Miss A: The old, new and the in-between MISS AMERICA, from 1-C .woman who is reasonably intelligent ,and reasonably attractive," Horn insists. ' Tell that to the 50 anxious women here. This year's contestants the press lias been instructed not to call them girls, even though the young ladies call themselves girls are a mixed bag, representing three distinct camps: new, old and transitional. Following in Vincent's steps are the new contestants, the truly talented and academically accomplished who don't necessarily act like beauty queens. These are contestants like Miss Oregon Carolyn Helen Ladd, a lawyer with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington who is going for a master's in labor law at Georgetown. Or Miss Illinois Cheryl Lynn Majercik or Miss New York Marisol A. Montalvo, both of whom came to pageanting late, and are professional .ppera singers. Try competing against them with a "medley of '40s standards. Many poor dears tried Tuesday and again last night, and were blown right off the Convention Center stage. Neither Majercik nor Montalvo looks like your old-fashioned beauty queen. To begin with, both are only 5-foot-2. (The Amazons still tend to win swimsuit.) Montalvo, who won the preliminary talent competition Tuesday night, will tell you she's been called ugly much of her life. Majercik, winner of the $10,000 Fruit of the Loom Quality of Life Award for her AIDS work, got into pageanting to further her cause. "Miss America is perceived as safe and right and wholesome, while AIDS is perceived as a very dirty issue. If I can show that Miss America or Miss Illinois is not afraid of AIDS, then maybe there will be more compassion." Majercik is the first winner of the three-year-old award to donate the entire amount to her cause. She will establish a foundation to invest the money, and attract corporate grants, for Chicago House, an AIDS organization where she volunteers. In the old tradition, you have contestants like Miss California Paige Adams, a statuesque blonde in the Susan Anton vein, who speaks of "being the best person I can be" and dreams of a career in broadcasting. "If I could have any job, it would be Mary Hart's," she says with a giggle. , Or Miss Texas, the flawless Rhonda Rene Morrison, who wants to become a motivational speaker, "develop a library of motivational videotapes and establish a volunteer network through a 900 number so people can find out where they can volunteer." Miss Hawaii, Tuesday's preliminary swimsuit winner, is 5-foot-lO, 128 pounds and absolutely contends she only exercised "five or six times" to get ready for the pageant. Many of the old-school Miss A's we won't name names here say things that, in comparison to the others, are jaw-droppingly dumb. "Before I got into the pageant system, I couldn't have told you anything about Russia." "One of the best things I've gotten out of pageanting is that I take tests much better." "My state people make me do so much reading to get ready for this. I'll be glad when it's over." "Really, I didn't do anything to prepare for the pageant. Well, put on a few pounds. And I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight." These are the same contestants, incidentally, who tell you the first thing they're going to do after the pageant is order a hot-fudge sundae. Basically, many of these old-school contestants are ditzes. And dishonest. And interviewing them is like eating consomme with a fork. Because that's about as much as you get out of it. The transitional contestants represent both worlds: They look like the traditional Miss A's tiny, pretty, perky but they're smart. Most of them hail from the South, where there are no fools when it comes to the changing world of pageantry. Miss Georgia Kimberly Paige Hardee is a bedrock conservative and a theology student, but speaks her mind and is funny. Miss Mississippi Mary Allison Hurdle is sweet, very pretty and wants to be a CPA. The strongest of the transitional candidates is Miss Oklahoma Gina-Lynne Smith, who is 5-foot-6, weighs 110 (and she's not one of the many contestants who is fibbing about this) and has blond hair and baby-blue eyes. Basically, she looks like a Miss A, plus she's sweet, outspoken and smart. Though she can sing and is a real crowd-pleaser, she isn't talking television. "I'd like to run a nonprofit organization," Smith says. Between the new-school contestants and the transitional, it's hard to tell who has the best chance. But one thing is for sure: The skinny ditzes haven't got a prayer in the sequined heavens.