The Teenage Pageant Girls Who Kill & Skin Rattlesnakes
Every year, 16 all-American girls climb into a pit of poisonous snakes to decapitate, skin and eat them in a bid to become the Miss Snake Charmer at the world’s largest “Rattlesnake Roundup”. Steve Ludwin, who has been injecting himself with snake venom for over thirty years and considers himself one of the serpent family, joins fifty thousand people heading to Sweetwater, Texas to see the only beauty pageant that kills snakes.
This West Texas tradition takes place within the world’s largest “Rattlesnake Roundup” where hunters bring over 24 thousand pounds of rattlesnake to the small town of Sweetwater before putting them on display in killing pits as they prepare to be milked, skinned and eaten.
Before the big day, Steve joins hunter Eddie Gomez as he leads a team into the desert to gas snake holes, revealing the rattlesnakes which will be brought back to the arena for their untimely death. With this complete, Steve attends the beauty pageant to bear witness to this bizarre contest.
While Steve struggles to witness violence against his serpent brothers and sisters, the event’s organisers claim that the roundup helps to cull the dangerous snake population, protecting children from bites and raising money to fund their community work throughout the year. Steve finds solace in talking to undercover animal rights activist Todd Autry. Todd explains how he has learnt the best methods to protest the event, and how those methods have changed since his fellow protestor Danny Mendez was arrested at the event.
Having experienced this Southern festival of blood lust, Steve challenges the organisers of the event over the animal abuse and sees whether the death of this tradition is on the horizon.
Click here to subscribe to VICE: bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE
Check out our full video catalog: bit.ly/VICE-Videos
Videos, daily editorial and more: vice.com
More videos from the VICE network: www.fb.com/vicevideo
Click here to get the best of VICE daily: bit.ly/1SquZ6v
Like VICE on Facebook: fb.com/vice
Follow VICE on Twitter: twitter.com/vice
Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/vice
Download VICE on iOS: apple.co/28Vgmqz
Download VICE on Android: bit.ly/28S8Et0