by Brad Benedict
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
CCROU Opens With a Jewel
Starting a new Mardi Gras krewe might seem like an easy thing to do, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Time may seem short from initiation until the night of the first ball, yet the way is paved with a lot of hard work and tireless energy from those participating in the event. These guys and gals have done a wonderful job in putting this together.
Such an occasion took place on Jan. 29, at the Baker Municipal Center when the Capital City Royal Order of Unicorn presented their first bal masque, "The Jewelry Box," with emcee duties undertaken by the Crescent City's Pat O'Roarke. It turned out to be a jewel of an opening, and everyone seemed pleased at the results. All of the members deserve a standing ovation for a job well done.
Royalty for CCROU Bal Masque I was Kevin Rauls and Tasha Sinclair. Their costumes were absolutely fabulous, and the colors and designs were well coordinated. King Kevin, with an extended train, was at his royal best in green, gold and yellow. His queen, Tasha, chose green, gold and white with a shorter train. Together, they presented a magical look into the upcoming season and forged the way for others by setting such fine examples. They were the crowning jewels of their fabulous Jewelry Box.
Jewels were abundant at this ball. From diamonds, to gold, to rubies, to black pearls, all the costumes were executed with a flair for the unique and audience members got to see each close-up as they paraded from the stage down onto the floor. Entertainment was presented by Mr. and Miss CCROU, Clyde Schroeder III and Taylor Stevens. Also included in the entertainment was Jay Cooper of the Krewe of Amon-Ra (New Orleans).
One of the major highlights of the ball from a costume standpoint was the jewelry boy - oops - box found at the bottom of the sea which originally was presented at an ROU ball in Lafayette. John, darling, you were (and are) one of the most talented and gorgeous men of Acadiana. You added extra class to an already classy show, and you did it with such finesse that you had the audience completely enthralled. You and a certain Kenny Hebert and that lovely little Linda have always done such marvelous jobs as members of the Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn. I take great pride in having made your acquaintance. You've charmed everyone as Mr. Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn. Now you need to follow up your amazing record by claiming the kingdom. 2001 has got to be your year.
Fred Acosta is the founder of the Royal Order of Unicorn and was instrumental in allowing the start of the local group. James Barbosa is the current president. And all of this finery came about without doing a major program with ads. This hard-working group did it with the help of various fundraisers held at Bogart's and the Hide-A-Way, and at Tony Dee's dance studio.
With help from their sister krewe in Lafayette, CCROU's effort was not a diamond in the rough but a polished jewel that dazzled for all to enjoy. Check out their membership requirements soon, and consider joining this active and special group. They are on their way to monumental endeavors, and you need to get on board now in order to enjoy the ride.
Le Bal Masque des Masques
It was a hot time in the old town this period. Actually, it was in Plaquemine where the Baton Rouge Krewe of Apollo came forth with one of the best balls ever. I've told you before, and I tell you again right now that when you want the best balls ever, you only have to turn to Apollo.
This year, I think I would have to give credit to the captains, Patrick Stoermer and John Smith. From what I have seen through the year of preparation, these two guys knew what they had to do, set their sights on this goal, and came through with flying colors. A better combination of working executives you won't find in any company. Apollo had that magic combination and had the good fortune to let the power loose on this magnificant Bal Masque XIX.
The place was the Iberville Civic Center in Plaquemine, LA, and I think I am correct in saying that Apollo finally found their way home again. After several years in other locations and problems with each, these captains were wise enough to go back to the roots, and the result was one of the finest balls you could possibly find anywhere.
"Le Bal Masque des Masques" was a beautiful and spectacular event. Each costume was presented with dignity, radiance, and sheer beauty for the eye of the beholder. I was impressed from the very beginning to the very end. In fact, my mate for the evening, the gorgeous Patrick, was very impressed with the display of talent on that stage. Thanks to my floral buddy Larry (and several others who invited me to be their guest), we were able to view the festivities in a company of beautiful friends and acquaintances.
President Ken welcomed everyone to the ball, and when the krewe crest was presented, it was the beginning of something very special. The color guard proved that there is beauty and confidence in numbers, and the presentation of the standards of past royalty was very impressive. The captains presented themselves in costumes that were most appropriate for the theme, and the beauty was only matched by the perfect execution of the presentations.
When the returning royalty was presented, it became the moment when everyone in the audience realized that they had arrived to view something very spectacular. King and Queen Apollo XVIII, Nathan Wright and Joel Jones, were absolutely magnificent in their arrival and viewing period. It was something that had been cut short the previous year by an uncaring staff and totally non-supportive arena management. If for no other reason, the return to Plaquemine was a public apology for a royal couple who deserves the adoration of the viewing public. It was so nice to see how Nathan and Joel carried themselves in royal splendor and ruled over such a magnificent ball.
The ball got under way with Venetian street revelers, all lieutenants along with Mr. Apollo Baton Rouge. This was followed by the first major costume entry, the traditional Mardi Gras duke. Next in line was the pre-Columbian Jade Armor, another of the fine creations from the master gardener Ken (and probably the creative talents of his significant other, Mark).
Moving along, the sell-out crowd was treated to Pele's sacrificial virgin and her Tama Hula Hula. Well, first, let me tell you, that was a very important virgin up there, and she knew how to strut her stuff. Those three studs also knew what they were doing and managed to swing those hips with the best of the natives. I was particularly impressed with Richard, and when he did that flip, I was petrified. I only wish I had been standing at the end of the runway and focused my camera on that magnificent topsy-turvy exposure.
Next came the fancy dancer and the Arctic dancer. Both of these costumes were exquisite, and Scott and Alan should be very proud of their accomplishments. They were definite standouts among the many wonderful costumes of this ball. Next came Zorro and the Lone Ranger, but if you ask me it was Zorro all the way. That sexy man can whip me any old time he so chooses. The same is true for Bacchus and Medusa. I thought they were both fabulous, and I just wanted to get up there and get in the middle of the Medusa.
Miss Apollo Baton Rouge came out next with the Chinese dragon and dancers. This was followed by one of the best costumes of the ball, Fall. That sexy man was absolutely adorable, and even behind that mask, you could tell that you had a gorgeous man behind all that make-up, mask and feathers. You are beautiful, Todd darling. Great legs. Fabulous movements. And when you bowed to the returning royalty, you thrilled over half the audience with your fabulous buns.
Next came the man in the iron mask, and this grandpa should have covered a little bit more of his rear. I do have to admit that for someone his age, his butt is definitely still intact. The costume itself was very good, and I really do love this one. He is a special friend, and I've shared so much with him over the years. He is one of Apollo's finest, and his antics were enjoyed by everyone.
When the new royalty arrived, it was from the opposite end of the stage. His Royal Highness, King Apollo XIX (Les Mutt) and Her Royal Highness, Queen Apollo XIX (Joe Boniol) along with their court added a touch of dignity to this ball. As Napoleon and Josephine, they brought an added touch of class to what may very well go down in history as one of Apollo's best presentations.
As a previous member, I was pleased to see how this all came together. I had decided earlier last year that I had other commitments, and I elected not to participate in this one, but I did get a little sentimental when I realized that I wasn't up there having a great time with all of the members. Sometimes we move on to other things, but we never forget our roots. At least, I don't. I'm just so very pleased to see how great things went for the Krewe of Apollo this year. I have to think that this credit has to go to the captains for all their hard work. Without their expertise, I don't think things would have worked out so well. It is with great respect that I openly compliment Pat and John on their excellent bal masque. They are my friends, and I am so happy for them in their time of triumph.
After Plaquemine, everyone at the ball merged on the Baton Rouge scene. Most of the ball participants attended a special midnight dining experience at the home of Marshall Vass. Most of the audience seemed to go to Evolution. It was a very special time, and the event saw owner George on the microphone welcoming all to his house of pleasure. The place was packed, and I enjoyed my time there tremendously.
My mate Patrick kept looking for the Maringouin flash, but perky Paul was nowhere to be found. The next day, we were told that he was on the dance floor shaking his bootie. However, there were so many on the floor that he went unnoticed. The same is true for my buddy Anthony Benton. He was so spiritual that I couldn't even find him on or off the dance floor. That sexy lawyer Joseph was there too, and I got to fondle - oops - hug him a lot. That other lawyer who did a partial strip at the ball was hanging onto one of the bar pillars. Precious darling, what did you have to drink to make you so loose? And Joseph, sweetheart, you need to send that office chap over my way. He is such an adorable lad. He just makes me want to snuggle up to him and shout "howdy."
My sweet Dallas was working his buns off while my darling Kevin was on this side of the bar having a great time. Those two guys are so cute. They are such assets to Evolution. However, a certain youngster named Jawn is now on the scene, so move over guys, the new stud has arrived. And keep your hands to yourself, Dickie darling. Besides, he's too old for you. He's 21.
I hated to leave such great company, but I wanted to check out the other bars. Because of the late hour, Patrick and I only had time to get to George's. That was great. My little Guy Boy met me with open arms. I just adore that little man. Richard was holding court in the executive corner, and that "swimmer guy" was there in all his glory. Glory is where I am every time I'm in his company. This is truly a gorgeous and considerate man. I need a refresher course, darling. Sign me up for swimming lessons.
Port Arthur John, Pat's ball co-captain, was at George's as were so many others including that fabulous leather stud Gregory. It was just a fine group of revelers who stopped off here to close out a great evening of pleasure.
I'm only sorry that I couldn't be in Lafayette to enjoy my friends at the Royal Order of Unicorn ball. It's the first one I've missed, and I can only hope there are no duplicate ball dates for 2001. I would like to make all of them, even Shreveport and Birmingham. Come on, guys. Get together and try to schedule your balls on different dates.
Another highlight of the weekend that I need to mention is the second ball for the Krewe of Mwindo, held at the St. Bernard Civic Center in Chalmette. This New Orleans krewe put on a beautiful show and one of the most clever of any I've ever attended. "Air Mwindo" was the theme, and it was definitely original, clever, and perfectly executed. Bryan Hogans and Thomas Franklin were the reigning royalty, and the krewe's new royalty was Evans Charles Alexander and James Swire. The audience experienced a flight from New York City to Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, India, China, Russia, the Arctic Circle, and finally landing in New Orleans. It was definitely one of the most entertaining nights I've ever spent at a Mardi Gras ball.
I talked to Greg at Bogart's today, and he said Paul was coming in for a visit. I had talked with Paul earlier last week and thought he was only coming in for the Spanish Town Parade. It will be nice to see him on this "unannounced" visit.
Be sure to go by 7 @ Main and check out their decorations. These guys go from Christmas into Mardi Gras, and their bar is a definite winner in the conversion category. I love their Red Ribbon window, and their color scheme should be a welcome sight for all Spanish Town revelers.
Minette is planning a big "after the parade" party at the Hide-A-Way. This is always one you don't want to miss. It's a place to enjoy fine food, experience a good time, and enjoy the outstanding camaraderie that only comes to you at this great bar.
With Mardi Gras 2000 nearing the end of festivities, please play it safe. Have a good time, but don't fool Mother Nature, or Daddy Do-Good either.
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