Addie Spicuzza is Ms. Florida Senior America, topping a spirited group of hot grandmamas.
By JAY CRIDLIN
Published March 12, 2004
The beauty pageant gods were not smiling upon Addie Spicuzza.
First the emcee forgot to introduce her. Then a stagehand took away her microphone before she even walked out onstage. Both times, the crowd tittered nervously.
By the end of the night, though, Spicuzza was laughing the loudest.
The 62-year-old Clearwater grandmother was crowned Ms. Florida Senior America on Saturday in Sun City Center, topping a spirited group of hot grandmamas - and one hot great-grandmama - with enough vim, vivacity and va-va-voom to keep the Kings Point crowd partying until late into the night.
"I wasn't thinking about winning or losing," said a giddy Spicuzza, the last of nine contestants and nearly a victim of several production miscues. "You just roll with the punches."
Local favorite Ann Brutchey, 68, was named Ms. Sun City Center, to the cheers of hundreds of neighbors and no fewer than three former Ms. Senior Americas, including reigning champ Dr. Sandra Greco of New Jersey.
Even before the pageant, competition was fierce. The program handed out to audience members featured more than a dozen "Good luck" ads for particular contestants, including seven for Sun City Center's Betty Grimm, and one, for Brutchey, signed by Pete Rose.
Once the curtain went up, things really got cooking - first in the talent competition, then with a personal philosophy statement and evening gown. Judges also conducted interviews with contestants earlier in the day.
The talent portion was easy for some contestants, such as Judy Suarez of Venice, the first runner-up to Spicuzza. When you've survived a bout with flesh-eating bacteria, as Suarez did several years ago, singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a piece of cake.
Marianne Bushbaum, a widow and mother of seven from Sun City Center, received the Ms. Congeniality Award for her clownlike dance and mock striptease to open the talent competition.
Things didn't move quite as smoothly for Spicuzza, who, as the final contestant, was nearly overlooked during the talent competition. Once the emcee remembered to introduce her, she bounded onstage for a booty-shaking tap dance to Crazy Rhythm.
Then a stagehand removed the microphone after the eighth contestant gave her personal statement. A judge had to run up with another microphone so the crowd could hear Spicuzza speak.
"I just was thinking, well, folks, this is what happens when it's a live show," she said.
Spicuzza, a retired real estate agent, entered the contest at the urging of her friends, among them a former Ms. Florida Senior America. But Spicuzza had experienced the beauty pageant circuit before. In 1988, her daughter, Dawn, was named Miss Illinois and competed in the Miss America pageant.
The unmarried Brutchey, who also won second runner-up in the statewide contest, said her newfound celebrity as Ms. Sun City Center was unlikely to make her the community's pinup girl - especially since she already has a beau.
"I felt so sure she was going to win an award tonight I already had the flowers sitting out on the table," said Bob Akins, Brutchey's boyfriend.
He, like Spicuzza's husband Sal, were left to smile and watch from afar as their beloveds posed for photo after photo around the Kings Point Theatre.
"This is very good," said Sal with a laugh. "But my life'll go on just like it was."