Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bathing Beauties of the 1920's Revived on Galveston Island

Beach bathing beauty contest reborn Dana Blue of Houston twirls her umbrella for the judges during the vintage-inspired swimwear competition of the Galveston Island Beach Revue on the beach at 33rd Street on Saturday afternoon. She won second place.

Isle bathing beauty tradition reborn
By Bridget Brown Correspondent

Published May 17, 2009
GALVESTON — In pin curls, polka dots, leopard prints and knee socks, the bathing beauties of the 1920s resurfaced Saturday to parade their style and reinstate a long-ago beach tradition.Eighty years ago, the Pageant of Pulchritude, which later became the Miss America pageant, drew a crowd three times the size of Galveston’s population.On Saturday, fans of pinup style lined the seawall, supporting the resurgence of the retro Galveston Island Beach Revue that was coordinated by Islander By Choice, a retail apparel business.Twelve women competed in a modern bikini contest, while 28 women and two men competed in the vintage round.“This is focusing on Galveston’s history,” said Adrienne Culpepper, a partner in Islander By Choice. “A few years ago, we saw a pamphlet with the bathing beauties, and we thought, ‘why don’t we do this?’”While contestants mingled and quintessential surf-pop, beach-party music blared over the loudspeakers, antiqued photos showed the lineup of the pageant girls from the ’20s and ’30s, when onlookers traveled nationwide to attend the festivities.On Saturday, many of those in attendance recognized their relatives’ smiling faces in the vintage photos.Second in both the modern and vintage divisions, Dana Blue said she remembered looking at her aunt in similar Galveston lineups.“Retro trends are coming back in fashion, and it’s a return to old values,” Blue, who made her own leopard print two-piece, said. “Leaving a little to the imagination is just as beautiful.”The men in the crowd seemed to concur.“It’s classy — it’s fun,” Neil Golemo said. “It’s less about looking at women’s outfits and more an excuse to look at their costumes and say ‘nice gams.’”+++

By Joe Cempa
Published April 24, 2009

GALVESTON — A group called Islanders By Choice wants to resurrect pageants featuring “bathing beauties” that 80 years ago brought as many as 200,000 people to the city.The pageants ran from 1920 to 1932 and nearly tripled the population of the island. Contestants and onlookers attended from all over the country and Mexico via automobile, train and horse.According to Daily News accounts of a 1926 pageant, provided by the Rosenberg Library, first prize was $2,000. Original pageant’s were dubbed, “The Pageant of Pulchritude,” by 1920s promoter, C.E. Barfield.The contemporary event, which keeps the traditional name is set for at 2 p.m. May 16, at Seawall Boulevard and 33rd Street.It will feature contestants in 1920s swimwear and also the current styles, organizers said. “I don’t think we’ll get 200,000 people to this one,” Michael Culpepper said.“But it’ll be fun.” Contestants will compete for more than $1,300 in prizes.“We’ll have two categories vintage inspired and contemporary,” said Adrienne Culpepper, IBC member and organizer of the event. “We also have a silent auction and an after-party at the Float Bar.First prize for vintage-era entries will be $500, while more modern-and more revealing-contestants will receive $200. The 21st century version will feature a panel of judges that include, Tom Schwenk, president of the Galveston Historical Foundation; Betty Massey, chairwoman of the Galveston Community Recovery Committee; and John Nova Lomax, staff writer for the Houston Press.Next year’s pageant may also include a children’s vintage category, Adrienne Culpepper said.IBC was started on July 4 by several island friends who are interested in the history and uniqueness of living here and to promote Galveston and the lifestyle.For more information and registration forms, visit the pageant website at


  1. Do you have any more pictures from the event? I really wanted to show my mom some pictures from the event (I participated). Please let me know if you'd be willing to share! Thank you!
    Chandler Rainey

  2. Yes, do you have anymore you can send? or

  3. Yes, if anyone has pics of the event can you send them to
    Thank you

  4. Look what I found!
    I sent a link to IBC to post- do the same if you find anything. :)

  5. I found more!

  6. And another...

  7. I would also love pics.I am chelsea #27 vintage #1 modern. Email is Thanx

  8. There's an article in The Islander this month! The girl who wore the red gingham one piece is on the cover. :) It's also on the website at:
    For some reason it wouldn't let me past the exact page it's on.