Jewelry Queen Beauty Pageant 2011, the contest in question, concluded last Friday after crowning 19-year-old Tran Thi Thanh Truc from An Giang, a choice that surprised most of the audience at the Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh as well as the media covering the event.
Tran Thi Hoa, one of the contestants, burst into tears while telling reporters from Dat Viet that she and others were forced into serving alcohol to old men at a dinner party one day before the semi-final, held on December 27.
Hoa said she and the other semi-finalists were brought to Cobe Restaurant in District 3 in the afternoon and were taught how to hold wine glasses and other table etiquette. They later put on makeup and nice dresses to get ready for the party.
“They made us step up to the men and say “Hello sir. It is nice to meet you. Please drink this shot with me,” and then gave toast and drank with them.
“All of the guests were men; some were even older than my dad. I happened to know some of them, and they were really surprised to see me as they knew I was not a hostess. I was so ashamed.
Through these acquaintances, I found out that anyone who joined that dinner had to pay US$ 200.”
According to Hoa, many of these young contestants passed out while serving these men, as they were exhausted from a long practice day and were brought straight to the restaurant without being allowed to rest.
“Those who fainted were taken out, woken up, and forced to go back and serve again.
When too many of us collapsed, the restaurant brought us down to its basement and gave us food. We had to serve again after we felt better.”
Hoa said she would not have signed up for the contest had she known she had to do this.
Cao Thai Ha, who won Best Jewelry Wearer, said she could not take anymore at the party and had to call her family to come and take her home.
“My family had to confront the organizers and get into an argument with them in order to bring me home, because as contestants we can’t come and go as we want.”
Pham Thi Hien, another contestant, said she had to lie that she had an eye allergy to avoid the dinner party, “I called Dinh Hong Son, my manager, for help.”
Son said she came to the restaurant immediately, but its staff was keeping Hien’s ID and said if they returned it, they would be fined by the contest’s organizers.
For their part, Minh Thuy, one of the organizers of Jewelry Queen Beauty Pageant 2011, told Dat Viet that there was no such thing as forcing contestants to serve alcohol to men.