sherwood's forest
Volume 23/Issue 4/2005

wally

 

 

by Wally Sherwood
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

IT DIDN’T HAPPEN FOR MARDI GRAS: The restored Mardi Gras Fountain on Lake Pontchartrain, which is ready to honor the krewes of Amon Ra, Armeinius and Petronius, unfortunately remained hidden behind a mask for Mardi Gras. The New Orleans Levee Board had hoped to dedicate the fountain and the park that surrounds it along Lakeshore Drive on Twelfth Night.

Though the green, purple and gold fountain is operable, bad weather have wrecked efforts to install new sidewalks and landscaping. Under a revised schedule, officials say they intend to open the park to the public in March, followed by official ceremonies in April. Daily operation will be from 9am to10pm and later during Carnival.

In addition to replacing the 100-foot-long fountain built in 1962 for $42,000, the board installed a 600-foot plaza of patterned concrete. It also refurbished dozens of ceramic tile tributes to Carnival organizations.

The plaza features a row of palm trees and two-sided benches that will allow visitors to view the lake or the fountain. Other improvements include a new drainage system, lighting, picnic shelters and brick walkways. In an effort to minimize flooding, the entire site has been raised about three feet.

Last year, the board sought the help of groups that did not exist when the fountain first opened-—including the three oldest Gay balls and the mega-krewes Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus—as well as non-parading clubs that were omitted from the original design. They offered to replace old plaques and fashion new ones if clubs agreed to pick up the $450 tab for the work.

IT DIDN’T HAPPEN FOR MARDI GRAS: And the three-ring circus at the White House continued unabated with the State of the Union address, with enough ammunition that any Carnival jester would have relished. We wonder if anyone else caught the irony of what else was on television while the War Lord was speaking.

Our PBS station was showing Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State, followed by a profile of another dictator, Fidel Castro. Meanwhile, WB was running Everybody Loves Raymond, and everybody obviously does not love Bush when 49% of Americans voted against his reelection. So much for still another lie about receiving a mandate from the American people.

Showtime kicks off a second season of The L Word on Feb. 20 and the Human Rights Campaign is hosting a free premiere party with giveaways at The Sanctuary in Metairie at 2301 N. Causeway. And do not forget to mark your calendar for May 14 for the HRC-Louisiana’s Black-Tie Gala at 6pm at the InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans.

Although a bit tardy, the Mardi Gras Marathon on Feb. 26 will send the fleet of foot traffic through the Bywater, Faubourg Marigny and Vieux Carre, starting at 8:30am. A post-race party with awards, live music and refreshments will be the next morning at the Superdome.

Two Carnival birthdays were observed on Feb. 1. Princesse Stephanie (no, not our Ms. Marigny Leather, but the one in Monaco) hit the big 4-0, while Lisa Marie Presley, who spent a haunted honeymoon with Nicholas Cage at the ghostly corner of Chartres and Esplanade, turned 37.

And in support of Food for Friends, please do not forget the Grand Marshals Reception for the Gay Easter Parade on Feb. 21 from 8 until 10pm at the Corner Pocket, 940 St. Louis. As this year’s Honorary Easter Bunny, we definitely hope to see you there.

FINAL CURTAIN FOR HENRY HOOD: A sad and fond farewell for retired actor Henry Leo Hood Jr. was held by family and friends during a mass at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Burial for Hood, who is survived by many cousins, was in Hope Mausoleum. His wife, "Miss Lilly," a long-time entertainer on the piano at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, preceded him in death several years ago.

A lifelong resident of New Orleans for 71 years, Hood suffered a heart attack at his home in the French Quarter. Also an accomplished playwright, he maintained many personal associations within the literary world, including Tennessee Williams.

Henry was born on Third Street in the Garden District and was a direct descendent of Gen. John Bell Hood, the hero of Gettysburg and Chickamauga. After surrendering to Union forces in Natchez on May 31, 1865, the general entered business in New Orleans and died in his beloved Crescent City on Aug. 30, 1879.

Close friends generally also maintain that Henry was related to the Barrymores—and there was a striking family resemblance in his handsome profile. After retirement, he frequented the Golden Lantern around the corner from his home on Barracks Street, always claiming the last bar stool on the right side. God bless, Henry, we will miss you.

Meanwhile, the Gulf South fetish community is still mourning the passing of Jon Jacobs, who died of massive heart failure in Atlanta. Jon, who was co-author of Different Loving, leaves behind his wife and slave of 16 years. The 59-year-old Jacobs was laid to rest in Arlington Memorial Cemetery in Atlanta.

BEAT THE POST-CARNIVAL BLUES: Billed as "The Premier S/M Event in the South," the 17th edition of "Spring in the South" is coming up on Apr. 22-24 under the sponsorship of the Atlanta S/M Solidarity. And, if you should still need another reason to attend, the weekend has also been nominated as Small Event of the Year at Pantheon of Leather XV.

This year’s theme will be "Passions: What are Yours?" and leading the pansexual workshops will be Vi Johnson, Ms. Victoria, Frank Strona and FifthAngel. The weekend demonstrations and play parties will be at "1763," described as "a deviant place of decadence."

Registration and the opening party will begin at 9pm on Apr. 22 at the Atlanta Eagle. Cost is $85 until Mar. 1 and $95 afterwards, but will increase to $105 at the door. Complete details at lambda.net/-atlsmsol/sits.htm or 404.523.7844.

Meanwhile, the Conductors, a big supporter of the New Orleans leather clubs, has issued an invitation for you to come to Nashville for their 23rd run on Mar. 18-20. "Star Track," a fetish journey into outer space, has been sanctioned by the Mid-America Conference of Clubs. The run fee is $125, with details on the club’s website at conducters.net.

Apr. 22-24 is definitely shaping up to be a really busy weekend. The Kansas City Pioneers will present Trails End XXX, "Down and Dirty," at the Crown Center Hyatt Regency. Registrations for $105 must be made by Mar. 18 at kcpioneers.com. Then, the Adventurers Florida will be celebrating their 30th Anniversary at the Sawmill Campgrounds outside Dade City. Be sure to mention the club’s event when you call for details at 352.583.0664.

IT ALL HAPPENED ON LUNDI GRAS: It was truly a regal afternoon, when David Johnson, King Endymion XXIV, toasted Keith Istre, Lord Consort XXII, with champagne at the "Bears, Beads and Bubbles" blowout at the Sweet Olive Bed and Breakfast in the Faubourg Marigny.

Co-hosting the event on Fat Monday was David’s partner, Dale Irvin, both of whom are members of the New Orleans Bear and Bear Trapper Social Club. While welcoming guests Francesco and Kajunbear from the Italian Bears of Rome and representatives of the Homoboys from San Francisco, they distributed their first official "Bears, Beads and Bubbles" keepsake poster as a favor.

Earlier in the day, Ben Jones and Bill Walters of Houston served as the vanguard for the annual visit of the Krewe of Olympus to the city of their birth. The party was again at the Golden Lantern, complete with a video of their rousing ball, Things are Bigger in Texas, and sterling silver doubloons to back up that claim. And Rip and Marsha Naquin-Delain of Ambush Magazine returned the favor with monkey beads from the jungles of The Amazon Queen, Savanna DeLorean.

Olympus was born and bred in the Crescent City, and in the midst of the AIDS crisis, was reincarnated in 1991 with the first Texas bal masque the following year. The krewe, which has become famous for its charity work, is thriving with a membership of 57 souls dedicated to Carnival. Both Ben Jones and Bill Walters, a couple since 1978, have been royalty and captains of Olympus. Ben is well known and fondly remembered as a former manager of The Bourbon Pub.

The celebrity monarch of the Krewe of Orpheus, Toby Keith, interrupted the Lundi Gras parade many times to stop and personally salute those in military uniforms. Winner of the Entertainer of the Year Award from the Academy of County Music the last two years, Toby is against the War Lord’s military policies but does as much as he can to ease the pain of troops stuck in Iran.

Meanwhile, Elton John’s tour will make a stop on Mar. 5 at the New Orleans Arena, while that krewe of Motley Crue will perform at the UNO Lakefront Arena on Apr. 18. You have until Feb. 26 to catch the "Batman Dracula" exhibition by Blake Boyd, featuring nude same-sex couples, at the Arthur Roger Gallery.

YET ANOTHER EARLY MARDI GRAS: If you thought Fat Tuesday was too soon this year, just wait until 2008 when Carnival Day falls three days earlier, on Feb. 5. That will be the earliest date since 1913, when it was on Feb. 4. Under the lunar calendar, which governs Ash Wednesday and Easter, Mardi Gras can be as early as Feb. 3 and as late as Mar. 9.

Plans are already afoot for Carnival 2006, which ends on Feb. 28. At the forefront is the 45th Anniversary gala planned by the Krewe of Petronius. You can become a part of the history and legend at the rush party on Feb. 26 from 2 until 5pm at The Queen’s Head Pub. For membership information, go to KreweOfPetronius.tripod.com/kreweofpetronius or call 504.314.0133 or 484.6045.

The first meeting of the year for the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon will be Feb. 23, with plans being finalized for a benefit featuring Tony-winner Donna McKechnie on Mar. 3 at 8pm at Le Chat Noir. And if you are hankering to see 55-year-old Morgan Fairchild (her birthday was Feb. 3) in the nude, you can do just that in "The Graduate" on Mar. 8-13 at the Saenger Theatre.

This short Carnival season certainly played havoc with this short guy’s schedule. As much as we were honored to be a part of the award-winning tableau of the Armeinius ball, it did have its down side. We were unable to make our own club’s beer bust of the New Orleans Bears and had to miss "The Night of the Black Mask" as well.

Anyhow, we hope you all had as great of Mardi Gras as we did. David Bernard and all his cronies were absolutely wrong about the weather, with only one shower temporarily damping the festivities. It was about as close to a perfect Carnival Day as you could get. We have always heard the old wives’ tale, or urban legend if you will, that the earlier Fat Tuesday is, the better and warmer the weather will be. That was certainly true this year.

The Society of St. Anne parade, which made an official pit stop at the Golden Lantern, was even more colorful and creative than ever. But then again, we think all the balls and costumes were superior this year, a tribute to all the time and talent involved. In the next column, we will collect all our left-over beads, treasures and memories for a final report on a truly memorable Mardi Gras.


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