I have had quite a handful of people asking me as to why I left the Miss Metaverse Pageantry and hold a “Former Miss Metaverse Slovakia 2013” title but I could not really say until I had gathered all of the facts. And now, I can explain the entirety of the truth that happened behind the scenes without repercussion because I am no longer affiliated with them. The following accounts for the many public interactions and note cards sent to contestants that have lead to the drama and dismay of many fans of the pageant as well as the sudden drop off of finalists. Not everything is here due to the fact that Second Life’s (SL) privacy rules restrict actual conversations from being shared in SL without consent from all parties involved and I highly doubt Hethwen Vertaus (heth) will do so. I have nothing to hide but if you ask around to the other finalists, they each have their own personal experience to tell.
There were multiple major changes to the ‘rules of the game’ during the course of the pageant that altered the playing field for many contestants and the carefully outlined timeline of the rounds and expectations. The pageant itself was stressed to not be about popularity but yet Heth introduced a last minute voting from the Semifinalists to vote for a non-semifinalist that would get a free ticket to the finals. The voting was not based on how well the non-semifinalist did since no competitor had seen anyone else’s preliminary round outfits or knew how well they did for the interview.
When the pageant first started accepting auditions, contestants were not allowed to have sexually explicit content in their profiles or links there of. The point of the rule was to encourage contestants to have a clean slated reputation and face. The pageant did not want someone to win that was in almost every porn image out there but someone that was more dignified. This rule’s effect was also to make the pageant appear more posh and composed, though at one point Heth had intentionally sent a nude photo of his SL avatar through the in-world Metaverse Pageant group notices. Toward the end of the pageant, the rule appeared to have been disregarded altogether as the following timeline shows…
A fairly well known contestant, Miele Tarantal, was sent a link from a friend that led to a Flickr image owned by the resulting Mr MVP winner of a SL rape scene. Upset by the image, she notified Heth in a private discussion about the image and her feelings towards it. The results followed as such:
Heth then immediately sent this notice out in the in-world Metaverse Pageantry group:
What? Brendan and Michela both got fired for having nude pix of themselves on their Flickr? … not gonna happen people. So you want to play games? Really? the only one you will hurt this way is yourself… I can promise you that. Anyone caught purporting garbage like what Cilla and Miele have given me today and trying to get our Mr Metaverse dethroned (I can promise you that will NEVER happen) it is just petty that any of you would try and pull this. ANYONE digging for dirt on our winners and trying to get them dethroned will have my boot so far up their ass their grandchildren will feel it. Now there is a small handful of you who seem intent on hiding but playing games. Nothing is going to happen The nudes that Brendan and Micki posed for were not only art, but were in cultural classes and taken LONG before they competed. Let me find out your names and that’s it. You have something to say about wither of our winners bring it to my face. Now stop acting like children and grow up !!! SO disappointed in those of you doing this… disgusting tactics !!!
Miele then posted in the Facebook Metaverse Pageantry Group: (reposted with permission)
To my esteemed co-competitors and others in the Metaverse family,
I sincerely apologize for any upset I caused by attempting to bring Heth’s attention to some content I believed would potentially bring trouble and embarrassment to the Metaverse Pageant.
I was sent links from Brendan’s Flickr account by a friend, and, not understanding that they were intended to be a work of art, was upset by them. I have friends who have been beaten and raped, so that type of content is upsetting to me. The title of the images included the word “Rape”, and there were comments about the images that did nothing to imply that they were intended to be taken seriously as a work of art.
I sent Heth the links to these images letting him know I was upset, but I did not request any particular action. My intent was to make him aware. As the CEO of the Metaverse Pageant, I expected him to deal with the situation as he saw fit.
I am disappointed that my intent was misunderstood and that my name has been broadcasted as someone acting out of malice and jealousy. I have been proud to be a part of this pageant and I felt that the content of the images could have a negative impact on it. I honor the judges’ decision and am happy with my place. It is my first pageant and I didn’t expect to place as high as I did.
I hope that once everyone’s emotions around this have cooled, we can go back to doing the good work we have begun. I hope that we can chalk this up to misunderstanding, and forgive and forget.
Heth then responded with another notice in the in-world Metaverse Pageantry group:
I read you letter and DID step back and asked myself “What does she hope to achieve by telling me this”? Miele… NO good can come from sharing things when it has the potential of harming others. Think as you will, feel as you will… but the single most inmportant issue to me on ALL of this is that I nip the gossip in the bud. You DID bring it to me… That alone made me upset. Just please do not play into this kind of stuff Miele… you are on the top right now. SO many people will look you in the eye and say they love you while stabbing you in the back trying to have everything taken away from you. Just be careful. they will try… and while I will say there are ways to bring me things… nothing good can come from scandalous gossip. Ignore it in the future… let it go.. cuz things like this can happen. Miele… please do not discuss this further… do not place yourself in jeapordy… please.
In less than 48 hours, Miele’s Facebook post was deleted by Heth and replaced with the following by him in response to Tivi Darkfold’s blog post.
It is absolutely amazing to me how someone who leaves the pageant thinks they have the right to retain use of anything affiliated with the name of Metaverse Pageantry. You quit, that’s it. I played nice. Now you can deal with the abuse reports and my lawyer.
The image has since been removed.
Another aspect of the failing direction that the Metaverse Pageant presented was that of the duties that the contestants had during and after the pageant.
Heth had posted this notice in the in-world Metaverse Pageantry group:
If for any reason a person leaves this group, you will not be given your title back. If for and reason a finalist leaves this group you will not receive your placement awards (coming) and your will not be allowed to compete in MVP at any future date. ~ Heth
I then messaged Heth to inquire about the rule since the wording on both the original Metaverse blog and new website indicated that staying in the group was for during the pageant, not afterward. There were no such instructions to remain in the group after the pageant was over and with the limited group space in SL, most pageants such as Miss Virtual World do not require title holders to stay in the group with no risk to losing their hard earned title. Heth’s answer as to why was this, “I have to be able to communicate with the ppl… I am not going to run ppl down and write 60 letters everytime I need a meeting” And yes, I told him that an emailing list would solve that but apparently that is too much work.
So in short, I left the group after Heth had “suspended my group rights” by placing me with the *Fan* group title. There is no reason to stay in a group just so someone can use it as a mass calling list. I am not owned by anyone and I refuse to be treated like some internet pageant call girl. I am a firm believer of freedom of choice but that choice should not be affected by idle threats.
I have nothing against any of the candidates or winners. We were all pawns to a game and I would absolutely hate to see anyone attack the winners just so they could target someone else. That is indirect anger and is utterly fruitless to any sort of progress.
And this is only part of the whole story behind the media curtain of a pageant rotting from the inside…
EDIT: I am compiling a list of blog entries made by contestants about the pageant, good or bad as long as it is factual and not against other competitors.
EDIT: Looks like Heth continues to dig his own hole. He changed a Facebook page that I own from “SL Fashion Shows & Events” to “YAWNS”, booted everyone from it and then deleted all of the posts. That page had NO reference to the Metaverse Pageantry and yet he attacked it because I owned it. He was made an admin before all of the Metaverse issues came to be and could have simply left the position but instead he resorted to defaming the page.
EDIT: After waiting for two weeks, the scores of every contestant are finally being posted as promised, albeit it is so far a slow process with one contestant at a time. Heth has also decided to include the commentary from the judges, which again is another change in the carefully written plan. Whether or not these private comments were authorized or known by the judges to be published for the world to see, this is certainly not what was promised to the contestants. Scores consist of numbers and tallies, not the hidden commentary talk between the judges about the contestant. The inconsistency in the clarity of the rules shows immensely.
Once the judges render a score it is final. All scores will be made public and posted on this website within 1 week of after the final competition has taken place. We hide nothing.
This tiny statement from the Metaverse Pageantry Guidelines page as well as other references to the “scores” never indicated that judges comments will be posted alongside the numbers. It is also the only reference of the posting process for the scores on their website.
EDIT: As of 27 April, Michela Benazzi has been suspended/terminated of rights to the winning title and removed from the Metaverse Pageantry group. She has also been told by Heth that she no longer owns the title she has “earned“, being that he “owns” it. Heth then posted this statement on the pageant’s website, purporting it to be a more kinder release of duty and congratulating Ashia Denimore as the replacement.
The past 48 hours have been a very difficult time for the executive board members of Metaverse Pageantry. We had a difficult time deciding whether or not to relieve Michela Benazzi as Miss Metaverse 2013. Michela Benazzi has been relieved of her role as Miss Metaverse. We wish her well in all that she does in the future, and we thank her for her 5 weeks of service as Miss Metaverse. We will hold 2 special coronation services for Ashia Denimore who will assume the responsibilities as Miss Metaverse 2013. This will be an open ceremony with the public invited. It will also be televised. Congrats Ashia and thank you for your warm words. – Heth
Heth has also deleted the webpage detailing the prizes given to the winners and reopened the original WordPress blog though the website is still continuously used.