Isle of Palms, SC – “The Bikini Contest” – The Windjammer – May 31, 1999

The boys can’t stop talking about Vonda, the bartender from the Windjammer, but there were hundreds of beautiful sunbathing beauties at the gig yesterday. They distracted the band, traipsing past the stage from the beach to changing room, glistening with water beading off oiled suntans in glittery suits. Brian did some “Three’s Company” double takes that Jack Ritter would have applauded.
The Windjammer is right on the ocean. We hadn’t seen an actual beach in over six months so while the buffed bodies distracted me I was more mesmerized by waves and soft sand.

Buoys, fishing nets, and surfboards decorated the wind-swept venue. Posters of hot babes and surfers on waves hung about the colorful bar running opposite the stage. A mirror set behind the bar revealed the sight of our pale, hairy legs awkwardly dancing on our comically tall stage.

There was no time for a sound check when we arrived late. I rushed into the bathroom to change out of my traveling clothes. The floor was wet, sandy, and slightly treacherous. I balanced on one flip-flop while trying to aim my legs through a skirt. Women, mistakenly entering my stall due to a broken latch, offered apologetic exits. Two girls argued outside the door whether or not to try their fake I.D.s at the bar.

I used a warped and gray mirror over a dripping sink to paint color into my vampire-white skin. Squinting, I moved closer to my gauzy reflection, accidentally bumping up against the counter, resulting in a huge wet mark on the front of my skirt. “Damn!” I had to laugh at myself as I rushed to get on stage. The boys had already started to play. The wet spot made it look like I’d had an accident myself.

Our first set is always hard in a barroom setting. It’s got slow, acoustic songs that do little to mask people trying to talk over you, to order a beer or pick up a date.

During intermission, there was a bikini contest. We knew it was coming. The band had been excited since Casey, our booking agent, inquired if I’d mind the contest happening during our show. I’d cheekily agreed, albeit with the condition that I too could perform in a bikini if I wished.
The boys wanted to be judges but it turned out to be one of those dignified ‘dog call for the prettiest girl’ contests. Personally, I cheered for every girl equally, believing they all deserved accolades for the courage it took to strut the stage, clad in dentil floss ittsy-bitsy bikinis in front of a Memorial Day crowd. When the contest concluded, I obliged people by tattooing their oily chests, arms, and backs with my autograph in black Sharpie. I signed so many greasy bodies, that my pen finally gave out.

The second set could have been great, had it not been for relentless requests from inebriated frat boys for “Carolina in my Mind,” one of my dad’s songs. Honestly, we didn’t know how to play it—an honest admission that shifted their focus to requesting Jimmy Buffett tunes instead. You’ve got to let this kind of shit roll off if you want to keep your head above water.

A fantastic crew from 96 The Wave—Miles, Mike, Ray, and Johnathan introduced themselves after the gig. They’d been plugging our show all day on their indie radio station. Amidst an industry flooded with stations playing the same few tracks, dictated by big labels and deep pockets, 96 The Wave promised to spin “Tomboy Bride.” It’s a rare thing to find such supporters in a world where independent voices are often overshadowed by corporate giants.

So what am I asking of you dear reader is this, be conscious of what you’re listening to. I mean listen to high-powered radio if that’s what you like. But also support Independent radio stations. There are hardly any left and they represent the freedom of speech and underground music. Listen to what you think is good! Not what people on the radio say is good…they only say it’s good ‘cus they’re getting paid to say it. Look for music that feeds your soul ‘cus God knows it’s out there in abundance and it’s not always on the Big Labels.