TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: Having no answer to a question is all it takes to win over judges

Being a Hollywood film publicist has its perks. Hobnobbing with famous actors. Grazing for hours at the set snack table. Traveling to far-away lands. Being asked to judge a supermodel contest.

Being a Hollywood film publicist has its perks. Hobnobbing with famous actors. Grazing for hours at the set snack table. Traveling to far-away lands. Being asked to judge a supermodel contest.

Yep, that's right. Supermodel contest. Apart from being employed, a "supermodel" is distinguished from a mere "model" by virtue of the fact that she's very much super. Something about the sneer. The hollowed eyes. The dedicated willingness to maintain a body weight one meal away from starvation. The look that says, "I haven't smiled in four months and there's nothing you can do about it." That's what separates the models from the supermodels.

That, and me. For it was yours truly, along with eight others, called upon to decide who among a bevy of young beauties was indeed super and who was merely beautiful. Yeah, sure, beautiful will get you backstage at Bon Jovi concerts and admitted to exclusive nightclubs. It can even get you the last doughnut at Krispy Kreme. But it does not, mind you, get a fat (Ssshhh ... don't use that word around models!) contact worth $25,000 with a snotty cosmetics company. I shan't name the company sponsoring this particular gene-pool contest, owing to the fact that I forget who it was, and would have to go look it up. We both have better things to do than wait for me to find it. Suffice to say, they make beauty products for women. It starts with a "T" - that much I remember.

Unlike conventional beauty pageants, in which contestants are required to demonstrate some sort of talent other than being able to stand upright, a supermodel contest makes no such pretensions. It's strictly a "show us the goods" kind of contest.

There was, however, the obligatory Q&A segment, during which our cheesy host asked silly questions to gauge the contestants' poise, intelligence, and wit. Our American gals, naturally, respond to the question of "What do you like to do in your free time?" with such appropriate answers as "Volunteer at a local youth shelter" or "Deliver food to shut-ins." Not the Eastern European contestants, thankfully. "Talk on the phone" was their most popular response, followed by "shopping." One girl even said, "Have the love with my boyfriend." Okay, I'm ready to vote. Anyone else need more time?

You'll be pleased to know that three of my picks made the final five.

I did not vote for the winner, though, who was from Moravia. I placed her fifth, mainly because she answered, "I'm not really sure" when asked what her favorite activity was. My personal feeling is that she had a little fix in with one of the judges, a hockey player visibly missing two teeth.

Anyway, it was all in good fun, and afterwards, I took them all out for french fries. One apiece.

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