Venezuelan crowned Miss International Queen

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A 22-year-old Venezuelan triumphed over 21 other transgender contestants from 18 countries to win the crown at the Miss International Queen pageant in Pattaya.

Isabella Santiago took home 440,000 baht in prizes at the glittering Nov. 7 pageant, the world’s largest of its type and a major vehicle for promoting the rights of transvestites and transsexuals. As part of the prizes, Santiago, who also won the prize for best evening gown, can also opt for free cosmetic surgery.

22-year-old Venezuelan Isabella Santiago (center) has been crowned this year’s Miss International Queen. She is flanked by 1st runner-up Nissa Ketrahong (left) from Thailand and 2nd runner-up Piyada Inthawong of Laos.22-year-old Venezuelan Isabella Santiago (center) has been crowned this year’s Miss International Queen. She is flanked by 1st runner-up Nissa Ketrahong (left) from Thailand and 2nd runner-up Piyada Inthawong of Laos.

Santiago, who wore a shimmery white evening gown, laughed and said “Sleep!” when asked by the media about plans after the win.

“When on stage, she is so elegant and that’s why the judges’ decision was unanimous,” said Seri Wongmontha, one of the pageant’s judges told the media.

Like other beauty pageants, contestants for “Miss International Queen” paraded in their national costumes, evening gowns and swimsuits at the Tiffany Theatre.

Contestants had participated in pageant activities for almost a week to promote tourism, publicize their capabilities and raise money for King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital Organ Transplant Centre.

Thai contestant Nissa Ketrahong placed second and won Best Traditional Dress and Miss Photogenic, securing 150,000 baht in prizes.

Piyada Inthawong of Laos finished third and won the Miss Popular Vote title and a total of 95,000 baht in prizes.

The Special Talent Award belonged to Samira Sitara from the United States who took home 30,000 baht. Samira told the media afterward participating in the contest was a “dream come true” as Samira had just come out as gay publicly.

The Miss Friendship Award went to Uni Carrie from Cuba, who won 20,000 baht.