Some controversy is looming above this year’s Mr. Eastern competition. Although some had much to say about the activities that took place at the event held April 18, others were left almost speechless.
“Uhhhh….wow,” was the only thing first-year Aaron Tritch would say about the show.
Seniors Kevin Henderson and Jon Jezorski served as the hosts for the show; the judges were sophomore Jared Krupp, the reigning Mr. Eastern, Bettie Ann Brigham, vice president of student development and Reverend Brian Henderson of Upper Merion Baptist Church, who is also Kevin Henderson’s brother.
Sophomore Brendon Krout was the first contestant, sporting black spandex shorts and a bow tie for the formal wear round. Next was sophomore Michael Warren in a white suit, followed by sophomore Eric Sauder in a pink, striped, strapless dress. Junior Dave Oswald made his appearance with an escort on each arm. Following were seniors Brian Baker and Jarmaine Fisher.
The source of much of the shock was the last contestant, first-year Jesse Gemberling-Johnson, who sauntered into the auditorium wearing a Calvin Klein man-thong.
“I laughed at a lot of these outfits from the sheer shock value; but there is a line between showing a lot of skin tastefully and humorously, and showing skin to show skin. That line was almost crossed last night,” Krupp said.
“I feel that it is a college atmosphere where students should be mature enough to see fellow adults, as we are over 18, in underwear,” Gemberling-Johnson said in his defense. “It was merely an act to entertain and to add to the comical atmosphere.”
Next came the swimwear competition which didn’t prove to be much of a wardrobe change for some of the contestants; Gemberling-Johnson proudly displayed his man-thong again and Krout entered the stage wearing a woman’s swimsuit.
The hosts, however, stripped out of their clothes, leaving Henderson in a bright red Speedo and Jezorski in a pair of board shorts.
“I was pretty surprised that [the hosts] stripped and stuff, but I was laughing the whole time,” said sophomore Christine Hickman.
The talent portion came next. Krout followed a dramatic reading from Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish with the consumption of some live fish.
The other acts included Warren swing dancing, Souder juggling metal baseball bats, Oswald rapping, Gemberling-Johnson singing, Fisher dancing and Baker reciting from memory pi to the hundredth digit.
The first elimination left only Warren, Fisher and Krout. To conclude the competition were the Q & A period, an improvisation game and a dance-off.
The judges were quick to reveal their final decision. Fisher came out as second runner-up and Krout as first runner-up, leaving Warren as Mr. Eastern 2005. The audience appeared to be pleased and the contestants amicably shook hands.
About being the new Mr. Eastern, Warren said, “It’s not any big deal but it feels kind of nice.”
After the show, there were many different reactions.
“It was a night filled with what I would consider great humor,” Brian Henderson said. “Maybe it’s just the kind of humor I appreciate.”
Junior Jon Ruiz, SGA president, also appreciated the show.
“For the most part, from conversations I had, there was shock, hysterical laughter and shock some more,” Ruiz said. “I thought Mr. Eastern was a success and an extremely enjoyable show.”
Sophomore Lydia Tobin agreed with some reservations.
“It was a great show but I think we had some issues with morality and respect,” Tobin said. “It was like a beautiful painting that had been stabbed.”
According to Brigham, student development has “not had to put many parameters and guidelines into place for student events or clear these types of things in the past.”
However, after this Mr. Eastern competition, Brigham will discuss the matter with the rest of the student development staff.
“I’d rather not [have to clear the acts before they go on stage], but maybe last night shows that we need to,” Brigham said.