Manicured talons are out
Alleged rigging rumours at city beauty competition Durban salutes theatre king’s professionalism and kindness
ASCANDAL has erupted over the Mrs Universe 2017 pageant held in Durban recently after a video surfaced on social media this week in which a contestant alleged the contest was rigged and the international organisers were racist.
Mrs Latin USA, Monika Tuncbilek, alleged in a 30-minute tell-all video on her Facebook page that she was asked to pay $10 000 (R132 281) for a spot in the top 20.
She also alleged the international organisers called the Indian contestants “savages” and criticised Latinas over their lack of punctuality.
The event was poorly organised, contestants were treated badly and they weren’t fed, according to Tuncbilek. She claimed that one contestant went without food for a day and a half.
When the organisers did give them food, it was fast food like Mcdonald’s, pizzas, burgers and fries which most of the contestants did not eat, she said.
Tuncbilek also claimed that the organisers had promoted the event as having participants from 85 countries, but said this was a lie.
“About 20 participants came from India and there were five participants from the US alone. So it really wasn’t 85 countries as they had advertised,” she said.
Her video has been viewed more than 13 000 times.
Contestants’ schedules in HE TOUCHED the hearts and lives of all those he knew and if there is one thing he will be remembered for it is his smile.
That’s how friends and relatives remembered Durban theatre king Themi Venturas, who died this week at a hospice after battling pancreatic cancer for several months. He was surrounded by his family as he breathed his last.
His death has left a void in the South African theatre community, who described his personality and professionalism as “remarkable”.
Venturas had worked in the arts for more than 30 years and was an award-winning director, performer, producer, musician, performer and Durban were full of “meaningless activities” and they had no time to themselves, she added.
Tuncbilek received a legal letter yesterday from a Durban law firm on behalf of the hosts. It asked her to remove her defamatory remarks and video or the organisers would obtain an interdict or injunction against her.
However, Tuncbilek said she was not threatened.
“I am not one to be easily afraid of anything and I know that I am speaking the truth about what happened to me so I have nothing to lose.”
Tuncbilek and pageant organiser Sava Tsekov were believed to have been at loggerheads for the duration of the pageant in Durban.
Tracey-anne Buckley Aggett, the Mrs Universe hosting director for Africa and first princess (Mrs Universe Zimbabwe) in last year’s competition, said she was aware of the social media comments, but that they were untrue.
“The contestant concerned was disqualified by the International Mrs Universe Ltd company in Bulgaria after the world final at the Durban ICC after her defamatory comments.
“An internal investigation is under way by the International Mrs Universe Committee and Company.
“The South African organising committee has also sought legal advice and is pursuing the matter,” said Buckley Aggett.
However, Tuncbilek said she writer. He served as the manager of many theatre venues and companies. would continue to expose the truth behind the goings on at this year’s pageant. She said she had support from other contestants, including Mrs Sweden and Mrs South Africa, who had been in contact with her.
Mrs South Africa Trisha Poona said she had a wonderful experience. “However, some of the allegations made by Monika are questionable and I feel for her because I know where she is coming from.
“We were told by one of the other contestants that they were also asked to pay a sum of money and we knew something was fishy if this was being said by more than one person.
“But there is nothing I can confirm because it was hearsay,” said Poona.
Tuncbilek also shared a second Youtube video on her Facebook page in which she confronted the pageant organiser while in Durban about allegations surrounding the rigging of the pageant and being offered a spot in the top 20 for a sum of money.
Venturas was cremated yesterday at a private gathering with only family present.
“What I will miss most about my dad is just having him around and his unwavering support. He was always so proud of his children and his guidance was amazing. We would like to thank everyone for standing by us through this difficult time,” said his son Matthew.
He said a public memorial service would be held at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at a date yet to be confirmed.
Venturas’s friend and colleague, Daisy Spencer, who worked with him for more than 14 years, said he had taught her everything she knew as an artist.
“He pushed boundaries and really went the extra mile to help and encourage artists. We worked closely together on the Young Performers Project Footloose. He was not a selfish man and would often not even like to take credit for his work because that’s how humble he was. He was an incredible man who always stood back and made artists feel respected and valued,” said Spencer.
Publicist Illa Thompson, who worked alongside Venturas for many years, said not in her memory had the entire Durban theatre family come together in their united grief and sadness as they had now, on hearing of Venturas’s passing.
“In many ways, Themi was the glue who bound our fragile little community together – he was the tenacious visionary, always the one who initiated the projects, opened theatre venues, ran festivals and did so much to provide work for us all. He was the one who gave so many young performers the lucky break to kickstart their careers and live their dreams,” said Thompson.
She said he would be remembered as the champion of the underdog.
“His legacy is vast – but, at a time when apartheid divided us, Themi’s theatre united us. I had worked alongside Themi since the 1980s, and I will miss his dedication, inspiration, leadership, friendship and care,” said Thompson.
Mrs Latin USA, Monika Tuncbilek.