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Sigma Alpha Iota introduces its first annual beauty pageant

Mr. Beaux Arts 2011 is the College of Fine Arts’ version of a male beauty pageant; students compete for the highest score in a series of categories including formalwear, a talent outside of their respective major, “wow-wear,” and an interview. A portion of each contestant’s scores was also dependent on monetary donations from the audience for a music philanthropy under Sigma Alpha Iota. The event, which occurred last Saturday in Kresge Recital Hall, was followed by a small reception with free refreshments.

“This is our first year; we’re hoping for another,” said Jamie Burrows, a junior music major and one of the organizers. “One of the sisters of Sigma Alpha Iota actually came up with the idea. It was inspired by the events Mr. Fraternity and Mr. Engineer; we thought, where better to have a pageant than in the College of Fine Arts?”

There were contestants representing each major in the College of Fine Arts. Contestants were art majors Casey Li Brander, a senior, and Jimmy Krahe, a sophomore; Tim Napoli, a first-year design major; Luka Glinsky, a sophomore drama major; and Sean Pack, a junior music major. The contestants gained points for originality and creativity within each of the four rounds. In particular, the “wow-wear” and talent portions seemed to be the most crowd-pleasing and entertaining. The “wow-wear” was inspired by the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras, in which toddlers dress up in flamboyant costumes and perform a themed dance. “I work at the [Carnegie] Museum of Natural History so I see a lot of Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops come through,” Napoli said via e-mail on his “wow-wear” performance. “So I thought it would be tongue-in-cheek to make myself into a gay Boy Scout since that organization is very adamant about not allowing LGBT people to participate.”

“My favorite was definitely Sean Pack, but that might be a little biased,” said Jesse Soracco, a junior music major and attendee of the event. Burrows, on the other hand, said that one of her favorites was Tim Napoli, who won the entire competition. “He was a big favorite,” Burrows said. “Another was Casey Brander, the only female competitor, who got by far the most nominations from the School of Art and did a very good job.”

Although the competition was originally meant for male students, Brander received such a significant number of nominations from other art students that the organizers allowed her to compete. Despite the surprise of a female in the competition, the event still seemed to entertain the audience members. “Actually the whole thing was really funny, more so than we thought. The contestants got really into it,” Burrows said.

The final round of competition was based on the individual contestants’ ability to raise donations for the event’s philanthropy, Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc. Although admission was free for audience members, they could show support for their favorite contestant by donating to them. “We had judges that awarded points for events, and only the top three scorers got to [the] donation round,” Burrows said. “The final round was based solely on the amount of money each contestant raised. The top winner raised $80. That’s pretty good for our first year.” All the proceeds of the final round went directly to the philanthropy.

Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc. was created in 1974 as a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization. It is the charitable arm of Sigma Alpha Iota, the international music fraternity. According to the organization’s website, “Its mission is to promote all aspects of music creation, performance and scholarship; and encourage service for and through music on the campus, in the community, in the nation, and throughout the world.”

Sigma Alpha Iota Philanthropies, Inc. creates projects that are designed to promote music, aid and recognize those learning or serving in any field of music, raise the standards of music among students and teachers, and develop stronger bonds of musical interest and understanding among students. “Sigma Alpha Iota is a great organization,” Soracco said. “I’m not sure if [the organizers] had a specific cause in mind for thus event, but I’m sure that no matter whether they did or not, the money will be going to a good, unique cause. They do wonderful arts-related philanthropy work.”

Overall, Mr. Beaux Arts 2011 raised over $120 for the musical philanthropy. Both the contestants and crowd seemed to enjoy the event as the evening ended with the reception. “I would be happy to see the event happen again,” Soracco said. “However, while I liked it and it did pull in a nice bit of money, I would like to see a larger and broader turnout in the future. People came to support their friends, but it didn’t seem like many people outside of the College of Fine Arts came, unfortunately.”

“I had a blast,” Pack said via e-mail, agreeing with Soracco’s hopes for the event’s future. “I hope to see this event grow next year and maybe have more competitors and a larger audience!”