St. Petersburg's 500 Block was a brim with vintage motorcycles, hot rods, Volkswagen buses, and even an old Morris Minor. At 7 p.m., Sake Bomb's third annual Scorpio Vintage Rides and Art Show block party was still jamming eight hours after it started. Pinup girls bopped through the crowd sporting coiffed victory rolls, cat-lined eyes, form-fitting threads and high stilettos.
Not long after grabbing a sake martini and a beer from the bar, I was startled by the sound of a motorcycle engine revving nearby. It sounded so close, it had to be indoors. When I turned around, I could see Sake Bomb owner Tai "Swank" Truong straddled across a soon-to-be-raffled yellow Honda cx500 Cafe Racer. He revved the engine again, and owner Tom Truong popped up holding the box of raffle tickets. The crowd roared.
One lucky winner would be driving the bike home. After the first ticket picked failed to produce a winner, two minutes were put on the clock before another ticket was drawn. Again, no one stepped forward and another two minutes went on the clock. The air was electric, as Swank continued revving the engine and the crowd teetered between excited and angry. Finally, the third time was the charm, with motorcycle raffle winner Jeff Fox making his way to his new ride, climbing aboard and revving the engine once again. Everyone clapped and cheered, getting over the sting knowing they would not be claiming this prize.
But I was there on another mission.
I was tasked, along with artist Frank Strunk III, Starbooty hair-goddess Mimi Reilly, and Miss Scorpio 2012 winner Montana Kroll, with crowning 2013's Miss Scorpio. The contest is all about lady power and style.
But how the heck do you distinguish one bodacious babe from another? What makes a pinup girl Miss Scorpio?
I turned to the experts in the crowd. I bumped into my good friend and filmmaker Stephen Mckendree. When he's not crafting some cinematic masterpiece, he's often hired to photograph pinup girls.
"There's one thing that sets a pinup girl apart," Mckendree told me before the contest. "A button nose."
Pinup maven and host of ceremonies Judy Pop (who I knew in a previous life as a one of the most badass bass players I've ever seen live) gave some advice, too.
"She's got to be confident and personable, really get out there and talk to people," she told me sipping on a lychee sake martini. "And of course, the right amount of sassy."
The right amount of sassy, a button nose, what else? Based on my deductions, being a good pinup girl doesn't mean you're a goody-two-shoes or a vamping vixen. It's more like a Powerpuff girl; sugar, spice, everything nice, and of course a dash of Chemical X.
In the darkened and echoey backend of Sake Bomb, the pinups gathered. The judges crowded nearby. Although it was dark and noisy, it was easy to see who the standouts were. Two of the girls arrived early and stayed all day talking to folks outside, one baking cupcakes, another swing dancing. Being able to talk, charm, and make a joke was key.
In the end, we crowned Megan Kennedy — a tall and lanky blonde with purple-tipped hair — as Miss Scorpio 2013. In second place was Miss Cupcake Queen of St. Pete, Monika Sylvestre. The winners took home Frank Strunk III-made trophies. All hair and makeup was done by St. Pete's VLVT Salon. The motorcycle parts for raffle were courtesy Dime City Cycles.
In the end, it wasn't the hair, the clothes, or the button nose that won out; it was the right amount of sassy.
See more photos from the event here.