Annual floozie contest all about proper ‘strut’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

When Binkie Osner left East London, South Africa, on vacation she wasn’t wearing a feather boa or Mardi Gras beads around her neck.

But Monday, Osner was wearing that outlandish getup and strutting across a stage competing in the Steamboat Jubilee and Floozie contest.

&uot;I’m in it for the money,&uot; Osner said. &uot;I’m going to make money as a floozie.&uot;

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The contest, at Natchez Under-the-Hill, is a part of the Great Steamboat Race up the Mississippi River between the Delta Queen and the Mississippi Queen riverboats.

The passengers of both boats gathered in a large white tent on the bluff&160;overlooking the two steamboats.

After a performance by a New Orleans style second-line jazz parade, the floozies began to strut across the stage in the tent.

Marie Lou Los of Santa Maria, Calif., was one of the contest judges.

&uot;I’m looking for strut,&uot; Los said. &uot;I’m looking to see everything she has got.&uot;

Sylvia Dietz of Mobile, Al., was another of the five judges who helped pick a Ms. Natchez Under-the-Hill and a Ms. Crew Floozie.

&uot;I’m looking for charm, Southern charm,&uot; Dietz said, with a hint of sarcasm.

Gene Patterson, a passenger on the Delta Queen, walked away with the title of Ms. Natchez Under-the-Hill, and Cathy Shivley, a passenger on the Mississippi Queen was named runner-up.

Nellie Jones, a Mississippi Queen crew member, was named Ms. Crew and Paulina Bigting, a Delta Queen crew member, was named runner up.

The boats will head up river for the next competitions in the steamboat race.

In Vicksburg, the boat passengers will tour Civil War battlefields and in Greenville the passengers will compete in the Steamboat Olympics.

The race concludes July 4 with fireworks at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and a true speed race into St. Louis.

The winner of the races will sail away with the &uot;Golden Antlers,&uot; the traditional trophy of steamboat racing.