For the fourth year running, The Savannah Sweet Tease Burlesque Revue will name the next Mr. Savannah.
The annual Mr. Savannah Pageant, “an amateur beefcake competition,” features a host of regular joes vying for the illustrious title by strutting their stuff and baring it all for The Jinx crowd.
Following similar rules to actual beauty pageants, each contest will compete in several categories, which of course will include a burlesque twist. Contestants will be judged on talent, swimwear, interview/outfit of choice and Mr. Congeniality.
Jon Taylor, a long-time member of the Savannah Sweet Tease (who performs as Jack N’ Thacox) and a panel judge is looking for specific qualities in each of the contestants performance.
“We judge the competition based off of creativity, talent and stage presence, but what I’ve found, creativity is different for every contestant,” Taylor said. “Somebody might wear fuzzy leg warmers and we’re scoring them next to someone who is playing an acoustic set. You have to focus on their personality. That’s what makes everyone unique. We’re not looking for anything in particular. We just come in and hope the guys have a good time.
“Everybody has something special to offer. This is a showcase for them not to be shy, make people laugh, and dazzle them. I want somebody to be unequivocally themselves. Whatever that is.”
In past years, contestants' talents and presentations have ran the gamut of dazzling entertainment, including the last year when one contestant recited the inspiring speech of fictional president Thomas Whitmore from the movie “Independence Day” while wearing only a g-string thong.
The first Mr. Savannah, Peterson Worrell, earned his title with a musical performance and major props.
“He set the tone for the event,” Taylor said of Worrell’s competition. “He came out with a glitter cannon. I remember that was amazing.”
Other than the purely entertaining aspect, the pageant acts upon the general ethos created by the Sweet Tease. Since inception, the burlesque troupe has centered their performance and troupe around the idea of inclusiveness. The group has consisted of professional dancers and amateur performers of all genders, races and body types and sexual orientations and identities. Being a coed troupe has set them apart from a lot of traditional troupes.
“We also have guys with us,” Sweet Tease co-founder Anita Narcisse (Rita D’LaVane) told Do Savannah in 2017. “Some of these venues have never seen a guy perform in any sort of sexualized way. But they love it.
“And Butt Reynolds. Some guys chant his name after he leaves the stage. It’s awesome to open them up to the idea that they can be sexy, too.”
For Worrell, to represent a city like Savannah, an odd hamlet full of diversity and strangeness, means much more than stripping down.
“Earning the title of Mr. Savannah means encapsulating a multitude of the intangible things that make Savannah so great,” Worrell said. “When you look at the last three winners, there’s so much diversity between all of us and that’s one thing I love about the contest in general.
“Some of the major things we all share in common though are our love of community and our eagerness to help build up our community in any way that we can. Winning the title of Mr. Savannah means that our strange and beautiful little community has seen something in you that reflects what it believes in and that’s really the highest form of satisfaction that a person can look for in my eyes.”
The pageant also acts as a fundraiser for Savannah Sweet Tease’s upcoming tour, as well as their Teases in Training (T.I.T.'s) program, which as the name implies, trains potential new Sweet Tease performers. It will also help fund their next major show and tour — a video games-inspired performance which is set to debut at The Jinx on July 27.
Winning contestants will take a share of the door, along with a bar tab for Lone Wolf Lounge, and a pin-up class and photo shoot with Lavender Haze from Tied and Tassled Fetish Cabaret.
This year’s contestants include: Soco the Kahn, Brendan Townend, Benjamin Murphy, Doc Faust, Fred Ferguson, Jeffrey Giddens, Kalub Holt and Lawrence Appenzeller. Rita D’LaVane will MC the show. Past winners include: Worrell, Philip Custer and Broella Deville.
“We have a kooky cast (this year),” Taylor said. “We’ve two who’ve done the three years past, but everyone’s bringing something new to the table. We’ve got one guy who’s going to do a puppet show. Doc Faust will probably do something spooky. I am excited to laugh and have a good time.”