By Ashley Coker
Daniel Katz rescued a damsel in distress this weekend as a crowd of about 250 cheered him on.
Katz, decked out in a cowboy hat, red suspenders, a handkerchief around his neck and a plastic pistol secured to his hip, was one of 11 contestants in the second annual Mr. Bryan Pageant.
Contestants included: seniors Katz, Nathan Harris, Drew Byers, Turner Olson, Josh Grace and Nathaniel Eastwood, junior Dean Franklin, sophomore Drew Morrison and freshmen Drew Shumaker, Bradley Sparks and Aaron Pendergrass.
The pageant was divided into four portions: costumes, talent, pick-up lines and pageant questions.
While Katz favored a fantastical approach to the costume portion, some, like Pendergrass, decided to go with choices a little more grounded in reality.
“I was a lumberjack … I mean it fits my personality because I like to wear flannels and I get the beard coming in sometimes so a lot of my friends back home are like ‘oh, you look like a lumberjack.’ I had never legit dressed up like a lumberjack before so I thought I’d give it a go,” said Pendergrass.
During the talent portion of the pageant, Byers, who was voted Mr. Congeniality, performed a mashup of several songs from country to rap, complete with a guest appearance by senior Allison Baker and an impersonation of Professor of Music Dr. Mel Wilhoit
Eastwood, who won second place, performed a gymnastics and ribbon twirling routine to “Let it Go” by Idina Menzel.
The pick-up line portion of the pageant was a crowd favorite.
The men took turns walking into the crowd and directing their prepared pick-up lines to the lucky ladies of their choice. Lines ranged from cheesy to cryptic, but what really stunned the crowd was senior Stephanie Gagnon’s reaction to Harris’ pick-up line.
Gagnon jumped from her seat and planted a big smooch on Harris. Later, when a judge asked if the kiss was planned, Gagnon replied, “only for three years.”
As the men filed onto the stage for the pageant question portion, many were visibly nervous. The contestants were unaware of the questions that would be asked. In hindsight, a few contestants wish they could change their answers.
“My question was ‘If I could change one thing in the world, what would it be?’ and I said ‘my relationship status.’ I would take that back in a heartbeat and come up with a great answer,” said Katz. “I would say I would take all assumptions out of the world. I mean, that brings your stereotypical answer for world peace, that brings culture interaction, that brings easier interpersonal interactions. It leaves room for nothing but truth.”
Grace, who made an impression by not smiling throughout the entire event, said his sullen demeanor was inspired by classic literature.
“I’ve been reading a lot about Byronic heroes — basically dark, brooding, tragic heroes. I have a bit of a reputation for being cynical and sarcastic any way, so I thought it would be fun to play off of that and just really go all out with the brooding,” he said.
Katz and Pendergrass agreed that one of the best things about the Mr. Bryan pageant was the laughter and stress relief it provided for both the audience and the contestants. Both said they thoroughly enjoyed the experience, though Katz said he was not enthused by all of the humor revolving around sexual innuendos.
The event was planned by SGA Events Council and the price to attend was $1 at the door.
According to Rachel Garnett, executive director of SGA Events Council, “The event was created last year by the Junior SGA team, and the money earned went to the Rugby team. … Events Council picked it up this year with the same goals in mind. All of the money earned is going to the Rugby team.”