ILWACO - Like some kind of "pageant-eye for the high school guy," the Mr. IHS contest Friday night gave five young men the chance to see what it's like in the spotlight.
The contest was the culmination of Jami Landeros' leadership class project with a purpose of "supplying the guys of Ilwaco High School with a fun and friendly competition, much like Miss Loyalty for the girls." The guys who entered definitely understood the "fun" part of it.
After a few opening questions for the five competitors - Ryan Cadwell, Chance McClelland, Rocky Mirelez, Brach Buchanan and Nikk Wheatley - the contest began to heat up as the talent portion of the evening got under way. The event began with McClelland vamping up a lip-synch performance of Brittany Spears' song "Toxic." With his swaying moves and dramatic facial gestures, you could scarcely notice that he hardly knew any words of the song.
Wheatley was next up, with perhaps the best show of actual talent. Wheatley plugged his electric guitar into a tiny amp and played the first half of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
Mirelez' "secret talent," as he put it, was on display next in the form of "burping at will." This may not have impressed the judges too much, but it did have the audience in stitches. Buchanan's was to say the least, the most disappointing display of talent.
"I was going to do a trombone solo, but nobody wants to hear that," he said as he sat back down to the sound of one hand clap.
When it was his turn, Cadwell walked slowly to the foot of the stage and spoke briefly about how his talent was one that he had been doing since "back in the day."
"So yeah, hit it Sean!" he called out before crouching on the stage as he prepared to awe the crowd with his interpretive dance routine set to the tune of "Total Eclipse of the Heart." The routine featured long leaps, running and skipping throughout the audience.
The fashion portion, made popular in female pageants with swimwear and evening gowns, was once again hammed up instead with the likes of McClelland in a cheerleader outfit, Mirelez in a wet suit and Cadwell sporting a beach towel around his waist and a Rastafarian-dreadlocks wig. Backstage, Mirelez commented on how he wished the proceedings would get over soon so that he could go home and write a "300-page essay."
Finally, the guys had their chance to show off their chops in trivial knowledge, but more often than not used it as a chance to show off their sense of humor.
Cadwell's first question, asked by Landeros who served as host for the evening, "Where is the Encyclopedia Brittanica published?"
"Wait, that's got to be a true or false question," he joked. "I'm going with Britain."
"No, I'm sorry, it's Chicago," Landeros replied.
"So why don't they call it the Encyclopedia Chicago or something?" Cadwell quipped.
McClelland was asked what city had the first traffic lights, to which he replied "Amsterdam!" getting a rise from the crowd in what was obviously an inside joke. The correct answer was Detroit.
The last question asked of each of the contestant was why they thought they should be Mr. IHS?
"I think I should be Mr. IHS because, I go to IHS school ... and I'm a Mr.," said Wheatley in an absolute deadpan.
Mirelez said that his reason was because he believes in diversity in the school.
"These guys are all white - hello?" he joked of the other contestants.
While the judges tabulated their scores, the DJ decided to play "Total Eclipse of the Heart" again, this time with Mirelez singing karaoke-style to entertain the audience. When he sang the line "every now and then I fall apart," his voice followed suit.
When the judges reconvened the ceremony, and the spotlights went back up, the five guys were awarded the night's prizes, with Mirelez taking home a T-shirt with the words "third runner-up" scrawled on it with what looked like ink pen. Wheatley was named second runner-up, while McClelland received both the People's Choice Award - voted on by the audience - and the first runner-up prize. Cadwell, who answered one question, "my favorite kind of pudding?" was given the top honor, as the first-ever Mr. IHS.
And the words of adoration and wisdom after having the royal blue crown placed upon his bleach-highlighted head?
"I'm hungry, so let's go home and eat!"