Texas Spirits

Photo Credit: Jessica Joseph | Daily Texan Staff

With bright red sashes to complement their sassy performance, 12 male contestants danced in sync to Nelly Furtado’s song “Promiscuous,” kicking off the fourth-annual Mr. Spirit male pageant competition.

The Student Activity Center’s auditorium filled with applause on Friday night as competitors from different student organizations danced, sang and joked their way to hopefully win the title of “Mr. Spirit.” Hosted by the Texas Spirits service organization, the show raised money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and South Texas and the Saint Louise House, which helps Austin mothers and children overcome homelessness.

“We put it on to unite the UT community every year,” event director Daisy Holland said. “Mr. Spirit brings guys from all over campus together.”

Holland, a chemical engineering senior, said in addition to helping out a good cause, the event brings students from across campus together for a humorous result.

“It allows boys to be silly,” Holland said. “They’re really funny, and every year Mr. Spirit brings a different kind of hilarity that you might not see at other events.”

This year was no different, from Mr. Hellraiser Joe Mason’s comedic poetry reciting to Mr. Communication Council Zachary Long’s skit, in which he dressed as chef Paula Deen and had the audience laughing with each reference to “more butter.”

One of Long’s supporters, communication studies senior Carla Benitez, said she was pleasantly surprised by the level of talent the night offered.

“It’s actually really great,” Benitez said. “The guys are so talented, and I really wasn’t expecting that it was going to be this exciting and fun to watch.”

The boys brought the talent, but in the end, only one competitor could be crowned Mr. Spirit — Mr. One Note Stand Ben Hlousek walked away with the ultimate title.

“It was definitely an honor,” business senior Hlousek said. “I loved being able to do this event and do it for a great cause, that was awesome. But I never thought I was going to have as much fun as I did.”

During Hlousek’s soulful cover of the song “Dancing on my Own” by Robyn, the audience’s phone flashlights lit up the auditorium.

“The feeling of singing it up there, I just let go a little bit,” Hlouwsek said. “I love singing with the group, but it was something different and really powerful to me, singing up there by myself for the first time since high school. It felt really good.”

Rebecca Lee, a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, prepares batter for the Cupcake Showdown held at J2 Wednesday evening.

Photo Credit: Debby Garcia | Daily Texan Staff

After whipping, baking, and frosting their way through a sweet competition, one UT student organization took home the ultimate cupcake topper — a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

Division of Housing and Food Services hosted the Cupcake Showdown in Jester’s J2 dining hall Wednesday evening, challenging four student organizations to create the best Texas-themed cupcake.  

The competitors included service organization Texas Spirits, sorority Texas Kappa Delta, comedy troupe Gigglepants Improv and UT National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association. The organizations were chosen following a preliminary video submission describing a cupcake they created representing their group’s ideals and mission. 

“We do a lot of work with Girl Scouts of America,” said Samantha Cade, a business sophomore and member of Texas Kappa Delta. “So in our video submission we created a Caramel deLite cupcake.”

At the start of Wednesday’s competition competitors were given a list of ingredients to be incorporated into their final submission. 

“We had Texas pecans, peaches, grapefruit, Chipotle peppers, Round Rock honey, cornmeal and a prickly pear puree,” said registered dietician Lindsay Gaydos. “They’ll be judged on the taste of the cupcake, but also how well they incorporate all the ingredients.”

Competitors were given an hour to create their cupcake. A live feed of the teams at work was broadcast on televisions throughout J2 so that attending students could watch the competition. Students were also encouraged to decorate pre-made cupcakes of their own, take pictures with the Pillsbury Doughboy in a photo booth and spin a prize wheel to win baking supplies. 

Following deliberation the judges awarded Texas Kappa Delta’s peach-pecan cupcake first prize and Texas Spirits’ grapefruit curd-filled cornmeal and honey cupcake second prize. 

Judge Alfredo Castillo, vice president of the finance and administration department of the University Residence Hall Association, said his judging criteria extended past the flavor. 

“Of course I’m looking at how effective they are in incorporating the ingredients, but I want to see creativity in the presentation,” he said. “I want to be surprised visually.”

Winners Texas Kappa Delta arranged their cupcakes in the shape of the UT Tower. The group chose to donate their winnings to Girl Scouts of America. 

“This is fun,” Christopher Akin, communication sophomore and the host of the event, said. “I think we’ve got something on Food Network.”