Practice helps teen get pageant perfect

August 29, 1994|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,Ocean City Bureau of The Sun

OCEAN CITY — Ocean City--By the announcement of the talent category, every one of the 17 entrants in the 1994 Maryland Miss T.E.E.N. had done the math: this year's winner had to be Brandi Burkhardt, a 15-year-old from Pasadena.

First a trophy for the scholastic category. Then volunteer service. Talent. Formal presentation. As Miss Burkhardt put down a third and fourth trophy, smiles grew fixed. And then it was official.

Wiping away tears of joy (if not surprise), the willowy blond high school sophomore accepted the red roses and bent her head to receive her tiara from retiring queen Heather Hull of Westminster.

"She's worked so hard. She wanted this so bad," said Miss Burkhardt's mother, Sharon Glinowiecki, as her daughter accepted hugs and congratulations from the other entrants on stage. "She entered last year and was in the top 10. She said, 'Next year, I'm going to win if it's the last thing I do!' "

"I practiced and I practiced and I practiced!" said Miss Burkhardt in the dressing room after the contest, where she was refreshing her makeup before a lengthy photo session. When did she know her determination had paid off? "Sometime between the third and fourth trophy," said the new queen.

The pageant, held yesterday afternoon in the Maryland/Virginia room of the Carousel Hotel, capped a nervous weekend and a year of work for the contestants. All were Maryland girls between the ages of 13 and 18, and all had worked to find sponsors to pay their $350 contest fee.

Contestants were judged in five categories, all carrying equal weight: school achievement, volunteer community service, a speech or talent performance, a personal interview and a formal presentation in evening dress.

The pageant, which bills itself as "the quality pageant for quality girls," is an acronym for Teens Encouraging Excellence Nationally. "One of the biggest things in this pageant is community service," said Walter Glinowiecki.

"She cleaned houses for the elderly, worked with the Special Olympics and at an adult day care center. . . . Since World War II, it's been 'spoil your kids' -- Brandi knows she's fortunate now," said Mr. Glinowiecki, who works as a stage hand, waterfront worker and movie crew member.

"It's so I can afford these beauty pageants!" he joked.

And there is something about teen-age girls and beauty pageants, Mr. Glinowiecki said. "They see it on the TV, Miss America -- they want to do it."

That something was almost tangible yesterday, as each of the 17 entrants made her way through the three-hour pageant. From an opening group song, through the speech-and-talent competition, and finally, the formal presentation of each girl in an evening dress -- the desire to be pretty, to wear the crown and carry the roses, hung heavy in the air.

Backstage between appearances, hairbrushes flew in practiced hands. Makeup, shoes and dresses were everywhere.

Contestants encouraged each other, traded confidences and listened with deference to the wisdom offered by the reigning America's Miss T.E.E.N. 1994, Sarah Jane Nelson, and other state queens on hand for the occasion.

Miss Nelson, a Monroe, La., native, garnered a chance to live in New York as a result of her victory: one of the judges offered to help her try for work in commercials and she has deferred college for a year work in the Big Apple. "I'd never have done it without this contest," she said in a soft drawl.

And she has learned her way around the beauty-pageant beat. Vaseline on the teeth? "I never do that." Padding here and there? "I don't need it." Duct tape under the bust? "I don't do that." Best secret she's learned so far? "Preparation H under the eyes. I'm going to start doing it. It tightens the skin. Isn't that a good one?"

One royal surprise: Wherever she goes on Miss T.E.E.N. business, she wears her rhinestone tiara. Casual clothes, suits, whatever. And wherever includes the airplane flights she takes on official pageant business, such as her flight to Maryland. It's all in a day's ablutions for a T.E.E.N. queen, apparently. It's in her contract with the organization.

Contestants for the state crown rehearsed Saturday night until nearly 11:30, working on walking onstage, turning, smiling, and taking the arm of one of three Annapolis midshipmen who served as escorts.

Enter, walk to the dot on the floor. Turn and smile. Wave. Form a semi-circle. Smile. Wave. Sing. Wave. Smile. And slowly, the rehearsal began to produce results late Saturday night: turns became smooth, waves were adjusted to the classic royal wrist wiggle, and the semi-circles took shape.

"Getting ready for this was almost as complicated as the college application for the other kids!" said Anne Spratt as she watched her 16-year-old daughter, Allison, rehearse Saturday night before being named fourth runner-up yesterday.

"I'm not the beauty-pageant type of person, and I've been surprised by how much courage and stamina it takes to get into these things."

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