Juan Pinnick has been crowned as Mr Gay World Southern Africa 2017.
It was an night to remember. The Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria was bristling with excitement as the audience took their seats for this annual event. Backstage, the tension was tangible among the 12 delegates. After months of preparation and an intense week of activities, the final twelve, ranging in ages from 21 to 43 years old, were getting ready to strut their stuff. At stake were prizes to the value of R 30,000 and the chance to represent the country at the Mr Gay World Competition to be held in 2018 at an as yet undisclosed location.
Hosted by Phillip Moolman, André Lötter and Eloise Cupido, the show started with a stunning performance by the first Arab artist to win The Voice Israel, a small package of dynamite named Lina. Performing with the delegates as her backup dancers, she wowed the audience with her amazing voice. Her message to the audience was loud and clear: We all deserve to be loved. She later performed a second set of songs, including the last song ever written for Queen’s Freddy Mercury, the heart wrenching Too much love will kill you.
Other artists included Tanja Storm and Mel Botes who blew the audience away with a stunning set of songs; the amazing John Delinger who sang I believe I can fly even though his guitar microphone was not working and in the process demonstrating his amazing vocal range and abilities; and the surprise showstoppers of the evening, local foursome The Croons.
But the evening belonged to the delegates who earlier that day had individual interviews with the judges and who now had the opportunity to strut their stuff and demonstrate their quick thinking, having to answer sometimes tricky questions posed by the judges.
They first appeared in outfits designed by one of the delegates, Prince Nsimande, who has become the first ever delegate to have his award winning fashion included as part of the show. The audience was blown away by the uniquely South Africa feel of the clothes on display, and one could tell the delegates had a great time wearing these outfits.
Next the delegates rocked the stage with clothes by Bear Wear and sunglasses by BondiBlue. They made a turn on stage outfitted in casual wear supplied by Big Blue. But of course the moment everybody was waiting for was the swimwear part of the show, sponsored by NIKU.
It was at this point during the show that several winners were announced. The best interview with GaySA Radio was awarded to Juan Pinnick, who also walked away with the most online votes and the best campaign. Mr Congeniality was awarded to Karabo Morake, while The Face of Michael Game Plan was awarded to Thaio Lekhanya, who also won the photo challenge and tied with Karabo for the sport challenge. Thaio also won the Formal Wear section, as well as the swimwear section, which was not announced on the night due a mix-up with presenter Phillip Moolman. Lourens Moorcroft did the best in the written test, while Hencoe Beukes had the best Social Media campaign.
The delegates’ last scene was formal wear, designed by Peter Bondesio Couture and Floris Louw Couture, and by this stage it was clear from the audience’s reaction who their favourites were.
While the public vote counted toward the final score, it was ultimately up to the judges to make their final decisions, based on the reports submitted by the pre-judges Hendrik Baird of GaySA Radio and Gavin Hayward from the Exit Newspaper; the interviews conducted with each delegate; the written test the delegates completed; as well as the final score for the stage section of the event.
The judging panel was ably led by Rubin van Niekerk of Gay Pages, and included Luiz de Barros of Mambaonline.com, Derick Tait of Fortis Hotels (the name sponsor of the event), Sibu Mazaiwana of the Anova Health Institute, Mike Fisher of Fisher Industries and Michael Game Plan, Kevin Morudo of Mango Airlines, South African Internet personality, actor, model and influencer Lasizwe Dambuza and gaypreneur Dale Pudney, who founded the Shambhala Organisation. And to make sure everything was fair and square, Ian Ferreira Massyn audited all the results.
Last year’s winner, Alexander Steyn, who came fifth in the Mr Gay World 2017 event, had a moment to showcase his journey and say goodbye. Then the tension in the theatre reached breaking point with the audience expressing vocal support for their favourites, and finally the crowning moment arrived.
The top three winners had clicked from the word go and become firm friends over the preceding week, and it was apt that they ended up winning. Second runner up was the delectable Thaio Lekhanye, with lawyer Karabo Morake being crowned as first runner up. Juan Pinnick of Bloemfontein was crowned the winner of the event and all three of them burst into tears when their names were announced. The judges later said that the scores were extremely close.
Juan vowed that he would incorporate his two princes in his plans for them to be ambassadors for the gay community over the next year, working together on their campaigns to reduce homophobia and give much-needed visibility to all the various sub-groups included in the LGBTQ+ acronym.
In an interview with GaySA Radio, Juan said: “It’s incredible. Myself and Karabo became every emotional toward the end. This competition meant a lot to us. I have met the most amazing friends and met some amazing people. Everyone of course is winners.”
Kevin Morudo of Mango Airlines said: “There’s a lot that went into the event by the delegates, they put in their heart and soul and the best contestant won, he is a hands on person.”
Interestingly, Juan is the partner to last year’s winner, Alexander Steyn, and according to reports Alexander told Juan he would not help him prepare for the competition, he had to do it on his own.
For some of the delegates this may be the end of the road, for others, like the three winners, this is just the beginning. Coming up is a year of intense work on their campaigns and for Juan the long road ahead to Mr Gay World 2018.
It was an exhausted group who found some extra reserves to party the night away in celebration. Each of the delegates have now returned to their homes all over South Africa, having learned and developed, having grown and vowing to use the visibility created by this event to make a difference in each of their communities.
Meanwhile preparations for next year’s competition is about to start with the hope of attracting an even more diverse group of guys, and drawing a much bigger audience for Mr Gay World Southern Africa 2018.
GaySA Radio is an official media sponsor of Mr. Gay World Southern Africa. GaySA Radio is an internet radio station broadcasting on http://gaysaradio.ndstream.net
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