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Competition or advertising campaign?

  • 2000-11-09
  • Jorgen Johansson
Following the pedophilia scandal connected to the Mrs. Latvia beauty competition, organizers have taken a different approach and tried a different concept altogether.

Over the first eight months of this year, 12 Latvian working women traveled the country to do charity work and to compete in the Lady of Latvia 2000 competition.

It seemed to be the only criteria for entering the pageant held at Riga's Conference Center.

The jury was made up of people from different companies all of whom donated prizes for the winners. Palazzo Italia gave a dress, Park Hotel Ridzene offered the presidential suite and a cosmetics company offered the makeup.

The emcee, Enriko Avots, did not appear to know what was taking place around him at all times. In the beginning he was rambling on about the importance for women to be ladies, saying the president of Latvia is a real lady, but behind every leader there's a woman.

The women first had to create a bouquet of flowers and then sit down with Avots and answer a few simple questions. The first question was "What was the first thing you did this morning?"

One of the contestants gave a clever answer saying she opened up her eyes and moved her fingers, and another woman said she had coffee.

The questions that followed concerned what talents women should have, what talents men should have and to whom the women would like to give the flowers they had arranged. All women said they would give their flowers to their families and friends and children, probably according to rehearsal.

One woman said, concerning the most important talent for women, "We have to be able to forgive a lot because that's what we do." The same question regarding men's talents, one of the contestants said, "Apart from intellect and material well-being men have to respect their wives."

When the questions were answered by all, local musician Ainars Mielavs from the Latvian band Jauns Meness (New Moon) came on stage and sang two of his local radio hits - "Unbutton My Shirt" and "Everything Happens for Real" to conclude the first act of the competition.

Avots told the audience there would be a 20-minute break and was given polite applauses in response.

The b-team of Latvian celebrities swamped the bars during the breake, and seemed to take more interest in beverages than who would win the competition. At 9:15 p.m., when the second act of the Lady of Latvia 2000 competition was supposed to begin, the lines at the bars did not break up in a nice and orderly fashion. They had grown longer.

Finally, at about 9:45 p.m., the competition began again. During the second part of the competition the contestants were hardly seen at all. Instead the organizers had pre-planned a night of music. The first singer out was a Latvian replica of Bryan Adams called Aigars Gravers.

Gravers sang live but forgot to pretend the guitar was plugged in so he missed the first two cords of his song. During his second song, the backstage crew had been told to start putting chairs on stage behind Gravers, who clearly looked as if he had no idea about what was going on around him.

The chairs were used by the contestants who came on and modeled dresses from Palazzo Italia in a cocktail party scenario. The display lasted for about three minutes and then it was high time for another artist. This time it was Ugis Roze's turn. Apparently Roze came to modest fame 10 years ago and he actually thanked organizers for the opportunity to come to Riga from the countryside and sing a few songs.

The contestants were given one more quick chance to show themselves off before Avots sang two songs and then it was the prize ceremony. For five minutes Avots called out company names and things they would give to the woman who won and how much they were worth in lats.

Maija Steina won the closed vote taken by representatives from media, one elderly woman apparently won the dress she was wearing from Palazzo Italia, and Evija Rodke, mother of two, won the grand Lady of Latvia 2000 title. Throughout the whole competition she had flashed sparkling Geena Davis-like smiles better than the original. Evija was not given any opportunity to say how she felt after winning the first ever Lady of Latvia 2000 competition, but the tears in her eyes said it all.