The Ms. Emerson Contest
It's No Knock-Knock Joke And The Highlight of the OTL
When the Ms. Emerson contestants line up It's the highlight of the OTL party.
By Chelsea Hunter
The Ms. Emerson competition…the undeniable zenith of the hazy days filled with sand, sweat, and beer at the annual Over-the-Line (OTL) tournament each year held at Fiesta Island in San Diego.
It’s what pulls men away from the dusty game courts with vortex-like power over to the competition area where ladies deftly tiptoe up the steps of the stage (some in heels, others in tattered Rainbow flips) and each one barely covered in tiny shreds of neon and patterned elastic fabric with wistful hopes of being crowned as the next Ms. Emerson.
Mr. Emerson 2010 winner Stephanie Woods with runner-up Lindsay Bordine.
The Ms. Emerson contestants also compete for the "Titty Trophy."
The lucky judges on stage making their decisions on Ms. Emerson.
The competition began years ago as a way to choose the spokesmodel for the OMBAC committee. The contestants are judged based on their interviews with a panel of five judges (selected OMBAC committee members). The 2012 Miss Emerson contest takes place on Saturday, July 21.
In addition, their poise, grace, past accomplishments, and stage presence comes into play in the judges’ final decision of which young lady will represent the OMBAC committee in the most favorable manner over the course of the following year.
I got the rare chance to speak with one of the OMBAC judges at a Ms. Emerson competition. He informed me that only five committee members are allowed to judge each year and they rotate on and off the panel.
He said with a big grin on his sun-soaked face, “I am the first member that has been allowed to judge twice in a row.”
He went on to explain, “Ms. Emerson needs to be a great representative for OMBAC but she’s really just a little sister to 450 big brothers. She also needs to be able to put up with all of our childish behaviors that we’ll never grow out of and be cool with it.”
The writer, herself a beauty queen, with Stephanie Woods.
The 2010 Ms. Emerson runner-up, Lindsay Bordine.
Seeing as this is no small accomplishment, winning the competition is a point of pride for the participants. Each year, Ms. Emerson competitors of years past return to dust off their sashes and rush the island to grace the stage once again with their tanned skin and brightly colored bikinis to prove they’ve still got it.
This past year was an unusual treat as the stage was graced by the presence of JoJo Gaines…the very name itself commands attention like that of a grandiose gladiator competitor doesn’t it?
On the contrary, JoJo is a soft-spoken, stunningly beautiful 60-year-old woman with style and class who also happens to be the Ms. Emerson winner of the 1977 competition.
Stephanie Woods soon after winning the Ms. Emerson title.
I was able to talk with JoJo and asked her what has changed from when she competed. She humbly replied, “Well when I competed, I didn’t have to answer any hard questions. They just picked me!”
She continues to come to the tournament every year, keeping the tradition alive, enjoying the camaraderie, and reveling in the silliness that inevitably ensues when competitors and observers are allowed to drink for seven hours straight in the blazing summer heat.
Eight other competitors of years past joined JoJo on the stage including Tony Hammer (’83 winner), Karen Welker (’86), Michelle Reyes (’96), Catherine Karnes (‘01), Tamara, Zelenka (’02), Jennifer Hoffman (’05), Karina Ashegoyan (’09 runner-up), and Carlin Palenske (2000) even strutted the stage with her beautifully pregnant belly.
A man only known as “Chops” heads the competition.
Nicknamed for his enormous Elvis-style sideburns, white and wirey, the unmistakable “chops” fringe off the sides of his face framing his warm smile somewhere in the center if you’re able to catch a glimpse of it through the brush.
As the creator of the competition, Chops not only designs and paints the backgrounds of the competition stage each year, but he designed and maintains the plaques on the highly revered “Titty Trophy.” The “Titty Trophy” is bestowed upon the winner of the competition each year and bears the names of past winners engraved on small brass plaques with two squishy, jiggly, flesh-colored rubber boobies perched atop the tower of names.
The lucky contestant who wins the title of Ms. Emerson can look forward to an exciting year with the OMBAC committee and expect to see pictures of her involvement included in the Over-the-Line program the following year. As a representative of the committee they are expected to attend all of the OMBAC sponsored events throughout the following year (which includes the many charity events that OMBAC represents).
JoJo, the 1977 Ms. Emerson, comes back to OTL every year.
The competitors tae the stage and one by one strut their stuff, pose forphotos and wow the crowd with their beautiful smiles and bronzed bikini-clad bodies.
Each year, Ms. Emerson proudly takes her place in a long line of legends past.
So as you can see the Ms. Emerson title, while it is unavoidably decided amongst the dust clouds, beer-breath, drunken shouting, sweat and belches…is actually also a top-honor title to earn at this fun-filled tournament of the ages.
The end, so to speak.