Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 | 7:25 a.m.
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2012 Miss Nevada USA Pageant
Statuesque stunner Jade Kelsall, an XS nightclub hostess at Steve Wynn’s Encore, had never entered a beauty pageant, but 2011 Miss Nevada USA Sarah Chapman talked her into entering the 2012 Miss Nevada USA Pageant -- and Jade won her first time out. Now the 25-year-old, 5’11” former model will represent the Silver State and face 52 other beauties June 3 at the 2012 Miss USA Pageant on NBC.
Seconds after she was crowned, Jade told me that she’s lived in Las Vegas for five years: “I’d finished school and was part-time modeling back in New Jersey when my best friend was transferred to Vegas. I came out to visit and fell in love instantly with the city and didn’t return home.
“I’d never thought about being in a pageant before. I never even thought about winning, but thought it would be good experience. I am so excited. I can’t believe I won, and now I represent my new home at Miss USA. This is awesome!”
Jade, who doesn’t have a boyfriend, lives in Mountains Edge and has worked at the now-closed Prive in Planet Hollywood and XS. A month ago, British millionaire mogul Sir Philip Green and Planet Hollywood International chieftain Robert Earl selected her as the ambassador of British fashion chain Top Shop launching nationwide at Fashion Show in March.
Sarah told me: “I spotted her standing in Aria at CityCenter. She was so striking and gorgeous, and I was en route to a Miss Nevada recruiting search at Haze. I told her she could take my title and win -- she was that gorgeous. The next day, she showed up at out recruiting meeting in Amp salon at the Palms, and she agreed to enter. And she won, just as I predicted.”
MISS NEVADA TEEN USA PAGEANT
In the 2012 Miss Nevada Teen USA Pageant held simultaneously at the Pearl in the Palms on Sunday, 17-year-old Centennial High School senior Katie Eklund was crowned the winner, realizing a nearly 9-year dream to be in the pageant. Katie succeeds Ashley Brown and represents Nevada at the national pageant in the Bahamas this summer. Incredibly, Katie shed 21 pounds in a diet-and-fitness program developed by Las Vegas’ Nikki Steven leading up to the pageant.
“Katie is a natural beauty queen winner, and this might be the first time you’re seeing her, but certainly not the last. She could easily win in the Bahamas, and then she could return here and win Miss Nevada next year, and then Miss USA after that,” I was told by one pageant expert. “She has everything a pageant princess needs.”
Las Vegas-born Katie said: “I love Nevada. There is so much beauty in the valley. I have lived in the northwest side of Las Vegas for most of my life. The opportunity to become Miss Nevada Teen USA has been a dream of mine since I was 9. What a great state to represent!”
Katie is a teen spokeswoman for Aid for AIDS of Nevada. “They are the largest and oldest AIDS service organization in the state of Nevada. My uncle Joe died of AIDS after a long battle, and it was heart wrenching for my family. AFAN helped my uncle with housing, support services and medical services during his struggle. I feel humbled and grateful that I am able to give back to an organization that gave my uncle dignity in his last days.”
The pageant was co-hosted by 1995 Miss USA Shanna Moakler and morning radio DJ Chet Buchanan. Shanna persuaded her “Dancing With the Stars” friend Tony Dovolani to choreograph her debut Miss Nevada showcase. She also got his ABC castmates Maksim Chmerkovskiy and his brother Val Chmerkovskiy to join the celebrity judges panel that included hair guru Michael Boychuck, makeup queen Rain Andreani, “Peepshow” singing stars Josh Strickland and Cheaza, TV fitness expert Harvey Walden, TV doctor Terry Dubrow and USA Today advice columnist Stacey Kaiser.
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump owns the Miss Teen USA, Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, and his president, Paula Shugart, flew here for the pageant. She told me to expect the official announcement within two weeks naming the location of Miss USA. She’s contractually silent until then, but I can reliably advise that Las Vegas will win out over fierce site bidding from Miami and the Bahamas as host city of the 61st anniversary pageant.
Also attending were 2010 Miss USA Rima Fakih, 2006 Miss USA Tara Conner, 2007 Miss Nevada USA Helen Salas and reigning Miss USA Alyssa Campanella, who helped with the onstage crownings. The California redhead was with Canadian actor boyfriend Torrance Coombes, who took on last-minute judging duties when Motley Crue rocker Vince Neil was delayed with rehearsals at the Hard Rock Hotel for the group’s mini-residency starting Friday.
Vegas DeLuxe first reported the couple’s dating when she won the title at Planet Hollywood last June. “We’ve managed to keep it going thanks all year to lots of flights for weekend dates and Blackberry late-night messaging,” he laughed. Alyssa told me: “We were determined to make it work. We now know that if we can make it through this year, we can make it through anything -- so we’re together for the long haul.”
Incidentally, when she won, Alyssa had to leave her 2007 Mazda here that she’d driven through the desert from L.A. because she flew to New York the next day. Her father flew here and drove it to his garage in San Francisco. “When my year’s reign is up this June, the very first thing I’ll do is fly there to pick it up and drive it back home to L.A.,” she laughed.
Our thanks to Joe Pier and 2009 Miss Nevada USA Georgina Vaughan for their photo gallery.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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