Royalty is never ordinary. Locals of Eugene know this is the case for the beloved SLUG queen, who presides over the Eugene Parade and, in the past, the (now defunct) Eugene Celebration.
This year’s newest queen (aka the “raining” queen), Slugita Incognita, has her sights set not just on Lane County but the whole world, now that she’s been annointed by the Society for the Legitimzation of the Ubiquitous Gastropod, or SLUG.
Incognita, aka Kara Steffenson, is the executive director of Beyond War in the Pacific Northwest, and she says she hopes to carry the organization’s goals of an environmentally stable planet into her new matriarchy as well.
“I want to be a goodwill ambassador with a sense of humor. That’s what I hope to bring to the local efforts around climate change,” Steffenson says.
One of the ways Steffenson is working on inspiring activism is by promoting and attending the “trial of the century,” the youth vs. government lawsuit filed by Oregon teens and young adults. Our Children’s Trust is a nonprofit organization suing the United States government for not doing enough to prevent climate change, and thus endangering their lives and that of future generations.
Steffenson says she aims to “lighten the burden of difficult issues” such as climate change by bringing her loud alter ego to important events such as this.
She says winning the SLUG queen title was quite a shock to her. Steffenson entered the competition to have a “fun summer activity” — something reminiscent of being a kid during summer vacation. She saw the SLUG queen contest as an opportunity to do camp skits similar to what she did in her childhood, and she engaged everyone from her friends to her son’s girlfriend in the effort.
Before entering the pageant, Steffenson says she’d been feeling depressed about the state of the world. She attended professional trainings for nuclear, emergency and radiation preparedness the week before deciding to participate.
“I needed something lighthearted,” she says.
Her skits were a hit at the competition, featuring a Credence Clearwater Revival song rewritten around the theme of climate change. “Bad Moon Rising” took on a new meaning when it became “Bad Sun Rising.” Steffenson’s performance was accompanied by visuals: a sun with Donald Trump’s face rose slowly behind her as she sang about the dangers of global warming.
People of all ages helped with her skits, from local kids to old SLUG queens. She said the real fun came from working with her friends, and that she couldn’t have won without their help and creativity.
As SLUG queen, Steffenson has spent time reflecting on what slugs do best and how she can live her newly initiated gastropod life to the fullest.
“Slugs move slowly,” she says, moving her arms to imitate a calm crawl. “They are never in a hurry. They eat mostly vegetables, and they leave a sparkling trail behind them. That’s how I want to live my life.”
Slugs make nearly no environmental impact, a fact that Steffenson says has inspired to her to live in a similar manner. As Slugita Incognita, she hopes to inspire those around her to do the same.