Every year, Delta Phi Epsilon (DPhiE) Sorority hosts Deepher Dude, a male pageant show where money and awareness is raised for cystic fibrosis. All funds that were made during this pageant directly goes to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF), one of the three charities DPhiE donates to every year. CFF is a non-funded organization that conducts research to find a cure for cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects various organs including the lungs, pancreas and kidneys.
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. in the Miron Student Center's (MSC) Little Theater, Deepher Dude blasted music that attracted students throughout the building. This year is their seventh year hosting this event where the sisters of DPhiE and the brothers of the contestants come together and raise money. The event itself was free, with a suggested donation at the door and was open to alumni, students and anyone else who wanted to come watch.
During the pageant, each contestant had to showcase their talent and dress in formal wear when they answer their question. This year's hosts were Kayla Olson, senior speech language and hearing sciences major, and Precious Castanon, sophomore special education major, while the judges were Scott Snowden, advisor of DPhiE, Cara Opinante, chapter advisor of DPhiE, and Norma Bowe, a professor of Kean University.
The five male contestants of this year's pageant was Will Horner, Victor Benlice, Rob Riccio, John Simons, and Marius Price. Here is an introduction of all 5 contestants.
Horner, sophomore theatre major, was his class president of his graduating class. He is an Aquarius, his favorite color is blue, and he can walk on his hands. He has also performed with Judy Collins and Patti LuPone.
Benlice, junior global business major, thanks Kean's world class global business program because he was able to have the opportunity to learn a language and now he can speak Portuguese. His birthday is on May 20, which makes him a Taurus. He loves lasagna and can cook a great lasagna. Finally, he participates in No Shave November every year to promote men's health, testicular cancer and prostate cancer awareness.
Simons, senior graphic designer, is an avid people watcher and was a grand marshal of his local fireman's parade when he was younger. His dancing skills are limited to moving his arms up and down while bending his knees to the beat of the music. His favorite actor is Quentin Tarantino and his favorite movie genre is romantic comedy.
Riccio, senior communications major, has a three legged cat, can do a backflip, weighed only 85 pounds at the age of 14, is 100 percent Italian, and once fell off a two-story building and did not end up with any scratches.
Price, sophomore psychology major, is the vice president of Nu Delta Pi. He is Guatemalan and can speak six languages, even learning a seventh language currently. He is an adrenaline junkie and he once played Troy from High School Musical in a play.
After Olson and Castanon introduced the contestants, the guys showed off their dance moves, and backflipped to songs like "Sugarhill Gang Apache (Jump On It)" by The Sugarhill Gang, "Gangnam Style" by PSY, "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by Soulja Boy, and "Don't Drop That Thun Thun" by Finatticz. The guys then left the stage to come out one by one to perform their individual talents.
Horner performed as the character Mick and sang "When She Smiles" from the musical Lysistrata Jones. His friend, Clarence Causing, senior theatre major, assisted him in his performance by playing the piano for the song. After Horner, Benlice came out to show off his dance moves to popular music and then eventually Latin dancing with a DPhiE sister.
Riccio came out after to perform his acrobatic routine. He called some of his friends from the audience to make some noise and to come up and assist him in his performance. He made some of his friends stand while he leaped over them and obstacles set on stage.
Simons and Price both read a poem, but there was a huge difference. Simons read a poem that expressed his family's feelings and the story of when they found out that his sister has cystic fibrosis. Because of that, his poem was dedicated to her. Price's poem also covered memories from his past, but he performed it differently. While he was reading, he also signed the poem for his deaf mother. Both poets presented their piece of work with courage and Price's mother even teared a bit.
After the talents, the men left the stage and a ten minute intermission was called. During this time, people in the audience put in their raffle tickets in cups for the basket raffles. Some of the baskets were full of coffee, or candy, or chocolate.
Jess Kramer, a Kean University alumna and Deepher Dude's host for the past two years, attended the event. She recently graduated in May 2017 and during her time at Kean, she was heavily involved in DPhiE.
"There's a difference with me being here now and in the previous years," said Kramer. "There's less pressure since I can just enjoy as an audience member instead of running around in the back, sweating, and making sure things run smoothly. I do miss hosting, but I'm glad I got to see this event being taken care of in good hands. Now I can just come here and support my friends!"
After the intermission, the men came out in their formal wear with their DPhiE escorts. Price was with Ainsley Stephens, Benlice was with Erin Malone, Riccio was with Emily Beglan, Simons was with Jillian Dunn, and Horner was with Gina Stegura. After walking out with their escorts, they all had to answer their interview question which will be the last thing to determine who would be crowned winner.
The hosts took turns in asking the questions to the contestants.
Q: What motivates you to work towards your goals?
Horner: It depends on the goal. Obviously, people don't work as hard on certain things that they're not that interested in. What encourages me the most is seeing other people succeed. I would like to be just as successful because I'm a type of guy who wants to get everything done as best and as fast as he can.
Q: Can you give us an example of how you made a difference here at Kean?
Benlice: Kean is growing and it has a great community. I try to make a difference in everybody's life and I try to meet as much people as possible and be very friendly on campus. I tell everyone at the beginning of the year that there's a lot of organizations and ways to be involved at campus. I hope that I was able to help someone find the right organization for them, hoping they find somebody they click with and call their family, brothers, or sisters.
Q: What is your greatest memory at Kean?
Riccio: When my organization had the disability awareness extravaganza last year. It was a very special event for me, because I saw a lot of people with disabilities go out and having fun. It showed them that no matter what disability you have, you're still a person and that people from Kean University care about them. It made me smile that the community here care about people with disabilities and still treat them like people.
Q: If you were to be president of Kean University, what would be your first call of action?
Simons: Give students more power, because we as a student body have so much to say. We're the leading innovators of the world so I would give us and our generation more power of the voice.
Q: What does being an active citizen in the community mean to you?
Price: Here at Kean, we have a lot of opportunities to be active citizens. We have Greek life, which encourages community service to our respected philanthropies. We have CLS, the Center for Leadership and Service. In my job at admissions, we encourage community service, so the biggest lesson I learned when I came to Kean is being an active citizen means going out there and giving a part of yourself. Giving up your time, giving up your thoughts, and just giving back.
After the interview, a 15 minute intermission was called. The judges came together to decide on the winner while the winners for the basket raffles were called.
After the break, it was announced that Price won the People's Choice Award. For the winners of Deepher Dude, Horner came in third place, Riccio in second, and Simons in first.
Congratulations to John Simons for winning this year's Deepher Dude and congratulations to DPhiE for hosting another year of a successful event.