Miss USA Pageant Contestants Vie for Porn Star Honors in Las Vegas

Remember when Miss USA Pageant contestants once wanted to cure cancer and be the first female president?  Or do you recall when swimsuits and two-piece bathing suits were all the rage? Well, get with the times– that was so last century! This year’s Miss USA pageant is trying to boost rapidly sagging television ratings by promoting its upcoming pageant with an erotically explosive expose of the contestants shown in busty and skimpy photos and videos. 

A pageant spokeswoman calls the underwear photos tasteful. The contenders for the pageant title ALL dream of being Victoria’s Secret Angels, reveals pageant president Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, which operates the Miss USA pageant. 

“They’re not looking to bring peace to the world,” Shugart explained to Today Show co-host Matt Lauer on May 11. That’s why it was not just OK, but it actually made sense to have the 51 contestants photographed in bust- and leg-revealing, bras, panties, fish-net stockings and open men’s shirts, while laying on beds and chaise lounges, for their pageant promo shoots. 

The “come hither” black and white photos make the contestants look more like members of Tiger Woods‘ harem than the young ladies who supposedly combine beauty and brains we’re used to seeing in pageants.  

The tenuous line between wholesome family entertainment and soft porn has now, apparently, been obliterated- one for the dusty history books. 

Girls in bikinis appear chaste and sublime next to this year’s crop of potential Miss USAs, who are adorned in masses of long wild hair, heavy smoky make-up and pouty lipstick, sprawled seductively on beds. 

But pageant officials are quick to point out that the seductive shoots were all voluntary and had no force or effect on the judging.  Yeah, right.  Nearly all contestants participated.

Swirling controversy, however, has been common fodder for the pageant as of late.

Former pageant winner and now judge Tara Connor says she doesn’t have a problem with the revealing looks, questioning why many have their “panties in wad.” She nearly lost her crown after reports of substance abuse cropped up in 2006 and even had to go into rehab. 

The next year, Miss Nevada, Katie Rees, lost her title after racy photographs surfaced on the Internet.

And last year, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, got into some trouble for comments against gay marriage — and her own set of racy photos appeared.  Eventually, she was fired. 

Pageant owner and well-quaffed Donald Trump seems to feel that the sexed-up look is necessary for the contestants if the pageant is going to compete for ratings on TV. He says he has no problem with the pictures. He calls them “a little bit sexy” and is glad people will be watching.

“If you look at Miss America, it’s now off network television,” Donald told the New York Daily News

So, BFFs — wanting to be a beautiful brain surgeon who happens to also look good in elbow-length gloves and a ball gown just isn’t enough to compete in a beauty pageant anymore. 

You also have to be willing to crouch on a bed, pouting on all fours in Madonna-style soft-core porn pics. 

“There used to be an idea that pageants … were about upstanding young women with a future and it wasn’t at all surprising to find a woman of stature in public life, in government or corporate America who had a pageant tucked into her resumé,” says Pamela Paul, author of Pornified. ”There was an idea that pageant contestants could be well-rounded woman with ambition. This ad campaign chucks aside any other qualifications than they look good in a bra.” 

On the Miss Universe/Miss USA website for the 51 contestants, brief bios list their ages, hometowns- and nothing else. They do, however, all get star ratings. Interestingly, the top-rated contestant was Miss Louisiana, Sara Brooks, a 21-year-old from Lafayette who happens to be the most clothed of all of the 51 contenders. Maybe people do like having pageant beauty leave a little something to the imagination and just maybe they would like them to be brain surgeons as well as beauties after all? 

Just a few decades ago, more than 20 million viewers watched women in one-piece bathing suits in the Miss America pageant. But as the suits got skimpier, that portion of the competition was downplayed — and viewers fled. That contest is now off the air, a fate Miss USA is trying to avoid like the plague- at any cost.

“Any press is good press,” Conner admits. “So — keep talking!” 

NBC’s “59th Annual Miss USA Pageant,” which will broadcast live from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on May 16 (7-9 p.m. ET). 

Tickets to the Miss USA Preliminary and Finals competitions at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas are available through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com and at (800) 745-3000. 

{Pictured is Miss USA 2010 contender Nicole Johnson from California.}

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