Their smiles are 1,000-megawatts wide. Their makeup is magical and magnificent. Their hair is perfection personified. Their gowns are glorious and swimsuits sparkling and sexy. Welcome to the beautiful world of Miss Universe.
Meet 89 of the globe’s glorious girls, led by reigning Miss Universe Leila Lopes of Angola, who began arriving on the Strip on Monday for a nearly three-week stay at Planet Hollywood. They’ve flown in from as far afield as Albania, Argentina, Australia, Venezuela and Vietnam, with every country in between.
The official welcome ceremony is Thursday afternoon at Planet Hollywood when all 89 beauties introduce themselves on the catwalk runway with a fashion show that’s open to the public. Their preliminary pageant is Thursday, Dec. 13, with the live NBC global telecast and crowning of the new winner Wednesday, Dec. 19. It will be themed to showcase the holidays as celebrated around the world.
Grammy Award winners Train will perform a special three-song medley during the swimsuit competition: “Drive By,” “Mermaid” and “Shake Up Christmas.” The official judges are yet to be revealed, but Bravo’s Andy Cohen and E! Entertainment’s Giuliana Rancic will again host the telecast to 100 countries. Fans from around the world can vote their favorite contestant into the semifinals of the pageant until Dec. 18 at MissUniverse.com and Telemundo.com.
It’s a dizzying round of nonstop duties for 20 days. Being this glamorous takes a lot of work! Upon arrival, they are matched with another competitor as their roommate and assigned a chaperone. The Miss Universe Organization has a doctor and nutritionist on duty to ensure no medical or dietary problems.
Today and Wednesday, the pageant princesses shuttle between hair and makeup chairs. They go through their wardrobes and select their Kooey Australia swimsuits. Photo sessions poolside and in the glamour studio by fashion photographer Fadil Berisha round out the day’s duties. Fadil has to shoot all 89 of the beauties in various poses (check out his amazing work at FadilBerisha.com).
Vegas DeLuxe meets with Leila tonight at hair guru Michael Boychuck’s Color salon in Caesars Palace with Hollywood stylist Laurent Downer from the Prive salons. The event also serves as an open casting call for the January Miss Nevada USA Pageant with executive director and TV personality Shanna Moakler. Reigning Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall and Miss Nevada Teen USA Katie Eklund also will attend the workshop of hair and color demonstrations.
This year’s Miss Universe Pageant was originally set to take place in the Dominican Republic but was moved at the last minute to Las Vegas after the Caribbean country failed to raise sufficient funding for the pageant’s overhead costs, travel and hotel accommodations. Las Vegas, which plays hosts to Miss USA and Miss America, immediately stepped in to solve the situation.
The eighth annual OutMusic Awards had been booked at Planet Hollywood for Sunday, Dec. 16, as the biggest night in gay music and entertainment featuring Love Darling, Jason Walker, Frenchie Davis and many openly gay recording artists and performers. Miss Universe Pageant contestants will work around the awards and start their onstage rehearsals Dec. 17 -- two days before the pageant.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.