I can honestly say Rip Naquin was a man that either liked you or didn’t and that was usually the case vice versa. I didn’t like him, I loved him, although it was not an emotion felt at first site. Having been an established entertainer in Texas , I knew of Rip and Marsha through Ambush for years, their reputation was renown all over the LGBT community of the entire gulf coast, I knew from afar that he called his own shots and could be quite domineering. I valued Ambush as it was the last of the great fag rags left, and truly was what I used as my go to, to plan my move to New Orleans and it has proven to have been the right tool for me to use.
Upon nally meeting Rip in person, I wasn’t in awe of the man, he wasn’t at all as I expected, yes initially I nearly peed in my panties from fear of some of the more than colorful insults he was known to hurl , fearing I would be one of the ones he just did not like, but that fear quickly vanished when I realized how funny this man was. He was a very layered man, he was tough as nails and soft as a babies butt at the same time. Hateful when he deemed necessary and the most loving person at the most needed times. I realize many may not have appreciated the diversity of his character for whatever reasons, but for myself, once I got to know him, I treasured him.
I know that many to this day are still livid that when the internet first came into existence , he started registering domain names for things like Southern Decadence and Gay Mardi Gras,thinking it was his grab for control, maybe to an extent that was true, but I look on it as keen instinct and foresight. I don’t think he even realized himself that by making that leap onto the world wide web thru Ambush and the Southern Decadence website, what was a small local event would become one of the largest Gay Events in the world.
He explained himself best to me when we were discussing his love / hate relationship with Reba Douglas. They had just had another of their infamous falling outs, Rip wasn’t drinking at the time and I knew if I asked what their real problem was he would give me a straight answer. He said well, the problem with Reba is, she is just like her brother Pearl. They both write their own scripts in their own heads and believe every word of it whether it’s right or wrong, he paused took a breath and let out a little sigh and said, JUST LIKE ME, and grinned the biggest grin!
Rip’s instinct never dulled as it is because of it that my column The Real Cheese came into existence. After an incident that may or may not have occurred was bantered about all over social media concerning something that Aubrey Synclaire claims to have witnessed, I was the butt of many jokes, Rip of course being one of the first , proclaiming me Miss Cheese Pussy Emeritus! While sitting with him and Marsha at The Golden Lantern one night, right in the middle of one of his jokes, he looks at me and says, we are going to start a new column and you are the one that is going to write it, I responded yeah Rip, keep drinking! He says no I’m serious, It’s going to be called The Real Cheese and you will get paid for each story, not much though because we are just poor folks with a paper route. (that was his favorite line) When i realized he was serious, I said well what do you want, a gossip column or what? He simply said just sit down and write whatever comes out of that bald head of yours! For nearly 2 years the stories flowed and for that I will be forever thankful to him.
So for Rip, before we all move forward with Marsha and our new Wonderful Ambush Family, Frank and Tomy, that I look back at that first column that came from a night of too much drinking and one man, Rip Naquin’s instinct.
I’m Felicia Phillips The Cheese Queen of New Orleans and this my dahlins is how The Real Cheese Began!
The Real Cheese
When Rip asked me to start this column it took me some thought as to what to write for the first one.We had discussed what kind of column it should be, tongue and cheek gossip or my perspective of the many things I experience on my days and nights out and about in this sometimes drama filled, but for the most part wonderfully wacky LGBT part of the magical place New Orleans that I now call home.Well I decided since occasionally somethings thrown out could be considered shade I would base my first piece on how the title ‘The Real Cheese’ came about which will in no doubt cast shade directly upon myself!
Here we go, decided to do a little Friday night bar hopping with bright new artist in town Madison Faile, who comes to us via Montgomery, Alabama and who I have no doubt we will all be hearing more about as he was taught how to cut up by one of the south’s drag legends Gayla Delust!
The night started off calm enough, happy hour at Oz, Grand Pres, Good Friends, and I believe the 700 club (it was a long hour and believe me we were happy!) As the night progressed we decided we must stop into The Corner Pocket to admire Lisa B’s latest ensemble of new boys and of course contribute to multiple scholarship funds. Bartender Ashlee’s choice of cocktails and or possible shots for the evening assured more generous contributions. Anything we can do to help the younger generation out, I’m all for.
After seeing to it that the fine young men of the night were in good hands, many good hands, we were off again. Now mind you this was just after the new WALK IN LARGE GROUPS signs had been placed thruout the quarter. I being a concerned citizen that was still very happy after the long happy hour was making sure to tell every passing person on the street to remember to WALK IN LARGE GROUPS. But never too old to be educated, upon telling a couple of transgendered working girls to be careful and walk in LARGE GROUPS, one of them taught me that and I quote; You don’t need a large group if you carry a railroad tie in your purse. So next people I saw I made sure to tell them if you don’t walk in a large group make sure to carry a railroad tie in your purse. Now we may have stopped at an undisclosed location near Burgundy and St. Ann for a lesson in how the average person’s looks and anatomy changes in very low lighting while enjoying cool and refreshing adult beverages for the greater part of the evening. This is where the line of my perspective may have started to blur, as I believe Fireball shots were forced upon us by either well meaning tourists or ourselves not sure which but I do know fireballs are of the devil.
Thinking it was time to call it a night, since it was now the early morning , Madison proceeds to make sure I get home to my humble abode in The Marigny upon arriving we realize that I live right behind another undisclosed location similar to the one we had just left and decide fair is fair so we should pay a visit there as well since we were so near. More fireballs later we discover a stairway and venture into unforseen territory. It was actually quite tame and after small talk with the very friendly bartender we headed back down to leave, only to run into none other than Aubrey Synclaire who was not in her male illusion but in blonde full figured glory. She had a lovely entourage for a soon to be SDGM Has Been I must say! She insisted we come back up for deep conversation. It was at this time that I was distracted by a young gentleman that to me looked just like Clark Kent and somehow found myself sitting next to him while Aubrey held court of sorts. This is where perspective comes into play for what Aubrey saw and I saw were completely different. I innocently thought that just as Clark Kent would have, this man who we will just call Hey, asian Hey You (he could have been Asian not sure) was more than likely hiding a Superhero costume under his mild mannered attire and I had to know so while attempting to see, his belt buckle accidentally came undone and his pants slipped a bit, I being the helpful person I strive to be quickly after five or so minutes assisted him in redressing.
Innocent of a night as it was it quickly came to and end and next thing I knew I was being awaken from a deep sleep in my bathtub by a text from Reba Douglas herself telling me about Aubrey’s four am post to Facebook, which just like fireball I say is of the devil. The post was her version of the last event of my night. It stated simply Im sitting here watching Philip Anthony passing out hand jobs like government cheese!..Well as we all now know everyone see things differently and our truths are just that, our own. As I can assure you no hand jobs were giving as it was a two finger job at best. And that my dahlings is The Real Cheese!
Till next time I’m Felicia Phillips the Cheese Queen Of New Orleans.