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in the spotlight
Volume 16/Issue 4

by Melba Carondelet

(Remark of the Queen's makeup Artist of ARTHUR'S HOUSE OF GLAMOUR- after seeing Liz Simms' Coronation Do-Over) & How To Become A Crowned King Cake Queen of the Krewe of Queenateenas, Plus How Melba Got To See Rip & Marsha's New Lavender Love-Loft & Spend A Few Moments With The New Queen V, Some X Queens, & Several Pretenders To the Throne, aka Queenettes, Puffettes, Frogettes, and Forgetettes & The Five Sacred Rules of the King Cake Queen.

Melba Carondelet burst into tears when the invitations arrived. She had been cast out of the inner circle of late, deleted from the loop as it were, and of course she blamed it all on the nefarious and evil acts of certain staff members of the Ambush family; of unproved Machiavellian machinations which her vivid and fertile imagination had made into something so Byzantine and florid that it could never exist in real life.

For many, many months she had pined away in melancholy fits over her abrupt dismissal from those high and elect inner circle conferees of Rip and Marsha who worked so hard in the heart of the vast offices of Ambush Magazine at 828 Bourbon Street. She wept for hours at a time remembering her long tenure as a social historian and girl reporter for over a decade.

She remembered how often she even wrote almost the whole newspaper in those early years before the Ambush empire had grown and gobbled up balconies and buildings like toys, not to mention tons of monies from advertisers eager to be seen in so prestigious a publication. Yes, even though she had been busy working on short stories about everyone involved all those long lonely months, she was still somewhat miffed and hurt at the sudden exclusion of her large presence among the Gods and Goddesses on their Balcony of Balconies.

She missed being among the chattering and jabbering drag queens, the cackling and chuckling transsexuals, the guffawing politicos, the mewling queens and queenettes and the old, old, old crowds of gapers, gaspers, and graspers, not to mention a few timely and tough dykes, which always hang around the fab and famous.

With tears dribbling down her several chins; her hands shaking and bouncing like ten fat pork sausages in a hot wok, she placed her mayo jar of Pernod frappe' on the coffee table and ripped open the large white envelope. And there it was, in bright red lettering on expensive high high gloss paper:

The Co-Captains of The Krewe of Queenateenas
Invite You To Celebrate "Queenateenas in Hell!"
The Coronation of King Cake Queen V Elizabeth "Liz" Simms
"The She-Devil"
& In Honor of
KCQ IV Reba Douglas,
KCQ III Smurf Murphy,
KCQ II Jay Loomis
Tues, Feb. 10, 1998 8-10pm
Ambush Headquarters

Two tiny tasteful entrance cards fell out. She quickly scribbled her own name in one of them and her new boy friend, Jeff J, on the other. Ecstatically, she hugged the invite to her huge breasts, let out a little piggy squeal of delight, whirled around, and flopped onto the love seat she had recently bought for a song and dance at the "Last Day Sale" of Krauss' Department Store, before it too was dismissed, to the realms of memory and imagination. The treasured invite was now stained with Melba's tears. The fine silken paper was dotted with little heart shaped watermarks. She immediately began to prepare herself for this much sought after event, after hugging it to her breasts again with a great sigh of relief.

When La Melba arrived, tucked and tossed, and teased and puckered, plucked, pampered, painted, and seemingly possessed by some small demon of delight, she was happy to see that adorable female cop, Nettie, in full regalia guarding the door. She had a secret crush on both the cop and the majestic horse she rode on around the Vieux Carre.

Inside the Grand Manse she could see the splendid crowd of invitees milling around in all their fur, finery, and fake jewels. She couldn't wait to get in. Squeezing by others at the door, she heard someone say, "Oh, it's Ms. Melba. Girl, who does her clothes, Circus Maximus?" "Noooooooo," whined her nelly companion, "Barnum and Bailey." They tittered together.

Melba ignored them but took note of their birdlike heads, tiny insect eyes and spiky extremities as she flounced past into the Mini Salon on the first floor. I'll just act like Becky Allen, doing an entrance, she thought. Bits of feathers and sequins scattered to the floor with an occasional old world rhinestone.

She had arrived--among her old crowd again. Near to the divine Rip and Marsha. She immediately thanked her hosts, fawning over both of them as always. She sighed and noted how they both looked like real life movie stars - Rip in his white dress outfit and Marsha in her divine drag dress ensemble, that dainty Dairy Queen curl of double dolloped hair giving her that Diamond Lil look she had revived so tastefully in the last several years. They hugged.

Then Melba got shoved away by an even bigger girl, Mother Bob, a fab old drag which even Rae Bourbon might have bowed to Queen to Queen.

Melba looked around and felt like she was on the deck of the Titanic: finery and fine folk everywhere. She gave herself a little shake to bring herself back to reality and began to search for the guest of honor, the soon to be crowned, Elizabeth "Liz" Simms.

Melba did not find her at first. She scooted over to the first buffet table on this floor, scooped up several tasty tidbits, including Smoked Salmon and Dill Torte, and a bag or two of grapes, then wandered down the hallway, anxious to get to the second floor of these, to-die-for, Ambush headquarters.

The second floor was the main salon which opened onto the "Balcony of the Gods" and the master bedroom love-suite of Rip & Marsha. She simply got goose pimples at the thought of finally seeing the renovations to that suite of divine rooms, and just couldn't keep from shivering with delight, at the thought of taking her first trek up the little stairwell leading to the newly appointed boudoir on the third floor or as she preferred to call it, the little Lavender Love-Loft high in the attic of the stately mansion on Bourbon Street.

The former second floor bedroom now housed the couple's formal Victorian parlor. And the former parlor/dining room, opening onto the balcony, was converted into the dining/music room complete with that fabu baby grand piano. The transition has afforded so much more space for more party guests, and soon, Melba understands, the Naquin-Delain's will host intimate sit-down dinners in their new dining/music room.

On the second floor, she saw several familiar old, old drags but still didn't spot the soon to be crowned King Cake Queen V, Liz Simms. She really wanted to chat the girl up, get the scoop on her coronation and find out what her long-time companion, the naughty, notorious, and much loved Kitty Blackwell, had been up to ever since she made that great comment years and years ago to fellow journalist, and King of the Dykes, Lon Chewlin, to wit, "Honey, when I make 'em cum they gotta wear a wet suit!"

Of course, Ms. Chewlin was there and anxious, as she confided in her old chum Melba, to get a look at the "love loft" herself. "Oh, girl," she gushed to Melba, "this place is so grand, so full of objects dah awt, it's like uh museum, ain't it?"

And so it was, Melba agreed, as she glanced at every wall in every room, all of which were hung with every kind of painting, from top to bottom, from the Ambush Art Collection, not to mention the million or so bibelots, keepsakes, mementos, and relics, which Rip and Marsha had collected during their almost 24 years together. It was all so awesome, so overwhelming, so gay... Melba could hardly take it all in.

She did manage to take in several of those delicious shrimp cakes the Willow Catering group had quietly passed around, on dazzling silver trays, along with several dozen of those tasty and imaginative little oysters wrapped in tiny croissants.

It was while she was stuffing those trifles into her coat pockets that Melba suddenly espied, entering with a very demure looking Kitty Blackwell, a lovely young lady wearing a crown and carrying a scepter. That must be our new Queen, Melba shrieked silently to herself.

She pushed her way toward the very attractive young womyn as she chewed madly on a shrimp cake, trying to get it down without losing a flake. She did.

"My dear, you must be King Cake Queen V," she squealed as Miss Blackwell gave her a look through squinted and suspicious eyes. Who in the hell is this over decorated old cow, she thought to herself, as Melba pushed into their aura.

"I'm here to interview you," she said smiling, and poking her jowls into the young womyns face.

"Oh, really?" gasped Ms. Simms, backing away, trying to get behind Kitty Blackwell.

But Melba had latched onto the sweet thing and with a lobster-like clasp on her arm, she almost dragged the slightly confused Queen toward a corner for an interview.

But the crowd of some 170 guests were too noisy, so Melba actually got KCQ V out of the second floor Grand Salon and down into the street in front of the mansion. The two of them stood face to face under the Balcony of the Gods and almost safe from the rain which was pouring from the sky. Keeping a protective eye on both, was the butch little cop, Nettie, still as saucy and hot looking as ever, all decked out in her blue uniform, gun slung low from its holster on her hip. Gawd, those Crescent City Cop Girls get hotter and hotter every year.

She quickly brought her attention back to the equally gorgeous KCQ V, Liz Simms, and without a thought about the tastelessness of the act, shoved her little tape recorder at the newly crowned Queen.

"So, whataya been crowned tonight," Melba crowed sounding a bit like Little Ruthie on several cups of Tiger 186.

Ms. Simms smiled sweetly. "I am the Krewe of Queenateenas' King Cake Queen V," she said, moving her perfectly done lips with a sexy quiver--like Marilyn Monroe used to do.

Melba shivered with delight. Wattles, jowls and loose fatty tissue flapped like small flags in a hurricane. She moved closer with a girlish giggle. Ms. Simms discretely backed away a few inches.

"Well," Melba said with wide eyed innocence, "Just WHAT does one have to do to get crowned a Queen of the Karuuuuuueewwe of QUEEEEEENNNN- AAAteenas?" She morphed into what she thought was a charming baby face smile.

"Rumors HAVE run rampant," she quipped.

"Is it who you know, or who you blow, or what?," Melba said in her tough detective impersonation. Ms. Simms backed away from the shrimp cake breath.

Then, without batting an eye and completely nonplused, Ms. Simms responded with a steady and studied equilibrium, "It suuurrrreeeellllyyyyy, in THIS CASE must have been who I know," she said as both eyes sparkled with a tiny little glint. There was silence.

Melba was out done for a moment. And certainly outclassed. "Well, er, ummm," she mumbled. . . Ms. Elizabeth "Liz" Simms, er you're not going to change the spelling of your name from Simms to something drag queeny, like Symms, are you, ah you know how they do. . .ah, you're not going to become some kind of drag queen or something are you?" she asked.

"No, No, No, No," Ms. Simms replied with a laugh. "Well, I may become Elizabeast," she said with a quick guffaw. "And I've been dragatized for tonight, she said. "And I do love it. My sisters have done me proud!" she cooed. Her crown sparkled in the light from the street lamps as she moved her head. Her scepter was a blaze of white fire as she waved it at a friend. Melba sighed. A little jealous, of course. Ah youth, ah beauty, she thought. And rhinestones. How ever did the world live without rhinestones? "And aren't you the long-time companion of someone our community knows well?" rasped Melba conspiratorially.

"Ahhh," she sighed, "For the last 18 wonderful years. . . Ms. Kitty Blackwell."

Melba sighed, secretly, so proud to be among those who know such special things.

"THE Kitty Blackwell," Melba repeated in a tone filled with pride, as if she and she alone was the guardian of such personal treasures of gossip.

"Ms. Kitty Blackwell, yes," responded Queen Simms.

"And what do you plan to do for the next year of your reign?" Melba asked.

"Ooooooooooooo, you look good babe," a mysterious black queen babbled to the new Queen as she slinked by with a friend wearing sling back heels, a fishtail gown of green sequins and a blond wig. She looked like the album cover photo of a famous black singer of the 60s Melba had once interviewed for a New York rag at 25 cents a word.

Miss King Cake Queen V, Liz Simms, beamed at the compliment, as they slinked and slithered past disappearing in the rain forest, rain-fall, like two exotic creatures from a Brazilian jungle.

"What do I plan to do," she said wrinkling her brow in thought. The crown slipped ever so slightly, caught a spray of light and exploded diamond flecks which were quickly swallowed up by the dark rainy night beyond the balcony overhang protecting the two womyn.

For a brief moment she looked like the head of a goddess being born from darkness into a flash of bright beauty. Melba didn't notice.

She was too busy checking out Ms. Fly, an infamous New Orleans dragqueen whose specialty was rolling around in carpenter's glue and a bed of cock feathers trying to look like Cher Bono. And she did look like Cher Bono, much to Melba's absolute envy. Ms. Fly sylphed by like a boneless serpent wrapped in sequined cellophane, making sure to pretend she didn't see Melba.

"What do I plan to doooooooo," mused the new Queen, Ms. Simms.

"Well, she said, I will try and live up to my fabulous predecessors, Miss Smurf, of course, Miss Jayleen, of course, and Miss Reba, the fabulous Miss Reba Douglas. "What DOOOOO I plan to do. . . Well. . . ."

Before she would answer, Melba interrupted. "All of these are award winning people. People with talent. So YOU must have some HIDDEN & SECRET talent we don't know anything about. What could it be."

"I must have, but they're going to remain secret and hidden," quipped the freshly crowned Queen. Melba's nostrils flared ever so slightly. She smiled sweetly.

"Well, what do you have to say to your fans and friends since you've been crowned a real Queen?," she asked pursing her fat Windsor Red painted lips. "Do you have anything special to tell them?"

"Yes. I do. I'm going to tell you the rules. As told to me by the previous Queens on the King Cake Queen Bar Run."

"Oh wonderful," enthused Melba. "The Rules. I've got a real scoop. What are they? Do, oh, do tell."

KCQ V Liz smiled, took a deep breath and pushed up her boobies as she intoned the rules: "Rule #1 - if you wear fake eyelashes, you gotta put on a lot of makeup, #2 - from the Smurf - don't fall off the balcony, #3, you only have to look good from the waist up, girl, and rule #4 - rule #4 was, from the wonderful Reba - a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, and as KCQ V, I'll add another rule. Rule #5 - GIVE THAT GIRL SOME LIPS." And by all means obey the #1 CO-CAPTAIN'S rule: DON'T GET BEHEADED! They both laughed.

The rain continued. The party continued. A small band played on in Melba's mind in time with the raindrops. Melba thanked KCQ V and they both ran for cover inside that palace of wonders, the Grand Manse.

Melba was anxious to see the new bedroom which Rip and Marsha had moved from the second floor to the third. Way, way up in the attic. It sounded so romantic. Melba got up the first curved staircase, paused for many breaths, then continued on to the top. Up, up, up she went until she reached a leaded glass door leading into the attic. She opened it and entered. She looked around and burst into tears.

It was all so lovely. The colors were so tasteful. Pastels, lavenders, mauve, a touch of puce, a sprinkle of honey haze gold, a touch or two of tulip pink, a dingle berry dollop of hyacinth yellow-the huge bedroom was accented by a new Plantation bed, and all of the antique pieces from Marsha's grandmother's estate.

Originally this bedroom was the living room on the third floor. The small bedroom adjacent to this room had been converted into Marsha's walk-in closet. Drag to the left and boy clothes to the right, plus wall rack, after wallrack of Marsha's dainty little beaded shoe collection. Next to Marsha's huge closet was Rip's much smaller walk-in closet, with some twenty pairs of Reebok's. Perhaps, Rip & Marsha, both have a little of Imelda Marcos' fetish for shoes.

Melba took a great deep breath and promptly burst into tears again. That was three times in one day. Why, oh why did she allow herself to be cut from the lovely little loop? Well, it was too late now, she thought. But just wait until the short stories come out. Then things would change. Things would really change. She smiled to herself as she thought how funny the gayles community could be.

Oh, but food was so soothing.... Down to the second floor she went for more of those fabu eats by Willow Catering. Melba gobbled up some of the Eggplant Caviar, Hot Artichoke Dip, Venison Pate w/Chipolte & Cherries, Duck Pate w/Green Peppercorns, Turkey Pinwheels w/Pesto, Roast Beef w/Boursin on Rye and Proscuitto Wrapped Asparagus. Then it was to the trays & trays of King Cake.

Outside the rain fell in torrents as she made her way down the staircase squeezing past other awed and amazed dragonettes and dreamers. She simply must get home to think it all out. Thank Gawd she'd stashed away a half dozen of those fantastic shrimpcakes. The thought cheered her up again. Food always did. Obviously. She looked for her sweet big Jeff and couldn't wait to get home. Jeff was dessert.

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