Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Friday night’s second annual Mr. Swarthmore competition opened to a jam-packed Upper Tarble full of anticipating Swatties and more than a few parents here for Family Weekend. This year’s show raised $820, which LaSS, the Ladies’ Soiree Society and organizers of Mr. Swarthmore, intend to donate to the Women’s Community Revitalization Project in Philadelphia. The format was familiar to any who had attended last year’s show, but the gags, embarrassments, and laughs were all new.
Opening with Formalwear, the hopeful candidates strutted their stuff down the runway with varying degrees of formality. A very dapper Mr. SBC (Fletcher Coleman ’09) poked fun at his role on the Student Budget committee, bribing the judges and tossing even more “money” into the eager audience as the LaSS MCs listed rejecting receipts, driving around in his SBC-funded Porsche, and lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills among his interests. Mr. Soccer’s (Gage Newman ’11) little black dress, though not nearly as beautiful as those worn as uniforms by the members of LaSS, was nonetheless stunning and drew appreciative laughter from the audience.
There were many highlights in the Tropical Wear portion of the show, including Mr. SBC’s continuing money theme with bright green dollar bills pinned to his swim trunks and Mr. Massage’s (Jaymes Fairfax-Columbo ’10) whipped cream bikini. Mr. DU (Alex Ginsberg ’09) and Mr. Swimming (Tramane Hall ’11) wrapped up the second part of the show with stunning sequined and bejeweled speedos to great enthusiasm, to say nothing of parents’ rather stunned laughter.
Proving that Swarthmore is home to incredibly multifaceted people, the Talent part of the show showcased a wide range of skills. Some of the more unique talents of the evening included Mr. Massage showing off his lesser-known librarian skills and Mr. Psi Phi (Daniel Jamison ’09) playing a live-version of Dungeons and Dragons. Dance was a popular talent, however, with Mr. RnM (G Patrick ’10) and Mr. Engineer (Seth Hara ’08) teaming up to perform a song and dance number. Though out of sync at times, their natural sense of rhythm carried them through to great acclaim from the crowd. Mr. SAC (Shumpei Tse ’10) performed a tribute to Britney Spears’ most recent VMA performance in a bra, silver shorts and blonde wig with a blow-up doll.
By far the most…interesting dance performance of the evening was that by Mr. Soccer, who pulled Brandon Washington ’08 from the crowd to perform for. While I have no idea why fruit was an important component of Mr. Soccer’s lap dance, the sight of a banana being rubbed seductively on the head of Washington was enough to send the crowd into paroxysms of hysterical laughter. “Mr. Soccer’s faux lapdance really goes to his volunteer, who played into the role with full enthusiasm, no matter how ridiculous and prop-filled it became. I think the crowning moment of that particular bout of awkward hilarity came when Mr. Soccer pulled out an banana and started shining it on BWash’s head,” Christine Ernst ’10, an audience member, said of this particular talent.
New parts of this year’s show included the candid video interviews with the contestants shown during the intermission. Jessica Hamilton, one of LaSS’s Co-Presidents, said of this new part: “We feel that adding new twists to the show and events is crucial to its continuing success and for audience entertainment. That’s why we added in the video this year that was played during intermission. The contestants were hysterical and it allowed the audience to see a more personal side of them.”
The already rollicking crowd got even rowdier after intermission, when the top five contestants were named: Mr. Soccer, Mr. RnM, Mr. Swimming, Mr. SAC, and Mr. Engineer. The mood of the crowd might have been lighter, but the competition was getting fiercer as the top five contestants answered questions about their ideal mates, the best and worst of Swat, and the difficulties that youth today face. All five contestants demonstrated an impressive grasp of the beauty pageant answer, from Mr. SAC citing the importance of LaSS’s cause in one of his answers and Mr. Soccer bemoaning that one’s Swarthmore experience only last four years.
This year’s surprise event was a dance off Hamilton explained was her favorite part of the show. “We didn’t know what to expect and we had no idea how the contestants were going to respond,” she said. Moreover, it was during the dance off that Mr. Engineer, already a favorite, began to break ahead of the competition. While many of the other contestants (Mr. RnM was, unsurprisingly, not one of them) looked rather uncertain of themselves as the music changed from pop to ballet to rap during this part of the evening, Mr. Engineer’s confident hip thrusts seemed to push him to the front of the crowd in the eyes of both the judges and the audience.
The audience’s love for Mr. Engineer was only proven during the final segment of the show before votes were tallied. During the Dash for Cash, last year’s surprise event, Mr. Engineer was actually chased by people eager to help both his cause and that of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project.
While the restless audience waited for the donations to be counted and the money counted, a special guest performer, 2007’s Mr. Swarthmore, Raul Ordonez ’09, entertained the crowd with his beautiful singing voice and stage presence. While the performance was well received, the crowd was clearly eager to hear who would be the new Mr. Swarthmore.
All of the contestants were brought back onstage for the big news. After all received a rose, the final results were announced: there was a tie for 2nd Runner Up between Mr. Soccer and Mr. Swimming and Mr. RnM was 1st Runner Up. The winner, Mr. Engineer, received his sash and boa enhanced crown from Mr. Ordonez to wild cheers from the crowd. Ernst was quite pleased that Mr. Engineer won. “Seth was clearly the winning choice from the beginning. If he had graduated without being Mr. Swarthmore at least once, I think there would have been an uprising. I’m thrilled that he won, and find it very appropriate to the character of Swat that Mr. Swarthmore should be an engineer,” she said.