A bumblebee handing out shots amid a flood of flashy, radiant costumes on the Saturday Market stage at the downtown Park Blocks marked the beginning of this year’s SLUG (Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod) queen coronation Aug. 8. This observance of unconventional beauty was a heated competition between four colorful candidates that was ultimately won by Bulbous Slimebledore, aka local software developer Daniel Borson.
The one campaign this year that considered slugs as animals of value rather than simply symbols of Northwest individuality was that of B. Slugahoneylicious, the guise of local environmental health champion Lisa Arkin. Backed by a hot little band, bumblebee backup dancers and men dressed as Monsanto agents, Arkin belted an indignant rewrite of “I Will Survive” aimed at sprayers of harmful pesticides: “Oh don’t you spray/ flowers and trees/ All the slugs and ladybugs/ You make us feel so ill at ease.”
According to Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics, slugs have meaningful roles in our local ecosystem, slurping up dead matter when the sun goes down and clearing room for vegetative renewal.
“Under my persona as B. Slugahoneylicious, I saw the slug as the queen of the garden by night,” Arkin says. “The bees were the queens of the garden by day, so we had a shared responsibility for the garden.”
After the passion and substance of Arkin’s song, few could have anticipated the barn-burning final act from Bulbous Slimebledore. As a five-time candidate for the crown, Borson’s status as a dark-horse candidate was well known, garnering some salty commentary from host Bananita Sluginsky (“It’s embarrassing to try that hard and never make it,” she said to the audience).
Borson used this reputation to his advantage, stripping his cumbersome wizard outfit down mid-performance to sleekly-tailored robes and green go-go boots, and delivering an unhinged appeal to the audience’s love of the underdog to the tune of “We Are the Champions” — “If I don’t win tonight / I’ll be back every year ’til I do!” Borson sang, struggling to remain audible over the crowd’s roar.
His momentum was so overwhelming that it was little surprise when he was crowned queen minutes later, with Arkin as the runner-up.
After satisfying a horde of adoring fans and reporters, Borson retired his sweaty magician’s cap, gathered up a heap of colorful clothes and joined old members of SLUG royalty on their way to Party Downtown, raining queens of Eugene for another long night.