EUGENE, Ore. - Eugene has a queen.
A slug queen.
Crowned in August 2010, she goes by Queen Slugasana (slug-asana), also known as Jerril Nilson.
She couldn’t be more proud to bear the title.
“I’ve lived in Eugene for 37 years and have participated in the Eugene Celebration Parade for about 25 years," she said. It feels like graduating from that experience to have competed for the SLUG Queen title.”
“The Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod, which is the organization to which the SLUG Queen emanates, is loosely knit. We are all cultural ambassadors of the arts and culture in Eugene, and we also have chosen charities that we do fundraising for.”
Queen Slugasana’s chosen charities are Slow Food and the School Garden Project.
“They come in and actually set up the gardens with the schools and help teachers with curriculum that goes hand in hand with working the soil, planting, raising the various vegetables and produce. And then actually, in some schools, I believe that they’re harvesting and then cooking with them in the classes,” she said.
On May 20, Queen Slugasana had a fundraiser at McDonald Theater for the School Garden Project called the “OOZEquerade”.
“That means you can come as you are or as you aren’t," she said. "And we’ll raise money to help support the School Garden Project to continue their work and to also do new gardens in various districts in Lane County.”
Started in 1983, the first SLUG Queen was a man, Bruce Gordon, dressed in drag, riding on a parade float shaped like a slug - much to the dismay of the City Council.
The crowd, however, loved it.
A tradition was born.
A new SLUG Queen is elected each year and is based on costume, a talent show and a test of wit. And, being a parody of beauty contests and therefore irreverent, bribing the judges, all “old” –not former – queens is not only allowed but encouraged. Bribe early and bride often is the motto.
“I love it, I think it’s a worthy thing to do," said Slugasana. "It’s great fun to compete and the next coronation is coming up in August, so if anybody out there wants to be a SLUG Queen, it’s great fun!”