TORRANCE, Calif.—Celine brought a snake to the Spearmint Rhino Entertainer of the Year Finals on Thursday night, and she left with the grand prize. (photo gallery)
Oozing sex appeal and exhibiting no fear, the 26-year-old Guatemalan performed an Egyptian-themed, snake dance to capture the 2010 Entertainer of the Year crown in front of a standing-room-only crowd at the Torrance Spearmint Rhino. Celine, whose home club is the Van Nuys Rhino, emerged victorious from a talented field of 12 finalists from across the U.S. and Canada to win over $27,500 in cash and prizes.
“It means a lot,” said Celine, who was the first contestant on stage Thursday. “I’ve been a performer for three years. I was a go-go dancer and model before. I love dancing. I like the crowd. I like the attention. I like to feel the crowd and feel the music.”
The curvaceous, 5-foot brunette earned a one-year feature dancing contract to tour the country, $5,000 cash, a custom diamond and gold Rhino pendant worth over $5,000, a portfolio photo shoot and a $1500 gift certificate to the Rhino Superstore in the City of Industry.
Remarkably, she also overcame her fear of snakes as she shook her assets while gripping a 4-foot python.
“It was my first time holding a snake, nothing was rehearsed,” Celine admitted. “Once I decided I wanted to do this I went to go get it today. I had to bring it, and I kind of had a phobia before. But not any more. This snake is friendly. Her name is Sin.”
Celine said that now she may even consider buying the python—it costs about $300—which a friend helped her rent just for The Finals.
“I wanted to be sexy with it,” she said. “I feel like now I can hold one. I just got the snake about 6 o’clock.”
Dressed in a glittering gold ensemble, Celine was carried to the stage on a bed by four guys while Egyptian music played. Her exotic looks and moves included some belly dancing before she dropped her top and reached for the reptile. Then she showered her body with gold coins and jewels from a treasure chest to close her show. Celine told AVN she went with a Cleopatra theme to start, and then when she took off her crown she was inspired by “Shakira.”
“I wanted to represent my country and Hispanic people,” she said. "... I love competing. I won a couple shows before. I'm very used to being in front of a big crowd."
Austin, a stunning blonde dancer representing the downtown LA Rhino, took runner-up honors. The aspiring singer recorded her own custom version of the song “I’m a Barbie Girl” by Aqua for her sizzling, Barbie Doll-themed stage show. Decked out in hot pink, Austin came out in a Barbie Doll box with her gorgeous friends Natasha and Jessica doing some role playing. Austin stayed in character striking various doll poses, while the girls changed her boots and danced behind her.
“It was very last minute. I’m proud of the fact it came together,” Austin said. “Two of my girlfriends made all of the costumes tonight, I recorded Thursday. I took the second half of ‘I’m a Barbie Girl’ and changed the lyrics. It’s actually me singing ‘I’m a Rhino Girl.’ And we made the Barbie Box last night.”
A native of the Bay Area, Austin moved to LA last November and started dancing at the downtown Rhino in February. She said she grew up competing in various styles of dance such as hip-hop, jazz, ballet and modern until she was 18.
“My mother had three [dance] studios in Mountain View,” Austin said. She describes her singing style as R&B and pop, and has already recorded over 50 songs with two albums on her resume, one produced in Nashville and another in Portland, Ore.
Now she is working with several LA-based producers to develop new projects and hopes to sign with a record label.
“I want to go high up in the music industry,” said Austin, who sang Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” during her preliminary round.
One of the highlights of Thursday's event undoubtedly was the special performance by 2009 Entertainer of the Year Christina Aguchi. The Chinese-Vietnamese star began her show dressed like a member of the JabbaWockeeZ, the all-male group that won MTV’s inaugural “America’s Best Dance Crew” competition in 2008.
Aguchi displayed her hip-hop dancing prowess before ripping off her white mask and blue jeans and launching into an acrobatic yet graceful routine that has made her one of the top draws in the country. She is already pre-booked to feature dance for 21 weeks in 2010. By the time Aguchi grabbed two large wine bottles and poured water all over her body for the finale, the crowd was electrified.
“That was one of the greatest performances ever,” said Erick Sikkenga, executive vice president of Spearmint Rhino, before he announced the 2010 winner.
Sikkenga, along with Rhino president Kathy Vercher and senior district manager Brett Schuster, judged The Finals. The criteria entailed evaluating originality, costume, sex appeal and crowd interaction, among other things.
The new Rhino queen said that once she found her gold Cleopatra outfit, everything else just fell into place.
“It wasn’t really a big deal. My outfit was so hot, just to have it on was great,” Celine told AVN. “I thought it doesn’t matter whether I win or not, I felt so sexy. I wanted to be that for Halloween, but then I thought I could use it for this too. I just feel sexy in that. I thought all the girls did a great job and I’m very surprised I won.”
The dozen finalists qualified by placing either first or second in their preliminary rounds which started on Sept. 24.
For a photo gallery, click here.
Pictured from left: Christina Aguchi, Erick Sikkenga, Celine, Kathy Vercher and Brett Schuster.