The Guide to IAGSDC Convention Chapters 25-26

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Honky Tonk Queens

1999 HTQ Muriel with Oscar.
Los Angeles, 1999: "Oscar" walks a contestant down the runway during the HTQ Contest.

Each year, the LGBT square dance community (not, it should be noted, as an official activity of the IAGSDC®) holds a contest at Convention to pick a "Honky Tonk Queen."

Yes, it's a drag contest. Although using the terms "drag" and "Honky Tonk Queen" in the same sentence might be stretching the truth just a little.

You will frequently see "Honky Tonk Queen" abbreviated in printed convention materials as "HTQ".

Honky Tonk Queen contests usually start late on Saturday night.

Actually, they usually start late no matter what night they’re held, due to DST (Drag Standard Time).

The requirements for entry and participation vary from year to year, and are set up by the reigning Honky Tonk Queen.

Nothing says that contest requirements or format have to be fair, tasteful, or consistent. (And they usually aren't.)

The "winner" of the HTQ Contest at Convention "reigns" over lesbian and gay square dancing until the next Convention. (Conventions aren't always held twelve months apart.)

A spectacularly hideous crown made from a spray-painted, Christmas-tree-lighted, western boot is bestowed upon the lucky winner, who is expected to swan and vogue around the hotel for hours. (Kids, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.)

Some HTQs don't stop swanning and voguing for a full year...or even after they give up their crown.

Anyone in GLBT square dancing may be a HTQ contestant. Some HTQ contestants are men. Some are women. Some just plain aren't sure (and neither is the audience).

Many contestants bring escorts. Many audience members bring restraining orders.

The HTQ Contest is, at best, an anarchistic event, with a suitable lack of selection criteria:

  • There are years where judges selected an escort as the new HTQ instead of a contestant.
  • There are years where emcees and/or other (comparatively) innocent bystanders were elected HTQ.
  • Instead of selecting a single person, there are years when groups of people were elected HTQ.
  • In one (truly memorable) year, a hunky "volunteer" was stripped down to skivvies, spray-painted gold, and dragooned into service as a live version of the Academy Awards statuette.
2005 Honky Tonk Queen: The Fabulous Cow Patty
2005 Honky Tonk Queen: The Fabulous Cow Patty

That last bullet point has nothing whatsoever to do with selection criteria – we just threw it in 'cause it was fun to remember...and every so often, some people still refer to him as "Oscar", which makes him wince.

The only consistent rule about HTQ contests seems to be that a new HTQ may not be selected from the same club as the previous year's HTQ.

For example, contestants from the same club could win in 1999 and 2001, but not in 1999 and 2000.

Given the long memories (and grudges) associated with such events, it usually takes several years for a club to "recapture" the Crown.

At IAGSDC® events, you may hear people crying "Old Queen! Old Queen!" at random times. This signifies that a Former HTQ has just entered the room. (Occasionally, people will cry "New Queen!" when the current HTQ walks in, just because they can.) It is not necessarily in poor taste to join in the chorus, especially if you happen to know the Old Queen personally.

It should be noted that "Good Taste," "Talent," "Beauty," and "Honky Tonk Queen" don't necessarily belong in the same sentence.

What's a "Bathing Beauty"?

Bathing Beauties Larry Burke and Rob Sierzega with Rich Hugunine (aka Fester). Two Faaaabulous Bathing Beauties from Chi-Town. Larry Burke (in gold and orange) passed away February 8th, 2005, but his beauty lives on here. Larry & Rob Sierzega (in blue) were together for 16 years, and started dancing in 1993.
Bathing Beauties Larry Burke and Rob Sierzega

Depending upon who you ask, the Bathing Beauties are either an offshoot of or a related activity to the Honky Tonk Queen.

Unlike the HTQ Contest, anyone (generally, but not necessarily, male) can be a Bathing Beauty.

Becoming a Bathing Beauty consists of dressing up in a women's swimsuit – the louder and tackier, the better – bathing cap, sunglasses, flip-flops, and parading throughout the Convention at random times.

This could include anything from the Saturday night banquet to the hotel swimming pool to a random dance floor.

Bathing Beauties have been known to show up on Fun Badge Tours, at late-night hotel piano bars, and occasionally on "America's Most Wanted."

Occasionally they walk up to callers (Mike DeSisto is a favorite target) and start distracting them in the middle of a tip.

(Back to the Guide To IAGSDC Convention Table of Contents.) (Back to Guide Chapter 24.) (Forward to Guide Chapter 27.)