Students in search of rock-hard abs, toned arms and dance moves that could make a girl weak in the knees did not have to go any further than Ushuaia on Friday night. The club held its third annual Men’s Best Body Bash, drawing most of its contestants from the University of Maine.
In the years when the club was known as Geddy’s there was only a “skin to win” bikini competition. Ushuaia club owner Alex Gray added a men’s body contest and has been working to change the perception of the contest as a strip show.
“It’s a body competition, it’s not a smut show,” Gray said.
“At first I didn’t want to do it. I was contemplating the whole night-I was 60 percent against doing it but winning it feels good as hell.” – Lennard Byrd
The men’s competition is held one week after the Women’s Best Body Bikini Contest. Last week UMaine sophomore Margaret Muller took first prize.
“She is absolutely ripped,” Gray said. “She can out bench me and probably half of the guys I have working here.”
Gray has seen the progression of the contest through the years.
“When I worked at Geddy’s, [the competition] used to be a popularity contest.”
Gray has tried to shed such an image by bringing in an objective judging panel.
“We’re looking for enthusiasm, toned people who don’t take it too seriously but look like they’re having fun,” Kria Sakakeeny a judge from WLBZ channel 2, said. “Attitude is half of it.
About 13 men took to the stage to strut their stuff in front of hundreds of screaming women, dancing to current hits, shredding their shirts, flaunting their behinds and spraying water and whipped cream.
On stage with the men was master of ceremonies Cori Skall of Q106.5, entertaining the crowd with a combination of jokes and observational humor.
“This is my chance to slam a bunch of guys who think they’re all studly,” Skall said. “By the time I’m done with them it will be the ladies job to pick the best from the worst.”
One of the major concerns was contestants could be disqualified because of the crowd. Gray gave the men guidelines that certain body parts could not be exposed. As the men danced across the stage, certain women were grabbing at the men’s boxers, trying to see what they could.
Gray got on stage before the second half of contest and told the audience to restrain themselves. According to Gray he does not tolerate indecent exposure and he told the audience, “Don’t pull their junk out, they’ll get disqualified.”
Senior marketing major Phil McGeoghan, sporting Tommy briefs and dancing to Ludakris’s “Southern Hospitality” considered the contest all fun and games.
“I’ve never done this before but I was just on MTV Spring Break so being in front of 700 people at Ushuaia is no big deal,” he said. “I’m not doing it to win-my roommate convinced me to do it.”
Last year’s winner, UMaine student Stephen Cooper made it to the finals. He came out wearing only a baseball cap to cover below his waist.
“I just want to have fun,” he said. “A lot of my boys are in it. This is a good thing-who wouldn’t do it for the trip and money? Every guy should be doing it.”
Sophomore Randy Smith got the crowd going when he came out in the finals and layed down and started grinding on the floor.
Senior Lennard Byrd took home the top honors, dancing and ripping off his clothes to Oochie Walla Walla. He walked away with $500 cash and a trip with accommodations for two to Mexico.
“At first I didn’t want to do it,” Byrd said. “I was contemplating the whole night-I was 60 percent against doing it but winning it feels good as hell.”
According to the judges, the decision was difficult.
“It was really hard defining the distinction between who has the better body and who seems cuter,” Sakakeeny said.
“They all had nice bodies,” judge Cherilee Budrick of WLBZ Channel 2, said. “It came down to enthusiasm and how they used what they have.”
For the judges, the only turnoff was the audience.
“I thought [a lot of people] were uncontrolled and I didn’t like seeing that many girls act that way,” Sakakeeny said.
Overall, Gray was satisfied.
“It’s a fun time, it’s like a circus vibe going through here,” Gray said. “The guys put on a great show. This was one for the books.”