LUSK – The Legend of Rawhide would not be complete without floozies, according to Sheila Boldon and Marina Sherwood. Though they do not play a large role in the performance itself, the money raised from selling garters funds several scholarships.
Boldon, who coordinates the floozies, said, “in the 1800s and probably long before that, floozies, soiled doves, ladies of the night, they all had one purpose and that was prostitution.”
Boldon said The Yellow Hotel was where some of the ladies portrayed would have worked.
According to Boldon, floozies have been part of the show since the 80s. They are typically played by high school girls. She said the number of floozies varies from year to year, but usually there are eight to 12.
“Some people are concerned that it’s high school girls that are doing this, but, you know, they have rules. They can’t let anybody take a garter off their body, even if it’s their arm. They have to be in groups. It’s safe,” she said.
Marina Sherwood, who will be playing a floozy for the third time, said “I think it’s important because it was a part of the history from that time. Whether people accept it now or not, it still was a part of our history, and you can’t ignore it.”
“I just tell my girls that they are in the best position to talk to people, to get them encouraged to go to the show,” Boldon said.
Floozies walk around downtown during the parade to sell garters and spread the word to tourists about the performance. At the performance, they ride in a wagon, interact with the crowd and sell garters.
“I’m a very extroverted person so I think being able to like, meet new people and interact with everybody is pretty fun,” Sherwood said.
Boldon said the floozies sell garters each year to raise money for a scholarship fund. Each garter is sold for $5. Typically, the floozies sell all the garters they have.
“Last year, not knowing what COVID was going to do to their attendance, they had 300 garters to sell. The year before that, they had 600 garters to sell,” Boldon said.
This year, the scholarship money raised benefits nine scholarship recipients.
“Anybody who participates in Legend performance or helps the set-up, can apply for Legend scholarships,” Boldon said. High school seniors can apply, as well as students who are already in college.
Sherwood is one of this year’s recipients. Sherwood first got involved in Legend of Rawhide her second summer in Lusk.
“I never saw the show before and [my mom] thought it would be a good idea for me to jump in and try something,” she said.
Sherwood said before the performances, those playing floozies go to the secondhand store to find costumes.
“We try to stay covered up, so we find nice outfits that still match the timeframe and we usually curl our hair,” she said.
Sherwood said the floozies start the weekend by getting dressed in their costumes and going to the cast and crew dinner at the fairgrounds.
“Right after that, we each get a bag of money and we get 10 garters,” she said. “Then, your partner and you would just walk around the fairgrounds for a while and sell the garters until show time, where you hop in the wagon and go into the show.”
Boldon emphasized the importance of the performance to the community.
“The performance is two nights, but the community works all year to put it together, so it’s really important for us to keep that going,” Boldon said. “A lot of us, we don’t know July without Legend.”