Home court is no advantage in Miss Universe pageant

May 16, 1991|By Knight-Ridder

WICHITA, Kan. -- Miss USA is competing for Miss Universe in the USA, and Angela Visser doesn't envy Kansan Kelli McCarty a bit.

Visser, the representative from the Netherlands who was crowned Miss Universe 1989 in Cancun, Mexico, saw what the pressure did to Miss Mexico that year.

"I was glad I was not in her shoes," Visser said. "She was constantly giving interviews. She felt she had to because she was at home. Miss USA will probably have the same problem in Las Vegas."

Visser, who will be color commentator at this year's pageant (9 p.m. EDT Friday on CBS), said that all the nationalistic hoopla may give the host country representative a false sense of security rather than a home-court advantage.

And cold, hard statistics seem to bear her out. Even though four Miss USAs were crowned Miss Universe while the pageant was based in the USA from 1952 to 1971, not a single host country has crowned its own representative Miss Universe since the pageant started wandering the world in 1972.

"They [host country competitors] may feel that everybody is behind them, but it is still a competition with judges who are not from that country and there can be only one winner," Visser said during a telephone conversation from her new

home in Los Angeles.

"I personally am glad I did not have to compete for Miss Universe in my own country."

While competing was fun, actually being Miss Universe was work.

"You aren't suddenly royalty. You are a role model -- a working role model who puts in long days and must still feel like smiling. You must be very disciplined. It's glamorous, sure, with limos, but being a Miss Universe is still a job," she said.

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