No More Mr. Romance

After 18 Years, the Mr. Romance Contest Comes to a Close


By: Sheila English
July 11, 2011
Brooklyn, NY

RT Book Reviews Magazine (formally Romantic Times) and Booklover’s Convention has announced some significant changes for the convention. Perhaps the most talked about change is the elimination of the Mr. Romance contest, a main staple of the convention for 18 years and historically a favorite of both the attendees, and the media.

According to Carol Stacy who has been with RT Book Reviews Magazine  since 1983, and Jo Carol Jones the Event Coordinator since 2003, the Mr. Romance contest was the brainchild of Kathryn Falk, the original creator of Romantic Times Magazine and Convention. “Kathryn saw that mostly women came to the convention and wanted to bring in men for the dances and socializing. Having a Mr. Romance contest was a brilliant way of answering the socializing issues and for bringing media attention to the convention,” shares Carol Stacy. “Over the past few years our attendees have been bringing spouses and have become more interested in spending more time with the authors.”

Jo Carol Jones pointed out that there are only 8 contestants, and though some attendees will miss the glamour of the contest; she feels the convention has to evolve with the stated needs and desires of the attendees. “There will still be cover models at the convention for those who want to meet them, have pictures taken with them, or dance with them. Cover models, both male and female, have always been extended a special industry rate to encourage them to attend. That has not changed.

Whether or not this change will be popular with attendees is yet to be seen. The Mr. Romance contest will be replaced with more reader/author events and parties. If cover models still attend the event, which is what is predicted; attendees may find they prefer more intimate get together with the authors, making this change more permanent, at least for the time being.

“We do listen to what the convention attendees are saying. So who knows if this is permanent?” says Jones. “With all the changes in the industry, the popularity of our Teen track and graphic novel track, we need to evolve to meet the needs of the authors and readers. What they are telling us is they want more variety in workshops and parties, so we want to give them that.”

It’s a bold move by the company which got its start in the ’80’s, moved online in the ’90s and grew its convention to accommodate the digital age by including an e-book track in the early 2000’s. Evolving to meet the needs of the industry and desires of the readers and authors is not new. With the popularity of the Mr. Romance contest in past years seeming to decline, the decision appears logical. Heather Graham, bestselling author and one of the first judges for the Mr. Romance event shared, “Kathryn was always ahead of her time and the Mr. Romance contest, back then, was a brilliant move. But, I agree that it looks like its time has come to an end.”

This year’s Mr. Romance contest winner, Len Gunn will be the last. “Len is the perfect Mr. Romance,” shares Jones, “It feels like we are closing on a high note.”

Read the full letter from Mr. Romance contest coordinator, Cindy Walker

“As much as I hate to see it end… ” Read More Here

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  1. I have to say, I’m one of the authors who isn’t happy with this change. While I understand cover models will still be in attendance, the Mr. Romance competition was one of the highlights of the con for me.

  2. Really? This is one of the best parts of the week. The workshops are invaluable and the nightly parties are fun, but a gathering of romance writers without the hot cover models and other cuties just doesn’t make sense. Please reconsider.

  3. I have to say, I think it’s a good move.
    Stop throwing rocks at me lol.
    While it’s fun and all, us women are always bemoaning the fact that men consider women sex objects and how it’s exploitation and how it isn’t right.
    Don’t we owe these guys the same courtesy? Does there really have to be a parade?
    Yeah, it was fun, but admit it, there’s an irony to the fact if a bunch of men put on a female cover model parade, we’d be booing it.

    • *shrug* The guys who would have done Mr. Romance were looking to be cover models on romance novels…which is kind of them volunteering to be looked at in that light. Plus, they do beauty pageants every year. To me, it’s the same thing, only with Mr. Romance, the average romance reader/writer could meet and talk to the contestants. 

      On the flip side, I never looked at them that way. Sure, they were pretty to look at, but they’re models 😛 I always made a point of getting to know them as people and it influenced who I voted for in the readers’ choice part. 

      I mean, it isn’t my con, so it’s not my call, but to me Mr. Romance was a foot in the door cover-modeling-wise for guys who might not have had a similar opportunity normally. More than one signed with both an agent and at least one stock photo company this year. 

      Oh well. 

      • The problem is, technology has made it where doing romance covers isn’t done the same way anymore. It is cheaper to dress up a picture you already have or buy a picture a model already has and photoshop it. The days of old fashioned cover shoots are, in my own opinion, going away.

  4. I can’t make it to RT every year, but I’ve been to a couple and for me the Mr Romance thing wasn’t a must see event.

    Although I am still thrilled to pieces that at RT 2000 one of the contestants (Ryan Taylor) was the living image of a secondary character character my debut book’s.

  5. I’m so sad! I’m going to RT for the first time next year and this was one of the highlights I was looking forward to.

  6. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? So devastated. The Mr. Romance contest was the highlight of the conference for me. Having models there is okay, but the contestants ensured we all got to meet them and get to know them. What an awesome time was had by all at RT2011.
    Please reconsider the lost contest?


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