitalis was on stage or not. Although he mysteriously disappeared after ‘the dreaded interview’ segment.