sherwood's forest Volume 22/Issue 5/2004
by Wally Sherwood
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
ARMEINIUS NOT ONLY WENT LOONEY, but went big time as well for the krewe’s 36th Carnival caper on Feb. 21 at the St. Bernard Cultural Center. And big-haired Blanche Debris is no longer a cute cartoon cut-up but a real life Queen Armeinius XXXVI of epic proportions. It simply has to be one of the largest coronation costumes in the history of Carnival.
One hell of a ball was the promise delivered by Phyllis Denmark of Ambush page fame—but she proved herself to be one hell of an excellent mistress of ceremonies. After a quiet dedication to Ernie Apodaca, King XV, and Kelly Biggs, Queen XXXI, the celebration started off with a bang of French fireworks welcoming back the 2003 royalty, Rick Mirabelli and Rosario D’Amico.
The ensuing tableau, Armeinius Goes Looney, took a little getting used to, as everything was not related to the Warner Brothers cartoons. It was a bit confusing to always have the Looney Tunes logo and music introduce off-the-wall side trips, but it did serve to somehow offer a thread of connection.
And many of the mind trips were real crowd-pleasers, particularly the over-sized Teeney Weeney in an over-stuffed bikini. Then there was That Arab and Clyde with that orgy in the tent and a smoking Puff, the Magic Dragon. More applause greeted the colorful A Twisted Peppermint, an over-sexed Tweet-Tweet-Tweet, the barnyard antics in The Hen House, and a fruity Carmen Miranda in Tooty Frooty. Other delights during the well timed tableau included P.U. Peppy Pe’Lepue, George???, The Bad Boys, Purple Horney Eater and M.I.C.
For the grand finale, captain Bruce (aka Bugs Bunny) Orgeron, made an important call when his king, Kelly Biggs, would have to be honored posthumously. He went all out in presenting his queen in the tallest, widest and biggest creation possible, with a rolling castle and all. And Blanche Debris as Cinderella attended her fantasy Royal Ball, with graceful live dancers filling the floor just for her. It was a stroke of genius and a towering achievement.
It was this columnist’s pleasure to be at the table provided by Rick Mirabelli, who is the retiring president of the krewe as well as returning king. He graciously served as official host and emcee for our Mother’s Day birthday AIDS benefit at the Phoenix last year. He and his queen, Rosario D’Amico, took their Napoleon and Josephine act atop a Chicago Gay Pride float, captivating the crowds with an elegant touch of Carnival in the Big Easy.
And it was nice to be at the table enjoying the ball with old-time friend Pat O’Rourke, who received a tribute from the krewe "for his years of supporting us and Gay Carnival." And with so many fellow Chicago Hellfire Club members in attendance, it was so appropriate that former officer Lynn Strehlow remembered the late Kelly Biggs in the ball program.
PROTECT YOUR RIGHT TO BE SEXUAL: Circle March 7 in red on your must-do calendar for the Sexual Freedom Forum to be held at 1pm in New Orleans in the Fleur de Lis Room 8 in the Radisson Hotel located at 1500 Canal St.
The meeting will be conducted by two board members of The Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Judy Guerin and Richard Cunningham, Esq., backed by Louisiana activists for a discussion of local issues and possible solutions. You are strongly encouraged to attend if you care about the plight of minorities, constitutional protections of privacy, freedom of speech and assembly, reproductive rights or broad social justice issues.
Cunningham is a long-time social justice and sexual liberty advocate and has initiated and supervised landmark legal cases related to equal political coverage of opposing views on TV (known as the Fairness Doctrine), the right of government employees to protest government policies, and allowing women to attend military academies. He is a former board member of the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom Foundation.
Guerin is a highly visible political activist on freedom of gender and sexual expression, issues of youth sex education, and access to birth control. She is a widely published author, speaker and educator on these topics. Judy currently serves on the board of GenderPAC and is an advisor to the European Union Human Rights Commission on sexual freedom issues for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals.
Ricci Levy, WFF’s managing director, plans to be present at the Leather Leadership Conference VIII on April 2-4 at the Airport Hilton in Kenner. For more details on the forum in New Orleans and the organization based in Washington, DC, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202.466.2900.
In addition, Supreme Court Justice Scalia will be speaking at the Tulane Law School on "Judicial Independence and Accountability" as part of a day-long conference on judicial conduct, campaign finance and merit-based selection of judges on March 9 at 5:15pm in Audubon Zoo’s Tea Room across from the campus. Although free to the public, pre-registration is required at 504.865.5937.
JACKIE CLARKSON’S CARNIVAL CURSE: It all started when the Krewe du VieuX first lampooned Jackie Clarkson on a float and the weather has been a bitch for them every since. Last year it was thunder and lightning from the angry gods above. This year there was no rain, but it was not much better with a cold wind that could freeze off a witch’s tit.
Nonetheless, the 17 X-rated sub-groups rolled nearly on time. The Knights of Mondu threw their "Girls Go Wild" party at the Friendly Bar Annex and held a Miss Crescent Titty Contest during the parade. Before marching, the Krewe of Inane got spooged at Big Daddy’s and, to add fire to the festivities, the New Orleans Bear and Bear Trapper Social Club hosted a blow-out at Chet’s Bar.
And then there was the Krewe d’Etat parade on the Friday before Fat Tuesday, with Malice in Wonderland as the theme of the pun-filled parade. Jackie Who?, everyone’s favorite council member, was portrayed as the mean Queen of Hearts, chasing and cursing all the undesirables out of her personal playground, Jackson Square.
Ironically, as that parade was winding down, other "undesirables" were holding a block party to raise funds for Children With AIDS. Clarkson did everything in her power to derail the Night of the Black Mask, which has been held for 17 years outside the Phoenix without any problems or incidents. As officers of the sponsoring Knights d’Orleans noted, "She has committed political suicide." Wiccans inform us that to lift a curse, you have to first remove the source.
A CHAPEL OF LOVE ON FEB. 14: It was a virtual love feast on
Feb. 14 when the venerable New Orleans Gay Men’s Chorus
tried out a new venue for the Love Lift Us Up concert. For the magical mix of poetry, music and readings, the Friendly Bar Annex featured individual table seats complete with flowers, candles, chocolates and champagne.
For the occasion, the group showcased some of the its most sterling voices. Artistic director Cedric Bridges again charmed the audience with The Way You Look Tonight and A Blossom Fell, then teamed up with baritone Kelly Kerr in Come What May. Invoking memories of all of us who grew up during World War II was the timeless As Time Goes By, featuring tenor Michael Dewhirst and baritone Stephen Graffeo.
After intermission, the chorus opened with Mr. Postman featuring baritones Jim Farr and Russell Vaden. The talents of Graffeo, Kerr and Vaden were also singled out as soloists in Moondance, Only Love, Tell Me on a Sunday, Storybook and Speak Low. Other highly satisfying selections were Come to Me, Oh My Love, Till the Stars Fall from the Sky, Only You, My Guy, Chapel of Love, When I Hear Music, I’m Always Chasing Rainbows and That’s Amore.
Joel Jambon again ably accompanied the chorus, which is also composed of tenors Greg Anderson, Floyd Cloutier, Randy Guillott, Michael Olivas and Nic Van Daalen, and bass Gerry Goar, Rene Dorsey, Andre Desogne, Roy Dugas, John Tiedeman and Kevin Valladares.
Unfortunately, as nice and friendly as the new facility is, the Annex is simply not equipped to hold such a major stage event as the Gay Men’s Chorus. One vocalist even had to stand across the railing from the stage and was blocking the exit, certainly raising safety concerns. Lighting arrangements also are less than adequate, but the room is absolutely perfect for private parties.
LOUISIANA’S LOVE FOR TENNESSEE: Paul Van Geffen may have characterized Tennessee Williams at the Krewe of Amon Ra masquerade, but the real article is coming up on Mar. 19 at the Barn Theatre when DRAMA! presents the late playwright’s Something Cloudy, Something Clear.
Director Luis Q. Barroso has chosen the following cast: Michael-Chase Creasy as August, Kenneth Thompson as Kip, Megan Sauzer Harms as Clare, Mark Burton as Maurice Fiddler, Marinda Woodruff as Celeste Fiddler, Joan Blum as Caroline Wales, Carlos Gonzalez as Bugsy Brodsky and Jason Little as the Merchant Seaman.
The play will run Fri. and Sat. at 8pm and Sun. at 3pm through Apr. 4. Tickets are $12 in advance, $7 with a valid student ID and $15 at the door. For more information visit www.DramaNO.org or call 504.948.9924.
Perry Martin will direct the classic The Glass Menagerie for the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival on Mar. 28-Apr. 3 at the UNO Downtown Theatre. Call 504.581.1144 for box-office information.
Michael Hickerson, who represented The Glass Menagerie as Queen Amon Ra XXXIX, will be welcoming interested parties to the krewe’s rush party and ball video showing on Mar. 7 at 2pm at MatriXXX.
Another hometown star, Patricia Clarkson, will be Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire on May 8-30 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, the five-month Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ends on Mar. 14 at the Music Box Theatre.
USE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE ON MARCH 9: Be sure to go to the polls on March 9, not only to cast your ballot in the presidential primary, but also to help stop the front-running Nick Congemi from becoming the next Mayor of Kenner. The Police Chief is still using his cancellation of Fetish in the Fall to project a safe-and-clean image to voters.
Meanwhile, both Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich are on the Louisiana ballot and still deserve your consideration in helping defeat Pres. Bush. Although John Kerry and John Edwards are leading the parade to the Democratic nomination, we still plan to vote for our first choice, Dean, who is now being wooed by Edwards. The good doctor’s enthusiastic block of delegates can still help influence and build the party’s platform.
As the former pioneering state governor, Dean has continued to be very vocal in support of Vermont’s civil union law. With only one exception, every fund-raiser he attended outside Vermont in 2002 was organized and hosted by Gay men and lesbians, who were unhappy with disorganized Democrats without a clue on how to oppose Pres. Bush. He definitely changed the dynamics there and we are all better for it.
A staunch supporter of our community, presidential candidate and Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich has denounced both the legislature and the governor of Ohio for approving a law defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
And, during a press conference at one of the nation’s most prestigious prep schools, St. Paul’s Episcopal in Concord during the New Hampshire primary, Kucinich called for legal marriage for all sexual orientations. He specifically included sadists, masochists and necrophiliacs adding, "I think each person has to consider in their own heart what’s appropriate in their path of life."
MR. MARIGNY GOES TO WASHINGTON: The reigning Mr. Marigny Leather and Mr. Gay New Orleans, Ben Bourgeois, will be competing for the American Leather Man title in Washington, DC, during the American Brotherhood Weekend on Apr. 16-18, with preliminary events starting two days earlier. In preparation for his trip, Ben will be accepting donations for his auction basket and hosting a travel fund-raiser later this month.
Other contests will be held to choose the American Leather Woman, Boy and Girl. Activities will be at the newly renovated Sheraton National Hotel and DC Eagle, with a vendor’s market added for the first time. Other events include midnight pool parties, cigar and brandy reception, formal banquet and victory party. Registration will be $125 until Mar. 10, then increasing by 20 bucks, with forms at www.americanbrotherhood.com.
And congratulations are certainly being directed to Toni J.P. Pizanie, Ms. Marigny Leather and Queen of the Krewe of Petronius, for her cool showing in Chicago. She was judged as first alternate to Ms. Olympus Leather on Feb. 14 during Pantheon of Leather XIV. That means that if the national winner, Lillian Hannah of Louisville, is unable to fulfill an obligation, Toni is in the important position of representing her. The new Mr. Olympus Leather is Daddy Mikey of Oklahoma City.
Cowpokes, which hosted the official party after the Lords of Leather coronation, will be the scene on Mar. 14 at 2pm for the krewe’s auction, sale and rush. And the Cavaliers have just gotta love a guy like Rick Dean. An avid motorcycle enthusiast, the new king of the Original Krewe of Orpheus in Mandeville roared up to his throne with his queen riding sidesaddle. While others were busy partying at the Armeinius tableau or Endymion parade, the Society of St. Anne was having a ball at Body and Soul before their misty Mardi Gras morning march through the Marigny.
While working at the Mississippi Press Register over on the coast, we had a fellow krewe member on the staff who always declared, "I’m giving up Carnival balls for Lent!" We are exhausted and sadly concur, although we will be doing a wrap-up on all the balling in the next column. On the other hand, if you still have not had enough, you might consider the Crack Whore V Ball on Mar. 8 at 9pm.
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