Erin White Crowned Miss Malibu 2011

“The Hills” Star Stephanie Pratt, Mayor “Zuma Jay” among the judges.

By Michael Aushenker / Special to The Malibu Times

Malibu Bluffs Park was the site of the 6th Annual Miss Malibu Pageant on Saturday, when Erin White succeeded Bianca Peters as Miss Malibu 2011.

The Aug. 21 beauty pageant, hosted by “KTLA Morning News” reporter Wendy Burch and actress Jackie Guerra, began when the 32 contestants took to the stage in their bikinis and pranced to “California Gurls,” the ubiquitous Kate Perry/Snoop Dogg song that has become summer 2010’s anthem. Lending her sunny persona to the proceedings, Burch informed the big turnout that the women were up for a $20,000 prize: “That’s U.S. dollars, not pesos!” Burch exclaimed.

The winner will also compete for the title of Miss California USA 2011 on Nov. 21 at the Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs before possibly continuing for the titles of Miss America and Miss Universe.

Scrutinizing the contestants’ every move were the judges, which included reality star Stephanie Pratt, actress Ashley Jones (“True Blood”), recording artist Taylor Dayne, Shar Jackson (“Celebrity Fit Club”), Mayor Jefferson Wagner and Beverly Hills philanthropists Dr. Gabriel and Christine Chiu.

“I’m amazed by how dedicated they are about helping the community and being role models,”Pratt told The Malibu Times. “We really need role models for the next generation.”

Jones, looking stealth in a classy hat next to Pratt in the judges’ booth, added: “We’re taking it seriously. We’re paying attention to what they’re going to learn, what they’re giving back to the community, how well-spoken they are, their vocabulary.”

Jones knows the area well.

“I lived in Malibu for six years, near Point Dume,” she said. “I went to Pepperdine. It’s my ex-in-laws home. It’s so peaceful here.”

On stage, Burch had a ball schmoozing with contestants and introducing the audience to her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Sophia, that wandered the stage in a tiny tiara and tutu when it wasn’t pocketed snugly inside Burch’s handbag.

Burch chatted with contestants, including Katelynn Tilley, a veritable mermaid with her flowing blond locks and shimmering bright blue dress. Tilley was among the contestants who had goofed around with weatherman Mark Kriski on “Morning News” in the week prior to the pageant. “You called Mark on his tan!” Burch said, laughing.

In between the pageantry, Ya Boy rapped his Power 106 staple “Party Girls.” Caroline D’Amore also performed with Oakland rapper Sean Jordan. The daughter of D’Amore’s Pizza founders Bonnie and Joe D’Amore sang “Sticks and Stones.”

Even Burch cut loose on stage, strutting to “Brick House” in her Miss Salt Lake City tiara.

“I do have a pageant past,” Burch, a former Miss Salt Lake City, told the Times backstage. She said she jumped at the chance to host Miss Malibu because “I love everything that empowers women.”

Burch also has a Malibu past. For two years, she lived in the Serra Retreat area with good friend Linda Thompson. Her favorite neighborhood spots included Malibu Kitchen and the Barefoot Bar at Duke’s. “They have the best happy hour tacos!”

“So [the Miss Malibu pageant] is the perfect convergence of everything for me: returning to Malibu, the inspiring ocean views, the shiny tiaras!” Burch said, chuckling.

Miss Malibu 2010 Peters was in great spirits as she waited to pass the crown on to her successor.

It was backstage that Miss Malibu 2010 reflected on the year past. The East Los Angeles resident had enjoyed getting to know Malibu. Her highlights included working with Special Olympics at a Zuma Beach event. She gave a shout out to her favorite Malibu delicacy, the grilled corn appetizer at Cafe Habana.

“The doors for me have opened,” said Peters, who is deliberating on whether to pursue acting or “study abroad in Australia.”

On stage, Peters took her last bow, shaking it to Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” to the cheers of an enthusiastic audience.

Commenting on a helicopter hovering overhead, Guerra cracked, “What is this? J-Lo’s wedding?” She then informed the girls, “The judging is over. You can let out your stomachs!”

Special awards for Miss Photogenic, Miss Community Service and Miss Congeniality were presented to Brittany McGowan, White, and Greta Pechter, respectively.

Then came the big contest with five finalists left and the four runner-ups were announced: 4th runner-up Shannon Lewis, 3d runner-up Lindsay Becker, 2nd runner-up Kaitlyn Holstine, and 1st runner-up Brittany McGowan.

With that, White was crowned Miss Malibu 2011.

Advising her to “dream big,” Peters graciously passed her tiara and sash to the glowing redhead, who, during the evening gown competition, had dazzled judges in her red dress and with her comments about remedying school budget cuts (“We’ve got to get that under control!”).

An after party took place at a Gladstone’s. White, a Studio City resident, who just made the age cut-off at 26 for the contest, said she was convinced that McGowan would win.

“There was a part of me that wanted her to win,”White, a sports medicine and premed grad from the University of North Carolina, said. “She’s amazing! I can’t say enough good things about her!”

White recounted how she almost wore a plum dress instead of that red gown, which may have helped clinch her title. She said she looks forward to getting involved in local events, particularly those involving children. Burch will be providing media training for White as she prepares for the state pageant and her official duties as Miss Malibu.

Kristen Bradford, who co-produced the pageant with Lash Fary of Distinctive Assets, founded the Miss Malibu Organization.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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