in the spotlight
Volume 23/Issue 3/2005

Lafayetteís Royal Order of Unicorn Celebrates Bal Masque XXI
by Brad Benedict

Lafayette, Louisiana and the surrounding Acadiana areas are famous for many things, but the least heralded is one of the finest Mardi Gras krewes of them all. The Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn was founded by Fred Acosta, and this year they celebrated with their Bal Masque XXI. It was fitting that it was called "The Greatest Show on Earth," and they proved it with an excellent presentation. It was held on Cora Street at the Martin Luther King Center on Sat., Jan. 22, 2005.

The ball saw the introduction and entrance of the royalty for Bal Masque XX, Linda Huval and Christy (Lucy) Theriot. Their costumes were lavish and showed the amount of work that had gone into their creation. With their lively dance numbers up and down the runway, it was the signal for good things to come. Linda and Lucy are good friends of mine, and they definitely know how to work up the audience to frenzy pitch. Dynamic duo is a perfect description for them.

This was followed by the very vibrant and enthusiastic Bal Masque XXI Captain Ms. Pamalia as the Ring Master. She set the tone for all the current participants, and it was a good one.

Quickly following the captain was the Bearded Big Gurl. This young man and former Mr. Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn did a wonderful job. Bryan, my dear, you did very nicely in your routine, and your costume was outstanding. You are still one of the sexiest men in all of Acadiana.

Outstanding is a way of describing most of the costumes. This was evident when the Clown made his appearance. It was none other than another good friend Mark Rivette, Backsideís owner and manager of the Sound Factory, and lots of other things. The guy had all the right moves, and he was doing what comes naturally up there on that stage - clowning around and having a great time.

The next entry was Clyde Schroederís Tiger Tamer. This man always manages to create fine costumes, and I think he outdid himself this year. A former member of royalty in this krewe and also a Mr. R.O.U., he is an asset to this group and to any other endeavor he undertakes. Iíve followed his efforts over the years, and heís never disappointed me.

The current Mr. R.O.U. Shawn Carter entertained at this point, his second number of the evening. He has a fine voice, and he fits in well with all the members of this group. Iíve never met him, but his performances were impressive especially when he came out as the Elephant in the tableau.

Founder Fred Acosta was the Gorilla who did a nice strip on stage, but he did have to have a little help getting down to that brief piece of material covering his unmentionable. Heís still sexy at his age, and you can tell it even behind all that gorilla garb.

Next came the Snake Charmer. I forgot to get someone to identify some of the participants, but I have to say that this is the sexiest snake charmer Iíve ever encountered. She kept that monster at bay, and even did a little slinking herself. She wiggled herself into R.O.U. history, and future wigglers will have a hard act to follow her. She was great.

The Trapeze Girl is also someone from my past. As I recall, she was Miss R.O.U. several years ago when I was judging the event. What impressed me about her was the performance that night she won the title. When the music was interrupted briefly, she kept up the lip syncing perfectly, and when the music came back on, it was a perfect match. I call that damned good, and thatís exactly what she is - a very good performer. I wonder if she recalls the first time we met at the old Mirror Lounge in Baton Rouge.

Kofi was the Mistress of Ceremony, and she came forth now with her second wild number of the evening. Iíve never seen anyone shake things up so much. She is a fantastic performer and adds her special kind of class to every performance.

And speaking of class, it came forth next with Kenny Hebertís great Cotton Candy costume. Kenny is a special friend, and I canít even recall the first time we met, but all I can say is that the friendship has survived all these years, and itís still going strong. Kenny has often been captain of this Krewe, and he has presented the public with many fantastic costumes. The older he gets, the better he gets. I am so pleased to have him for a friend.

The Fortune Teller came forth next, and I thought this costume was great too. She had special throws for the audience - fortune cookies. She was energetic and carried on a kind of joy that showed how happy she was to be a part of this program.

Next to come on stage was the Elephant, Shawn Carterís costume that I mentioned earlier. This young man also shows a lot of class on stage, and this means he has to have a lot of stage experience in his past somewhere. He just seems to be so natural and relaxed.

Ms. R.O.U. entertained next, and she performed admirably. She seemed to have a command of the stage and her presence could be felt in her every move. You did good, sweetie. Iím sorry, but things were going so fast that I didnít catch your name.

Strong Woman was also a good costume, and this young lady did a great Wonder Woman routine. She knew how to move the audience, and she kept up the momentum that was building up to the announcement and entrance of the new royalty.

The Hot Dog Vendor was another great costume. Not only was it a nice performance, but Kofi bragged on those nice legs, which I too had noticed the minute he came on stage. He definitely would make you crave a nice weenie - with or without the bun.

My sweet friend Robin Guidry was excellent as the Flea Circus. She kept scratching so much, I was afraid her ears were going to fall off, but, alas, she made it through her flawless routine without losing anything but a feather or two along the way. That was great, sweetheart. It was so nice seeing you on that stage again.

Next up was the Bal Masque Co-captain Angie Clause as Animal Crackers, another excellent presentation. She brought the tableau to a close with just as much energy as her captain at the beginning of the show. It was a kind of spirit that was echoed throughout the audience.

With the final walk of the royalty for Bal Masque XX, it was time to present the new King and Queen R.O.U. XXI. This is what I had been waiting for over the years - to see one of the most deserving young men on the face of the planet as king of this krewe.

John Abshire has always presented many of the finest costumes in the history of the krewe, and his kingís attire this year was magnificent. Even though blue is my favorite color, I never expected anything so elegant and so beautiful. It is fitting that this young man could walk that runway in such a splendid and originally designed royalty costume. He is definitely deserving of this honor, and his strong sense of dignity and goodness came shining through in his every move. His winning smile showed a glowing personality, and his royal demeanor fit the occasion perfectly. No one could have pulled this off the way he did, and his graceful walk down that runway will long be remembered as the best of all the rest. I am so very proud of you, John Abshire. You are a gem among men.

Next, it was time to meet the new queen who has long been one of the shining stars in the region. Her awards are many, and her beauty speaks for itself. It was fitting that Tori Taylor be Queen R.O.U. XXI. Her appearance and walk down that runway was exceptional in every way, and her royalty attire was beautiful. She made her mark on the continuing tradition of greatness in this krewe.

Several things were noted at this ball which I think warrants mentioning. My friend John Gilland was called forth to receive special recognition for all his assistance with this group. The Sound Factory was officially announced as the kreweís home bar, and the acknowledgement for John was definitely a deserving tribute to him. Iíve known him for a long time, and Iím glad to see him honored in this way.

Herb and his other half were also asked to take a bow for all their hard work behind the scenes, and Acosta was honored as the founder and supporter all these years. Itís nice to see thanks given where a thank you is deserved, and that includes the recognition of the co-captainís special friend for behind-the-scenes work.

Whenever you consider attending a ball, whether it is as a special guest or just as a participant desiring to attend for the first time, the Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn is definitely one to put at the top of your list. And I would especially like to thank Kenny Hebert and John Abshire for continuing to share their friendships with me and for their efforts at keeping me posted on whatís happening with this krewe. I love you both, and I wish you the very best in your continued endeavors whatever they might be.

See photos: ROU Bal Masque Paparazzi and more Ball Paparazzi.

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