Veteran Winner of Beauty Pageants Is Now a Figure in Their Promotion

Deborah Luebke-Montgomery, 28, has pageant fever.

She has won 40 of the 60 beauty pageants she's entered, including Miss Orange County and Miss San Diego County, and she just won Miss Toyota Grand Prix to reign over the Long Beach Grand Prix from Friday through next Sunday.

"My beauty pageant experience helped me win this one," said Montgomery, who was first runner-up with her mother, Bonnie Luebke, 52, of Anaheim Hills, in the 1985 Miss and Mrs. America pageant in Florida. "You get to know how to act and talk to judges. You learn to read them like they're trying to read you. And it might be helpful if you look like the head judge's daughter."

Besides her mother, Montgomery's three sisters compete in beauty pageants, although never against each other.

But now, instead of entering pageants, she's producing them under the company name of Beauty Unlimited, which she operates out of her Mission Viejo home where she watches over her two children as a single parent.

"You know, when I first started the pageant business four years ago," she said, "I would answer the phone in the closet so callers wouldn't know I was home baby-sitting children."

A Cal State Long Beach business graduate, self-described former tomboy and 1985 motorized surfboard world champion, Montgomery sees a future for herself in the pageant business. "Beauty pageants can be moneymakers if they are marketed properly and give great prizes," she said, adding that she plans to franchise her company nationwide.

She promotes 24 beauty pageants a year in California malls and shopping centers for girls anywhere from one month old to 25, but she still maintains a five-day-a-week workout program to keep in shape for beauty contests she enters.

Montgomery, a Dana Hills High School graduate, said entering contests is like other competition. Once contestants get involved, they get pageant fever, she said.

In April, she'll promote Miss California Beauty, a statewide pageant she hopes will become a national competition next year. She sent out 1,250 applications for the show. "I like to use the word pageant instead of contest," Montgomery said. "That makes it sound like a class act."

Although she considers herself a believer in the women's movement, Montgomery said, "there's nothing wrong with the nicer competitions like the Miss America and Miss U.S.A. pageants, which are striving to keep its good reputation."

Wouldn't you know that when Brea Police Officer Jay Pettibone, 29, of Tustin gave chase on foot to a 32-year-old robbery suspect, the guy would turn out to be a marathon runner?

Not to worry. Pettibone, a former professional ballplayer still in top shape and wearing a 3-pound bulletproof vest, stayed with the suspect while chasing him through some apartment complexes and along the embankment of the Orange Freeway before catching up, tackling, handcuffing and arresting him.

"I was kind of disappointed at first," Pettibone said, "because I wasn't gaining on him." Police later searched the suspect's apartment and found trophies for high school track and marathon race victories.

Pettibone, who got a commendation from Police Chief Don Forkus for the arrest, noted, "It was a good learning experience."

Talk about pressure. The Orange Empire Chefs and Professional Cooks Assn. held an awards ceremony with apprentice chefs preparing a gourmet meal for the 350 professional chefs who attended.

Robin Hood, of Costa Mesa, last year's Chef of the Year, said the apprentices worked four days preparing the dinner.

How did they do?

"We gave them a standing ovation" Hood said. He also announced Bruce Riddell, executive chef for Todd Enterprises in Irvine, as the new Chef of the Year.

And the Southern California Restaurant Writers, the people who should know, held their own banquet. They picked David Wilhelm of El Torito Speciality Restaurants as Chef of the Year, James Conway of JW's in the Anaheim Marriott as Maitre d' of the Year and Ron Salisbury of El Cholo restaurants as Restaurateur of the Year.

Everybody called the pub at Cal State Fullerton The Pub because the pub was originally named The Pub. Even after being renamed Checkers to fit its new trendy checkerboard decor, everyone called the pub The Pub. Tradition, you know.

And get this. They decided on the Checkers name in a Name-the-Pub contest.

Sean Parker, University Center board chairman, said no matter what it was named, the pub would always be called The Pub, so the board re-dubbed it: The Pub.

Nice name, The Pub.


Acknowledgments--Carlos Romo, 18, of La Habra, last year's national Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club of America, was named master of ceremonies for the United Way Young Leaders Conference to be held in Washington from April 25-29. More than 800 youths are expected to attend.

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