Miss New York USA was quickly approaching, and I was getting more excited by the minute!
At the Pre-Pageant Orientation, we learned the opening dance number and were sent the instructional video to practice. For those who attended the pre-pageant orientation, we self-selected our dance group of easy, medium, hard, and elite. Upon receiving and watching the instructional videos, we could place ourselves in another dance group, if we felt we would be better suited in that group. At the pre-pageant orientation, I placed myself in the easy group and decided to stay there after watching the instructional videos for all of the dance groups. By the end of December 2019, I was comfortable with the dance and continued to practice as the big weekend approached.
Once I confidently knew the steps, I put on the dress and shoes that I would be wearing when dancing and practiced in front of my mirror. I wanted to practice moving in the dress, since it isn’t as stretchy as the yoga pants, or often pajamas, that I would be wearing when practicing. The shoes I would be wearing had a three or four-inch heel. Since I’ve never worn heels while doing a choreographed dance, I thought it would be helpful to adjust. The opening dance number was not judged; it was simply for an entertaining show.
One component of the competition that was judged was the interview in the preliminary competition. This interview would just be two to three minutes with a hard stop. Over a month before the pageant, I had my interview form complete. This form would be given to the judges for my interview. In some ways, the contestant is determining the interview questions. While the judges can ask whatever they want, I thought through what the judges might ask me, based on what I filled out on the interview form. I also watched videos of on-stage questions from past competitions. When the host or hostess asked the question, I paused the video, thought of an answer, then played the video to hear what the contestant said. For Miss New York USA, everyone would have a private interview for the preliminary competition. In the final competition, only the contestants, who made it to the top five, would answer two on-stage questions.
A week and a half before the competition, we received information about the People’s Choice Award. This was an opportunity for people to vote for their favorite contestant through the Miss New York USA 2020 contestants page. Each vote cost $1.00, so if someone spent $5,000 on one contestant’s votes, that contestant would have received 5,000 votes.
The contestant, who received the greatest number of votes, would be guaranteed a spot as a top semifinalist and will receive a crystal trophy. The voting would close at 11:59 PM on January 18th, the evening of the preliminary competition. The People’s Choice Award recipient would be revealed when the top semifinalists were announced.
As votes poured in for the state finalists, we made it to the week of the competition. On Friday, January 17th, 2020, I would be making my way to White Plains for the competition to begin. I had a couple of things to take care on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, I got a gel manicure and pedicure. I had only gotten a gel once before, and given that the next few days would be really busy, I didn’t want my fingernails getting scratched or chipped when moving heavy luggage or for my toenails to get chipped if the ever-so-graceful me, kicked into something during rehearsals.
About a month before the pageant, we received an email about working with one of the pageant sponsors, Pink Sands Airbrush Tan & Spa. I have never been to tanning salon, but I thought, as long as I’m doing this, I might as well live the moment and not miss out on anything. The discounted contestant rate didn’t hurt either! Contestants had the option of booking an appointment at their Manhattan location, or on January 16th, representatives from the salon would be at the host hotel, Crowne Plaza White Plains-Downtown, so appointments could be booked there, too. Since I lived in Manhattan and planned to leave for White Plains the morning of January 17th, I called to schedule my appointment in Manhattan. I was informed that if I were planning to have my nails done, they should be done before the spray tan appointment and to wear loose fitting dark clothing. I didn’t know why or what this meant, but I made note of the information, so I would be prepared for the appointment.
I arrived at the salon, and the woman, who I would be working with was really nice. Since I had my nails done the day before, my tanning technician put Vaseline on my fingernails and toenails to protect them from the spray tan. I was uncomfortable with what was to come. She gave me a few items to put on – a disposable shower cap, adhesive pieces of paper that were applied to the bottoms of my feet, and an optional disposable thong. Oy! I decided to wear this optional, disposable garment, since nothing else was left to the imagination. The spraying hadn’t even started, and this was already an awkward adventure.
Once I was wearing the disposable apparel, I was asked how I would like the end result. I explained that I didn’t know and that this was my first spray tan. I asked the tanning technician what she thought. She said for pageants, most people tend to have a heavier spray tan, so that those with lighter complexions wouldn’t look washed out under the bright stage lights. Still not knowing how I would look after the spray tan, I thought, I might not ever get a spray tan again, so go big or go home! Facing my technician, I was sprayed by the cold tanner. I was told to turn, so she would cover my front, back, and both sides. I felt like I was standing there forever! I think I had to turn at least three times while being sprayed, but it was all a blur.
Once the spraying was over, my technician turned on a fan, which I would turn in front of for about ten minutes, in order for the tan to dry and set. My technician came back in the room and provided next steps while I got dressed. The first step dealt with getting dressed and wearing the loose dark clothing I brought. I was told that I could shower in six to eight hours. However, I was going to bed early, so if I showered before then, it would have been too soon and too much of the spray tan would wash off. So, I planned to shower in the morning, and my technician said that would be fine.
I looked in the mirror, and I was an orange, greasy mess! The photo below is simply horrifying, so I covered my eyes, so you won’t see how disturbed I looked when I saw myself. Please don’t mind my hair either. It’s often frizzy but having just removed the shower cap didn’t help my case.
After seeing myself, I debated about how I would get to my apartment. My plan had been to take the subway, but considering how I looked, I didn’t want to be seen by lots of people under bright lights. Luckily, it was dark outside, so it would be difficult to clearly see how bad I looked as I waited outside for my Uber.
I avoided eye contact with anyone in my apartment lobby and rushed to the elevator. As soon as I got in my apartment, I put on my pajamas, since I definitely was not going anywhere looking as I did. As I sat in bed, there were streaks from the tan on my sheets. The spray tan had a strange smell, but I had no choice but to adjust.
The next morning, I woke up and was excited for two reasons. First, and most importantly, it was the first day of the competition! The second reason was that I could shower! As I stepped in the tub, it looked like I was bleeding, as the excess spray tan rushed down the drain. Once I was rinsed off, I looked different, but it really did look nice and much more natural!
Now, it’s time to get dressed, put on makeup, double check that my competition attire is packed, and get an Uber, because it’s time to go to White Plains as the preliminary competition begins!