What Do I Do in the Talent Competition if I Don’t Have a Talent?
Not having a talent to perform in the pageant talent competition is actually a fairly common problem. First, don’t panic. A number of pageant winners have shown that three tools can help: (1) bluffing, (2) starting now and (3) getting creative.
The Power of Creativity
First, getting creative can help a gutsy contestant who lacks a stage talent. For instance, after being warned that her dramatic act wouldn’t go over at the national pageant, Oklahoma’s Jane Jayroe Miss America 1967 came up with a more flamboyant “talent” – “conducting the pageant orchestra”. We kid you not. She found a song that was very popular at the time, “One, Two, Three” and learned to sing a bit of it, but the main portion of the pageant “talent” was conducting the orchestra members by waving the conductor’s wand. Of course, she looked like a million bucks wearing a tuxedo jacket, back swimsuit type leotard, fishnet stockings and stiletto high heels! Most of the judges were probably too busy watching her to notice her “talent.” At any rate, she was voted Miss America 1967. Never underestimate the power of creativity when developing a pageant talent.
Her predecessor, Debbie Bryant Miss America 1966, concocted a vaudeville silent movie spoof that she never dreamed might earn her the coveted crown. Without a stage talent, she decided to perform a melodrama with a heroine in distress, villain, and rescuing hero. She built a cardboard backdrop of a quaint home interior. As strobe lights flickered, creating the appearance of a 1920s silent movie, Debbie performed all three roles by flapping around in a three-part costume. She would turn her body to face the judges depending on which character was “acting” at that moment. The book, “101 Secrets to Winning Beauty Pageants” quotes her as saying, “I knew that my talent wasn’t my strength. You can’t fall too much on your face when you’re having fun, making a spoof out of it.”
The pageant’s national director, Lenora Slaughter, wasn’t as magnanimous. “I’ll never forget,” Bryant recalls, chuckling, “some of Lenora’s first words to me were, ‘Well, you won’t ever have to do your talent again! ‘” But, the judges knew they had their winner the moment they met Debbie and they weren’t going to lose her over a trivial matter of talent.
Sometimes, the act of being so very different can help you stand out so much that being different becomes a huge asset.
Some examples of unusual pageant talents that made the Top 5 at Miss America because you couldn’t overlook them are:
Alecia Rae Masalkoski, , this Miss Michigan performed a “Karate Kata” exhibition of self-defense movements against invisible attackers, stomped on shards of broken glass from soda bottles in her bare feet, and chopped through a piece of concrete.
Kaye Lani Rae Rafko, Miss Michigan, won the 1988 Miss America Pageant after performing a Polynesian-Tahitian dance while wearing a towering headdress and grass skirt. She whipped around poi balls and grass pom-poms and created a considerable stir on her way to the crown.
Several young women have made the Top 5 or won the national crown playing the marimba! Debbye Turner, Miss Missouri, won the 1990 Miss America Pageant after she performed a solo on the marimba in the talent competition.
Sher Patrick, Miss Ohio 1979, performed an exotic Middle-Eastern belly dance at the 1979 Miss America Pageant and made the Top 5.
For lots of ideas on unusual pageant talents, read this page: Most Unusual Pageant Talents
Bluffing Can Work Too
Two other ingenious contestants bluffed their way to the national throne by learning to play one song on a musical instrument. Texas’s Miss America 1975 Shirley Cothran won her national title after memorizing one medley on the flute. During her reign she charmingly let the public in on her charade. “I’m not a flautist or a flutist,” she’d admit with a giggle, “but a Texas flute-tooter. Because 1 can play the B-flat scale and one song – but I play it very well!”
Colorado’s Marilyn Van Derbur, Miss America 1958 resorted to a similar strategy after her sorority drafted her into their school’s local preliminary pageant. Faced with the requirement to perform a talent, she decided to try the organ because the judges couldn’t compare it with anything else. When a friend composed a difficult-sounding — but easy-to-play — medley of “Tea for Two” and “Tenderly,” Marilyn practiced four hours a day to memorize the pieces. Although it was the only tune she could play, it was sufficient to win her the local, state, and national titles.
However, Marilyn’s first TV appearance after being crowned Miss America illustrates the dangers of bluffing. When she arrived for an appearance on The Steve Allen Show, the host complimented her on her organ performance the night before and mentioned that when they went on live coast-to-coast television. Luckily, Allen opted for a piano/organ duet and Marilyn survived the broadcast by smiling like mad and pretending to play along while Allen carried the tune!
So while bluffing talent sometimes pays off, girls who do so should have a mental game plan for situations they may encounter if their bluff proves a tad too convincing!
Get Started Now
Don’t be intimidated into thinking that if you don’t have a pageant talent now, you won’t have one in a year. You’d be surprised to know just how quickly some talents can be developed.
Miss America 1983, Debra Sue Maffett had absolutely no talent. During her first local pageant, she tries dinging – with disastrous results. She basically forgot her lyrics halfway through the son and hummed through many of the lyrics! Burt she was determined. She hired a vocal coach and began to learn to sing. She worked a part-time job to pay for her vocal lessons and was determined to make that talent work. She became such a proficient singer that she eventually won the talent competition at the Miss America Pageant!
So, don’t be afraid to start developing your pageant talent now – as in tomorrow morning!![clear-line]
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