"And now," Dickinson announces, "something for the ladies." They crank up the OutKast as the boys appear in their tiny turquoise swim trunks to start the clapping and snapping routine. Dickinson seems nervous. But the delegates pull it off, for the most partand what they lack in rhythm they make up for in smiles and spirited hip twists. The women in the audience look as embarrassed as they do excited. After the tuxedo procession that is the eveningwear round, the boys await the judges' decisions. Anderson makes the top 15, but that's as far as he goes. Turkey's six-foot-foor delegate is named Best Runway Model. India, who has cultivated a solid fan-base on Manhunt's pay-per-vote website, wins Mr. Internet Popularity. Nepal gets the Mr. Friendship sash, and China upsets the shoo-in, Taiwan, for the Mr. Physique title (the ab-brushing clearly paid off). And then the big moment arrives.
The 2008 Manhunt International title goes to . . . MOROCCO!!!
Abdelmoumen El Maghraouy looks stunned as he bends over to receive his white sash and bouquet of roses. The Korean MC hands him a microphone.
"Sorry, I can't talk right nowI'm so sort of emotion right now," he says. "I just want you to know that I had a really good time."
"How's Korea?" the MC asks him. "And especially . . . the Korean women?!!!"
"Wow," he says. "Amazing."
"Could you explain what kind of model you like to be? What is your dream?"
"Well," he says, "just for . . . famous model." The host smiles. "You're already famous," he says.
As the applause dies down, the contestants rush onstage to congratulate each other in a 47-member group hug under the floodlights. The producers cue up "Heal the World."
Anderson joins the stream of delegates backstage and starts peeling off his tux.
"Are they seriously playing Michael Jackson?" he says to no one in particular. A few of the Latin delegates light up cigarettes in the stairwell and start stripping down. Theories are being tossed around about Morocco's surprise win. One of them is that he was the delegate "who kept his mouth shut and didn't talk shit about the production." But nobody seems too sullen about it.
In a dark room strewn with headdresses and clothes hangers, Anderson zips his Native American costume into a backpack. The transgendered national director comes in, bangles clattering, to see if he needs any help (he doesn't)and to tell him how much Angola resembles her ex-boyfriend. Tomorrow he'll fly back to L.A. But for now, as the crowd thins out, Anderson heads to the Circle's bar and procures something that, at this moment, seems far more valuable than glass trophies, silk sashes, and honorary titles: two complimentary drink tokens.