Racy and controversial Miss USA photos don't bother Miss MinnesotaMiss Minnesota Courtney Basara of Duluth wasn’t bothered by the racy official photos for this year’s Miss USA Pageant, her mother said on Thursday. The photos, taken by New York City fashion photographer Fadil Berisha, show the contestants in lacy lingerie, in seductive poses. They’ve created media attention, talk radio titillation — and a lot of buzz for Sunday evening’s pageant.
By: John Lundy, Forum Communications
Courtney Basara wasn’t bothered by the racy official photos for this year’s Miss USA Pageant, her mother said on Thursday.
The photos, taken by New York City fashion photographer Fadil Berisha, show the contestants in lacy lingerie, in seductive poses. They’ve created media attention, talk radio titillation — and a lot of buzz for Sunday evening’s pageant.
Linda Basara, reached in Las Vegas where the Basara family is spending pageant week, said the photos haven’t created much of a stir among contestants and their families.
“From what I’ve heard so far, everyone has felt that the pictures are very beautiful,” she said.
Courtney Basara, a professional model as well as a college student, has worked with Berisha before, her mother said. So Courtney felt comfortable working with him for the pageant pose.
But the pictures have their critics. A CBS News story earlier this week quoted Tim Winter of the Parents Television Council, who said the pageant is no longer family viewing. The pictures, he said, “obliterated” the line “between a beauty pageant and soft-core pornography.”
Rhonda Grussendorf has reservations about the photos as well. Grussendorf, a frequent guest on local talk radio who was a contestant in the 1986 Miss Minnesota Pageant and runs the Miss Hermantown Pageant, said she appreciated the marketing brilliance behind the pictures.
“The Miss USA Pageant, especially when Donald Trump took over, went cutting-edge all the way,” Grussendorf said. “He’s such a genius. Think about the audience he going to have” because of interest generated by the provocative pictures.
Nonetheless, Grussendorf said they don’t send the right message about the pageant.
“What the tradition has been in Miss USA is not people posing in a Victoria’s Secret manner,” she said. “Why in the world would it have to stoop to this level?”
Grussendorf, who was named Miss Congeniality in the 1986 state pageant, said she has nothing against lingerie modeling, but she doesn’t think it fits with a pageant in which contestants are seen as role models by little girls.
“There’s an absolute place for everything,” she said. “This is a pageant. I was shocked, even in 2010.”
In a statement, Lark-Marie Anton, vice president of marketing and public relations for Miss Universe, said: “We are in the business of beauty, and the contestants who compete for the title of Miss USA are not afraid to be sexy. These ladies are the full package — smart, accomplished, relevant and sexy!”
Miss Minnesota Pageant officials didn’t respond to a request for a comment.
Linda Basara said each year’s photos fit the pageant theme. The 2009 pageant had a theme of 1940s glamour. This year’s theme is “Waking Up in Vegas.” “We didn’t know what the theme was until she got here,” she said.
John Lundy is a reporter at the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, which, like the Herald, is owned by Forum Communications Co.