Mr. Flash hits all the right notes

Mariam Makatsaria

Ephraim Butler won the title of Mr. Flash at Kent State’s second annual all-male beauty pageant Thursday. Butler competed against 10 contestants, each representing a student organization.

Mr. Flash, a traditional Homecoming week event, took place at the Kiva from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Representing Epic, a creative expression organization, Butler won the judges’ votes with a harmonica solo.

“It’s very good to win,” Butler said. “I feel satisfied that I was able to go out there and do what I wanted to do. I came in with a mindset to win, and I won, so I’m very happy about that.”

The pageant included five rounds in which participants competed in the following categories: male eveningwear, celebrity impersonation, swimwear, talent and question.

To start off the show, Mr. Flash contestants walked on stage and individually introduced themselves and their organization to the lively audience.

During the talent round, each contestant had three minutes to showcase his talents, which included spoken-word poetry performances, dancing, singing and juggling.

“I thought they were very entertaining. It was refreshing to see guys in a pageant for a change,” said senior English major Katelynd Jarvis, who attended the event with her friends.

Following the talent round, six contestants were eliminated from the contest. The top five finalists, Kevin Heller, Laurent Che, Butler, Walters and Damien Mitchell McClendon, remained to compete for the title.

Heller, senior geology and conservation major, represented the commuter and off-campus student organization. Heller said the contest was a great way to encourage males to “be themselves, even if it is not the most masculine thing to do.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get especially guys up there on stage,” Heller said. “Guys have to have a spotlight too on stage, versus the girls. I think it’s a good way to get organizations’ names out there and also just to have a good time and have fun doing what you love.”

Heller performed his rendition of “Fever” by Michael Bublé.

The judges panel consisted of Kent State graduate Michael Stover, Kim Kennedy, special assistant in the division of diversity, equity and inclusion, and Shay Little, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.

Sophomore fashion merchandising major Jared Walters, who represented Exquisite Inc. Modeling Troupe, was among the runners up. For the talent portion of the contest, Walters danced and modeled on stage. Walters, who said joining the contest was a last-minute decision, was voted Mr. Congeniality, a title determined by his fellow contestants’ votes.

“It’s a great way to meet new people and interact and be more involved with the Kent State community,” Walters said.

This year, the audience choice category was added as a new title. Audience members texted in votes for their favorite contestants. The votes were tallied and the Audience Choice winner determined. Hosts Sariya Winters, CSI graduate assistant, and Craig Parsons, Kent State’s post office assistant manager, announced Nick Datilio as the Audience’s Choice winner.

The event was free and open to the public. DJ III Kingz provided music accompaniment to the show.

Kent Student Center Programming staff offered students free rubber wristbands and Flashperks for their attendance. Prior to starting the show, marketing associate of KSCP Micaela Rhodes threw a couple of free t-shirts to a select few in the cheering crowd.

“There is kind of a homecoming spirit,” said Jennifer Gunnoe, associate director of Center for Student Involvement. “It’s done in a fun way. The contestants are having fun. They are competing, but they are having a good time with each other. There’s camaraderie taking place, and there’s really kind of a school spirit about it. I think that’s what makes it so enjoyable.”

Winters and Parsons announced the Mr. Flash winners at the end of the show.

Butler took home a trophy and a certificate with his new title of Mr. Flash. He will also walk in the Homecoming Parade on Oct. 5.

KSCP collected nonperishable food items from the audience, which will be donated to a local food shelter in Butler’s organization’s name. But the most important prize, Gunnoe said, is the “pride and bragging rights” that the winner earned.

Contact Mariam Makatsaria at [email protected].