by BRAD BENEDICT
It was another fabulous weekend in Shreveport as I made my way up to the
prestigeous Mr. and Miss National Apollo contest held at the old Municipal
Auditorium. It was also a night when some absolutely fantastic talent paraded across that stage. Winners of this big contest were Curtis Thomas, Mr. Apollo Baton Rouge, and the very beautiful and extremely talented Raquel Chevallier, a former Miss Gay Louisiana, from Metairie.
Shreveport should be exceptionally proud of their part in this function. The site of the national contest is rotated among the member krewes, and the job of handling all the particulars in producing the show to pick the 1997 representatives came across as a great body of work and pride. Nicole DuBois was mistress of ceremonies, and special guest was Grandma Porky. Christine King, the outgoing Miss National Apollo, graciously appeared, performed three numbers, and crowned the new winner.
From the audience, I looked upon a stage filled with talented people - and a drunk or two -but the positive image of this show far outweighed the negatives. I would be remiss in my duties, however, if I didn't explain this, so if the shoe fits - wear it!
I suppose the most negative of anything was the tipsy Shreveport queen who
should have stayed off the stage and at the Taco Bell. I was embarassed to tears,
and I think almost everyone in the audience was too. This was a major krewe contest, not a side show at a circus, and she should have been removed from the stage because of her condition. Negative number two was the ridiculous way that a judge was called down for taking a piss. I realize it was not the best time to take a break, but if you've got to go, you've got to go, and it definitely did not deserve the lashing that was handed out from the stage, over the loudspeakers, and directly in front of the judge's station.
For God's sake, Mary! This was a beautiful and wonderful human being who merely had to take a piss. Perhaps declaring a couple of piss breaks for judges would be in order at all future contests of this type - or perhaps limiting the number of drinks for judges and those in charge of the execution of the evening's program.
The third negative thing that I saw was the failure of the previous Mr. National Apollo to return to retire his crown. This is not proper etiquette, especially when the Baton Rouge group did so much to help this individual obtain the crown in the first place. That instills a bad image of the sponsoring group, and it should not be allowed even if it means stripping one of a title and handing it over to the first runner-up. I know this isn't the Miss America Pageant, but if you can't fulfill the duties expected of you, then get off the f-- stage and stay off!
Now - let me tell you about the
best of all contests I've seen
in recent years, perhaps the best in Apollo history. The contestants were absolutely wonderful, and they all deserve congratulations. The winners were definitely most deserving of the title, and I can't brag on them enough. Hibiscus Bookstore's Damon Veach, King Apollo XVI of Baton Rouge, should be proud of his involvement in this. He originally sponsored the talented and gorgeous Curtis in the Mr. Mirror Pageant which led to his becoming Mr. Apollo Baton Rouge, and the sponsorship of Raquel Chevallier was a magnificent choice bringing to the stage a performer of great beauty, exceptional talent, and remarkable class. Out of all those performers making the rounds at this time, she is the best of the very best and should be able to reach her goal of becoming Miss Gay America.
I have followed this exquisitely beautiful individual from the very beginning of her career, and I have always felt I was in the presence of a dedicated, sincere and extremely talented performer. She's a regular at the wonderful world of Oz in New Orleans, and I have always observed masterful performances from this talented individual. Having Curtis Thomas and Raquel Chevallier represent the Apollo krewes as their Mr. and Miss National Apollo is a most deserving honor for each. I'm very proud of both, and I wish them a happy and rewarding reign.
The two other
for Mr. National Apollo were Alfred Sharrow of Shreveport and Patrick Fontenot of Lafayette. Both of these beautiful guys have nothing to be ashamed of here. They both presented themselves in excellent fashion, and I sincerely hope each will try again. I love cowboys and body builders, and you both are exceptional human beings, fitting these two categories to the max.
In the Miss National Apollo category, I saw a wonderful lineup of
beauty and talent. First runner-up, Carrione Synclaire of Baton Rouge, was absolutely wonderful again, and second runner-up, Yvette LeVeaux, was the essence of beauty. Both talents are deserving of title wins, and I see many more contests for them in the future. The other candidates in this category were Ida Slappedher from Shreveport, a tall and graceful beauty, and the wild and wonderful Darlene Summers of Beaumont, Texas. All were joys to watch, and all were winners in their own way.
The audience was packed with Shreveporters, but there were nice contingents attending from Baton Rouge and Lafayette. I'm afraid to name them because if I leave anyone out, I'll be called down for it, so let me just say thanks to all for coming and supporting the krewes and the candidates.
Two of the most beautiful bartenders in the business welcomed customers to the drink lines. I had seen Robby on my previous trip to Shreveport, but I didn't get the chance to talk with him. On this particular night, Jeff (of the Centenary Bar and Grill - formerly Outrageous Bar and Grill) loaned both bartenders out for the occasion and even worked in their places at the bar. That was so sweet of Jeff, and it even gave me a chance to meet both of these dolls. Robby is just absolutely the most perfectly put-together man I've ever seen. He's lean and trim and was fully packed into those tight jeans. His eyes grab you and don't let go, and the smile is definitely a winning asset. My goodness! I think I'm in love - again! (This happens quite frequently. It's called horneyitis!)
Now let me tell you about the other stud working with Robby. Chris is the straight one who I need to talk to a little more. He's so cute and friendly that he could be anyone's little snuggle bunny. He's also lean and trim and probably has at least ten inches under that belt - way down below that belt. Sweetheart, I have a friend in Baton Rouge who does erotic body massages, and I challenge you to get on his table the next time you're in the capital city and forget for an hour that you are of the heterosexual persuasion. By the time the massage is completed, you'll be begging for male companionship on a continuing basis. You see, sweetheart, a man can please you in a way no woman can. If you don't want the massage, just call me, and I'll show you how I'm aged to perfection and willing to take on your studly young ass in a most vigorous fashion. You're gorgeous, sweetheart - from head to toe and all prominent points in between.
I was very disappointed that I didn't get to see Mr. Cloud once more, but I guess I'll just have to return and try again. This is the outstanding young man who was bartender at the Announcement Party. As I said at the time, this is a little beauty. Hurry up and get back from Indiana, darling. Your main man - oops, fan - is waiting for you.
There's another Shreveporter who is simply a gorgeous little hunk. I noticed him at the Announcement Party on my last trip up to Ark-La-Tex Land. He has those enchanting eyes, lovely personality, and a studly body. I'm not certain exactly what caught my eye the first time, but then who knows what turns any man on. All I know is that I spotted him and immediately took a liking to him. In case you Apolloites up in Shreve Land haven't figured it out yet, his name is Darren, and he's one of your members, and a very charming one at that. My tongue gets hard just thinking about him.
Now I must talk about Alfred a while. This little cowboy just makes my appendage stand up and say howdy every time I see him. I was amazed at all those moves he had when I photographed him at Central Station. He had some amazing steps out on that dance floor, and that spectacular butt was really gettin' with it. Alfred is another sincere young man. I don't know him personally, but I like to analyze someone and see how close I am to being correct. He's just a perfect little guy with a debonnaire flair for achievement whether it's in a contest such as the Mr. National Apollo or just in pleasing whoever he may be with at the time. I don't mean pleasing in a sexual way (although he can ring my chimes any old time he wishes) but in a friendly and honest manner. He has that air of confidence about him that is nice see in anyone. I personally see a beautiful human being here, both physically and mentally, and I hope to get to know him better. He just has winner written all over him. Do you like older and more experienced men, darling?
The newly elected king and
queen, both Ronnies, were a
delight to be around again. The Ruston lad is super nice and so young to be flying around that dance floor like that and with his kingly counterpart from Baton Rouge too. They were a sight to behold. The Dallas beauty and new queen is also so delightful to be around. I feel as if I've know this sweetie for years. These two are definitely assets to the Shreveport krewe, and they are going to be a fantastic royal couple come ballin' - oops - ball time.
Another gentleman and one
from Apollo Birmingham who
I think is extremely nice is Jonathan, who filled me in on everything over in Alabama. He was the only member from this krewe to make an appearance, but he handled the situation well and was a fine representative. When in Birmingham, he suggests several places to go for your pleasures -Bill's Club (mostly lesbian but welcoming everyone), Club 21 (where shows are held), Misconceptions (where there's a great happy hour period), and the Quest (for your late-nite activities).
Another gorgeous Shreveporter who sends me into orbit is dandy Des. He is one of those tall, dark and handsome varieties who commands your attentions whenever he enters the room. He is a charmer - in more ways than one. (smile)
I mustn't forget fabulous Lillian. I
met her on my previous trip, and
we had a great time at the Korner Lounge. It happened again on this trip except this time we started at the Municipal Auditorium and continued over at the Korner Lounge. I hated to leave such great company, but I did have to get over to Central Station, to the country and western section, which is also such a fantastic place. I really like this part of the bar, and I especially like that sexy purveyer of fine music, DJ Rick. He is one nice little guy. He can get in a sound booth with me any time he likes, and we can make our own music. (smile) Seriously, this is a nice, nice dance emporium, and I highly recommend it for the high energy people coming into the Ark-La-Tex or for all those shit-kickers lookin' for a good time. It's a hoot! By the way, where were you two gorgeous Mindenites? Don't tell me it was deadline time and you couldn't get out!
Earlier in the day, I stopped in at
the Centenary Bar and Grill to
chit-chat with Jeff. As I stated earlier, there's been a name change, but it's still outrageously nice and definitely a must stop on anyone's agenda. Because of the location on this busy corner (Stoner and Centenary) and the demand for bands to perform, the ownership remains gay but the clientele is mixed with band performances reinstated. All those studly little Centenarians are coming in for pleasurable times, and the gays are also packing the place. Jeff went through nine months of hell trying to hold the bar together as Outrageous, but it just didn't work out. I lived in Caddo and DeSoto parishes at one time, and I know how "redneck" this part of the country can be. It's very difficult to be gay here without being chastised. When all is said and done, this can still be one of the best bars in the city. Where else can you go for good dining, great bands, lots of dancing, and some cold brews to tide you over. I think the gay people in Shreveport and Bossier City should be very proud of this one. Being a mixed bar has its advantages, especially when those little straight boys have no one to go home with of the opposite sex. (smile) Keep up the good work, Jeff. I love your bar, and I'm coming back as often as I can.
By the way, in case you hadn't heard, Zakk Wylde, with about 10 compact discs to his credit, and a former lead guitarist with Ozzy Osborne, was there last week, and several other famous and near-famous musicians have graced the stage. Whether it's Centenary Bar and Grill or Outrageous Bar and Grill, the bottom line is fun, and this is one fun place you'll want to support, especially a gay man who is proud of it and stands tall among the heterosexuals of the community. That's not a bad accomplishment.
I guess I have to say that out of all
the bars I feel more comfortable
with Kenneth Ann and Dale, and all those nice Korner Lounge friends. This bar reminds me of one in Dallas I went to years ago. It was called the Ramrod, and it was simply a hangout for good people. This is what I see in the Korner Lounge - a fine establishment catering to happy people and offering a fine watering hole for all gays and lesbians - and especially all those Apollo studs and their friends. It reminds me of the Mirror and George's Place in Baton Rouge and Frank's in Lafayette. It's a comfortable place, a lovely little Stonewall in the heart of Shreveport. It's an institution, a landmark, a great bar. Thanks, Kenneth Ann, for being there and for allowing me to enjoy such a fine place, and thanks for your excellent display of Ambush magazines. I'm sure my editors will be most appreciative of your support of their publication, just as I'm pleased to see your involvement in all aspects of the gay community in my old stomping ground. You'll see me again, I'm sure.
Well, I'm quite certain I've
forgotten someone. I always try so hard to do everything right, but like someone said so long ago - "You can please some of the people some of the time, and part of the people part of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time."
But I try! Cheers! I enjoyed the weekend tremendously - even if I didn't have time to stop for sex. My editors expect so much of me and keep me working incessantly. I just have to give up something along the way. Oh, well! All's well that ends well! And I got the chance to return to the Municipal Auditorium, where as a wee Caddo Parish lad I got to see all those great Louisiana Hayride stars - Hank Williams, a very young Elvis Presley, Kitty Wells, Roy Acuff, Red Sovine, Minnie Pearl, Little Jimmy Dickens, and my mother's first cousin, Jim Reeves. I looked all around that fabulous building and recalled so many fond memories. I left this time a very happy and satisfied man.