The first contestant in the gorgeous-male competition threw things slightly off when he started talking about walking the streets of East Berlin and sensing the oppression of Communism.
C'mon! This was supposed to be a spoof on beauty pageants complete with smiling, gussied up, blow-dried hunks prancing before a screeching audience, with their photos flashing on a giant screen and a cheerleading mistress of ceremonies.
But there was a serious side.
One contestant spoke of unifying nations in a spirit of peace. And the next said his father was his greatest inspiration. Another said his most moving experience occurred when he was reading the Bible.
Students at Mt. San Antonio College were ready for anything, this being their first Mountaineer Man Calendar Contest. It was conceived by Fashion Associates, a campus organization that will produce a calendar with 12 winners, one illustrating each month.
Classic beauty pageant hoopla and racket accompanied the final judging last week in a Mt. SAC auditorium, where the 12 finalists paraded before a cheering crowd and five solemn judges. This occasion was to choose the top winner, the Mountaineer Man, who will be featured as Mr. January.
As with such contests everywhere, sponsors insisted that judging would be based "on more than just a pretty face." To be among the top 12, the competing students had to have a good grade-point average and a demonstrated interest in campus activities. Audience reaction to outdoorsy photos of the muscular contestants that flashed on the screen indicated that physique mattered, too.
So did contestants' answers to questions asked by Mollie MacLeod, a teacher who was mistress of ceremonies. When she asked, "If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?" some answers were: "Famine--it has no place in our society."
"Provide more education opportunities for low-income people."
And "End war."
When MacLeod asked, "Who has inspired you the most?" some answered, "My father, who taught me the value of friends."
"My Mom, who gave me strong morals."
And "My parents, who want the best for me."
When the calendar men related their most important experiences, they told of "communicating with a child who couldn't speak a word of English," "coaching a kid for the Special Olympics" and "learning to value my friends when one of them was killed."
There was nonsense, too. One young man said he learned his greatest lesson when he walked into the women's restroom by mistake at his first prom. "Of course, I got kicked out, changed my name, moved to another state, and I always pay attention to the signs on doors now." Another said that if he could put anything in a time capsule for posterity it would be film of the TV series "The Odd Couple." Another said the one possession he would take with him in the event of a catastrophe would be his surfboard.
There was even tension--the last few moments of loud music and no action as the judges huddled.
Finally, Michael Patrick Delaney, 23, a blond Claremont High School graduate who wants a career in advertising, made history when he was named Mt. SAC's first Mountaineer Man.
The quiet, muscular student has worked as an actor and model and said one of his great learning experiences was entering the contest he won.
"I'm not really outgoing," Delaney said. "But this wasn't as bad as I thought."