Here’s another ripe example of an ideal pairing of author and subject. E. Jean Carroll, ravishingly unapologetic in all things, is funny, sexy, and fierce, and was a natural to cover the 1981 Miss Rodeo America pageant. In “Cowgirls All the Way,” she balances her admiration and empathy for the contestants by illustrating the ridiculousness of their circumstances, including the requirement that they remain prim and proper—true ladies—while attempting to tame the unruly horses they were given (as opposed to the male rodeo stars who got preferential treatment in every way). The story was first published in the April/May 1981 issue of Outside and is reprinted here with the author’s permission. Please dig into another treat from the one and only E. Jean Carroll.
There is a horse auction establishment on South MacArthur in Oklahoma City. It is a big white building with a dirt arena inside. Actually, there are two arenas, a large one where the horses are exercised and a smaller one that has a stage with seats around it. I mention this place because it was there that the fifty Miss Rodeo America contestants made their first public appearance. They ate the barbecue in the large arena, and then were introduced by state in the small arena with the seats. In the large arena there was an open bar, but the contestants were not allowed to drink.