Sunday, June 9, 2013

Welcome to Bawlmer, Hon

Most cities have that one thing embedded in their culture that makes them unique, whether it’s something geographical, architectural, or just being the way they are.  Here in Baltimore, it’s the “Hons.”

Hons are female throwbacks to the 1950s and 60s.  If you've ever seen the movie (or play) Hairspray, you've seen them.  Characteristics include beehive hairdos, cat’s-eye glasses, garish makeup, feather boas, big jewelry and lots and lots of leopard-print clothing.  They are also seen in mumus and housecoats.

I don’t know if there’s an analogous male “Hon,” but if there is, it’s probably a dude in a dirty white wife-beater, plaid Bermuda shorts, beat up Orioles hat, black socks and sandals, holding a Natty Boh.

I’m not sure how they came to be called “Hons;” I assume it was due to something that’s frequently said, like, “Welcome to Baltimore, Hon,” That’s usually pronounced, “Welkum ta Bawlmer, Hawn.”

Every year, in a Baltimore neighborhood called Hampden, they put on the HonFest.  This is a weekend street-fair with food and music that celebrates all things “Hon,” including the Baltimore’s Best Hon contest.  That’s where we went today.

Hampden is the hive of Hon-dom, featuring the Hon Café, as seen on that show where Chef Gordon Ramsay comes in and yells at everyone until they do things right.  But it’s a quirky neighborhood in general, as evidenced by this sign I saw at a local hardware store.

Wouldn't it be better just to fix the screen?

They also have a permanent nod to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which makes the place A-OK with me.

They have a couple of stages set up.  The one we passed had the local School of Rock group playing. 

No sign of Jack Black though.  But regardless, these kids could rock.

Right off the bat, we were surrounded by Hons.

I’m not sure if the leopard print on the right is a gal or a dude.

These two just left the Café Hon.

We jumped into their table at the Café Hon bar (called Hon Bar, of course).  We wanted to go somewhere we could sit down.  Our table was right up in the window, so I was able to grab a couple more pictures through the window.

A Photojournalist Hon

This is not how I pictured a Hon Dude.  Apparently, HonFest is where Bawlmer comes to get their freak on, too.

After lunch, we went to the main stage to scope out the Baltimore’s Best Hon Contest talent portion.  We weren't disappointed.

We had Guitar Hon:

There was a Singing Hon:

There was Hula Hon:

Then came Clarinet Hon:

We didn't stay around long enough for any winners to be picked.  It was starting to get a little warm and our retinas were burning from the sights, so we raced home to seek the coolness of the A/C. 

So tell me, what does your town do to get its fix of “kitsch?”


  1. Pensacola invented KITCH. Crappy festivals occupy every weekend. Now, FIVE FLAGS when Tristan de Luna landed in 1559, turned around and said, "I'll be back when you have pesticides and air conditioning." "HON"

  2. I must say... I totally fell in love with Baltimore. And I didn't even see the Flying Spaghetti Monster!! I can't wait to visit again!



    1. I could totally see you Hon-ing it up. You'd kill.

      That shot of the Flying Spaghetti Monster... I've had that "on file" for years. When I passed the sign this weekend, it was in a state of considerable disrepair. That's why I used the old shot, kind of like in old people's obituaries when they run a pic from 50 years earlier.

    2. Next year, hon!! You are coming down here and we are GOING to the Honfest! It is written!!! (<-----see, because I just wrote it).

    3. You two at HonFest would be priceless. You teach Val the lingo and dialect, and I could totally see her winning. Audaciousness is highly prized by the judges.

  3. This is amazing on so many levels! I'm surprised we southerners don't have something like this occurring at least once a year because they would so be all over this. Or maybe we sort of do and just call it Mardi Gras... but the costumes for this are way superior.

    1. We should send a Hon delegation down to Mardi Gras. They'd fit right in.

  4. Never knew that Baltimore had that side to it. It looks like a combination: part Hairspray, part Rocky Horror Picture Show, part Key West, Florida.

    This was definitely not a part of Baltimore featured in Diner.

    1. That’s an apt description. Charm City can definitely get its Freak on.

      In Diner, that WAS the time of Hons! They weren’t celebrated yet, they just “were.”

  5. Honfest!! YES. I have never been, but have always wanted to go. This year, I heard it advertised the week before and the plans we had Saturday night got cancelled, so I was like, "we should go!" But then I felt crappy, and honestly completely forgot about it (I said that above statement to nobody but myself, so there was nobody to remind me).

    I am going next year. Definitely.

    Oh, and great pictures. That Rocky Horror-esq one . . . crikey!

    1. I had no idea it was even going on, until Sunday morning Pinky said she wanted to go. It had been 5 years since I’d last been to HonFest, so I figured “why not?”

      Your camera would love it there… it’s the one time none of the rules of fashion apply. I could have gotten a lot more/better pictures, but I hate to stop people, and my “stealth shots” always come out blurry. Ninja Snap would have a field day. (That one group-of-6 shot? Pinky took that.)