In two very different displays of brawn and bravery on Tuesday’s America’s Got Talent episode, two stereotype-busting contestants proved that strength comes in all shapes and sizes. And while only one of them made it to the next round, both of them won America’s hearts.
First up was a stately Venezuelan older woman, Josefina Monasterio, a mother of two and retired schoolteacher who explained, “Now, in this latest chapter of my life, I’m pursuing my dreams.” Sure, that’s a common story on AGT — for instance, three weeks ago, 80-year-old Marty Ross, who didn’t start performing standup comedy until he was 65, auditioned — but none of the judges were prepared to see the “73 years young” Josefina sashay onto the stage in a barely-there bodybuilder bikini and start flexing her oiled-up, rippling muscles next to shirtless AGT host Terry Crews. Josefina only began participating in fitness competitions at age 59, but she clearly already has the 51-year-old Terry beat.
The judges, who’d guessed that Josefina was decades younger, were all impressed. “I’m going to call my trainer and go, ‘Let’s start working. I want the body of a 73-year-old woman!’” said Howie Mandel. “I want you to train me! … I want to be you when I am your age,” said Sofia Vergara. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to Josefina’s act other than some sinewy strutting and posing to the Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It” and an occasional enthusiastic exclamation of “POW!” — so she didn’t make it through. “I think next year, you’ve just got to come back and do something,” advised Simon Cowell. Josefina simply smiled and let out one more joyous “POW!” before heading backstage to compare biceps with Terry one last time.
One inspirational musclebound contestant we’ll definitely be seeing more of this year, however, is 38-year-old Cirque du Soleil aerialist Alan Silva, the brother of knife-thrower Alfredo Silva from AGT Season 11 daredevil act Deadly Games. “I come from a circus family so I love to perform, but people always told me I should just be a clown because of my size,” Alan, a little person, said through tears. “I’ve been bullied my whole life and judged for my appearance, so I am a little bit nervous.”
Alan certainly didn’t seem nervous once he tore off his shirt (revealing a set of bulging muscles to rival Terry’s or Josefina’s) and took to the air without a net, performing on aerial-silk stunts with gravity-defying grace to Sia’s empowerment anthem “Alive,” while his amazed children looked on.
The judges were equally astounded. “It’s thrilling and scary and graceful — every possible human emotion that can be elicited from one act, you have it all,” raved Howie. “A lot of people come on this show and have amazing talent, but how many people get to come on the show and then also inspire people that don’t look like everyone else?” said guest judge Eric Stonestreet. And Sofia told Alan, “That was the performance of a giant.” Four “very well-deserved yeses,” as Simon put it, ensued.
It looks like Alan could go very far in Season 15 — as he said himself, “the sky’s the limit.” As for Ms. Monasterio, maybe we will see her back in Season 16, but in the meantime, for more Josefina fitspo, check out the ageless wonder’s website here.