April 17, 2009
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
They''re gaudy, brash and shamelessly funny. And if you can''t tell that from the Sweet Potato Queens'' lime sequined outfits and big red hair, maybe one of the "Boss Queen''s" books -- like the No. 1 New York Times Best Seller "The Sweet Potato Queen''s Field Guide to Men: Every Man I Love is Either Married, Gay or Dead" -- will clarify the point.
What began in 1982 with Jill Conner Browne and a few fellow Jacksonians in hand-me-down ballgowns and tiaras riding in the back of a pick-up truck in Malcolm White''s St. Patrick''s Day parade has morphed into a lipstick empire. Founded by Browne, the Queens'' mystique now helps draw thousands to the capital city each March, making Hal and Mal''s St. Paddy''s parade the fourth largest in the nation. The phenomenon is due, in huge part, to Browne''s prolific writing.
The royal ringleader will pay a visit to the Golden Triangle Thursday, April 30. In a benefit for West Point''s Bryan Public Library, "America''s No. 1 Humor Writer" (according to Nielsen BookScan, a retail book sales monitoring service) will share some Sweet Potato wit and wisdom at the West Point Civic auditorium in an event beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The evening is presented by Friends of the Bryan Public Library and the city of West Point. Tickets will be $20, at the door. Wine and cheese will be served before her highness entertains with some of life''s lessons as seen through the eyes of these "belles gone bad."
Browne has been featured in publications including USA Today, Newsweek, People, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, to list a few. Numerous television appearances have included everything from "The CBS Early Show" to CMT''s "100 Greatest Love Songs."
Her latest book, "American Thighs: The Sweet Potato Queen''s Guide to Preserving your Assets," was released in January by Simon & Schuster. It is her eighth since 1999''s national best-seller "The Sweet Potato Queen''s Book of Love," which has now been translated into German and Japanese.
The Queens'' Web site, www.sweetpotatoqueens.com, has helped inspire more than 5,700 registered Sweet Potato Queen Wannabe Chapter Groups, in 22 countries around the world.
But life these days is more than just lolling (a favorite Queen pastime) and majorette boots. Browne is a founding member of the Women''s Fund of The Community Foundation of Greater Jackson. She has raised more than $100,000 for ongoing relief efforts related to Hurricane Katrina and speaks at fundraising events around the country.
For more information on Browne''s appearance at The Civic, contact the Bryan Public Library at 662-494-4876.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.