By JOHN STEVENS
Bathing beauties: The Miss USA 2011 contestants at the Palms Hotel in Las Vegas
It used to be that all you had to do was parade in your bikini and answer every question with your desire for world peace.
But now Miss USA pageant hopefuls are facing difficult questions on whether they believe evolution should be taught in schools and if they would ever pose for nude photographs.
And the beauty queens are said to be ‘scared to death’ by the tricky questions for fear of making a wrong step not just in their stilettos.
Eclectic: Last year's winner Rima Fakih leads this year's contestants at a Planet Hollywood shoot
In video interviews before the June 19 finale, the attractive contestants are being probed on their thoughts on some of the country’s most polarising issues.
The girls are reportedly quaking, fearing a repeat of the controversy when Miss California Carrie Prejean said she opposed gay marriage.
Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, which also runs Miss USA, said these ‘topics are very relevant and in the news’.
But pageant expert Keith Lewis, who is executive state pageant director for California, New York and New Hampshire, said the questions have spread terror amongst the wannabes.
Excitement: Sarah Chapman (left) welcomes contestants and crew to her home town as Texas-born Miss New York looks on (right)
‘The girls are scared to death. They witnessed with Carrie Prejean how a firestorm can create a road kill, and nobody wants to be part of a situation like that again,’ he told Fox News.
‘The girls are concerned that there is a right or wrong answer. Polarising questions often create a situation where you suffer... if you agree, and if you do not.’
Fine fettle: Lissette Garcia (left) and Allyn Rose (right) keep smiling through another shoot
Former Miss USA publicist Angie Meyer said: ‘The pageant officials are intimidating contestants into answering questions a certain way that are deemed 'politically correct' while discriminating against their own belief and opinions.
‘The Miss USA Organization is choosing topics that are not only controversial, but intimidating,’ she told Fox News.
The pageant finals are being held in Las Vegas on June 19.
Miss USA 2011 Pageant from Las Vegas, Nevada TV Promo by NBC