Twelve years ago, Alyssa Buttons-Garten was in a printmaking class at Lane Community College. Her instructor told her that she dresses and acts like a SLUG queen. Maybe the instructor was on to something, because Buttons-Garten would go on to become “Raining” SLUG Queen Sativa Slugworth.
Buttons-Garten, 36, was crowned at the 40th annual SLUG Queen Competition and Coronation on August 12, a slimy dream of hers to be part of Eugene history. Like SLUG queens before her, she relied on bribes, but this year’s raining queen also had a hefty TikTok following to cheer her on throughout the process.
As raining queen, Buttons-Garten says she plans to hold events to strengthen Eugene’s community and work toward social justice in the cannabis world.
This wasn’t Buttons-Garten’s first attempt to capture the SLUG Queen throne. The manager of Next Level Wellness dispensary and performer with Scrumptious Scoundrel Burlesque group had a go at the crown in 2021. What was different this year, she says, was her massive TikTok following.
She says last fall she developed the following after posting a series about how to grow mushrooms in a tub in your closet (you know, for psilocybin purposes) now that it’s been decriminalized under Measure 109. “I’ve microdosed for a year,” she says. “It’s absolutely changed my whole life and the way that my brain organizes itself. It’s really benefited me, so I wanted to show people online that they can do this.”
From there, her account blew up, and today she has upward of 58,000 followers. And she took to her TikTok to post about the SLUG Queen process — such as how to get involved with the SLUG Queen pageantry and the importance of bribing when seeking the crown.
What did she use to bribe the Old Queens and judges? She says she created “disco visors” by putting fringe, stickers, gems and more types of flair on plastic visors that said “SLUG Life.” “I bribed them with a casual crown,” she says. “So they could tell people they’re a queen wherever they go.”
Now that she’s Queen, Buttons-Garten says she’s going to do fundraising work with the Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to free those incarcerated during the U.S.’s War on Drugs, starting with those jailed for cannabis crimes.
“The fact that these giant cannabis corporations can profit off of recreational cannabis while others are sitting in jail for an ounce of weed is insane to me,” she says. Alongside the SLUG Queen organization, Next Level Wellness, the cannabis company Drops and herself, she says they’ll be holding fundraising events for the nonprofit.
At home, Buttons-Garten says she wants to strengthen Eugene’s community through events. Because of the past two and a half years of COVID-19, people have been isolated and have had trouble connecting, she says. So she wants to help people meet their fellow weirdo neighbors, she adds.
The first event she is planning is a tiny things swap, where people can trade figurines, little art, beautiful stones and so on. “Silly things like that build community. That’s what gets you to know your community,” she says. “That’s what Eugene is based off of — strong senses of community.”
And it all comes down to weirdness, the quality that her LCC instructor saw in Buttons-Garten so many years ago. She says on TikTok she wants to encourage people to be weird — because deep down we all are, she says. And as SLUG Queen, she feels she wears the crown of weird.
“I’ve felt like a weirdo and outcast all my life,” she says. “To be a queen of the weirdos is so validating. I couldn’t be happier.” ν
Follow Buttons-Garten on TikTok at @missbuttons0, Instagram @SativaSugWorth. She performs with Scrumptious Scoundrel Burlesque 9 pm Friday, August 19, at Old Nick’s Pub and appears at Next Level Wellness’s grand re-opening noon to 5 pm Saturday, Sept. 10.