Tustin Police Services Officer Steve Giddings will do just about anything for a good cause.
The longtime Tustin resident put that idea to the test late last year when he was nominated to compete in the annual Mr. Tustin pageant, a fundraiser for the Miss Tustin scholarship fund that took place in October at Foothill High School in Tustin.
The memories of that day will last forever – as will the photos.
“I had no qualms about embarrassing myself to raise money for people,” Giddings said. “Humor was a big part of all of our personalities and it showed in almost what all of us did.”
Six men from across the Tustin community competed for the Mr. Tustin title as well as the opportunity to pick a charity of their choice to receive some of the donations. The participants competed in multiple categories including a judged “personality walk,” a talent portion, and evening wear.
“To answer your question before you ask: no swimsuits,” Giddings said.
For Giddings’ 45-second walk across the school auditorium stage, he went theatrical. Channeling the audacious style of pro wrestler Ric Flair, he came out wearing a shiny robe and feather boas to the theme song from “2001: A Space Odyssey.”
But Giddings was far from done. (“Sometimes you get an epiphany,” he joked.)
His talent act was based on patriotic themes. His performance began with “Taps” playing and he walked out in a full Uncle Sam costume.
“I did a full spoken word of the Beastie Boys’ ‘(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party),’” he recalled.
It took a minute for the audience to catch on when he started saying the words, but they did. The performance was talked about by audience members long after the show was over.
“I think a lot of it had to do with shock value,” Giddings said of the inspiration for his performances.
The best was still yet to come. For the evening wear portion, Giddings thought long and hard about what to do. He and his wife had a plan, but he wanted to check with the producer of the show to make sure it was OK. (“Absolutely,” was the response as he recalled.)
“Yes, I wore a full-length sequin ball gown,” he said. “I don’t know how I didn’t win. … It was not mine.”
The dress, which he wore with sequin ballet flats – no heels —belongs to his wife.
“It had a lot of stretch to it,” he said. “The joke became: ‘Who wore it better?’ … Her.”
The dress was a hit. But despite the effort he put into each competition category, Giddings was not crowned Mr. Tustin.
As Giddings says, it wasn’t really about winning.
“Anything for the girls, to raise money for the girls,” he said.
In fact, a young woman from the local nonprofit Laurel House, which Giddings and his wife are closely involved with, competed in Miss Tustin in 2017 and received scholarship money from the funds raised by the Mr. Tustin competition. Mr. Tustin 2018 raised more than $11,000.
Giddings did win a participation trophy: “Most Enthusiastic.”
“We don’t do anything halfway,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who won … except that I wanted to win.”