by Wally Sherwood
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
GEORGE HESTER OF NEW ORLEANS lorded it over five other nominees from Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas to take home a Community Service Award from the Pantheon of Leather XI. The formal ceremonies were staged at Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. The other highly touted finalists for the South Central Regional Award were Ann Brown of Dallas, Leigha Fleming of Tulsa, Mina Hernandez of New Orleans, Randall Kinneare of Tulsa and Dean Walradt of Dallas.
Another highlight of the Feb. 16-18 weekend was the International Mr. and Ms. Olympus Leather competition, won by Michael Allshouse and Sherree Dixon of Atlanta. Making a fine showing as first alternates were Butch Arnold and Julyahana Walker of New Orleans, who were chosen to represent the State of Louisiana in Twelfth Night preliminaries at the Phoenix bar. Todd Cole of Baton Rouge, the reigning Mr. Louisiana Leather, was tally master for the contest.
The Chicago Hellfire Club, the S/M organization with hundreds of members across the Southeast and around the world, won its second Club of the Year Award. The nominees included the Lords of Leather of New Orleans, National Leather Association of Dallas and Trident of Orlando. "Beyond Vanilla," presented by N.A.'s Dallas chapter, also took the Small Club Event of the Year over "Spring in the South," Atlanta S/M Solidarity, and "The Hunt," Bound by Desire, Austin.
Other nominees of regional interest were Hardy Haberman of Dallas, Doug Levy of Miami, and Dean Walradt of Dallas for Man of the Year; Lady D. Harrison of Norcross, GA, for Woman of the Year; Mark Frazier and Walradt, both of Dallas, for Male Community Choice Award; Chicago Hellfire Club for Large Club Event of the Year; Foreskins Leather of Atlanta, Leather by Boots of Dallas, Sanctuary of a Dark Angel of Atlanta, and Warlords of Atlanta for Business of the Year; Alan Kachin of Fort Lauderdale Eagle for Business Person of the Year; and Jeffrey Adler and Bruce Shemrock of Miami, and Doug Harris and Bob Jacobs of Atlanta, for Couple of the Year.
A Cajun-styled Victory Brunch hosted by Chuck Lance climaxed the weekend hosted annually on the second weekend before Mardi Gras by The Leather Journal of Los Angeles, with Foreskins Leather of Atlanta and Suncoast Resort Hotel of St. Petersburg as regional corporate sponsors.
BEARS ARE VERY EASY: Amid all the Carnival craziness, Sonny Cungo of Houma topped seven other contestants to be unmasked as Mr. Big Easy Bear at the Phoenix on the Sat. before Mardi Gras. Sponsored annually by the New Orleans Bear and Bear Trapper Social Club, other contest honors went to Shawn Walth of Minneapolis, first alternate; and Don Aspland of Cigard, OR, second.
Head judge was Danny LeCompte of New Orleans, the reigning Mr. Big Easy Bear, assisted by Marc Anthony of New Orleans, Mr. Louisiana Olympus Leather 2000; Butch Arnold of New Orleans, Mr. Louisiana Olympus Leather 2001; Chuck Lance of New Orleans, Mr. Louisiana Leather 1999; and Darwin Singleton of Mobile, Gulf Coast Bears.
WALLY'S SHORTS: Artist George Dureau was at the Heriard-Cimino Gallery for pal Brian Borrello's opening party for his new exhibition...Michael and Patrick were honored with a joint birthday bash at Orlando's Society Page Lounge...former Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush has justly been nominated again for his portrayal of the notorious Marquis de Sade in Quills...Lucky Cheng's very graciously hosted this year's Gay prom...celebrity birthdays include Nathan Lane, 45, on Feb. 3 and Chastity Bono, 32, on Mar. 4...alumna Becky Allen was the celebrity entertainer for St. Mary's Dominican Gala at the Audubon Tea Room...and all you cowpokes, do not forget that George Strait's Country Music Festival will be at the Superdome on Apr. 7 at 1pm.
Ex-prez Bill Clinton paid a visit to the Marigny, with dinner at the Praline Connection, drinks at Snug Harbor and dessert at La Peniche...Lesbian legend Alice Brady of Finale II and Galley House fame was honored with a party by Susan Landrum at her Presley's Pub in Metairie...Xena: Warrior Princess Renee O'Connor turned 30 on Feb. 15...Frank Gagnard was among the supporters at the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra's benefit ball..."Nude versus Nude," featuring the works of 18 artists, closes on Mar. 28 at the Jonathan Ferrara Gallery...Everett Quinton appears in high drag as the stepmother in Cinderella, opening Mar. 27 at the Saenger.
Chuck Lacoste hosted a party at Studio Inferno to unveil plans for the AIDS Memorial monument to be erected on Esplanade Ave....Javier Bardem has picked up a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his portrayal as Gay Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas in Before Night Falls, which otherwise has gotten mixed reviews...Rick Thomas at 504.524.2654 is seeking artists interested in exhibiting at the Ninth Circle at Congo Square...Dr. Brobson Lutz has been installed as president of the Baptist campus at the Memorial Medical Center...first anniversary accolades are in order for the Society Page's owner Orlando Aloe and bartenders Michael, Patrick, Byron, Evans and Errol.
COMEDY AND TRAGEDY: Preparations for the next pre-Lenten party season have already begun, with the Krewe of Armeinius hosting a rush party on Mar. 25 at 2pm at Peppers in Gretna. Raquel Chevalier and WWL-TV's David Bernard really highballed it as emcees of the Krewe of Amon Ra's "Orient Express" tableau. PFLAG board members Sandra Pailet, Nancy Sharp and Julie Thompson were present to accept over $2,000 for their scholarship fund as donated by Petronius ballers. The Queen of Lavender, that ever-busy AIDS fund-raiser Elizabeth Taylor, celebrated Mardi Gras by turning 69. Stephen Forrester was treated like Carnival royalty by the likes of Buddha, Feisty, Full Moon, Ice Princess and Kiwi at the Red Room.
The Krewe of Mwindo, which held its traditional Lundi Gras party at Mama Rosa's, is seeking new members on Mar. 18 at 3pm at the Carrollton Parc. The Prime Timers held a pool-side Carnival soiree in St. Pierre Hotel's patio. Orpheus celebrities Glenn Close and Harry Connick, Jr. will be reunited again when ABC televises South Pacific on Mar. 26. Meanwhile, former Bacchus John Goodman will replace Michael York at the opening of the Tennessee Williams Fest on Mar. 29.
On Mardi Gras 2000 just before the Society of St. Ann parade, we had our photograph taken with Paul Doll, in a wheelchair due to complications with diabetes, and long-time partner Thomas Struve. Sadly, Paul passed away exactly a week before Fat Tuesday at age 57. He will be fondly remembered for his culinary talents with Flamingos, Blue Plate, Lucille's Weenie Women Caf,, Tortilla Flats, Dixie's, The Monster, Refuge and Pat O'Brien's Annex. And tragically, Petronuis costume designer Daniel Coco was still reported mysteriously missing at press time.
We have seen many a Carnival ball in our lifetime, but Amon Ra's take on Westminster Abbey with the Archbishop of Canterbury has to rank as one of the most elegant coronations ever presented. And harking back to 1977 and our involvement with the AGGIs, we will reveal our choice for the best ball of the season as we conclude our Party Gras coverage in the next column.
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