Italy Crowns Miss Secessionist — Sans Leader Umberto Bossi

posted Mon March 22 13:24 pm zoomata staff

The show must go on, but the Miss Padania beauty pageant in Milan without Northern League political leader Umberto Bossi was even more of a sorry spectacle than usual.

Bossi, 62 , was hospitalized following a March 11 heart attack and a subsequent media blackout raised further concerns about his chances for a full recovery. The forced smiles of politicians sitting in the first rows of the sixth edition of Miss Padania showed just how lost they feel without the passionate man who declared the north of Italy the Federal Republic of Padania in 1996.

Party leader Bossi was undoubtedly the star of the previous year’s edition, the first to be broadcast on a national network, filling in gaps in the proceedings by making jokes and patting backs like an accomplished TV host playing to a crowd of adoring fans. He was not mentioned during the course of the pageant this year, but cheers of “Bossi! Bossi! Bossi!” broke out from the crowd of over 5,000 people during the final ceremony. Northern League senator Roberto Calderoli announced that there will be no celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the Lega in April without Bossi.

Bossi got the idea for the beauty pageant, which requires at least five years of residence in Northern Italy, as an anti-Miss Italy contest with over 1,000 young women vying for the title in its inaugural 1998 edition. The feisty leader was fond of his creation — one of his last public appearances was on a talk show where he was flanked by two Miss Padania contestants.

When the crown, which looks disturbingly like a spray of spoons, finally went on the winner late Saturday night it seemed an afterthought. 17-year-old Alice Graci — that’s just a two-letter difference from last year’s winner, Alice Grassi — had already won the title of Miss Charme and flailed about trying to put on the second sash. Graci, a tall girl with a mane of teased reddish hair, was neither the most popular nor the most articulate of the 78 contestants; host Emanuela Folliero had to ask the audience to applaud her. Several jury members complained to Italian media that organizers forgot to pick up their voting ballots.

The pageant is typically a mix of whole-hearted pride in everything Northern Italian and pulchritude displayed in dubious taste — this year, however, organizers preferred to emphasize words like ‘solidarity’ ‘friendship’ and ‘fun.’
Contestants wore demure sarongs over bikini bottoms, paraded in vintage wedding dresses instead of evening gowns and the usually comical talent segment was skipped altogether. ?1999-2004 zoomata.com

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