Edward McFadden – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Delta Phi Epsilon hosted its second annual Deepher Dude pageant Feb. 25 for a comedic night of song and dance. It came as a part of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and the event combined entertainment with a drive to raise funds for philanthropy and to promote awareness around campus.
Ten male contestants representing different recognized student organizations (RSOs) around campus took stage in Hart Chapel and competed for the Deepher Dude crown in similar style to the Miss United States Pageant. The guys embraced the spirit of the event with high-energy performances and were awarded points based on style, content and execution by the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon.
Five different categories made up the 90-minute pageant allowing for solo performances from contestant after a synchronized opening dance sequence. Segments included a question and answer session, beach attire presentation, talent performance, unicorn spirit showcase and a formal wear session.
Each featured its unique blend of comedy as the guys strutted, posed, sang, danced and flaunted their garb across stage. They hammed it up for the audience, and the antics were met with laughter, cheers and the occasional cat-call.
Kate Hammond, philanthropy chair of Delta Phi Epsilon, reported that the unorthodox approach to the beauty pageant format promoted thought on inner beauty through personality, as opposed to physical appearance.
“All of the guys showed how they had beauty in that aspect. By going out there and participating in the first place. That’s something that takes a lot of confidence, and a lot of security. They were able to be really funny, but also kind of more serious. They showed different sides of themselves, especially in the talents portion,” said Hammond.
The more unstructured format of the talent portions gave contestants roughly five minutes’ worth of freedom of expression, and acts in this portion spanned a wide range of style and emotion, including glow-in-the-dark interpretive dance and a good-natured open-prose poem about living with deafness and the act of listening.
Other acts focused more on bringing the audience to participate. Contestant Eric Zavinski of Student Honors Association danced his way off stage and into the crowd, bringing a lip-sync performance of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie” to the aisles of Hart and to the crowd toward the back.
Denny Zanewicz of Delta Zeta performed a comically misdirected makeup tutorial on audience volunteer Molly Powers.
Audience members participated in the pageant by donating money to vote for their preferred contestants through jars at the Delta Phi Epsilon table and a GoFundMe page on the sorority’s Facebook page. This format allowed the voting process to occur without audience members leaving their seats, and a live stream of the events allowed alumni, friends and family not in Clarion to watch and vote as well.
Proceeds were donated to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), a non-profit with a long history of philanthropic partnership with Delta Phi Epsilon. It is one of the sorority’s nationally associated charities, along with the DPE Education Foundation and the Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation.
Guest speaker Kristiana Brush took the stage near the beginning of the event to share her personal experience with, and subsequent recovery from, anorexia. Brush reported that she began to exhibit eating disorder behaviors at age nine and was finally diagnosed at 17 when forced into treatment for heart and kidney complications. ANAD counselors, along with a strong support group of friends and family, were cited as key players in her path to recovery.
“It really shows how dangerous this illness is,” Brush said, referencing her life’s story. “One in 200 Americans will be diagnosed with an eating disorder every year. I really think it’s time for us to recognize the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. ANAD will give you the best support that anyone could give you. Recovery is possible, and I live it every day.”
Hammond estimated that the pageant brought in anywhere from $600 to $700 to be donated to ANAD. In addition to Deepher Dude, the sorority has been tabling to raise funds and awareness during the week and featuring the “Better than Barbie” campaign, which seeks to celebrate realistic body images.
The night ended when, by popular vote, Ian Shrensky of Sigma Phi Epsilon was announced the Deepher Dude winner. Shrensky, a junior criminal justice and political science major, was crowned and sashed as the Miss United States theme played.
Delta Phi Epsilon sweetheart and sophomore communications major Billy Bob Baird, one of two returning contestants from the previous Deepher Dude pageant, reported that he hoped the pageant would continue to get “bigger and better,” and expressed interest in participating in the next Deepher Dude.
Baird said he felt some embarrassment while performing but said he was “just trying to get some laughs out of the crowd, get people to donate. It’s all about raising money and awareness for anorexia and cystic fibrosis. That’s the big thing.”
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week continues this week, bringing more tabling from Delta Phi Epsilon. Hammond mentioned that the University Activities Board would host a speaker related to the topic in the near future.
A full recording of the pageant can be found on the Facebook page of Delta Phi Epsilon of Clarion, and an edited version of the event can be found on YouTube at The Clarion Call.