By Ann Needle
Unless you live in reality TV, the world isn’t much for beauty pageants anymore. But don’t tell that to the young men of Nashoba Regional High School. As Friday night’s annual Mr. Nashoba Pageant proved, shirtless sells.
Sponsored by the NRHS Student Council, the pageant was launched a few years back to raise money for the SC’s activities. This year, it was also announced by pageant emcee, Psychology Teacher Bob Griffith, that half the cash earned would be split between the two scholarship funds founded in memory of former Nashoba students Will Hurley of Stow, and Lancaster’s Alison Murphy.
As for the SC activities to be funded, perhaps some of that money will go toward shirts — the 10 contestants all seemed to lose theirs. This began with the opening chorus number danced to “It’s Raining Men,” with lots of bare chests and umbrellas. The most interesting use of the bare chest-tool came during the talent portion, when one contestant had two friends eat ice cream off of his exposed tummy. All around, shirts got ripped open, flipped off, used, abused. Through it all, females screamed.
Talent or not, any boy at the high school was free to voluntarily enter (or be coerced by female friends), no previous state competition titles required. Pageant organizer and student Inana Dairi announced that the number of contestants and audience members –perhaps about 200, it was hard to focus with all that screaming — was the best showing yet. What, teenage boys do NOT want to rip their shirts off in front of their moms?
And, rest assured that Stow’s four contestants did nothing too freaky. (No, the “ice cream chest” guy was not from Stow.) In fact, the town can boast a royal lineage of sorts: Last year’s Mr. N. was Miles Hodge, whose brother, Sean, copped the second runner-up prize this past Friday.
Even the judges had Stow representation, with senior Meghan Tocci sitting on the panel with a handful of NRHS teachers. Bob Griffith asserted that Tocci was looking for a candidate “who has a take-me-to-a-nice-seafood-
My Beamish Boy!
Back on stage, contestants were judged on a presentation of their biographies, swimsuits (and you thought…), talent, and responses to a random question.
The Stow boys held their own under tremendous pressure, what with screaming females, stunned parents, and Tocci’s hunt for seafood. The first hint that the autobiography category was simply a thin cover for a
fiction-writing competition came from Stow junior Marcus Sardella, who claimed to be head of a big conglomerate. After the lengthy presentation of other candidates’ so-called pasts, mega-superstar NRHS football player, Stow senior John Ojukwu, scored points for originality by saying no-o-othing, just smiling and posing. The ladies went wild. I believe he kept his shirt on.
The swimsuit competition was, literally, a blur, with contestants gliding across the stage in quick succession in nothing but swim trunks. Talent brought Stow junior Ross Cressman to the stage to lead two audience members in a pantomime of the poem “Jabberwocky”. Trust me, I will never again hear the words, “Come to me, my beamish boy!” and not picture Cressman.
Sean Hodge definitely earned the good-scout award when singing the lead in his band The Psychedelic Totem Pole. Accompanied by two other contestants and electric-pink boxer shorts, the Stow senior gamely belted through Pink Floyd when the microphones went funky for the fourth time that evening. We can zip photos to grandma in seconds over the Internet, yet school microphones continue to fizz out —how 1979.
Lest you go away thinking the men of tomorrow are all about nonsense, consider the night’s “discovered” talent. Before the show, Allyson Cruikshank of Lancaster remarked that her son, Shea, was to sing in the talent portion. “I thought he only sang in the shower,” she shrugged. Shea waltzes onto the stage, with nothing but a small carpet and junior Merisa Kuovo of Stow as props, and proceeded to charm the audience as he serenaded Kuovo with “I Can Show You the World”, from “Aladdin”. Whether it was the killer voice, or the wide-open shirt, the women went bonkers again.
Before winner Eric Wade was crowned, each contestant answered a random question. Some were more random than others, but no one answered “world peace.” As the contestants lined up for the “It’s Raining Men” finale, the smell of sour ice cream wafted down from the stage. For sure, it was the Ice Cream Chest man, not fully cleaned off.
Honey Boo Boo would be proud.