By Michelle Talsma Everson, September 2018 Issue.
Ryan Goldner, also known as Sister Grizzly Madams of the Grand Canyon Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, believes that older gay men are hardly recognized in the local community – and that’s a problem. To help with that issue, the Sisters host Mr. Phoenix Prime Beef, a contest just for men over 50, each fall.
“Very rarely do you see men over 50 represented in local and national LGBTQ contests and that needs to stop,” Goldner said. “Phoenix is ‘gaying and graying’ at a fast pace, so there needed to be a contest like this. It’s the Sisters’ way of celebrating queer men of a certain age and their continued contributions to the greater LGBTQ community.”
This year, the third annual contest will take place Sept. 22 at Pat O’s Bunkhouse.
“[The contest] is a celebration of mature self-identifying men born before 1968,” Goldner explained. “Whether you are a bear, leather daddy, business suit-wearing silver fox, Hawaiian shirt loving laid back dude or any regular Joe over 50 who always wanted to enter a contest but never found one right for you, this is it.”
This event is also the Sisters’ annual fundraiser for Bikers Against Child Abuse, Maricopa Black Canyon Chapter, which plays a critical role in helping Maricopa County’s most vulnerable children. To date, the Sisters have raised more than $4,400 for the organization.
Last year, Edgar Penn took home the title. Goldner believes that the 82-year-old may just be one of the oldest LGBTQ titleholders.
“Edgar won because he is amazing,” Goldner shared. “All our contestants were great, but Edgar really stood out for our judges and the crowd. He is compassionate, well-spoken and was just hysterical on stage. He handled the onstage funny questions like a pro and gave a great speech, and definitely rocked the hot wear category.”
Penn found out about the competition through a note posted at the host bar in 2016, and went on to earn runner-up honors in the inaugural contest. But he was back for the title in 2017.
“When I won, I was elated – it was one of those ‘wow’ moments,” Penn said. “I think it helped that I didn’t give up; I came back a second time in 2017 to compete.”
Now retired, Penn worked for the State of Arizona for the majority of his career. But, what he thinks made him stand out to the judges – besides his see-through underwear – is how busy and involved he keeps himself.
“I’m a self-taught composer, I spend time canning, and I’m a published poet,” he shared.
Penn says that he’s written poems since the 1950s and has been published in four books. When it comes to composing, he specializes in waltzes. He also paints in both water colors and oils, and has sold many of his paintings. In addition, he plays the piano.
In addition to all of his creative endeavors, Penn also volunteers at Community Church of Hope in Phoenix.
“I work in the office there and my title is music manager,” he said. “I help to contact new visitors.”
At home, Penn has two rescue dogs named Annie and Daisy.
“They are some of what helps me to get up every morning,” he said.
During his title year, which spans September 2017 to September 2018, Penn proudly wears his title sash whenever appropriate to help spread the word about the contest.
“[Winning the title] shows that, at 82 you can still contribute and make a difference in your community.” Goldner added. “[Edgar] does more than most folks half his age.”
The Sisters make it clear that Mr. Prime Beef is a just-for-fun contest and winners don’t have many formal obligations; the only requirement of the winner is to spread joy in their sash as they see fit.
“After winning, Edgar wanted to dive in and help out,” Goldner added, “including holding a wildly successful teddy bear drive for abused children at Christmas time last year. I don’t think we could have asked for more [in a titleholder].”
When asked about advice for potential contestants, “just go for it … a title is a fun thing to go after at any age,” was Penn’s advice.
“It’s not about how old you are, it’s about how old you think you are,” he said. “And I think I’m not a day over 40!”
The Sisters’ third annual Mr. Phoenix Prime Beef contest will consist of three categories, and will also include local entertainment, a silent auction, special guest emcees, guests from BACA, and more.
Anyone interested in competing for the title of Mr. Phoenix Prime Beef 2018 is invited to contact any Sister or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Prime Beef 2018
9 p.m. Sept. 22
(the pre-contest beerbust starts at 8 p.m.)
Pat O’s Bunk House
4428 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix