by Brad Benedict
BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA
Takin' It All In
Well, the Mardi Gras season is coming to a close, and the balls have all been very nice this year. As I write this, I have three more to attend: Petronius, Armeinius, and Lords of Leather. These hold great promise for excellent entertainment value, so I hope you all get to attend them.
Quite a few Baton Rougeans were in Lafayette this past weekend for the Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn Bal Masque XVII. I've always liked this one. It is so much fun to be with all my Acadiana friends.
Baton Rouge Krewe of Apollo was well represented with a lot of the past royalty being at Debbie and Claudette tables. These same individuals are usually at their home on Spanish Town Sat. to enjoy the camaraderie of this annual event. That would be the Spanish Town Mardi Gras Parade, which is always held on the Sat. before Fat Tuesday.
This couple's home is located on the Gayest corner of Spanish Town, 7th and Spanish Town Rd., and this year Miss Josie is right in the thick of things, having bought the home across from Capital Grocery, which has really been updated with the new ownership. Other happy people in the area usually seem to gather in this area too, so historically speaking, you can't get any happier than right here in the heart of Gay Spanish Town. You might even say it's the corner where the Spanish Town Drag Queens live. Is this really true?
The parade itself is no longer as Gay as it was in the beginning. It has grown to be a somewhat straight thing. I think it's still a lot of fun but not like it was. That magic spark of Gayness got booted by the dullness of redneck bigotry. Oh, well, what can I say? If you can't lick 'um, then join 'um but only as a spectator watching them make asses out of themselves. See you all at the corner, darlings.
Takin' It All Out
It was great running into Walt and Wes last week. Walt, darling, do you recall that Sat. in New Orleans on Lafitte's balcony when you first allowed me the privilege of gazing upon that fine appendage? Gosh, that was so many years ago, but it's a part of the fun times we've had over the years. I'm really pleased to see you and Wes so happy. I guess Florida is doing you good. I'll have to give you a ring when I pass through on my way to Miami. That won't be for a while, probably the early part of June, possibly May. It just depends on when I really want to get away from it all. Oh, and Wes sweetie, I don't want you to feel left out. Your appendage is pretty too. Damn pretty!
Something else comes to mind about past experiences. This one involves the night Mark and Michael fell in love. It all happened in the back seat of the local book baron's car. No, darlings, they didn't do the big nasty there, but they got the spark that ignited the flame, and they've been flaming ever since. At the R.O.U. ball this past weekend, they were treated to a heart-shaped cake with two groomsmen on top. That was such a nice thing for our Spanish Town drag queens to do for this dynamic duo. In case you are wondering about that back seat thing, it was the book baron swerving to get around a truck that suddenly threw one on top of the other. I'm not sure who was on the top or bottom or any such position, but true love came on them and they didn't let go of each other for the rest of the night. Well, so much for virginity, guys. You two are the greatest!
Elmer was with a gorgeous sweetheart at the Lafayette ball too. Miss Alyssa Marie is just simply one of the most gorgeous individuals around right now. I recognized her talent last year when I judged the Mr., Ms. And Miss Lafayette R.O.U. contest. You could tell she was a winner just by watching her and listening to her answers during the interview session. Of course, I knew her from other functions in the capital city, and I stick by my prediction that this is a Miss Gay Louisiana American just waiting in the wings for her time of glory. Go for it, sweetie. You have what it takes even when your ass hangs out in leather.
When I stopped off at George's last week, I ran into two available studs, and both are of the super-nice category. Nick (the Dick, as I like to refer to him because it's so pretty) is just a very good guy who is easy to get to know. I don't mean easy as in sex. I mean easy in getting to know and to respect and to love. I value him as a neighbor and as a friend, and I wish him well in his quest for true love.
Matt falls into this same category. You may know him from his work at a local floral facility or from driving that big old truck or from seeing his smiling face at the Hide-A-Way. Now Matt is this wonderful guy who loves to be loved, and he's available and just waiting for the right guy. Out of all the hunks I know, this one is a special friend and I'm hoping he can find just the right person to fill this void in his life. It will happen, Matt. He's waiting just like you. It's only a matter of time until your paths cross.
Someone else who is really a nice person to be around is Kevin of Icon fame. You should have seen him the other night in that nice outfit for their grand opening. He was so cute and just working up a storm when I came by to photograph him. We didn't get to talk because he was so busy, but he came by the following day and we caught up on all the latest in his love life.
Two other friends I noticed in the Icon Piao Room were up to no good. They were clowning around like they were great lovers. Actually, they are neighbors who were trying to fool me into thinking something was going on. Well, darlings, it didn't work. Besides, Tommy, you have that straight guy who takes care of you, and as far as Scott is concerned, he better watch out. I'll tell his sweet Chris all about his escapades. So be nice, boys!
It was really nice seeing all those great guys from Oz, especially the beautiful hunk himself, gorgeous Johnny. He's always been one of my favorite people in the whole world, and he always makes my visits to Oz worthwhile. Tommy and Barry are also two guys who make Oz the wonderful place it is. They are just great guys who enjoy what they do and spread their magic to all in their presence. I do have to mention Cy again. This precious dear was working his little buns off pouring all that champagne. He really does glow with an inner beauty that matches the outer beauty perfectly. It's not often that you find someone so outrageously pretty that also has a wonderful personality and a heart of gold. He is what being a perfect male is all about, and his goodness and kindness are absolutely the greatest that you will find anywhere with anyone.
Chad and his sexy roomie David were out at the grand opening too. You know Chad as his alter ego Victoria Valentine, Miss Gay Louisiana America, and I can tell you this is another of those rare beauties. She's just so very nice, and her brother Chris is another in that same category. You should have seen him as Tarzan the other night. My goodness! He was superb! And that gorgeous David is also in the superb category. This young man makes my tongue hard every time I see him. Can we talk, darling?
Even Richard came out to wish Johnny well on the Icon endeavor. Richard is my buddy and one smart guy when it comes to pleasing the crowds. You can find something different to do every time you go by George's Place. I saw him and the book baron at Christina's last week. They were huddling over a pork chop breakfast, and Christina was right there with them enjoying their company.
Takin' Time to Do It
Now that Mardi Gras is just about history again, do remember to go out and enjoy all your favorite haunts. Support those people who support you. By doing this, you will enjoy life and love life to the fullest. When I want to enjoy a good meal, I first think of El Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant. This isn't because it's the greatest restaurant in the city, but it is one of the best, and it is ever so Gay friendly. Lots of happy people dine here, have birthday parties here, and even meet here as a group after meetings. This is important, and because of their friendly approach to Gaydom, they deserve the support in return.
That's why the bars around town are so successful. It's up to the owners and managers to make you welcome. You've seen what Icon is like with its new management/ownership. It is absolutely the finest dance emporium in the entire South. That includes Oz, which I think is the finest that New Orleans has to offer. It's a personal opinion, but I must not be the only one thinking this way because it's always a packed house when I go there.
I could say the same for Cowpokes and the Phoenix. These two bars are ideally located with easy and free parking. They offer the cowboys and the leather people great places to be, and everyone comes away happy. I salute Timm and that cutie pie Jamie for providing me with such nice facilities to relax in. This same feeling goes for other places I frequent. When I go to Hibiscus Bookstore, I find that this is a place that supports me, and I give back this support in return. Yes, I go to other bookstores, but I buy non-Gay materials there. And at any restaurant, I try to support Gay waiters with good tips, and I even ask specifically for those Gays I know who work at these restaurants. It's called keeping your money in the family, so to speak.
I think that supporting each other is what it's all about, and this extends into the Ambush family. If you need an advertising venue, Ambush has proven over the years that they support the Gay, Lesbian, bisexual and Transgender communities in every way. Their generous donations to worthy causes are well known, and they will continue to do this because the owners are caring individuals. They have a team of professionals who know how to communicate intelligently with other Gays, and the result is a family publication with you, the reader, in mind.
Takin' Time to Say Goodbye
Life is short. We love. We work. We play. When it's over, we grieve. I didn't know until this past Saturday when I attended the Lords of Leather meeting in New Orleans that Miss Do had left us. It was a shock because it was something unexpected, and even though I didn't know her, I saw her frequently. It's just the fact that a life has ended, and I'm left with a loss as you all have been left with a loss. And so, as I have done with others, I bid Miss Do a belated goodbye. You will be missed, sweetheart, but your life and your accomplishments are now written on the pages of time, and the footprints you left will never go away.
Icon Grand Opening
A Smashing Success
When it comes to grand openings, it will be difficult to top the smashing success of Johnny Chisholm's latest entertainment palace. Icon is just that - a palace that will bring a new era of enjoyment to the gay and straight scene in Baton Rouge. If a nightclub can be called a masterpiece, then Icon is a Chisholm masterpiece.
Everything was elaborately decorated with beautiful flower arrangements, numerous food trays, and free drinks for everyone arriving early. And early was the code word in this case. For a Wednesday night, I've never seen so many people out to welcome this fabulous nightclub to the capital city.
Chisholm is the owner and creative influence people have come to know at Oz, New Orleans biggest and most popular Gay club. He brings his expertise to Baton Rouge in what is now one of the South's most beautiful establishments. What he has done to this building is definitely a marvelous and masterful touch from a top-notch business genius.
General manager Phil Marino gave me a guided tour of every part of the building, and I am amazed at the transformation that has taken place here. Every part of the building has been altered to bring out the best and most useful aspects of the space. Especially impressive is the massive piano room, but the new stage and dance area even outdoes Oz, and that is saying a lot. It's just one of the most impressive alterations I've seen in a long time.
This facility at 2813 Highland Rd. has seen a lot of changes, but the Chisholm touch has added a new dimension to entertainment for Baton Rouge. I talked to lots of New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette people who came out for this grand opening, and everyone seems to be impressed with the changes and updates made here. They see this effort as the spark that has been needed to bring back a reawakening of community pride.
Icon is a place for gays and straights, and it offers a kind of ambiance that has never been seen here before. I personally think that Chisholm has created a new niche for himself in the history of Red Stick. He may well be the saving spirit of nightlife in an otherwise dull political city. When the state workers leave for home, the streets roll up for the day. With Icon, all streets will lead to a new entertainment paradise.
You don't need a yellow brick road to find Icon. Just follow the crowd of excited and enthusiastic people.
Offer Lavish Bal Masque XVII
The Lafayette Royal Order of Unicorn offered their rendition of "Board Games" to provide their audience with one of the best programs of this Mardi Gras season. Only this group could have come up with something so spectacular, and a big majority of the thanks goes to the entire krewe and not just one person. They seem to be one of the few groups working together in harmony and with complete enjoyment of their accomplishments.
R.O.U. has always been one of my favorite groups, and it's always a pleasure to be at their functions. I am honored to be included in their activities as a participant or as a judge for their contests. They are all friends, and I enjoy their company immensely, some more than others. (smile)
This year's ball was a coup de grace for that gorgeous of all hunks, the fabulous John Abshire. This young man is gracious and wonderful in all respects, and he is one of the guiding forces behind the success of this group. Of course, I have to say that it takes more than one to tango, so I have to include Kenny and Linda in this elite category. It just seems that when something of importance is happening with this group, they are the bright shining lights of perfection behind the scenes. This isn't to say that others don't do just as much, but these three seem always to stand out perhaps because I see them more. I congratulate them on their accomplishments and want them to know how much I really value their friendship.
Now with that said and done, let's move on to the ball itself. As with all bal masque presentations, the lighting of the crest at the beginning sets the pace for what is to come. R.O.U. introduces all their members at the beginning of their balls, and this is indeed a nice way to start things off. It is followed by the National Anthem (this year performed by Victoria Valentine), and the president's welcome (Kenny again). The mistress of ceremonies was none other than Kofi, Miss Gay USofA at Large.
To get things underway, introductions were made of Mr. R.O.U. 2000-2001 (Clyde Schroeder III), Ms. R.O.U. 2000-2001 (Debbie Daniels), Miss R.O.U. 2000-2001 (Alyssa Marie), Miss Universe at Large (Tori Taylor), and Miss Gay Louisiana America (Victoria Valentine). The introductory numbers were followed by several entertainment segments and a very nice production number performed by some of the R.O.U. members with sweet little Christy providing the excellent choreography technique. This production number included the captain and the new king, which just goes to show that everyone pitches in to make the overall program such a smashing success.
Next came the introduction of the returning King R.O.U. XVI Sam Breaux and Queen R.O.U. XVI Jeanne Broussard. This was the first year that a woman became king, and this added something very special to this krewe's accomplishments and outlook on the revelry of the season.
The first major costume was that fabulous John Abshire's Monopoly, his best thus far, and I've watched him annually. He only gets better with age and experience, and that handsome face just oozes with a ravishingly gorgeous smile that melts one away with delight. He carried himself gracefully and set the tone for what was about to come.
My buddy Earl was Lite Brite, and I understand he designed a lot of these costumes. His performance was delightful and the colors and execution of the theme were outstanding. Following Earl was my delightfully frisky Kenny Boy illustrating the board game Clue. This one was exceptional and exactly what you might expect from this wonderful young man.
Founding father of the krewe Fred was Dominoes, a simple costume but one that fit the occasion perfectly. He was followed by Linda's rendition of Pictionary, a charming costume presented by a charming young woman.
I have to brag a little about the next one, as if I don't brag on all of them. My neighbor really came through with a cutie, the Hi-Ho Cherry-O game. Miss Debbie really pulled out all the stops on this one. She must have taken some lessons out there in the bushes because she came across in a most wonderful way.
Following Debbie was Clyde's Oujia, and he really acted out the part perfectly. Even Kofi mentioned this after the performance was over. Well, this serious one gave way to a very lively and outrageously magnificent Stephanie Stevens doing Twister. This is one sexy and gorgeous babe. Sweetie, you are the cat's meow! Wow!
Next came an unusual introduction of two nurses who you might not want to be in the operating room with you, but this didn't seem to bother that sexy little hunk Chris doing Operation. Chris? My goodness, you turned into a sexy little devil! If this wasn't enough, you should have seen the Barrel of Monkeys with that cutie pie Robin showing off her red nipples. Now my personal favorite in the female impersonation category would have to fall upon Eartha - oops - Shayla as Payday. This honey could really collect from me. I just adore her.
I have to be a little more specific in my next evaluation. It was the first time I'd ever seen Claudette in a dress, and this sweetie really wanted you to see her panties. She kept fanning that thing, and I thought she was hot or something, but it was only Candyland performing to the delight of the audience. She danced around that stage like she was Shirley Temple going to meet that good ship Lollipop, and she wore her glasses so she could find the damn thing. She also had Judy's shoes on, and I just knew some lucky wizard was going to pop out at any moment. It didn't happen so I guess she didn't click those heels enough. You really did good, sweetie.
Chinese Checkers was a very nice looking young man. Keith did a great job and the backpiece was one of the best in the show. Next came the two co-captains, Dungeons & Dragons Ken and Wheel of Fortune Miss Effie doing Vanna. With this, the final walk for Sam and Jeanne came, and it was time to welcome the new royalty for Bal Masque XVII.
King R.O.U. XVII was none other that the magnificently beautiful Emile Lege. My goodness! That child was gorgeous in that outfit, and the backpiece was wonderful too. He really is a pretty youngster from one end to the other and all points in between, and he just glows with a personality that makes you feel so nice. He really did glitter and glow in an aura of royal perfection and sparkling splendor. He was followed by his queen, Racine Ross, Queen R.O.U. XVII, with a royal gown that matched the king's outfit in color and splendor. The outstanding things that accented the costumes were the scepters, gorgeous pieces for the equally gorgeous costumes.
As you can see, I really did enjoy this ball. If you missed it, you missed a great group putting on a great show. They only gets better each year. This was the best yet.
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