A night fully out
Beans for Queens proves dressing up can be fun
While personally not one who gets all gussied up for a night on the town—my idea of formal attire being a pair of black jeans and a T-shirt without the name of a band screen-printed across the front—I must say that I’ve always appreciated seeing other people decked out in their regalia.
Take, for instance, last Saturday evening’s Beans for Queens chili cook-off, country drag show and multi-band rock concert at Off Limits. This annual bash is designed to bring out the festive, fun-loving and socially open-minded populace of Chico, and boy oh boy does it ever succeed at that goal.
Arriving shortly after the doors opened, I spotted my pal April Boone, Duffy’s bartender and—on this night—celebrity judge, seated at the bar fetchingly dressed in a lovely red bandana-print-and-lace outfit topped by a crumpled cowboy hat that she said made her feel like, “some red-neck hay-hauler’s sister, only better-looking.”
The bartenders and waitresses got into the spirit of the event by donning a French maid’s outfit, a Daisy Duke cut-offs and knotted-above-the-navel blouse ensemble, and a sharply-creased riverboat gambler suit. And their service was as sharp as their costumes.
Dirty Jim and the Violators kicked off the show in fine trash-rock form decked out in costumes ranging from an AC/DC Angus Young school boy uniform, to a pastel blue evening suit and tie, to a white shirt with the sleeves cut off at the shoulders and some raggedy cut-off jeans for maximum tattoo visibility. It didn’t take long for the dance floor to be covered by people festooned in white-trash finery and varying degrees of cross dress, all writhing to such classics as Motorhead’s immortal “Ace of Spades.” The real ass-kicker of their set was a fine cover of the Stooges “I Wanna be Your Dog,” which achieved a sonic grandeur that more than justified the old chestnut’s status as a cover band staple.
The theatrical highlight of the event was the drag show, with the lovely Claudette performing a perfectly lip-synched rendition of Bobby Gentry’s “Harper Valley PTA” in BIG wig, flawless makeup and immaculately tailored jacket and skirt. Fusing high camp and poignant social commentary in a blend of comedy and pathos is no small feat, but Claudette pulled it off, just as she did later with a fabulous rendition of Loretta Lynn’s tear-jerking autobiographical masterpiece, “Coalminer’s Daughter.”
Further emphasizing that drag is an art form reaching beyond sexual stereotyping into a realm of good-humored, cosmic self-acceptance was Midge’s performance of Bette Midler’s “I’m Beautiful, Dammit.”
And even further emphasizing that this was a sexy rock party, was Squirrel vs. Bear. Attired in hot pink shorts and skin-tight T-shirts emblazoned with assorted ambiguously sexual slogans, the band pumped out a drum machine powered set of cheesy keyboard-infested techno-rock that had every inch of the dance floor once again covered with gleefully writhing bodies.
And, yes, there really was a butter-eating contest. And somebody won the chili cook-off. And the place was packed with wonderful people and the Gorgeous Armada played gorgeously, and a fine time was had by all.