by Brad Benedict
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
Apollo - Red Stick Style
Welcome to the world of balls and other celebrations! The season is upon us, and it is impossible to get to all functions since the time frame is so short this year. Thatís one of the reasons I was at the Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn Bal Masque XXI and my dear friend Anthony Benton covered the Baton Rouge Krewe of Apollo Bal Masque XXIV. Of course, my support of Kenny Hebert and John Abshire will always be there, and with John as the new king, I had to do Lafayette. Those guys are very special human beings in my life, and they always will be.
The Captains and Lieutenants along with the members of the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge welcomed everyone to their Bal Masque XXIV held at the Great Hall on Airline Highway on Sat., Jan. 22 at 8pm. It was another great show for this group, and a good time was had by all. One thing I do have to point out is the fact that it is a no-no for anyone in the audience to go up on stage and tip dancers in a tableau, and one guest learned in a hurry that you are an audience member enjoying a show and not a participant. Perhaps it would have been wise for her to have become educated in proper etiquette for a bal masque guest before attending this ball and making such a fool of herself.
Captain Ken Gilbert was a fabulous Zeus, and his co-captain Hal Holloway was Poseidon. They set the tone for what was to follow in a tableau called "Myths and Legends" - Believe it or Not. After they did their runway walks, it was time to bring out the returning royal couple, King and Queen Apollo XXIII King Arthur (Frank) and Guinevere (Donald). In all the pomp and circumstance of the period, the royal couple showed what it is like to be honored by their peers to represent the krewe for an entire year. As they finished their return walk, they sat down at their thrones to watch the tableau presented in their honor.
D.J. came forth first as Athena, the Virgin Goddess of War, along with her Wise Owl, and was welcomed by an adoring crowd.
He was closely followed with Truman Mayís outstanding representation of Medusa, the Gorgon. My goodness! My goodness! He crawled himself into Apollo history with this costume. Iím anxiously awaiting a copy of the tape from this ball. My fellow companion writer says it was absolutely astounding. The pictures speak for themselves. Iím glad I was told who this was. Otherwise, I wouldnít have had a clue, except the knowledge that Truman always comes forth with original and fabulous entries in these programs. This year, he outdid himself.
Michael Frey came next as Thor, the Celtic God of Thunder, and he also had a great costume. The audience thundered their approval for this one. Following closely behind was David Miller as Voodoo. With the lights off and the red eyes coming forward, it was a thriller as only David could pull it off.
Next we come to the dynamic and sexy Scott Blanchard as the Legend of the Latin Lover. As much as I love this one, I couldnít break away from my Lafayette commitment to see him. My fellow co-writer of this piece informed me on how outstanding his performance was, but knowing Scott, he put his all into this. Heís just that kind of individual. Heís vibrant, outrageously handsome, and full of the kind of spirit that engulfs everyone in his presence. Add fabulously sexy and equally vibrant Eddy, making his stage debut, and Jason as his dancers, and you have a most entertaining and thoroughly executed part of the tableau. Congratulations, sweeties! Now tell me who Jason is. Wow!
Jeff Hendrickson followed Scott, Eddy and Jason as the Legend of Pecos Bill. This was another excellent costume and one that was a crowd pleaser. Chuck Chastain (hope I spelled that right) was the Legend of Slue Foot Sue.
Next came Joe, Scott, and Les as the Bombay Dreams - Lord Shiva, the Maharajah of Bombay, and the Star of India. If I am correct here, thatís the order of the three in their respective costumes.
Greg Rhoner was Bacchus, the Greek God of Wine, and he too was definitely a delight to watch. Bacchus is dear to everyone in the Mardi Gras spirit, and we all look forward to the big Bacchus Parade in New Orleans. That is, all of us that arenít in the Lords of Leather or attending this wonderful bal masque each year. (Youíve heard it before, but it is said that the Lords have the best balls of all. We will have to check this out and let you know, maybe at our home bar, the Phoenix, with a little help, of course, from Jamie and D.B.)
The fabulous and gracious Alan Daigrepont was next as Hades, God of the Underworld. This young man always puts his all into any costume he does, and he never disappoints those who see him perform. He is a showman who knows how to show (and I do remember that, Alan), and his entry onto any stage is a treat of treats. You were great, my dear friend. You are going to make a fantastic king someday. Oops! Was I supposed to say that?
Sweet, sexy, and cute Richard Hill was Persephone, Goddess of the Underworld, and he too knows how to command your attention when heís in your presence. He was a good choice to pull off this excellent costume and present it so nicely.
With the audience now ready for the introduction of the new king and queen, it was definitely one of those fever-pitch moments. It is with great pride that we can introduce this new royal couple and welcome them into our special group. His Royal Highness King Apollo XXIV Jimmy Jones and Her Royal Highness Queen Apollo XXIV Mark LeFeaux began their reign amid the thunderous applause of their adoring public. It is the beginning of a year of good things, enjoyments, parties, get-togethers, which will be remembered for a lifetime. Enjoy this time in your lives. You both deserve it.
I have followed Jimmy and Mark over the years and marveled at their costumes and enjoyed their company on many occasions. It really is a privilege to welcome them into the Royal Family of Apollo. Jimmy has done many costumes over the years, and Iíve enjoyed them all, but as king, he was truly royal in appearance and actions. And as queen, Mark never looked more beautiful. As a couple, they are superb in all respects, and the Krewe of Apollo is blessed to have them on board. They stand tall in all things they undertake and will make everyone proud of their reign.
We salute you, King Jimmy and Queen Mark. You are very deserving of this honor. With the ball concluded, and the grand march, honoring of guests, and open court in session, it was time to say farewell to the old and to begin honoring the new. The Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge completed another successful year and is now on the way to presenting a not-to-be-missed 25th Anniversary Bal Masque in 2006. We hope to see you all next year.
Anniversaries are times for celebrations, and Cory and his team of excellent employees went out of their way to make their celebration a great one. Cory, of all people, is shy when it comes to cameras, but I was determined to get pictures of him this time around even if I had to follow him in the bathroom. That wasnít necessary. He finally consented, and you will see several of him in this issue from the Red Stick Paparazzi to the honorable page of Celebrazzi pictures.
After a year of Splash history, this entertainment emporium has continued to present outstanding shows, important contests, and programs that pleased the local community. This first anniversary celebration took on a pink theme with flamingos everywhere and even a giant blowup double flamingo package in the main bar area. There were pink balloons covering the dance floor, pink boas hanging from the rafters, and the three panes (I call them water walls) were bubbling through the pink lights. Even the table decorations had the pink theme. It was really a nice display and done with a sense of pride showing through all the way. If you missed this gathering, you really missed a fine time in old Red Stick.
Of course, I always enjoy my visits to Splash. Some of the sexiest guys around town work here, and it is always so nice to be in their company. I noticed Little Corey wasnít there, and I heard rumors of him being "under the weather." I need to check this out and get back to you on the full details. If what I heard at din-din last night is correct, it was a minor car accident.
Everyone else had their masks and big smiles showing for everyone who stopped by for the occasion. I know what youíre thinking: "Heís going to talk about Lance again!" Well, hell yes! That beautiful and sexy stud deserves all the recognition he can get. Thereís more to a man than just looks. There is a goodness element that shines through with Lance that you donít see with lots of individuals. Heís a caring and giving human being, and he is considerate in all his dealings with friends and acquaintances. You donít find these qualities in everyone. He doesnít change. Heís Lance. And heís wonderful and a fine example of what you look for in friendship. The qualities of goodness are there. If you canít see that, you need a lesson in love and respect that comes from within. This is an outstanding example of dignity in a human form. He will always be Young. He will always be Lance.
Following ever so closely behind this young man is the fine and considerate qualities you find in Kevin. I like to see him. I like to be with him. I enjoy conversations and meetings with him whether he is with Wayne or others. Thereís a sense of a true and genuine spirit of camaraderie within this young man that sets him apart from the rest. He bubbles with energy, and his personality engulfs you with happiness and the joy of living. Iíve watched him over the years, and I like his straightforward (or should that be gayforward) approach to life. He tells it like it is, and in most cases, it is right on target. I like that quality in a friend, and I really do like this one.
Wayne is so suited to be with this one. He and Kevin make a great team. Wayne is more laid back, or it would seem from first impressions, but this all changes when you get to know him. He too is straightforward in his outlook on life, but the rather quiet demeanor that he shows is really the cover for an explosive and vibrant personality. Heís what you might call a "ring-tail-tooter." And thatís a good thing!
Iím just getting to know Dan, Mitch, Cookie Boy (where did that come from, Mikey?), and Kris. And I really donít know Coryís other half Jeff that well, but Iíll get there. I suppose Mitch has been the most approachable thus far. He seems to be one of those individuals who doesnít meet a stranger. To be so young, he seems to have a sense of knowing where heís going and what he is expecting out of life. Heís just bought a home, and heís extremely proud of this accomplishment, and he should be. Thatís something that everyone undertakes at some point in their life, but heís tackling this at a younger age than most. Now I need to check him out further to see what I can give him for a housewarming gift. Maybe some of his friends can clue me in on some of his interests. I only give gifts that mean something to the individual, and this comes with a knowledge of oneís interests and involves likes, dislikes, color schemes, and the proper need of the item to be considered. Iím sure Iíll come up with something good for this very nice and loveable youngster. I know what Iíd like for it to be, but I wonít mention that in a family publication.
Whenever you are in need of fine drinks and a place to dance the night away or just to enjoy superior entertainment, be sure to try out what Splash has to offer. If you want the quieter surroundings, just go to the upstairs bar, and you can relax in comfort and still find a place of excellence to while away a night of enjoyment. For Cory, Jeff, and all the others, I salute you on what you offer the community and what you have accomplished this past year, and I wish you many more anniversaries here in old Red Stick.
In my next column, Iíll tell you all about the Mardi Gras After-the-Parade Party at Doubloons. Pam is going all out to bring you fantastic drink specials, food, and a joyous good time for Spanish Town Parade participants and her regular customers and friends. Iím looking forward to it. It will last from 2pm to 2am so be sure to check this out.
If you prefer the local setting, you have Splash, Hound Dogs, L, and Georgeís. Richard, Guy, Chansley, and their krewe of employees always roll out the red carpet for everyone. I can see now that Iím going to have a busy time on this Saturday (February 5). Just remember that the parade starts at noon, and there are parties all over Spanish Town.
If you are one of the lucky ones, you will have received an invitation to the final Al Boudreaux/Katherine and Michael Moore bash. Theyíve been throwing big parties for 25 years, and this will be their last time to do this. All good things have to come to an end at some time. I, for one, will be saddened to see this one go, but there are others coming along. Debbie and Claudette and Josie have big splashy food/drink occasions, and there are others like them including Miss Adams, Scott and DJ, and others. Consider yourselves special if you are among the invited friends. After all, we are a community, and we look out for others living near us.
I got a special invitation to another private party on Sixth Street, and I do appreciate being included on this one. There is a spirit of togetherness in Spanish Town that you donít find in many places, and it is a kind of outgoing warmth that means a lot to those of us who live in this small community. We are a neighborhood of prideful individuals, and we support each other through thick and thin.
For all the rest of you, I do hope you have a marvelous time this year. Mardi Gras is unique in our state, and Baton Rouge is more laid back than most, but when it comes to a good time, we know how to throw a good one.
Be safe. Be kind. Be considerate. Be respectful. But most of all, have a great time.
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