Year of the Slug

Eugene’s new SLUG queen Daniel Borson talks about his agenda

Bulbus Slimebledore
Bulbus Slimebledore puts a spell on downtown EugenePhoto by Athena Delene •

Daniel Borson has known that Bulbus Slimebledore was the stuff of queens since 2009. He was taken by the idea of a slug wizard, but allowed it to take backseat to some other magnetic personalities he’s pulled out for SLUG (Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod) queen competitions over the years.

In 2008, Borson competed in the SLUG queen coronation as Ambassador Mucous Mulloscadia — a half-man, half-woman hybrid representing slugs’ hermaphroditic nature. In 2009, he killed as Slimus O’Mulloskin, a singing leprechaun. In 2010, he played Little Orphan Sluggie, based loosely on the character from the musical Annie. And after a suspenseful two-year hiatus, Borson returned to the contest in 2013 in the robes of Slimebledore, shark-eyed and intent on winning. But with stiff competition from Queen Professor Doctor Mildred Slugwak Dresselhaus, Borson came up short once more.

“I knew that I had to run again,” Borson says. “Because I knew that I was going to be queen some day.”

And lo, Bulbus Slimebledore was crowned on Aug. 8, and is now preparing for a year as Eugene’s “unofficial goodwill ambassador.” Borson sat down with EW to talk about the future of our water supply, the true meaning of bribery, the Eugene Celebration and those boots.

What do slugs mean to you?

To me, the slug represents the ecosystem of our little area of the southern Willamette Valley. Given slugs’ love of moisture and wetness and the very hot, dry summer that we’re having this year, that’s going to be challenging for slugs. Slugs feed birds, and birds are part of the ecosystem — to me [they’re] representative of the whole web of nature that is really in a very precarious balance.

When the history books are written, what would you like them to say about your rain?

Given that my character is a parody of Professor Dumbledore and that Dumbledore is headmaster of a school, I also wanted to be about education, and specifically environmental education. Nearby Nature is one of my key charities — they do wonderful work in environmental education, summer camps, programs throughout the year for kids of all ages.

Are there any environmental issues specific to Eugene that you’d be meaning to look into in regards to environmental education?

I’d say probably the biggest ones are with respect to water and energy and sustainability. It doesn’t rain as much here as we really like to think it does. As much as we like to think we have a lot of water, we’re not immune to drought situations. Here in Eugene we have a precious resource with the Eugene Water and Electric Board (I happen to work for them). The McKenzie River water source to me is a very precious resource. Not only is it some of the best tasting water, it’s relatively abundant — at least it is now. But with climate change, the snow pack in the Cascades is forecasted to diminish substantially.

One of the reasons that I’ve chosen to live in this part of the world is that the Northwest fares much better than most other areas of the world under climate change models. [Even so], we’ll get drier. We will have more severe weather storms — just look at how cold it was during those ice storms this past winter.

And so, what does sustainability look like? What does energy usage look like? Energy production is one of the main sources of greenhouse gases and yet here we have tremendous potential for solar energy, a tremendous potential for wind energy. Our utility will have to adapt. Eugene will have to adapt. Oregon will have to adapt. This is the world that we’re leaving to our children, which gets back to why I think environmental education is so important. We are handing our children a planet, and along with that I think we need to hand them a user’s guide.

As you’ve developed the way you’ve run for SLUG queen over several years, what have you learned from old queens?

I think when I first ran I wanted to do it for my own ego and self-aggrandizement, and over the years I’ve moved beyond that to where I wanted it because I really believed that I had something to offer the position of SLUG queen. I feel like I’m in a unique position as SLUG queen here in 2014 given the uncertain future of the Eugene Celebration.

I’ve been in contact with the organizers of the Festival of Eugene and I hope that it moves forward. Definitely we’ll have a presence there at the Festival. Then I’d like to use my platform as SLUG queen to help create a vision for something new and different for Eugene in the years to come.

So you see Eugene Celebration as a pretty meaningful institution to Eugene?

I don’t see the Eugene Celebration per se [as meaningful], but I do see some kind of end of summer festival that’s for us. Throughout summer there are all these other events: There’s the Bach Festival, OFAM, there are track meets, there are all of these things that Eugene does to promote itself to the rest of the world.

And here, when all of that is all over and done with at the end of summer, we have a weekend where we can celebrate ourselves and celebrate what a wonderful and vibrant city we live in, both culturally and counter-culturally. That end of summer festival celebration party, whatever you want to call it, that’s what as SLUG queen I am committed to preserving.

What are some things that you’ve bribed judges with?

Oh, I’ve bribed the judges with chocolate; last year I bribed the judges with a cartoon that Dan Pegoda did for the Something Eug! comic strip in EW. This year, though, I think I finally understood the true meaning of bribery. A couple of weeks ago I had a SLUG queen meet and greet at [a local] winery and I invited the old queens and I invited all the other contestants this year.

We just had a delightful time — having a winery tour, sampling all of the wine and figuring out who were going to be the designated drivers. And I realized the true meaning of the bribes is it’s a way to get to know the queens. The best bribes were ones in which you didn’t just give something to the old queens — although that might be nice, and as the old queens before me I will create an altar in my home as a place to put all things slug-related and slimy — but the bribes are really a way of connecting with the old queens and letting them know who you are. After all, there have only been 32 of us, and now we are the ones who get to decide who we want to let into our circle next year, and so we want to know if this is someone who we’re going to enjoy hanging out with, enjoy making decisions with, enjoy partying with.

Are you committed to wearing your Bulbus Slimebledore robes year-round?

Oh, it’s kind of bulky. I’m going to keep it through the parade weekend. But after that I have some lighter weight, less bulky costumes in the works. The [British] accent is a fixture, as is the purple velvet with slime green trim.

What about the boots?

And the boots — I will not get rid of those boots. You will have to pull my cold and decomposing body from them. And you may quote me on that.