Multitude beatitude is in scope just outside the ballroom doors Sunday night (September 29) at the fifth annual Miss Black World Canada pageant. Roy Pinnock, the brains behind MBC Communications, the outfit bringing us this fine event, is promising "an exciting evening of superb talents, amazing costumes and natural beauty." That's what the press release says anyway.
The usual -- at least at black events -- incense and uplift memorabilia is for sale in the lobby. Inside, the place is packed 1,100 tight with mostly black. The preponderance of eye candy makes for some stiff competition, so to speak, all of which is threatening to bounce every ounce of political correctness from the room.
Classy as hell in a form-fitting black dress, Victoria Rowell of Y&R soap fame riles up the masses with her mere appearance and fields questions about Wes, her French paramour in soap land. Seems he'll be getting next to her for a while. Also on hand as bonus American celebrity clout is Anthony Anderson, who just plain dicks around at the mike. He dons a tiara borrowed from one of the "visiting royals" and thus fulfills his publicly declared fantasy to be "queen for a day."
Anderson's anti-gay jokes go over well, as they would, given the venue. Then he's onto the black thing. "Being true to form as black folk," he intrepidly utters, "we're not getting started on time. Somebody stole the programs, that's why were up here improvising."
The night proves to be an uneven, plodding exhibition, heavy with Pinnock's idle and baffling banter.
We learn that the winner will roll in brand new wheels, each contestant will receive a gift pack from a sponsoring cosmetic outfit, and the Miss Congeniality winner will get 50 bucks. Apparently, it doesn't pay to not be bitchy.
Tropical Moments is the most boisterous segment of the evening. Props like coconuts and pineapples go a long way here. Yes, it's a rump-shaking paradise grooved in that carnal state of mind that's never very far removed from the procession of black behinds. Down boy -- banish those impure thoughts. This event is supposed to be a family affair replete with odes to community, role models, inner strength and personal achievement. Yet there's much black catty sniping from some sisters in attendance.
Pinnock presents a "cross-section of prejudged talent" that yields some singing, a surreal 9/11 tribute and a choreographed verse of scripture that moves him to the epiphany that "a talent can be a spiritual feeling as well."
There's a 10:15 pm break and restlessness abounds. Abbey, a social worker and media enthusiast who has a cousin in the running, takes issue with Pinnock's steering of this shindig.
"What's he doing? This event needs someone who's an expert in communication. Doesn't he watch other awards shows? I hate to say it, but this is why I don't go to events run by black people."
At 11:25 pm the debacle isn't even down to the top 10. The surviving 10 -- actually 11 contestants because of a scorekeeping quirk -- are whittled to five after a wildly varying and inane Q&A session, leading to murmurs about an outright fix in the works.
One gal gets to conjure four words to describe her mama, while another must go on the record as to when she'd sever her tie to a bankrupt relationship, "even with children involved."
One is asked what, besides their sepia "facial beauty," the contestants should be judged on, while another has to fess up about whether she "subscribes to the theory that blacks are more emotional and lose their self-control more than other races."
I'm about to lose it. Maybe they should spin a track from no-show reggae star Frankie Paul's album Rude Boy Business at this sad juncture.
Racquel Hamlet, a pre-law student representing -- drum roll, please -- Mississauga eventually takes the crown. While her boosters do their thing, many half-heartedly boo on the way out.
On the horn the next day, Pinnock gives his take on the bake. "It was a high-spirited and excellent performance from most if not all of the contestants."
Mention the $40 admission fee and unaddressed Paul no-show as a bone of contention, credibility-wise, and Pinnock explains that Paul pulled out "because he was in a boating accident overseas in Senegal or some place like that."
He's philosophical about it, though, adding, "You're always hoping for more, that absolute, but based on the performances, I can say it was a success." OK, then. email@example.com