Bring Back the Babes and Bitches

Texas, Hurricane Ike

Bring Back the Babes
Galveston goes retro for a beauty pageant

From 1920 to 1932, Galveston hosted an annual "pageant of pulchritude" on the beach in front of the Seawall. At its Roaring '20s peak, the bathing-suit contest that was officially known as the Galveston Island Beach Revue would entice some 200,000 people (a preponderance of them male, we would imagine) per year, tripling the population of the Island for the weekend.

After a dormancy of 76 years, it is coming back on May 16. The event is being resurrected by a group known as Islander By Choice, professional twenty- and thirtysomethings who are becoming adept at enhancing Galveston's social and cultural life.

IBC's Adrienne Culpepper explains how they decided to revive the pulchritude: "About two years ago, we were looking for ideas for [IBC] T-shirts, and we came across an old pamphlet for the bathing beauty contest. We just thought, 'Oh my gosh, we should totally bring this back.' Originally the plan was to do it in 2010, but after Ike, we decided it was now or never this year."

Culpepper says that she and her cohorts are learning more about the event's history every day. The bathing-suit contest was once a part of Splash Weekend, the official kickoff and opening of the Island for summer festivities, she says. While she has yet to talk to anyone who either competed in the event or observed — small wonder, since most of those people would be in their 90s at the least today — she did hear that one former contestant still lives on the Island in a local retirement home. While the Great Depression brought an end to the Beach Revue, its spirit did live on in a world-famous event, Culpepper says. "It was part of the inspiration for the Miss America pageant," she says. "I think it's so cool that Galveston helped shape something like that."

Another thing to file in the "so cool" department, at least for us: Yours truly has been asked to be a judge in the event. Our sacred journalistic integrity demanded nothing less.

The Galveston Island Beach Revue is Saturday, May 16, at 2 p.m. on the beach just east of the 33rd Street Jetty. Contestants are encouraged to enter in either the vintage or contemporary swimwear brackets or both. You can download registration forms here at www.galvestonbeachrevue.com. Be aware, though, that there are higher cash prizes for the winners of the vintage category ($500 for first prize) than the contemporary ($200). Also be advised that there are no changing facilities on the beach, and Galveston is not European in its attitude toward public nudity. John Nova Lomax

Spaced City

Bitchin' About Bitches
A "Yappy Hour" gets the hook

No Dogs Allowed.

So said the city health ­department when pets and their owners were turned away from a planned "Yappy Hour" at Beaver's on Decatur.

The bar and restaurant had done a considerable amount of promoting for the new event, even sending out packets of dog biscuits to the media. There would be "Poodle Coladas" and "Terrier-tinis." Members of the local pet aristocracy were in attendance.

But it wasn't to be.

Beaver's manager Thaddeus Turany, who was on hand to break in the festivities, found himself scrambling to put them down instead after health inspectors arrived with threats of fines and even shutting the doors if any pets stepped on the premises.

A city ordinance forbids pets from all bars and restaurants. It's usually only enforced, though, when someone files a complaint.

"Somebody has a bit of a bone to pick with us," Turany tells Hair Balls.

Turany added that he has never seen such vigorous enforcement from health inspectors. He says a second official eventually followed the first, and Beaver's staff scurried out to the parking lot to head off anyone who arrived with a pet.

Dusty Gilbert, who handled promotion for the event and was also there, says a number of people took their dogs home and returned just to show support. This included giants of the local pet scene such as Ryan Rice, who runs the Houston Dog Blog, and Michelle Mantor of Houston PetTalk magazine.

An inspector parked her city-issued electric car near the door for a good chunk of the night and was seen busily taking notes. Gilbert says some guests worried that she "might be writing down names."

Kathy Barton of the city Department of Health and Human Services assures Hair Balls that the inspector was almost certainly just putting together her report (health inspectors don't have offices; they work from laptops).

The ordinance itself, in addition to its sporadic enforcement, is a sensitive issue for local pet-lovers. Pets aren't allowed inside or on patios under any circumstances. It's even illegal to rope off a portion of a parking lot for them, as Beaver's tried to do.

Rice of the Houston Dog Blog remembers taking his dog into the drugstore when he lived in Los Angeles. He says Houston has a long way to go. The dog-friendly establishments that do exist here are likely just getting by without getting caught.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Houston Concert Tickets
Loading...