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Staged at the Windhoek Country Club Resort in Namibia, this marked the first pageant held in Africa. Although the stage was smaller than usual, it didn’t look that way, and I enjoyed seeing African elements throughout the show.
The Contestants. 82 contestants participated, with Ukraine, Zambia and Seychelles making their debut. Overall caliber of the contestants was pretty high, and this was a pageant which really needed a Top 15 (or even a Top 20).
Shout-out to these gorgeous ladies:
SPAIN (Maria Reyes) – gorgeous!
NIGERIA (Toyin Raji) – what a smile and she seemed to have tons of personality
FRANCE (Corine Lauret) – that beautiful face!
SWEDEN (Petra Hultgren) – I’m glad she at least got the Photogenic award
COOK ISLANDS (Tarita Brown) – possibly their best contestant to compete ever
If Miss Universe had their regional system in place, we would have had a vastly different set of semifinalists. Just taking a “Top 15” by region (without wildcards), those making the cut would be-
From AMERICAS (prelim rank)
PUERTO RICO (TIE 2)
COLOMBIA (TIE 2)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (4)
From ASIA/AFRICA (prelim rank)
SOUTH AFRICA (10)
COOK ISLANDS (15)
From EUROPE (prelim rank)
I’m not sure if this is an argument for or against the continental system, but if we had this in place in 1995, we would have missed having CANADA and EL SALVADOR make the cut, but would have seen COOK ISLANDS make it.
SEMIFINALISTS. On to the actual Top 10, which had 8 ladies from the Americas and 2 from Asia/Africa (this was the only year that no European made the cut).
COLOMBIA (Tatiana Castro) – When I first watched the pageant, I thought she would win after the Parade of Nations and after the Top 10 was called. She had such a gorgeous look that I don’t remember seeing at Miss Universe before. But during the semifinals, she seemed to be very stiff and nervous. Her interview was particularly so disappointing (short, uninspired answers) after we had a run of having interview queens Paola Turbay, Paola Betancourt and Carolina Gomez. When she was called to the Top 10, Daisy Fuentes said “Colombia was 1st RU for 3 years, and Tatiana makes no secret about it, she’s here to win.” I think the pressure of finally winning it after 3 straight 1st RU placements got to her and she placed dead last in the semis.
SOUTH AFRICA (Augustine Masilela) – What a welcome return to South Africa after an 11 year absence. Augustine made history just by being there as the first black woman to represent SA at Miss Universe. I liked her and I’m really glad she made the cut. I wonder though, if the actual Miss South Africa winner Bernalee Daniel had been there (the Miss SA pageant did not have the Universe franchise until 1998), perhaps she would have advanced further than Augustine?
CANADA (Lana Buchberger) – She came to play. I have to give her credit because she performed really well on finals night, despite only placing 8th in prelims. That said, had I been judging that night, I’m not sure I would have placed her as high as making the Top 3.
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO (Arlene Peterkin) – LOVED HER. I felt she was ahead of her time, and had there been social media back in 1995, she would have ignited Twitter. She also kicked off T&T’s golden run at Miss Universe (1995-2006, when T&T made the cut 7 times, produced a winner, and hosted a pageant). I would have placed her in the Top 3.
PUERTO RICO (Desiree Lowry) – Did everything right that night. I would have placed her in the Top 3, but she got a “non-controversial” question (greatest invention of the century?) that I don’t think she had a chance of advancing no matter how great her answer was. She stayed on in the pageant circuit, later holding the PR franchise (though she only had limited success with her winners). I do wonder, after Madison Anderson’s success last year, if we’re going to see more “Americanized” ladies win PR?
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (Candida Lara) – She’s tall.. and well that’s about it. I get that she’s probably more beautiful in person, but on TV, I was not a fan of her look. Probably the only one in the Top 10 I really objected to.
INDIA (Manpreet Brar) – She’s beautiful and a wonderful successor to Sushmita Sen. That said, let’s recognize that she placed as high as she did due to interview. She aced all her on stage questions and I can’t really begrudge her high placement.
VENEZUELA (Denyse Floreano) – A lot of my pageant friends aren’t really a fan of her, but I liked her a lot. Although she didn’t look it, she was only 18 when she competed so perhaps she would have challenged for the crown had she competed when she was a bit older (you could tell how nervous she was throughout the night). Although I loved Bob Goen, she also received one of the most awkward questions I’ve heard at a pageant (do you consider yourself a girl or a woman? WTF Bob??).
EL SALVADOR (Eleanora Carillo) – After that awkward interview with Venezuela, El Salvador followed with one of the most memorable and engaging on stage interviews I’ve seen (“you seem to be some kind of smart”). She deserved that 1st place semifinal interview (even though she placed 10th in both swimsuit and evening gown). Glad to know that she’s now a successful lawyer, having worked as a human rights lawyer in San Salvador and an IPR lawyer in Madrid (wow at that resume!) Check out her profile at her law firm: https://www.jacobacci-law.com/lawyers/Eleonora-Carrillo
USA (Chelsi Smith) - Chelsi, I think, had a more difficult time winning Miss Universe than Miss USA (this is just a theory but the Top 3 I think may have been very close during final judging). That said, she clearly deserved the win and I was so happy that night. 25 years on, she’s still one of the most beautiful winners ever. May you rest in peace, Chelsi.
My personal rankings:
1 – USA
2 – Trinidad & Tobago
3 – Puerto Rico
4 – Canada
5 – Venezuela
6 – El Salvador
7 – India
8 – South Africa
9 – Colombia
10 – Dominican Republic
(1) Despite this pageant being 25 years old, its still one of my favorites. Whenever I introduce a non-pageant friend to Miss Universe, this is the pageant I recommend them to watch. Beautiful, intelligent and engaging contestants, excellent stage production, and an African theme I’ve never seen before (loved the scenes and the music used). You could tell that NAMIBIA really put on a show (their President and Prime Minister were even in attendance, despite it being 5am there).
(2) I miss these productions at Miss Universe. These days, you could barely tell WHERE a pageant is being held (tell me what exactly was Russian in 2013 or Filipino in 2016, production wise).
(3) I know some aren’t a fan of scores being shown, but I miss that transparency being shown in pageants. I loved seeing who barely made the cut, or that USA won swimsuit, or EL SALVADOR won interview. I get that it might take away some excitement (although at the end, I still had no clue who would win among the top 3), but as a compromise, perhaps scores could be posted at the MU website after the pageant? Just for transparency.
(4) I hope the pageant could find some way to go back to Africa again (they haven’t been back since). Bob Goen announced that Johannesburg would host in 1996, but that didn’t push through (I wonder what happened there, Bob even introduced a host committee attending the pageant). We’ve had wonderful winners from the continent over the past 25 years, from Botswana, Angola and South Africa, and we’ve had new countries from Africa joining. Hopefully we can see Africa host again soon.
(5) Finally, even though this pageant barely clocked in at 2 hours, I felt like I really got to know the contestants (at least those who made the cut). Compare that to the recent MUO pageants which last for 3 hours. I can barely remember anything about the contestants who made the Top 10 last year at Miss Universe.
There go my thoughts (sorry for the long post). Hope to read your thoughts too in the replies.
Last edited by author: Thu May 14, 2020 15:42:11
Edited 1 time.
[> Subject: What a great review. Thank you for this! It was fun revisiting that pageant. I remember watching Miss USA that year, where Texas was the last contestant introduced, and I remember thinking "She is going to win Miss Universe!" (I get to brag about this because it is just about the only time one of my predictions came true, LOL.) There was just something so effortlessly beautiful and graceful about Chelsi. As for the rest of the Top 10, I have to admit, I thought they were all fine, but none of them blew me away or really stood out as favorites for me. I agree with your "other thoughts" -- they used to know how to fill a two-hour show much more productively than they fill a three-hour show these days.
Date Posted:15:54:36 05/14/20 Thu
What a great review. Thank you for this! It was fun revisiting that pageant. I remember watching Miss USA that year, where Texas was the last contestant introduced, and I remember thinking "She is going to win Miss Universe!" (I get to brag about this because it is just about the only time one of my predictions came true, LOL.) There was just something so effortlessly beautiful and graceful about Chelsi. As for the rest of the Top 10, I have to admit, I thought they were all fine, but none of them blew me away or really stood out as favorites for me. I agree with your "other thoughts" -- they used to know how to fill a two-hour show much more productively than they fill a three-hour show these days.
[> Subject: Excellent review!! 1995 was one of the best pageants between 1989 and 1995. They nailed the African vibe on every level. That would have been an amazing top 15. Makes me wonder, if you looked at all miss Universe where scores were shown, what would have been the final results under the new system? I have always wondered, did Namibia face backlash for being a white representative on home turf in Namibia?
[> Subject: Miss Universe 1995 was also one of my favorite pageants EVER! I loved the opening number and the music through out the entire show. I love waterfalls and when I saw the waterfall in the desert stage design I was in pageant heaven. I enjoyed all the interviews, the swimsuit and evening gown competitions. The little sisters, so cute. The production number with Sushmita was amazing and when she came out for her farewell walk, It was almost too much for me to take because it was so beautiful. Then the coronation of Miss USA was the cherry on top with that song "You are Miss Universe". I too thought Chelsi was going to win Miss Universe after she won Miss USA. I would look at her photos and think this girl is going to win Miss Universe in Africa, and she did. MU pageant 1995 was so glamorous, and I will never forget that night the most beautiful night of the year! Don't really watch todays pageants, not very interesting to me. I will always be,
[> [> Subject: OMG, I forgot that at the end, just after the crowning, they played that rockin' "You are Miss Universe" song, which I always loved. There was another song, a slower and more sober one, that they used in the 1980s ("This night belongs to youuuu....") which I also liked, but this one is more modern and stirring.
Date Posted:18:34:28 05/14/20 Thu
OMG, I forgot that at the end, just after the crowning, they played that rockin' "You are Miss Universe" song, which I always loved. There was another song, a slower and more sober one, that they used in the 1980s ("This night belongs to youuuu....") which I also liked, but this one is more modern and stirring.
[> Subject: The funny thing at these old productions is that their top 10/12 announcements were done is about 3 minutes. They could easily cut done on the drawn out cuts to make more room for other things.
[> Subject: Ok I will watch this. I just find the production and camerawork in the 90s very frenetic. Like I seriously can not watch 1999. It’s a spectacle but good lord is it dizying. Hoping 1995 has a less manic vibe.
[> Subject: I watched that MU in full in 95. Now I went through parts of it after maybe 10 years when I last looked at some. I think this pageant has not aged as well as 1996. I loved the location, but if you saw Miss Worlds 1992 to 1994 in South Africa, they were more grandiose, more of the location was shown. This feels in a way like the first pageant of the new era, because of Daisy Fuentes, retrospectively it's a start of a decline for MU or maybe it's just that I was never a fan of hers, she doesn't project that wholesomeness. I forgot India's introduction, amazing. Chelsi's performance reads very modern and timeless. This is a pageant that no one can dispute the results of. I think no matter to whom the pageant would belong, the USA would have won. Thanks for sharing that fact about Eleonora. I supported her with all my heart that day and the fact she has succeeded in life made my day! Thank you for your thorough review, if ever you'll have time to do others, I and others will appreciate it.
[> Subject: Miss Chile - Paola Falcone Basigalupo was simply fabulous, but she lacked preparation. Paola Falcone made headlines from the moment Miss Chile was elected, in a closed-door election. Highlighted by the press and finally, disappointed to discover the level of professionalism, experience and preparation of her rivals. On April 5, 1995, the news of the election of a new Miss Chile took everyone by surprise, only 37 days later the new miss universe was chosen.
[> Subject: Thank you for the in-depth review. It was a good read. Interesting that you applied the continental system along with a top 15 and saw how the semifinalists changed. Alt. that would’ve preferred a complete European shutout (this year is kinda like a precursor for Europe’s eventual downfall at the pageant), I still like the girls making it based on merit and preliminary averages rather than continental quotas. It would be sad to see the 6, 7, and 8th place contestants not making it while 19th, 21st, and even 22nd placed girls make it. It doesn’t seem fair imo. I think Chelsi is very beautiful but unfortunately she isn’t as supported by the international pageant community. This was a year where nobody really stood out as stunning gorgeous and Chelsi who was very poised and elegant managed to win the title. Nice job USA! RIP Chelsi
[> [> Subject: I disagree. Europe was extremely strong this year. But as others mentioned they were shut out. The top 20 were great but I wouldn't say beautiful, they all had strong interviews vs. Beautiful.
[> [> [> Subject: There was a typo above, I wanted to say *prevented* not preferred. I didn’t say Europe was weak this year, I thought Russia and Sweden are beautiful. Granted I didn’t see the prelims nor did I follow this pageant closely back then so I really have no idea who deserved to be up there but simply based it on the parade of nations segment. But, when one thinks about it, this year is sorta like a precursor because Europe hasn’t produced a European winner since from 1991 to 2016 (Russia did not complete her reign). One can say Europe was starting to be overlooked at Miss Universe (granted Latinas and Asians stepped up the game since then).
[> [> Subject: Actually precursor is not really the right term, I thought it means to foreshadow. This year sorta foreshadows the future of Europe at Miss Universe as Europe has only produced two additional winners since 1990 (and one argues Russia 2002 did not finish her reign).
[> [> [> Subject: Western Europe was the dominant region for a good portion of MU's history. I would say that it was 1985 when the tide shifted in that Latin America began to take hold as MU's dominant region. I calculated Western Europe results at MU and listed inside the years where Western Europe took at least 3 of the Top 5. There has yet to be a Top 3 year where Western Europe has taken at least two of the Top 3.
[> Subject: The beautiful Paola Falcone Miss Chile was chosen on April 5, just one month after choosing the new Miss Universe, she had no time to prepare. Too bad I would have loved to see her make the cut. https://www.chileancharm.com/1995_PAOLA_FALCONE/MISS-UNIVERSO-CHILE-1995.htm
[> Subject: Oh this remains to be my absolute favorite Miss Universe edition. I liked how subdued it was but you could feel the gravitas of the event. You hit the nail on the head with the caliber of contestants; this year truly needed a Top 15 because it was a shame to see France, Sweden, and Russia get cut. I also loved the segments showing the delegates around Namibia, and the package with an African elder and a boy traveling the desert to look for Miss Universe is still seared into my memory. And can we appreciate the most amazing soundtrack ever to bless a Miss Universe edition? Not only did we get Toto's Africa in one of the segments but also Deep Forest's Forest Hymn for the evening gown competition. I could go on and on about this pageant.
[> Subject: The first MU held in the African continent saw the first and only Europe shutout, the 6th East/Southeast Asia shutout since the four out of five, and the return of South Africa after an 11 year absence. I thought the Top 10 was rather weak. I would've replaced India and Canada with Nigeria and Spain. My favorites were Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Colombia. In the end I wasn't surprised by USA winning.
[> Subject: Great review. For being the year that Europe got shut out, I recall there were a lot of strong contenders from the continent that year. Spain was gorgeous and loved it when she was doin the runway walk during the start of evening gown competition. Also agree with you with Sweden, Nigeria, France, and Cook Islands
[> [> Subject: To be honest, most Indian girls at Miss Universe I would say ever are beautiful. I think Lara is cute but no way beautiful. Sushmita is stunning. That Indian miss world winner that married a Jonas brother, I find her hideous. And wasn't another miss world from India named the most beautiful woman in the world (not the pageant) and appeared on Oprah? I think Diana Haynen? My other issue with most Indian girls at miss Universe is that they are very wealthy and not representative of India.
[> [> [> Subject: India's 1992-2002 streak of making the cut was mostly interview based. India won prelim interview 1994, 1995, 1996; and their best results in semifinal interview were 1st in 1999, 2nd in 1998, 3rd in 1993. The Miss World from India that was hyped as "most beautiful woman in the world" is Aishwarya Rai; she tried to launch a Hollywood career in the 2000s but wasn't successful.
[> [> [> Subject: I am Indian American- and trust me- we are shocked that out of all the former queens to come out of Bollywood, only Priyanka Chopra really made it. Lara Dutta Miss Universe 2000 is absolutely STUNNING. Celina Jaitley (4RU Miss Universe 2001 was GORGEOUS). Dia Mirza (Miss Asia Pacific 2000) didn't compete in Miss Universe but she had a face to diiiieeee for. Maybe it's also that I think Priyanka Chopra tries too hard but I can think of so many other beauty queens from India who I would rather have made it in Hollywood.
[> Subject: anni55, I am just here to say that your review was one of the most comprehensive and enjoyable reviews I have ever read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I hope to read more from you!
[> Subject: I didn't understand Chelsi's gown selection for Miss Universe. It seems it was a recycled selection someone had worn previously (yet I can't remember who)? The neck scarf made it seem dated, though I speculated with a pal that the neck scarf was to frame her face for camera closeups.
[> [> Subject: It reminded me of Carole Gist's farewell gown when she crowned Miss USA 1991. Though, Carole looked EXQUISITE and Chelsi ranked 7th during the semifinal evening gown competition. I'm still happy that Chelsi won.
[> [> Subject: Both Chelsi and Brooke gowns were poor. Brooke prelim gown (asuiming she wore the one in introductions) was ugly. Her finals night was better. Chelsi gown looked cheap. But in both cases, they could have worn a potato sack and won. Though Brooke victory was easier than Chelsi. I have long said her victory was to appease the crowd in Namibia like Mpule win in 1999.