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The partying is over! Now it’s serious. The 51 Miss USA Pageant contestants have kept up a relentless schedule during their first week in Las Vegas, but now it’s all about the actual pageant as rehearsals begin with a vengeance.
As the Memorial Day Weekend arrived, the glamour girls transitioned from the TV cameras filming their fun and games, nightclub dancing and sightseeing attractions to the main mission. Wednesday is the first preliminary competition, and Sunday is the main event airing on NBC from Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts, and that means the dance routines, fashion walks, swimsuit and evening gowns, makeup and hair had better all be perfect.
Our thanks to Miss USA photographer Darren Decker and our contributing photographer Erik Kabik for capturing the pageant princesses for today’s four photo galleries. Also to lord of the lens glamour photographer Fadil Berisha for his fashion portraits of the contestants shot at Garden of the Gods pool complex in Caesars Palace that were unveiled for the first time over the weekend.
2011 Miss USA Alyssa Campanella, who will turn over her crown to the new winner Sunday night, traded her sash and crown for Gordon Ramsay’s chef coat when she took on the role of a secret chef at his new Gordon Ramsay Steak in Paris Las Vegas. While contestants were enjoying dinner, they had no idea that Alyssa was in the kitchen making sticky toffee pudding under the direction of chef de cuisine Kevin Hee.
Ten contestants enjoyed a decadent four-course meal, including the girls’ favorites of beef Wellington and Caesar salad with Scotch eggs. Near the end of the dinner, the double doors of the private dining room opened to reveal Alyssa with the toffee treat, and she joined them to check out her culinary skills.
She said: “Don’t mess with me when I’m in the kitchen. My dessert was a hit. I played mystery chef and completely surprised them. They loved the sticky toffee pudding with creamy brown sugar sauce and brown butter ice cream.”
The girls got one last chance to enjoy the pool, where the tallest girls in the pageant measured up one another. Then it was time to enjoy nightlife at Strip nightclubs with stops at VooDoo lounge in the Rio; Chateau Nightclub & Gardens in the Paris; and the debut of Sky Blu’s residency “Who Came to Party?!” at Pure in Caesars Palace.
Sky Blu, one half of LMFAO, and his Party Rock crew took the town by storm with double duty at Wet Republic at MGM Grand; fellow Big Bad artists Mark Rosas, girlfriend Chelsea Korka and BVillain joined Sky Blu. Pure was packed was transformed into a performance artist’s haven complete with a custom-built stage, a massive LED screen, a catwalk, confetti cannons, go-go dancers and strobe lighting.
Sky Blu took over the DJ booth at midnight with Alyssa, and Miss USA hopefuls cheered as he shuffled down the catwalk performing “Party Rock Anthem” created with his uncle Redfoo, the other half of LMFAO. The contestants joined him on the catwalk and danced as he performed “Sexy and I Know It.”
The Miss Teen USA fashion show and bash at Tao in the Venetian on Monday marked the changeover from smiles to serious. Dancers from “Jubilee!” at Bally’s joined Miss USA girls for a morning-long match-up with Best Buddies to teach a routine to perform onstage, volleyball and artistic fun. Best Buddies creates opportunities for friendships and provides jobs and leadership development for adults and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Caesars executives were so knocked out by this year’s Grecian goddess-themed fashion shoot by Fadil at Garden of the Gods that they turned the unveiling into a high-roller’s event. The new Diamond Lounge at Augustus Tower became an exclusive photo gallery to display the 51 portraits by the New York-based Albanian American lens master. I’ve chosen some of them for our Vegas DeLuxe readers -- no favorites except for maybe our 2012 Miss Nevada USA Jade Kelsall.
Once the partying was over, rehearsals began full blast. The contestants learned their fashion walks, introductions, backstage hair and makeup logistics, quick-change wardrobe areas and the surprise show-opening dance in the form of a Sherri Hill fashion show. Here’s a sneak peek.
Although they’ll rehearse right up until Wednesday’s preliminaries with today’s evening gown and swimsuit previews, they’ll keep their pageant gowns a surprise until Sunday. The girls will wear Diamond Nexus jewelry onstage for their presentations, and they shot a disco number during rehearsals.
Billionaire realtor Donald Trump, who owns Miss USA, Miss Teen USA and Miss Universe, is expected to fly in today to watch the girls at rehearsals and then host fundraising events for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at his Trump International Hotel and Tower.
Judges Arsenio Hall, Joe Jonas, Rob Kardashian, Ali Fedotowsky and George Kotsiopoulos start interviews today, and then Thursday, Friday and Saturday the final rehearsals with hosts Andy Cohen and Giuliana Rancic and roving correspondents Kelly Osbourne and Jeannie Mai.
Check back to Vegas Deluxe for our continuing, up-to-the-minute photos and coverage of the pageant during the second week of the contestants’ visit. We’ll have a full report of Wednesday night’s preliminaries on Thursday.
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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