sherwood's forest
Volume 22/Issue 3/2004

wally

 

 

by Wally Sherwood
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

MWINDO WROTE A MAGNIFICENT CHAPTER in the history of Carnival in New Orleans on Jan. 25 at the St. Bernard Cultural Center, opening the ball season with a tongue-in-cheek look at Verses, Rhymes and Fairy Tales. And the fairies and their friends in the audience cheered and hollered at all the beefcake and such fetish flourishes as the flaming red corset worn by a very adult Little Red Riding Hood.

President J. Kelley Terry and captain Evans C. Alexander and their talented team have every reason to pop the studs off their pleated shirts with pride. The capable co-captains were Rene Bryant and James Swire, with Carlos Butler and Teryl-Lynn Foxx functioning as special lieutenants. The program opened with an invocation by the Rev. Dexter Brecht and national anthem by Shirley Drake Stokes.

The retiring Paul Mathews made a very upbeat King of Hearts, in stark contrast to a loving and moving salute to his very ill Queen Mwindo V, Willie Hyams, performed by Allegra White, who was judged as the very first Ms. Mwindo in a pageant held at the 735 Club last fall. There was also a pause during the festivities, while singer Raven Kennedy helped raise over $1,000 for the AIDS services at FACES, the Family Advocacy, Care and Educational Services at Children’s Hospital.

And what would a fairy tale be without a Prince Charming and Cinderella? Handsome Larry Jones and a radiant Katie Rivers were beautifully cast in the classic roles, being duly proclaimed as King and Queen Mwindo VI. They entered the ballroom in an elaborate bird cage carriage, complete with a driver in top hat and black tuxedo and prancing white steed. It was a wondrous scene etched with glittering silver and white highlights, truly a moment captured within memories of childhood.

Rarely does a Carnival ball click as well as this one. We were privileged to attend our first Mwindo ball last year and, despite the sensational special effects and stunning costumes, it frankly was disjointed and ran far too long. Obviously, the young krewe wisely learned from their miscues and mistakes.

This time out it was finely polished to near perfection and was just the right length, with the pleased populace very vocal in their praise. The tableau was truly one for the (story) books. And Mwindo, indeed, is the model for all the balls that are to follow this season.

ONE RED FEATHER FOR CARNIVAL: The Krewe of Mwindo balmasque was first class all the way. We were fortunate to be seated at James Swire’s table and will always treasure the special souvenir glass and other favors. The co-captain was a delightful Punkin Punkin Peter Eater in the Under a Spell section of the five-part tableau.

Among the notables at the table were Micheal J. Cole, who has been designing costumes for 16 years, and his assistants Gloria Martini and Wanda McDonald. Among their creations in the Mwindo ball were the acclaimed Robin Hood and Snow White. But a distinctive touch is given to each costume they make: a single red feather to raise the viewer’s awareness of AIDS.

The most obvious crowd-pleaser of an enchanted evening was Puff the Magic Dragon, reincarnated in sea foam and body paint. But for non-stop enjoyment, there was Captain Hook with a purple "glove," Little Miss Muffin’s spectral spider, Little Red Riding Hood’s wild and wooly wolf, Snow White’s wicked witch and a beautifully bejeweled Puss and Boots.

But that was only the start of a parade of pleasing presentations, including Genie of the Bottle, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio, Little Mermaid, Jack Frost, 101 Dalmatians, Jafar, Little One Inch, Rainbow Fairies and Tinkle Bell. And if that does not tickle you and ring your bell, then nothing will.

OUTLAWS ELECT NEW PREZ AND VEEP: Rich in leadership, the Crescent City Outlaws have announced their new officers with only one slight change. Former president Mina Hernandez and vice president Kevin Chesnut have simply swapped places. The other officers remain in place: road captain Toy, recording secretary Rich Daigle, corresponding secretary David Paul and treasurer Rex Romans.

At the Panthers run in Atlanta in Nov., the Outlaws finished second in Club Participation and won first place for Best Cocktail Party. Runs coming up next are the Conductors in Nashville in Mar. and Tribe in Detroit in Apr. Club Nights are generally held at their home bar, Cowpokes, on the third Saturdays, but not on Feb. 21, just before Fat Tuesday.

In a display of brotherhood and outreach to the community, the club is doing ball security for the Krewe of Mwindo and the Lords of Leather this Carnival season and planning a disco dance on Apr. 17.

Meanwhile, our Chicago Hellfire Club buddy Joseph Bean will come out of his Hawaiian hibernation and be in Dallas on Feb. 27-29 for the South Plains Leatherfest. Bean, former editor of the Bear Magazine published in San Francisco, will keynote the Sun. brunch as well as serving as a seminar presenter. The $69 registration, including the International Master and Slave and Mr. and Ms. South Plains contests, is at www.southplainsleatherfest.com.

CUPID, CHAMPAGNE AND CHOCOLATE: St. Valentine’s Day is at somewhat of a disadvantage in New Orleans as it generally falls in the middle of all the carnal pre-Lenten capers. But for those who want to pair off, the New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus is offering a distinctly different double dose of experiences for all you lovebirds out there.

The first of the Love Lift Us Up concerts will be on Feb. 14 at 8pm at a venue that keeps changing the name every time you turn around. First it was promoted as a new theatre for the Marigny, then it became Buzzy’s Room, now it is advertised by the NOGMC as The Annex, meaning attached to the Friendly Bar. Regardless, remember the address of 607 Rue Marigny for the evening filled with a delicious combination of champagne and chocolates for $20 at the door or $18 in advance. So, get your tickets from any member or online at www.nogmc.com.

For the next high-flying Cupid experience on Feb. 15, you absolutely must reserve your seat in advance for $50 or $80 per couple. The doors of the Hyatt Regency’s Top of the Dome Steakhouse, located in the Poydras Plaza, will open at high noon for a full brunch and revolving view of the Crescent City while the chorus sings love songs. What could be more romantic?

In preparation for a July 18th appearance with other Gay musical groups at the VIP Festival International in Montreal, the chorus will be accepting new members between Feb. 10 and Mar. 2. Rehearsals are held every Tues. at 7:30pm in Room 203 of UNO’s Performing Arts Center.

PARTY-HARDY BEARS HAVING A BALL: Revelers from the Gulf Coast Bear and Leather Association will be in the limelight at their own special table for members and guests at the Order of Osiris grand ball on Feb. 13 at the Mobile Civic Center.

The formal event calls for tails and tickets are available for as long as they last for $45 at their home bar, B-Bob’s Downtown in Mobile, or Jerry@b-bobs.com. On a much sadder note the club, which serves Alabama, Florida and Mississippi so well, is mourning the death of one of their newest members, Dr. Joe Honnigford, who was only 33 years old.

He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BS Degree in pre-med. After completing residency at Loyola University in Chicago in anesthesia and surgery, Joe worked for six months at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, where he died on Jan. 14 while in performance of his duties. Funeral services and burial were in Evansville, IN, where he was born and raised. Fellow Bear members recall his intellect and curiosity, "but his real joy came from doing everyday things well."

You can wave at the New Orleans Bears and their buddies on Feb. 15 at 1:15pm when King Arthur and Merlin take to the Uptown parade route. And 45 minutes later, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus leaves Armstrong Park and takes a loop through the Vieux Carre to Jackson Square and back again. This year’s A Fistful of Dollars theme is a salute to the old spaghetti Western movies.

The Poseidon parade on Feb. 22 has been canceled, but an old krewe is back with a new look. The Knights of Jason, revived 30 years after it disbanded, will roll again Feb. 20 on the Veterans route, as the only new parade in Metro New Orleans for 2004. The grand marshal will be retired major league baseball player Will Clark.

FROM THE BLESSING OF THE BIKES... The Metropolitan Community Church of Greater New Orleans and the Cavaliers Motorcycle Club will co-sponsor the First Annual Blessing of the Bikes on Mar. 14, the third Sunday of the Lenten season.

Open to all motorcyclists in the community, the 9am ceremony will be conducted by the pastor, Rev. Dexter Brecht, at the Mardi Gras Arch in Armstrong Park. Following the blessing, the Cavaliers will lead a ride for all participants to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a buffet brunch at Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis.

The club has released their ride calendar for 2004, including an overnighter on Apr. 24-25 to Lafayette for the Festival Internationale de Louisiane and the Second Best-the-Heat Night Ride on Aug. 8 to Belle Chasse. The line-up includes Feb. 8, Abita Springs; Mar. 28, Bellingrath Gardens near Mobile; May 16, Morgan City and Atchafalaya River basin; June 13, Bush and House of Seafood; and July 18, Lafitte Seafood Festival.

The Cavaliers are the Gulf South’s most active organization for Gay and lesbian motorcycle enthusiasts. Club rides are open to everyone. Visit the club’s web site at www.cavaliersmc.com for full details on these events.

ON TO THE BATTLE OF THE BIKES: Torque is the latest in a mindless series of movies by producer Neal H. Moritz of The Fast and the Furious. The plot, or what little there is, involves a battle between two motorcycle gangs aptly named the Hellions and the Reapers. But, this is the kind of hype that gives Gay leathermen a bad rap and our own Cavaliers could have shown them a better way to win friends and influence people.

But Torque is purely a fetish action flick, including plenty of piercings and tattoos, and you are invited to get off on the simple love of leather. And be sure to say a Hell Mary during the ride atop and through a moving train.

But the real stars of this sucker are really from St. Mary Parish. The climax features the Y2K Superbike, a rare custom creation by Marine Turbine Technologies in Franklin. There are only 10 in the whole wild world and avid rider Jay Leno owns one of the only four in the United States.

Meanwhile, informational seminars are continuing from members of the New Orleans Bondage and Leather Enthusiasts. Ms. Legba will lead the next outing on Feb. 5 on 7pm at The Refuge, as a part of the Dark Dance Series. The pansexual program and discussion on basic B/D and S/M is free and open to the public. Future classes will include impact play, edge play and sensuous/spiritual aspects of the fetish scene. For more information, contact MsLegba@aol.com.

WHICH LORD HAS THE RING OF POWER? If you are like us, you already know that Dominic Monaghan is one of the finest young actors in the world. That is obvious to anyone who regularly watches him as the able assistant Jeffrey in the British private-eye series, Hetty Waindrop Investigates.

But now he is following in the footsteps of another Hobbit in the quest to find the fabled Ring of Power. His The Lords of the Rings buddy Elijah "Frodo" Wood is already booked to rule as Bacchus on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday, but "Merry Brandybuck" Monaghan will also attain Carnival celebrity status with the Krewe of Orpheus the very next night.

Which brings us to the burning question, who will wear the Ring of Power at the Lords of Leather bal masque on Feb. 22? The terrific theme this year is "A Wild...Very Wild West Show." Balcony tickets are $15 in advance at Second Skin Leather and Cowpokes, which will also be hosting the post-ball party. Otherwise, they will be $20 at the door of the St. Bernard Cultural Center.

Busy putting together the final Gay tableau of the season are captain Timm Holt and president Todd Cole. Assisting in other preparations are ball lieutenant Brad Benedict and other officers of the krewe. Additional details on all activities are available at www.lordsofleather.com.

And the reigning Queen of Petronius has to cut away briefly from all the Carnival festivities to wing it into cold Chicago for Pantheon of Leather XIV. After winning the Ms. Marigny Leather Pageant and advancing to Ms. Gulf States Olympus in Pensacola, Toni P.J. Pizanie is now going for the national title on Feb. 15 in the theatre above the Chicago Eagle.

Her judges will be Tammie Nelson, International Ms. Leather; Andy Anderson, Mr. National Leather Association 1992; George Wong, publicity chair of the Avatar Club of Los Angeles; Robert and Bootpig, Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather; and Bruno Mondello and Charlotte, Mr. and Ms. Illinois Olympus Leather. Good luck, Toni!


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