Arias, The Dancing Queen:
California International 2000
International 2000, Gail Arias, one of the final ten in the Mrs.
U.S. International Pageant is ready to hold court in her living
room. She sits with perfect posture on the edge of her easy chair.
Her thick dark hair minus a tiara is combed to silky smoothness.
Not a stray hair or split end is in sight. Whats her secret?
"Ive got virgin hair. Ive never dyed it."
The red polish
on her fingers reveals not a single chip. Manicured hands rest on
top of long muscular legs, which are crossed in lady like fashion.
I scan her resume and ask about her athletic prowess. The pageant
queen speaks in even tones but her blue eyes betray a hint of rebellion.
"I was a tomboy for a long time. In junior high, I beat all
the boys and girls in Track."
her husband laughs, "That's why it took me ten years to catch her!"
In marriage, evidently he expresses the same ardent dedication to
his wife as he did in the chase. Mrs. U.S. International Pageant
judges chose him for the honored title of, "Most Devoted Husband."
At age thirteen,
pageants were the farthest thing from the current Mrs. Californias
thoughts. As an adolescent she longed to compete in the Olympics
and receive a subscription to Prevention Magazine. She
got her subscription. At about the same time, the precocious girl
discovered dancing. What about her Olympian dream? "My parents
finally convinced me that it was a hard life."
"Well, I looked at what dance champions were getting paid.
So I chose aerobics as my vocation and dancing as my avocation."
As a young adult, in addition to owning and operating an aerobics
studio, the athlete created and promoted her own line of vitamins
and protein powder. "I have a practical mind, a very practical
mind," declares Mrs. California International.
students actually pushed her into the professional world of dance.
Mothers of Miss Teenage USA and Miss Junior Olympics singled out
Gail as the right person to choreograph
routines and coach their children. She designed a winning ice skating
dance routine for Miss Junior Olympics. Miss Teenage USA took first
place with her floor exercise and artistic gymnastics. The reigning
Mrs. California International reflects on her experiences with the
girls and says, "It was more than choreographing the dance
routine. I think the extra time I took to go over make-up, hair
and wardrobe added extra touches of confidence."
all her endeavors, including marriage, seems to be as easy as breathing
in and out for Gail Arias. Her resume foxtrots through accomplishments
ranging from winning Crystal Light Aerobic Championships to dancing
Tango with her husband for an American Airlines ad to performing
with the Beach Boys at the Shrine Auditorium.
As part of a
husband and wife dance team, the pageant blue blood continues to
accumulate trophies. The lady of the house leads me to the twosomes
private dance studio. The beauty queen is dressed in black jeans.
But the 5'8" Gail Arias almost glides when she walks. She gives
the illusion of still showing off the sequined gold evening gown
to the judges of Mrs. International. Her hand majestically waves
across the couples collection of first place trophies, which
stand like chorus members in uniforms on the shelves of their exclusive
practice area. Her newest additions include her Mrs. Thousand Oaks
statuette and her three-foot Mrs. California International trophy.
Ten years ago,
Gail Arias spoke to her coach of her desire to collaborate and choreograph
routines within the confines of a platonic relationship. "I
was running a very successful business and I had a boyfriend."
The coach made no promises.
International recalls that first meeting with Jamie Arias by saying,
"Oh my God, oh my God! He was tall, dark and handsome and he
was a great dancer! There was just too much chemistry!" She
told her coach to call Jamie Arias and excuse her from the partnership.
According to the couple, the message was never delivered.
Dancing in Duran
Duran videos, illustrating Tai Chi with Morgan Fairchild and winning
the Lambada championships along with running her high-end Pasadena
work-out studio were just a few of the activities which kept Gail
from seeing the scintillating Jamie Arias on the dance
floor on a regular basis.
the dance world brought them into body contact with a few dances
here and there. At one sticky point, the future beauty queen was
asked by her date to dance with his teacher. Remembering the incident.
Gail laughs, "My boyfriend said, Youre so good.
I want to see you dance with my teacher. Who is your teacher
I asked? My boyfriend replied, Jamie Arias."
A pivotal point
for the couple was at the U.S. Open Swing Championships. One of
the professional photographers admonished the future pageant queen
for choosing an inappropriate dance partner. Revealing her pearly
whites, the regal lady lets a vulnerable little girl emerge for
an instant. She softly recalls, "He said, You should
be dancing with that man." The royalty puts the bass
back in her voice and confidently continues the story. "He
pointed way across the room. I said, you mean Jamie Arias?"
The photographer asked her to dance with Arias as a favor to him.
She asserts, "I never ask men to dance."
Jamie Arias says, "I saw that look in her eye." The devoted
husband displays a big grin and states, "She had a look I hadnt
seen before." The photographer saw the couple dance. Dances later,
telephone numbers were exchanged. Jamie Arias called his bride-to-be
on Mothers Day.
later Jamie and Gail Arias were married. Gail smiles lovingly at
her partner, "I just knew he was the right one." Her
heart hijacked her practical mind when Jamie Arias got down on one
knee and proposed to her in the middle of a Good Earth Restaurant
salad. They eloped to Las Vegas. Like church bells, they chime in
harmony, "We didnt tell anyone." Jamie Arias chose
the wedding date of July fourth. The day represented his ability
to love freely for the first time in his life.
almost a decade, the twosome still look like newlyweds. Not long
after the interview is underway, Gail Arias moves to the more comfortable
seat of her husbands lap. She boasts of the telephone calls
that come from Hollywood producers begging him to choreograph dance
routines and salsa with divas like Nia Peeples.
him on his recent inauguration into the Swing Hall of Fame? He replies
with a simple yes. But ask him about Mrs. California International
2000 and a big boyish burst of energy erupts with a fountain of
praises for his wife and her work with Kids at Heart. The pageant
queen explains that the program encourages and educates children
from low-income families. She smiles and says, "Choosing Kids
at Heart as my platform was natural for me. Ive been mentoring
all my life. From childhood, when somebody needed advice they'd
come to me, about everything! My parents used to tease me that I
should charge. "
So what are
her words of wisdom for mothers of daughters who want to enter pageants
and dance competitions? "I would advise moms to enforce the
idea that competitions are to be used as a stepping stone, to learn
new skills and to enhance self-esteem. Mothers need to keep their
antenna out to see if their daughters are displaying negative behavior
or poor sportsmanship
If the girls are not having fun in competitions,
move on to something else!"
As for advice
on food and nutrition, "Ive never had a weight problem.
Ive been the same weight since I was eighteen. But I do eat
as close as I can to Gods table, mostly fruits and vegetables."
Does she ever eat sweets? Her husband offers, "She likes ice cream." He
quickly adds, "But we rarely eat that kind of stuff."
Mrs. Arias nods.
"I dont use food to comfort myself. But that doesnt
mean I wont take a piece of cake at a birthday party."
Protocol and protecting the feelings of the hostess is important
to her. "My intention is always to make people feel good about
I ask what her
secrets are to keeping a decade of marriage alive. Without hesitation,
Mrs. California International 2000 replies, " Respect, we respect
each other. And we practice forgiveness." They also take midnight
walks and go star gazing. "We really live in the moment."
is the key to living like royalty.