With tinsel trunks, a tailored tuxedo and terpsichorean talent that rivaled John Travolta, Ross Yastrzemsky beat out six other candidates for the Mr. Liberty crown Saturday.
As the emcee sang, "There he is, Mr. Liberty," the 18-year-old Liberty High School senior -- who only minutes before had been known as Mr. Hickory Lane -- danced around the stage with his soon-to-be prom date, Toni Randle, and managed to hold back (( the traditional tears as he was proclaimed the contest winner.
In the twisted words of the famous Miss America tune, Ross fulfilled "the dreams of a million dudes who are warm and witty."
Instead of the triumphant walk down the runway, Ross dipped his dance partner and planted a firm kiss on her lips.
His crowning marked the finale of the spoof Miss America contest staged to raise money for the school's Parent-Teacher-Student Association. Seven seniors competed in swimsuit, talent and tuxedo categories.
This is all tongue-in-cheek fun," said Mike DeBoy, PTSA vice president and producer of the show. "The dollars raised will go right back into the school."
The boys paraded in swimsuits before a crowd of about 250 people, who paid $3 each for the evening's entertainment.
"Let's give them all a big hand," said Ron White, emcee and PTSA president. "It takes a lot of guts to come out here in these outfits."
Mike Beatty, Mr. Gemini Drive, did a mock striptease, followed by a timid Mr. Brimfield Circle, Greg Schad. Greg showed a lot of leg from behind the curtain before appearing in toddler beach wear: arms in swimmies, waist in a turtle inner tube and toting a rubber duckie.
Matt Bryson, voted Mr. Congeniality by his competitors, pranced and scratched in leaf-covered trunks, while a boom box played "Poison Ivy."
Jason White elicited guffaws. Wrapped in a beach towel, he walked on stage in a blond wig and straw hat, then slowly -- and modestly -- revealed the "itsy bitsy, teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini" over his swimsuit.
In dark-rimmed glasses and a bowler, Chris North played a nerd wearing knee-length argyle socks with heavy sandals to his beach party.
Ross chose an aluminum foil number for his swimsuit competition, and flexed his biceps he-man style around a pink necktie.
"This is so hard to judge," said a laughing Valerie Schultz, one of six judges. "They are all so original."
The contestants had the option of showing talent or whimsy. Aaron Sweemer, Mr. Wexford Lane, played sax. Matt strummed a guitar and belted out "Little Blue Man." Chris, Mr. Woodridge Lane, delivered the news -- "Saturday Night Live"-style. He assured the audience that the best lines had been stolen.
In a grass skirt and a coconut bra, Jason White, Mr. MacBeth Way, stole the show again with a hula dance to the strains of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Even the human palm trees in the background shook with laughter, as his emcee dad urged, "Come on out here, Jason."
"You Better Shape Up" had two shaky starts before Ross, dressed in black, danced, slid and jumped across the floor -- with more than a little help from his true love, played by Toni.
While judges tabulated the scores, the tuxedo-clad contestants in top hats titillated their lovely escorts with an "I'm Too Sexy" routine, choreographed by Mr. DeBoy.
Before the winner was announced, the three finalists answered one question each.
When asked, "Who is your hero?" Ross teased a little with an unrelated athlete with a sound-alike surname. With a smile, he said his real hero is "the man behind that camera in the audience, my dad."
Within a few anxious moments, filled in with jokes from the emcee, the winner was announced. Yellow and blue balloons dropped from the ceiling and the crowd cheered.
Ross was given a lopsided crown and a silver scepter that complemented his white tuxedo, overlaid with his newly won royal blue cape.
He said he would do his best to fulfill the duties of Mr. Liberty -- although no one knows exactly what those duties are. Ross said he hopes to return next year from classes at the U.S. Military Academy to crown the 1994 winner. Prizes included gift certificates and prom tickets, but no long-stemmed roses.