The first thing we did in the back room of Desperado's last Thursday was to obey the instructions of our fun-loving emcee: "All right, everybody's got to hold up their beers and say, 'God bless America for sensuous mechanical-bull riding!'"

Who was the first bar-owner to eye his bucking, pumping bull and begin wondering what new uses it might have? Keith Eckert, co-owner of Desperado's, says plenty of Texas honky-tonks have sensuous mechanical-bull-riding contests. But here in Broward, he notes, Desperado's is the only bar with a mechanical bull.

On alternate Thursdays any woman willing to risk a little rider's rash can sign up for the chance to win a whopping $500 in cash. Chris Love, the bull operator, gives the women a quick riding lesson beforehand. "You see that little spin they do when they're up there?" he said after the contest. "I taught them that."

The voting is left to the audience, whose job it is to shout for its favorite. According to our ever-helpful emcee: "The more you holler, the more they'll take off!"

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Of the six women who competed in the crowded bar, two blondes -- a Hooters waitress and a swimsuit model -- seemed neck-and-neck for first place. But in the final round, a twenty-year-old Canadian wearing an American-flag bikini took the prize by showing just a leetle bit more than the other women. The hollers were deafening.

"You look like you've done this before," observed our perceptive emcee.
The winner took her $500 and ducked out the back of the bar, avoiding the evil eyes of her competitors. "God bless America," sighed Fred Carmona, the Desperado's doorman who escorted her to her car. "If we were in Iran, you think they'd have sensuous camel riding?"

Speaking of, er, talent contests, congratulations are in order for Amy Carol Webb, winner of the South Florida Folk Festival, who took the prize for Best Upbeat Song ("I Come From Women") and Best Overall.

"It was magic this year. The caliber of music that was there was very high," she says from her home in Coconut Grove. "This sounds corny, but I felt like the muse was with us."

Her total winnings: $300 and a recording package from Disc Makers. "And I need it!" says Webb, a desktop publisher and mother of two. Webb encourages anyone interested in her disc or her upcoming performances to call her self-run company, Zebra Productions, at 305-883-2190.

A moment of silence for the Mississippi blues guitarist Junior Kimbrough, who died Saturday, January 17 of heart failure. He was 67 years old. Kimbrough was a celebrity in the South for some twenty years before achieving national recognition with his albums All Night Long (1992), Sad Days, Lonely Nights (1993) and Most Things Haven't Worked Out (1997). Kimbrough leaves behind a common-law wife, Mildred Washington, and 36 children.

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