35th Annual Bourbon Street Awards
The Thirty-Fifth Annual Bourbon Street Awards Show will be held on Mardi Gras Day, Tues., Feb. 17 at 12 noon. The location will be at the corner of St. Ann and Burgundy. Miss Connie Cat will fly in from New York City to host this prestigious event. Miss Cat for the past four years has hosted the Trailer Park Beauty Pageant at Good Friends Bar here in New Orleans. She starred as Miss Texas in the local performance of Pageant in 1997. In New York she has performed in the off off Broadway production of Honeysuckle Christmas, and starred in the short subject film, Rinse Cycle. She was asked to leave the Rockettes due to varicose veins.
Wood Enterprises, who brings us this fantastic contest, has gathered Celebrity Judges from New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. The categories include: Male, Female, Group, Fantasy, and Leather. There will be a first, second and third place award given for each of these categories. Also to be awarded will be "Best Tits" (male or female) and the grandest of grand awards for "Best of Show."
The Bourbon Street Awards, well into its fourth decade, has hosted some of the most exciting and extravagant Mardi Gras costumes ever seen, and a bit of controversy as well. In 1963, Arthur Jacobs, then owner of the Clover Grill was facing declining revenues, as were other businesses in the Lower Quarter, at that time. "This end of the Quarter, around Bourbon and Dumaine had a bad reputation in those days. Things around here have come a long way," Jacobs recalled. Jacobs began it, and oversaw the event until 1974, when he conceded the show to Tommy Hopkins, the owner of Cafe Lafitte in Exile, located across the street from the Clover Grill. During Jacob's tenure with the Awards, he faced a good bit of opposition because of the participation of female impersonators. "A big shot reporter tried to degrade the Awards with a feature in a New York magazine in 1964. He inferred that the Show contributed to moral decay. The city was no help either with its additional restrictions and rules. I'm happy the city fathers have taken a different view today," Jacobs said. During the 60's and early 70's the Show drew thousands of people to the corner. Japanese, German, British, and French film crews recorded the Show for their networks. In 1971 Darlene Jacobs, Arthur Jacob's daughter, and noted local attorney, emceed the show, which was later televised on the BBC. "In 1967 there was a beautiful boy from New York who won Best of Show," Mr. Jacobs said. "His impersonating a woman was so well done, viewers and judges alike could not tell that he was a man."
"I've always felt the contestants were the star of the show," commented Jacobs. "I've turned down movie stars, musicians - even Al Hirt was refused access during the show. Pete Fountain came before the show one year and played for an hour, but once the show started, the contestants had their moment," Jacobs remembered.
The now legendary "Parade of Cleopatra" featuring Houston entertainer Torchy Laine as Cleopatra, won "Best of Show" three consecutive years, 1977 through 1979. Cleopatra, whose litter was born by numerous body builders, was preceded by Egyptian musicians, food and wine bearers, slaves, and one year followed by a tiger and its handler. This spectacle earned the Awards contest the title of "The Largest Free Show of Mardi Gras." Jacobs laughed, "We had to make Torchy a judge so he wouldn't compete."
When Thomas Wood bought Cafe Lafitte in 1974, the Bourbon Street Awards were assumed with the bar. Escalating production costs and more restrictive city guidelines threatened the Awards, but the Show went on. The late Ed Smith, a favorite emcee of the Show, well known locally for his flamboyance and humor, produced - in his own name - the requisite permits for the show in 1982 and 1983. He staged it at the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon. To avoid conflict with Smith's show, Wood decided not to compete. "Everyone knew it as the Bourbon Street Awards anyway'" Jacobs noted. "Contestants from all over the world came to participate and model their costumes."
When Smith fell terminally ill in 1984, the Awards were not staged, but Jacobs proudly recalled, unofficially, contestants returned to Dumaine and Bourbon to show off their costumed creations. 1985 brought the Bourbon Street Awards officially back home to Cafe Lafitte in Exile at Dumaine and Bourbon.
In 1986 the Awards were relocated to the corner of St Ann and Burgundy in front of the Rawhide. "By staging it there, more viewers were able to see the show," said Wood.
In 1994, American Chronicle did an hour long segment on Mardi Gras titled, "Farewell to the Flesh," and the Bourbon Street Awards got great coverage.
Mr. Thomas Wood, owner of Wood Enterprises, and his staff are once again doing the background work to promise you that the 35th Annual Bourbon Street Awards will be "The Best Free Show of Mardi Gras."
Voodoo & Dynamite
at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery
In the month when we celebrate the flesh and blow off steam, two internationally acclaimed artists bring their newest works to New Orleans and the Jonathan Ferrar Gallery, 816 Baronne St. in the Warehouse District. Tina Girouard, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work includes performance art, installations, video, sculpture and painting offers her continuing interest in cultural links between Louisiana and Haiti. Her's is the "voodoo." David Bradshaw's art supplies include C4, dynamite, nitro glycerin and gelatin. His is the "dynamite."
Over the past nine years, Ms. Girouard has produced hundreds of sequin works as well as cut-metal oil drum multiples. Her current body of work incorporates new personal imagery such as skulls, herbs, bones, pistols, knives, flowers and termites into her existing knowledge of voodoo iconography.
Explosive sculptor, ballistics expert, Freedom Rider and survivalist describe Mr. Bradshaw who has been active on the art scene for decades. He first used dynamite as a sculptural material in 1969 and has been blasting away ever since. His latest exploded sculptures are in aluminum and were blasted in Vermont in 1998.
Pistol Pete & Popgun Paul
Join NYC's Femme-Rock Sisters Bitch & Animal
at Lucky Cheng's Cabaret
On Wed., Feb. 10, 9pm, the cabaret at Lucky Cheng's (upstairs from the restaurant at 720 St. Louis St.) will host a double-barreled performance by local troubadours Pistol Pete & Popgun Paul with very special guests Bitch & Animal, two right-on babes from Brooklyn making their New Orleans performance debut.
Few openly Gay musicians have attracted so diverse a following as Pistol Pete & Popgun Paul. Even though their repertoire includes songs like "Jesus Loves The Little Faeries" and "Superfag!", this isn't a band that hits anyone over the head with a political agenda. "We always remember that our job is to entertain," says lyricist Pete Sturman. "We're just writing pop songs for a more enlightened time."
Fresh off an engagement serenading the revelers at Petronius' XXXVIII Bal Masque, the duo are also enjoying the success of their first CD entitled Fine Red Wine which has been selling out at Tower Records.
New York City's Bitch & Animal walk a similar tightrope: somewhere between wacky thrift store chicks and fierce musical sisters. And their high-energy stage presence is enough to make the sytraightest in any audience bend. Soon to be opening for Ani DiFranco on her fall tour, audiences have been wooed and seduced by the tribal rhythms from the Animal and the piercing sweet hypnosis of classically-trainged Bitch on the violin.
A cash bar and dinner at Lucky Cheng's before or after the show are available.
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