PROVO, Ut. – Karmel Larson, the newly-crowned Mrs. Utah, has begun her "decency tour" throughout the state of Utah, aimed at "improving Utah's decency," according to an article in the Deseret News.
"It's about upholding the moral standards of society, which is also up to interpretation," Larson said at a poorly-attended event at a local library on Saturday. "How I define 'decency' is promoting anything that promotes strong family values or speaking out against profanity, violence, indecency, pornography. Anything in the media that pulls down society's values is what I want to speak out against."
Of course, speaking out against porn is nothing new to Larson. She's been president of the Utah Valley Chapter of American Mothers Inc., a pro-censorship group, and has also served as the Utah County director of Parents Television Council – the group that filed almost a million complaints with the FCC about Janet Jackson's split-second tit exposure during the 2004 Super Bowl – plus she's been a "roundtable member" of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, and the Utah County liaison for strengthenthefamily.net, yet another pro-censorship group.
And make no mistake: Mrs. Utah has a daunting task ahead of her. As noted in a study conducted by Benjamin Edelman of the Harvard Business School, Utahns have the highest number of adult website subscriptions per 1,000 broadband users – 5.47 – of any state in the country, as well as the highest number of adult subscribers per 1,000 state residents: 1.69. Of course, in raw numbers, that's not a lot – Utah only has about 2.7 million residents – but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Utah also had the highest population growth rate of any state between July 1, 2007 and July 1, 2008: 2.5%.
But in the wake of the news that the Miss California USA group, which sponsors the Miss California USA pageant, had paid for breast implants for the current (at least, at press time) Miss California, Carrie Prejean, AVN decided to look a bit deeper into what it takes to become "Mrs. Utah."
And the answer is ... about a thousand bucks. And it doesn't seem to hurt to have a shitload of "sponsors" as well.
"How do I become a contestant in the 2009 pageant?" asks the anonymous questioner in the Mrs. Utah United States website's FAQs.
"Simply fill out the online application under the 'Apply' link, send your registration fee of $50 to Mrs. Utah U.S., P.O. Box 902012 Sandy, Utah 84090, or by using the 'Make a Payment' tab and you will then be contacted by one of our staff members!" replies the anonymous responder.
But that's hardly all. That $50 is just the application fee – a down payment, as it were. The entry fee is another $950, although there are some small discounts for entering early and for referring another contestant.
The "entry fee" includes a "[p]rofessional photo shoot and full page ad design, Mrs. Utah United States 'Layers' T-shirt, DVD of the 2009 Pageant, 4 month workshop training series, personalized coaching by pageant staff and Mrs. Utah United States 2008, hair removal & esthetic gift services, pageant day hair and makeup, lunches," and "much, much more!!" (Sorry; no breast implants.) And there are various payment plans available.
But how are the winners selected?
"Is there a talent portion of the competition?" wonders one anonymous questioner.
"No, there is not a talent portion of the competition," an anonymous pageant official assures. "The Mrs. Utah United States Pageant emphasizes contestant involvement in their respective communities. We know that personal talents will be utilized to this end and want to focus on the contribution to community instead."
So, "How is the Mrs. Utah United States pageant judged?"
Answer: "The Mrs. Utah United States pageant is judged in 4 different categories. Private Interview (33%), Swimsuit-Full piece (33%), Evening Gown (33%), and On-stage question (10%) for the top ten finalists."
So is $1,000 the total cash outlay? Or as the website puts it, "If I win the title of Mrs. Utah, do I need to obtain my own sponsors again for the National competition?"
"We will provide the winner of Mrs. Utah with a cash prize but we strongly advise her to pursue additional sponsorships for nationals," cautions the anonymous pageant official. "The Winner’s travel accommodations to the national competition including her personal airfare, hotel, and meals to include breakfast and lunch will be provided. Any personal expenditures while at nationals, such as new wardrobe items will be at the expense of the contestant. The new Mrs. Utah will receive a wardrobe allowance however, which is provided by our pageant outfitter."
Sponsors are indeed an important part of the pageant. Karmel Larson had 64 sponsors, including the pro-censorship groups Citizens For Families, American Mothers Inc. of Utah Valley and Parents Television Council. The first runner-up, Amber Braithwaite, only had 12, though the fourth runner-up, Carol Ann Guest, managed to acquire 21.
"You will have the opportunity to list your sponsors on your personal ad page and you can also sell additional space to them in the program book," notes the FAQ. "We offer a great incentive for selling additional ad space; you receive half of the sale! Ads are offered as small as a business card up to full size, 8x10 pages. A new feature we’ve added this year is the opportunity for sponsors to purchase commercia1 time during the pre show and intermission and also the opportunity to purchase a color full- page ad."
Perhaps of interest is that Larson didn't even win the "Interview" portion of the contest; that went to Camille Hendrix (five sponsors, including three radio stations), who also won "Mrs. Photogenic." Larson's big win? The "Evening Wear Award."
In other words, "Mrs. Utah" is just another meaningless title that some married woman who looks acceptable in a bathing suit and an evening gown gets to put on her résumé as she extols her "platform" to the crowds at various public appearances during the year of her "reign."
But then again, that still puts her ahead, qualifications-wise, of most of the anti-porn zealots on the national speaking circuit ... so good luck, Karmel!