by Brad Benedict
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
The Biggest and the Best
The Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge came through again with a fantastic Bal Masque XX at the Great Hall here in the capital city. It was a fantastic experience because the captains were the best you will find anywhere. Florist specialist Larry and nurseryman Ken were the two leaders this year, and it is the first year I can recall when the two costumes complimented each other so well. It was a job well done.
Their accomplishments also had the backing of some very fine lieutenants, namely Truman, Todd, Nathan, Mark, Lester, Curtis, Steve, Hal, Don, Dennis, Joe, Patrick, Danny, Joe and Ronnie. And, of course, the costumes were certainly nice and very creative. With the theme of "2001 A Musical Odyssey," the krewe kept the audience spellbound with surprise after surprise.
It was also nice to see the ball begin in such an unusual way, this being the introduction of past royalty. This added that touch of nostalgia that makes the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge what it is, that being a fraternal group of loving individuals who support each other and the community.
There were lots of original ideas used in the costumes this year, but I did have my favorite, and I think it was perhaps the favorite of many in attendance. Nathan, darling, you were at your spectacular best, and that dance group really enhanced this performance. Not only did you do a good job, but that costume you wore and the back piece were certainly outstanding examples of what a little creative effort can do in producing such a winning combination of colors. You did good, my friend, and I wish you the very best as the new captain for Bal Masque XXI. If I'm ever a co-captain, I trust it will be with someone like you. You are the best.
I also need to congratulate the winner of the Hall of Fame Award. Pat was long overdue this honor, and this is the way to acknowledge a great oversight of the past. It seems that an award of this type has in many cases been based on popularity instead of good deeds done for the krewe. It is for this reason that a special committee, or maybe founding members, should always pick the winner instead of having the entire krewe involved. New members just can't appreciate past accomplishments and kindnesses rendered. It is a pleasure to know you have finally been recognized for all those great costumes and continued support you have given to the krewe.
Back to the costumes, I have to admit that I enjoyed all of them, even those floozies who did their thing on stage. My Spanish Town neighbors are always up to something, and when they come forth with a costume or entertainment, you know they have gone all out. After all, only Kileen could do something on roller blades. Remember that one? She was more subdued this year, but that current Miss Trailer Trash certainly twisted her rear up a storm. And Miss A was at her delightful best. Who says a big girl can't be sexy? You were great, sweetheart.
Latino Magic was good too. It just goes to show that there's still a lot of hot men out there, and this one has reached the grandpa category. I thought those moves were magical, and you managed to keep the bottom covered in doing it. It was good, sweetie.
I also enjoyed that Yellow Submarine. It rocked and rolled around that runway like a ship on the high seas. These guys were fabulous Beatles. Alan's gospel music was also a delight, but anything he does usually goes off without a hitch. He's very talented. Sir Elton John saw a delightful Danny doing his thing, and he didn't fall off the stage in this one.
Other great costumes saw Egyptians, Crusaders, compact discs, cassettes, vinyl records, and lots more including a Statue of Liberty and a cute little firecracker boy with a pretty yellow g-string covering his pistol. (Loved those nipple clamps and that pretty ass, darling!) I thought those Gayliens were also great, but you can always count on Mark and Truman to put forth great efforts. Their ceremonial duties were a nice touch to this particular ball.
Another nice touch was the entrance of the returning royalty, Les and Joe. Their conversion of costumes and the modernistic opera music set the tone for the entire ball. It was this tone that led to the crowning of the new royalty, John and Don. Both costumes were very good, and it showed exactly what a lot of hard work and a few dollars can do for royal finery.
Everything about this ball came off smoothly from the National Anthem to the call outs and open court. Okay, Nathan, the ball is now in your court again. Let me know if I can plug you - oops - your activities leading up to number 21. You know I'm always happy to do that. Just get me the scoop, and I'll pass it on.
The Best of the Rest
Any bal masque puts you in contact with people you haven't seen for a while and even gives you new acquaintances to cherish. I think I found one in Amon-Ra's Sam, a queen of the nicest order. It was a pleasure sharing the evening with you, sweetie, and I look forward to seeing more of you. My goodness! I almost goofed and said all of you, which wouldn't be all that bad. Where is my wandering mind going?
Theater baron Leonard had a blast as guest of the local book baron. Also at this table was the delightful Kent, runner-up to Mr. Louisiana Leather 2001 in the annual Lords of Leather-sponsored contest. I always find Kent to be such a nice person, and his friendly ways are always so nice to be around. Oh, darling, if you do happen to need any more of that giftable item, just let me know. I have plenty in reserve.
Other Lords of Leather members that I saw at this ball were the dynamic Mickey Hebert, captain of the 2001 Bal Masque for this krewe to be held on Feb. 25 in the St. Bernard Civic Center. It's always the Sun. before Mardi Gras, same time, same station, and it is a good one to attend.
Mr. Louisiana Leather 2001 Todd Cole carried the leather flag for the flag ceremony, and this one is the pride and joy of the Lords of Leather, and a definite joy to other half Jules. While Todd did his duties, Jules took care of Elaine. Other leatherites in attendance were Damon and Sam, returning royalty for this year's ball, and Ernie and Warren. Tiger Bill was with Gary, both outstanding members of the leather community. I'm sure there were others in the audience, but it's difficult to remember everyone.
The Krewe of Royalty was represented by Elmer, Kevin and Paul. They are founding members of the newest Mardi Gras krewe in the capital city, and it looks as if this is going to be a great one. They aren't planning a ball this year, but watch out 2002. This one has some long-range plans that will knock your socks off. I'm really proud of these guys and wish them the very best.
Capital City Royal Order of Unicorn had several members in attendance too. I talked with James, Todd, Carroll and Pryce. This is another fine group, and their second ball will be held in Plaquemine on Feb. 3.
From Shreveport, I ran into Darren and Desmond, two very special kings in my book from the Krewe of Apollo. They are exceptional human beings and good friends. I just wish I could make it up to North Louisiana more often. Also from the Shreveport krewe was a former queen who carries a hefty pistol. Mercy, darling, that thing's really big! His other half Shawyn is also a charmer. Not only did I spend time at the ball with them, but I also ran into them at Hibiscus earlier in the day. They are residents of Dallas now.
Two of my favorite people in the whole world were also there. Oz/Icon owner Johnny was with his pretty Cy, and I got to talk with them for a short time. I hadn't seen Johnny for a while, but maybe we can chat longer at the big Krewe of Queenateenas party on Feb. 13 at Ambush Headquarters in New Orleans. I certainly hope so. Excuse me, Cy, but that man of yours is just one of the sexiest and handsomest guys in the Crescent City. I hope you don't mind me telling everyone that.
Now two other of my very favorite stud muffins were there too. I speak of Bryan and Gleeson. These two young men are just the finest you will find out there in Gaydom. They are just very special in my life, and I hear they may become models for a big 2002 calendar now in the works. I'll check into this and let you know. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted on their talents and their activities. Be still my heart!
Someone else you see at all the balls around town is the fabulous Gwen, dressmaker/costume designer for the stars. She is absolutely the best you will find to do your costume work unless you have a reserved status with the king of all those costume designers, Bruce, our boy Pat's master craftsman. Gwen and Bruce's talents have been on display at Apollo balls for many years as well as many of the other balls about town. Hubby Carey is always at her side and supports her work.
The Spanish Town Drag Queens were having a ball all night. This trio of lovely ladies (and I use that word loosely here) are big supporters of all the Mardi Gras festivities. I speak of none other than three special people, Josie, Debbie, and Claudette. By the way, Claudette, what's this I hear about your new dress, and all this time I thought you were into britches. Well, Debbie's anyway!
A.J. and his new love Glen made a grand entrance, and I caught them with that remarkable Lafayette stud Roland. Another stud Dean isn't letting any grass grow under his feet either. He's about town with some real cuties. It just goes to show you what freedom from a long relationship can do for you. It cuts ages off that body, and it gets one back into the swing of things in a hurry. Dandy David and Don C. were taking pictures of all the decorations when I ran into them, and Gene and Sam did ticket duties again. My buddy Michael was run ragged trying to get Mark ready for his big entrance. They are such a wonderful couple and a pride to the Gay community here in Baton Rouge.
The dynamic trio of Billy, Daniel, and Phil were lookin' great in those tuxedos. These three are like peas in a pod. They attend balls together and are the greatest of friends. It just isn't the same, however, since the girls took over Dish Row and sent my guys all the way down into the swamps. We had some good parties over there, even when two of the guys were so busy they couldn't even come out and join us. It was window peekin' time for sure at that little party. Oh, goodness! I bet I let the cat out of the bag with that statement.
The Rest of the Best
I had a great time with TTT on the night I went over to the Hide-A-Way. I got to meet Suzanne's new love and learn about all the great things coming up at this outstanding establishment. I missed Minette. She arrived after I left for a late dinner. I also got to meet Sam who posed for me with the wonderful Rebecca.
Things were hoppin' also at The Cage, but Paul always makes everyone feel so welcome. I love the little cage that has been added to the sign out front. It adds a delightful touch to the place. Of course, the delight is to touch Paul. Right, sweetie?
The Main St. boys have a fabulous Mardi Gras tree and decorations up for this festive occasion. They are going strong with both the bar and the restaurant. It's nice to have them in this part of town, and they always seem to be in such jolly spirits, or is that into jolly spirits?
Jolly spirit is exactly the word for a certain landscape person, and I have the picture to prove it. I do believe it was a "drop your pants and bend over and show me" type of picture. It was definitely a revealing and delightful thing to see. Frank, darling, I didn't know you were so talented. It this weren't a family publication, I'd be forced to show everyone. Maybe I can locate someone who will display it in the right location.
Ricky and Anthony were out again showing their weenies to the public. They are both delightful too, and Sir Anthony I hear really aired it out last week. I always miss the big nights, but at least Ricky brings it directly to me. Maybe I should send word to Anthony to do the same. Maybe he will read this and comply.
I also can't say enough good things about the reigning Miss CCROU, Alexx, the chick with the charm for all ages. (I was going to say dickless chick but that wouldn't be nice.) She does this krewe proud with her very nice ways and the caring help she provides not only for the krewe but for the Dykesman and his Guy. Speaking of Richard and Guy, they too made an appearance at the Apollo event, and they really look spiffy when they clean up. Precious Carla was there too. I hadn't seen her since that wild night at El Rio. No, I believe it was Sullivan's. Whatever!
I have a special thank you to make to the Eternally Flamboyant Miss Elysian Fields, that's TTT to you who are not in the know. This wonderful sweetheart shared his balls - oops - ball pics with me so that you would have more of the scenes of the beautiful people who came to the Larry/Ken extravaganza.
That's about it. I could go on and on describing the guys and gals who made up the audience at number 20, but I'll leave you with this final thought on balls. If you didn't catch this one, you missed a great time and a grand production presented by a fine group of men.
And the Final Rest
For those of you who didn't know William R. Byrne, aka Bill Byrne, a floral designer at Edrie's Flowers in Denham Springs and a resident of Baton Rouge, it is with sadness that I relate his passing on to you. He had been visiting a friend in Waldorf, Maryland. He was dropped off at Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. and suffered a massive heart attack. He is missed by longtime friends Ken and Joe and others in this area.
And goodbye, Lesley. You were a personal friend, and your passing saddens me so much. I will miss you immensely and so will all your many friends. There is a void here that can never be filled because there was only one like you. Now, you are gone but never to be forgotten.
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