by James Scott
In the past weeks the area has been hopping in preparation for Mardi Gras. Lafayette was blessed with the always amazing Apollo Ball and the spectacular ROU Ball. The feedback for guests attending each was top rated. It seems as though these two krewes continue to outdo themselves each year. Besides an evening of incredible costumes, the local coverage given to a Gay event was outstanding. I think that as a minority, we have arrived, or at least left an impact on the rest of the community. Thanks to all who dedicated so much hard work, time and energy in preparation and execution of such spectacular events. You truly have left your mark on Acadiana. Check out the column by Jay Norris below for complete coverage of the Lafayette Apollo Ball. Hopefully we will have pictures in our next issue of the ROU Ball.
As we prepare for the actual Mardi Gras holiday, our nightclubs are busy planning to make sure that there is never a dull moment. So, if you are out and about in celebration and do not have a good time, you have yourself to blame. On behalf of the general public, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the owners of BackStreet, Jules Tavern, MoJo Monkeys, The Club and The Sound Factory for providing us with somewhere to go out to and have a good time while being ourselves.
The Sound Factory continues to bring some spectacular shows to the area. Owner John Gilland has become known for his on-going support of the art of female impersonation. If you are searching for a place to see some top name entertainers and incredible performances, The Sound Factory is clearly the place to check out. John and his staff have managed to keep the Acadiana area supplied with our share of breath-taking performances.
Another fine example of the talent The Sound Factory hosts was the recent Miss Southern Belle Pageant. This was the first preliminary of the year for Miss Gay Louisiana America 2001. Shawn, the owner and promoter of the pageant, deserves special recognition for doing such a wonderful job at putting together such a great event. Shawn/Shania also added a distinct style that made it an evening that not only displayed some exceptional talent, but added a certain personal touch. Six contestants were in competition for the title and each displayed incredible talent. Guest performers for the pageant included pageant owner & promoter, Shanie (Shawn), emcee Raycine Ross, Shayla Gray, Taylor Stevens and Jessica Daniels. Taylor Stevens won this title last year and went on to win the title of Miss Gay Louisiana America 2000. Could it happen two years in a row? This brings us to the two contestants who earned the honor of competing in this year's Miss Gay Louisiana America Pageant. The first runner-up was Brooke York and the new Miss Southern Belle is Stephanie Stevens. Congratulations to these girls and the best of luck to you as you represent your title.
Jules Tavern continues to make a huge impact on the Acadiana party scene. Randy and his parade of beautiful staff members have kept their patrons coming back for more. Jules has become well known as one of those places where regardless of the night of the week, there is always something going on.
Lafayette's Men's Club has quickly become a place that is on the must attend list. BackStreet is the bar where you can enjoy a game of pool, make your own selections on the juke box (how I do love a juke box like this one with such great selections) and/or sit back and delight in the company of friends. Mark has staffed his bar with some incredibly nice bartenders who, regardless of the mood you are in, will make sure you leave with a smile on your face and in a good mood. BackStreet has also become known for the impromptu entertainment they have brought to our area (like male dancers).
Celebrate the holiday at MoJo Monkeys Gras, "Throw me something, Sister." This should be quite festive, because my girls sure do know how to throw a party. One of the hottest places in the Acadiana area that offers something for everyone is The Club. They feature different disc jockeys, each with their own personality and styles of music.
Special Mentions: I don't know if most of you are aware of this fact, but both The Miss Gay Louisiana USA and America are residents of the Acadiana area. Thanks to Raycine Ross (USA) and Taylor Stevens (America) for giving the Acadiana area even more to be proud of. Ronnie and Christine, we must do it again soon! Chili and Raycine, I hope the two of you had a wonderful birthday celebration. Charles, it is time for some sister time. Shayla (love me some Miss Shayla), I heard that one time at band camp, you....
by J. Norris
The Mystic Krewe of Apollo Lafayette launched the first grand ball of the new millennium much the way it's done for twenty-four years; and if you weren't there to see it, you simply weren't anywhere at all.
For a relatively small carnival club outside of New Orleans, (numbering less than 90 by my count), Apollo Lafayette is a benchmark for what may be the 21st Century's answer to traditional Mardi Gras balls. Gone (actually, they never existed within the prestigious Gay krewe) are any signs of debutantes or emulation of European royalty ala Rex, Comus and company. Today's balls by all accounts are gigantic floorshows with costumes costing into the thousands each, pyrotechnics and a focus on wow and one-upmanship... What? You've never seen any of that in a carnival ball? Well, hold tight.
Gratuitous mentions, of course, [go] to the krewe's captain Ted Viator... Yes, yes, yes.... She's been profiled, toasted, roasted and highlighted more than Cher's sagging eyebrows, but you can't give enough credit to the man who lives and breathes for this.... He bleeds sequins and hot glue. Good show, Ted! Now what about the book I'm writing?
Apollo "shouted" in the 2000 Mardi Gras ball season with a theme of "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" Okay, it doesn't sound that intriguing at first. But this was Viator's Apollo. It was also C.J. Petejean, Michael Doumit, Michael Perioux, Mark Cosby, Gerald Alsandor, and Jimmy Poole's Apollo; catch my drift? That along with every other member who danced, partied, costumed and hosted over 3,200 dapperly decked revelers, from state judges to district attorneys to state representatives and perhaps a shy U.S. Congressman or two.
Once the Apollo Dancers did their traditional opening number, choreographed by Rebecca Landry, Viator shot out of a three-story high cuckoo clock dressed as, what else, a big cuckoo bird. It looked fun, but I've got to wonder about somebody who'd have a harness discreetly strapped about his unmentionables while dressed in yellow and sequins and feathers while swinging high above a raucous, roaring attendance. But we would've needed calculators to count all the "I wanna do that's" we heard. Good show indeed and don't forget to check out the accompanying pics in this issue and next.
Fast forward through some of the most memorable costumes in the krewe's history - Joel Theriot as "Rag Time" - visualize a giant Tampex box and you get the rest of the idea on this part of the ball Tableau. Krewe President Michael Doumit jetted out at one point in a driving something-or-another and the "Time Machine." Other presentations included "Game Time" (ever seen a story-high football helmet with 15-plus dancing, sequined cheerleaders?), a magnificent costume by C.J. Petejean in a sea-blue Faberge' egg and a custom-detailed Russian aristocrat's get-up, complete with fur lining? I got hives pondering the fur cost alone.
And if all that didn't make memories, then you had queen of Acadiana's demimonde, Bob Pastor, to consider. It's moments like that which are hard to write about. Imagine a backpiece perhaps 20 feet high and over a dozen feet in diameter... RIO! Pastor, with a team of worker friends, created a theme of "Carnival Time" for his never-be-outdone presentation. Pyrotechnics exploded as Rio dancers and acrobats bounced and jiggled their way out into the crowd - giant windsocks fueled by giant wind blowers, stilt walkers, (you were marvelous Shelley! Can I borrow them? I've been feeling vertically challenged lately..), and palm tree bearers. Then RIO herself came out. At least a few hundred pounds of confetti and a few fireworks explosions later, Pastor and company had officially warmed up anybody not yet hot on the previous numbers. Magnifique! - a presentation fit for a king (Apollo 25th perhaps?)
Pastor, Poole, Mike Perioux and others aside, Apollo finally presented to its guests what may be carnival's first Royal couple who coincidentally have shared several years together as partners. James Trahan as King Apollo XVI, "Monarch of Time," and Ricky Mouton, HRM Queen Apollo XVI, "The Time of Your Life." And again, pyrotechnics were specially designed within the costumes to ignite during their separate and dramatic presentation. How else would you get 3,300 party-goers to drop their jaws?
It was a year-long planning affair that James, Ricky and company worked on, even longer perhaps. And it paid off in entertainment and gala value. No one worked harder or deserved it more than the Mouton/Trahan family. Congratulations!
For Apollo Lafayette, the task turns now to outdoing what Mikey Doumit said was the largest and most successful ball in the krewe's history. That's quite a statement for a founding member and someone who's literally seen it all.
The krewe will celebrate its silver anniversary in 2001 and, whatever the theme and whomever the royalty will be, it's anybody's guess. Not interested you say? You always are come Jan. and you know it! Their main focus will likely be celebrating the anniversary in style while keeping the record attendance and stunning, opulently unique tableau.
Mine is keeping a 34" waist size for 12 more months...
Wish us luck, will ya?
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