A night fully out

Beans for Queens proves dressing up can be fun

TOOT-SWEET <br>Rock music, chili, butter-eating and drag queens—the perfect night out. From left, Juanita and Britney heat up the dance floor at Beans for Queens.

Rock music, chili, butter-eating and drag queens—the perfect night out. From left, Juanita and Britney heat up the dance floor at Beans for Queens.

Photo By Tom Angel

Beans for Queens Off Limits Sat., Aug. 13

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.