June 19, 2000 08:57am
Dancing Queen Stripped of her Title
by: Adolfo Mendez
(CHICAGO, IL) -- Chicago's Puerto Rican Parade Committee members were hush-hush Friday about their decision to dethrone this year's parade queen after her alleged work history as a stripper was made public.
Evelyn Navarro, a 25-year-old Chicago resident, was selected by a panel of judges on June 3 to serve a one-year term as the city's Miss Puerto Rico. Almost as quickly as she was selected, rumors began circulating that the beauty queen worked at strip clubs, performing erotic dances either partially or totally nude.
According to some reports, Navarro was moonlighting as a stripper by night while earning a degree by day at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Navarro -- who has a degree in psychology from UIC -- has publicly denied the allegations. But when she refused to sign papers to put her denial in writing, she found herself a lawyer.
The Puerto Rican Parade Committee, headed by Rafael Rios, decided to strip Navarro of the crown because she "refused to cooperate with an investigation into" her alleged work in strip clubs, said the group's attorney, Lisa Vessay.
As a result of the controversy, an event designed to showcase Puerto Rican pride and culture in Chicago has become a public relations nightmare for parade organizers. They met behind closed doors late Friday to resolve the matter, but a resolution, if any, wasn't made public.
Committee members said they weren't commenting on the matter.
James Singer, Navarro's attorney, wasn't optimistic that his client would be able to serve out her term as queen. "Even though we've discussed many different possibilities, various things that could be done that I can't discuss because they're confidential, it's just getting worse and worse," said Singer, who participated in the meeting by phone.
Meanwhile, some community residents were dismayed by the parade committee's actions.
"For me, it's not a big deal," said Adriana Feliciano, president of the Puerto Rican Student Association at the University of Illinois. "A lot of people do a lot of different things. There are a lot of bigger problems in the city we should be worried about."
Jessie Garcia, 24, who works with elderly Hispanics in Casa Central in Chicago's Humboldt Park community, said: "It's nobody's business. If she comes out in Playboy, too, that's on her. They should do a better job of checking people's background, then they don't have to go through all this drama."