'The Hons aren't dead'

Critical comments from director John Waters met with beehives and boas

June 15, 2008|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun Reporter

Adorned in an Amy Winehouse-inspired black wig and dressed in a neon pink mermaid skirt, a matching feather boa, a pink-sequinedT-shirt and dusty pink house slippers, Robert Glick stood out yesterday among the thousands of people crowding The Avenue for the 15th annual Honfest in Hampden.

Glick, a 43-year-old nurse from Pikesville, ditched his usual hospital garb for the over-the-top outfit in an attempt to be crowned Baltimore's Best Hon, a main staple of the festival where contestants dress in authentic "Hon" attire.

"Girls just want to have fun," said a stubble-faced Glick. "It's just fun. I'm way too young to remember the Hon era."

Honfest, a festival that spotlights the fashion and culture of Baltimore during the '60s, has evolved from a one-day neighborhood gathering out of the back of Cafe Hon to a two-day event touted as one of the largest in the city.

The event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. yesterday and will run from noon until 6 p.m. today, is expected to draw 60,000 people.

"The weather is great. The people are great," said co-organizer Beth Pardoe. "It's going to be the best ever."

Recent comments by Baltimore filmmaker John Waters criticizing the festival and the overuse of the Hon image didn't dampen the day. Waters said he won't use the word or the image in any of his future scripts. In addition, he doesn't think the city should support it either.

Many at the event said Waters, the director of Hon-filled film Hairspray, was hypocritical in his assertions.

"I think he is ridiculous," said Hon-for-the-day Barbara Magee of Westminster. "He's very arrogant to think that he started it."

Others echoed the disdain.

Pardoe objected to Waters' saying that the Hon is "used up" and "condescending."

"I don't know why he made such a big deal of it," she said as she looked at the dozens of contestants prepping for the Best Hon competition. "As you can see, it's not used up."

Lisa Duke, a contestant from Timonium, said Waters' comments were "horrible."

"The Hons aren't dead," she said. "That's ridiculous. It's the most asinine thing I've ever heard.

"Baltimore is kitschy," said Sarah Jones, 25, of Middle River. "He made his bed, he can sleep in it."

Jones got her hair styled into a beehive at the Glamour Lounge, a make-shift beauty salon where stylists were paid to recreate Hon hairstyles.

"I've wanted to get it done every year," said Jones, who paid $20 for the creation. "I just sat down and [the stylist] did it. The whole theme is the higher the hair, the closer to God."

Jackie Gong, 21, of Towson also got a beehive style.

"It's kind of heavy," she said with a laugh. "I'm going to make sure a lot of people see it before I take it out tonight."

Longtime Hampden resident Joan Sheckells said she loves Honfest.

"I think it's wonderful," said the Hickory Street resident. Her family has lived in their Hampden home for five generations. "Before it was just the local community. Now we're attracting people from all over. It's good for the local shops."

Sheckells used the festival to help promote her lawn sale. She posted a several signs along The Avenue advertising it.

As for Waters' assessments?

"That is the way we speak," she said. "This is no more exploiting the people of this neighborhood than him making movies. He used this community to make his money."

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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