Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 | 5:25 p.m.
The 89 gorgeous glamour girls competing in the 2012 Miss Universe Pageant here are thrilled with their new provocative pinup portraits, and in advance of this weekend’s release, they are defending and deflecting any controversy.
Vegas DeLuxe has an advance look at Fadil Berisha’s bedroom lingerie shot of 19-year-old Miss Lithuania Greta Mikalauskyte. We’ll post more shots when his editing is completed. Fadil is no stranger to controversy over his edgy and provocative photos; he was at the center of a Miss USA firestorm here three years ago when critics lambasted his photos as too sexy.
“The new photos are sexy, classy and tasteful. It’s hotter and more elegant than you’ll see in the Victoria’s Secrets catalog. The photos are all themed to lingerie. We were nervous, but he made it very easy and comfortable” several contestants told me Tuesday night at Michael Boychuck’s salon Color in Caesars Palace.
While surrounded by Miss Paraguay (Egni Eckert, 25), Miss India (Shilpa Singh, 23), Miss South Africa (Melinda Bam, 23), Miss Croatia (Elizabeta Burg, 19) and Miss Norway (Sara Nicole Andersen, 20), Miss Universe and Miss USA chief Paula Shugart told me: “We have an amazing group of girls from all over the world for the pageant.
“We asked every one of them if they were comfortable with the photos and if they would get any kind of negative reaction back in their homelands. Every one was completely OK with the shoots and very proud of the results. They loved their glamour looks. These are beautiful, healthy, smart, very fit young women -- and you’re seeing them exactly the way they’d be in swimwear at the beach.”
Miss India and Miss South Africa said: “For every one of us, it’s our very first visit to Las Vegas. It’s amazing. We’ve all been tweeting home but haven’t had any time for blogging yet because we’ve been nonstop busy since we arrived here.” Miss Paraguay added, “I’ve fallen in love with Las Vegas already and want to stay here after the pageant is over.”
Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was on duty for the Miss Universe contestants and the Miss Nevada hopefuls at Color; our thanks for his incredible photo gallery.
Miss Universe will be a global broadcast to 100 countries on NBC and Telemundo from Planet Hollywood on Wednesday, Dec. 19. Train will provide a three-song set for the swimsuit competition, and Bravo’s Andy Cohen and E! Entertainment’s Giuliana Rancic are co-hosts. One female Olympic gold medalist is tipped to be one of the judges, with the full list to be announced this weekend.
Reigning Miss Universe Leila Lopes, who will crown her successor, led five Nevada hopefuls to Color to meet reigning Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall, Miss Nevada Teen USA Katie Eklund and Nevada USA director Shanna Moakler. Michael and hair guru best friend Laurent Dufourg of Prive Salons in L.A. presented a workshop on hair, makeup and coloring. All of them gave pageant and beauty tips to 50 hopefuls in the casting call for the Jan. 27 state pageant at UNLV’s Ham Hall.
Shanna told me: “We will have 30 Miss Nevada USA contestants and 36 Miss Teen Nevada USA contestants. The Strip, Las Vegas itself, Henderson and Reno will be well represented, but my longtime goal is to widen it to other cities through Nevada so we will eventually have 100 Miss Nevada contestants and 80 Miss Teen contestants.
“I am super proud of the new girls we have lined up already. Tonight, they learned a lot about glamour from the best experts. They grilled Miss Universe, who shared a lot of valuable experience and hints. Leila told them how to calm their nerves and have fun in a pageant to show confidence.”
Thursday morning, 25 of the Miss Universe contestants will join Leila and the sexy showgirls of “Jubilee!” at Bally’s for a behind-the-scenes tour and a dance lineup onstage. Then at 5 p.m. Thursday, all 89 contestants gather together for the first time to kick off the 61st competition with a fashion runway presentation at Planet Hollywood’s mezzanine that is open to the public.
Michael had the last word: “I see a lot of beautiful women in my salons, but I think this was the most I’ve ever had at one time. We owned the words ‘gorgeous hair and makeup’ tonight. No other salon in the world can claim they had so many pageant princesses all at once. I wonder if that’s a new category for the Guinness Book of Records?!”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Catering to the young and modern crowd, Planet Hollywood is a one-stop shop for entertainment with its massive shopping mall, slew of restaurants, spacious casino and clubs.
The ambiance of the casino is retro-chic meets high-tech with black granite floors throughout and colorful LED lights throughout the space. The theme carries into the 100,000 square-foot casino with 250 flat screens topping off slot machines. The casino is also home to 87 tables, a sports book and a poker room.
There's also the Miracle Mile Shops, one Vegas' largest malls, with 140 stores including BCBG Max Azaria, bebe, Urban Outfitters and The Discovery Channel Store.
Following an afternoon of shopping, guests can satisfy their appetites at one of the gourmet restaurants in Planet Hollywood, like the non-traditional approach to steakhouses at Strip House or check out the exotic Far East motif at KOI restaurant and lounge. And if guests are still looking for more, they can spend the after hours at Privé, Triq or Krave nightclubs.
Perhaps one of the resorts biggest attractions came in March with the addition of "Peepshow." The naughty twist on the story of Little Bo Peep is modern-day spin on the run-of-the-mill Vegas topless review. The "Peepshow" stage has seen visiting celebs like Scary Spice Mel B, "Dancing with the Stars" Kelly Monaco and Playboy's Holly Madison.
Transport yourself to the opulent and excessive Roman Empire at Caesars Palace. But the ever-changing Caesars Palace is far from ancient. The hotel and casino is constantly raising the bar for what visitors can expect in a Vegas resort experience.
Caesars Palace features 3,348 rooms and suites in five towers, including the new luxury boutique Nobu Hotel and Restaurant, which opened Feb. 4, 2013, in the totally remodeled Centurian Tower. Caesars features 129,000 square feet of gaming space, including the Strip’s largest poker room and a 250-seat sports book. Other amenities include about two dozen restaurants, a four-level shopping mall, four pools, a spa, Pure and Poetry nightclubs and Pussycat Dolls.
Dining options include restaurants from world-renown chefs Guy Savoy, Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay and, on Feb. 4, 2013, Nobu Matsuhisa.
You never know what characters you’ll run into at Caesars with regular performers like Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Elton John and maybe even the emperor himself.