As I write this, heading into the Thanksgiving weekend, I am grateful for so many things.
Earlier this year, I had to go to a luncheon on the floor of the Superdome. I was busy at work and rushing around and I just wanted the event to be over. Then I stopped myself and looked around. I was having lunch on the floor of the friggin’ Superdome–how cool was that?! I was acting jaded like it was nothing. It was one of those come-to-Jesus moments when I realized that everyday is truly a gift and we should be happy for every second, no matter how crazy the world around us gets.
I know everyone gets sentimental at the holidays, but this year was unique since I knew 27 people who died. They were a mixture of friends, family, business associates and casual acquaintances. Their ages ranged from people in their twenties to others in their eighties. When I was telling this to my mom, she casually explained that the more people you know, the more people you know who are going to die. Simplistic and accurate. So my transformation began and I relish every event I get invited to, take more time with my family & friends, and most of all, give myself time to just relax. To me that is the best present I could have ever given myself.
Now that being said, let’s talk about my two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. I attended a plethora of events from venue openings and TV watch parties to theatrical offerings and fundraisers.
The finale of American Horror Story aired on Wednesday and my friend Matt Dow hosted the final watch party for the season. Normally there are four of us, but this week, the party grew into the double digits. We held a pseudo-potluck with everyone bringing or making a dish. I brought wine. Hey, it’s smashed grapes!
No spoilers, but AHS had an unusually happy ending which never happens. Although in true ‘80s horror movie form, there was a final girl (or two) and they beat the killer to live happily ever after. I know this season had its critics, but I loved every scary, campy moment of the show and cannot wait until next season!
On Thursday, I went to the first of three venue openings. Famed Blue Dog artist George Rodrigue may have passed away in 2013, but his legacy and art live on. His Rodrigue Studio at 730 Royal Street just opened up its new second floor event space. This two-story, multi-use venue features artworks by Louisiana native Rodrigue and sits adjacent to St. Louis Cathedral with wrap-around balcony views of both Royal Street and the Cathedral’s Botanical Gardens. It’s a very cool venue with lots of charm. Rodrigue’s son and Executive Director of the George Rodrigue Foundation for the Arts, Jacques Rodrigue was on hand to greet guests. There was plenty of food and drink as guests enjoyed the beautiful evening on the balcony.
The following day, the wonderful antique store MS Rau opened its newest gallery space at 630 Royal Street. There seems to be a sudden resurgence of new spaces on this street. If you have been to MS Rau before, you may know it as one of the premier antique dealers in this city. From rare furniture to works of art by Old Masters to stunning jewelry, a person can lose themselves (and their money) in awe of these pieces. This new space is gorgeous, with some of the best things that money can buy. OMG, the Pope’s bejeweled ring and cross is just awe-inspiring.
After the event, I went to dinner at one of my favorite French Quarter dining spots, Eat. Owned by Jarred Zeringue, who’s quite the hot dish himself, Eat boasts local dishes with farm-fresh ingredients, serving the best versions of family favorites. They use local seafood and seasonal produce whenever possible to help support the fishing and farming ways of life that are integral to Louisiana culture. The restaurant is also BYOB, so my friend and I brought a few bottles of lovely red wine to complement our dinner which was delicious. We started with their Boudin Eggrolls which were scrumptious and the incredible Butterbeans with Shrimp soup. Everything was absolutely delectable, including the filet mignon, and the service was wonderful. I love a neighborhood place that appeals to both locals and tourists alike.
On Sunday, I saw the first of my two theatrical productions. Cabaret was staged by See Em On Stage Productions at the New Orleans Art Center. The show was fantastic with a cast who gave it their all. The production was based on the 1998 version and directed by Christopher Bentivegna. 53 years after its premiere, Cabaret’s themes have never more strongly resonated than they do today. An art exhibit, called “neVertheless” exploring Cabaret‘s themes and curated by Christina Juran was part of the experience. Cabaret starred Clint Johnson as the Emcee and he was fabulous, Kali Russell shined as Sally Bowles, and Josiah Rogers was sexy as hell as Cliff Bradshaw.
My third unveiling was on the following Thursday when I attended a soiree to show off the new renovations at the Westin Canal Place. They had a 30 million dollar overhaul of all their guest rooms, event spaces and public spaces. One noteworthy space is their new lobby which is a peaceful New Orleans escape overlooking the French Quarter. Experience iconic river views from their stunning new cocktail bar Observatory Eleven. It was a great party and a nice way to start the night.
Afterwards, I went to GrandPre’s for a fundraising cookout between William Antil and Felicia Philips. It was Italian against Latin fare as guests enjoyed everything from lasagna to chimichangas. All the proceeds this evening went to the LGBT+ Archives which is doing some amazing work to save our LGBT history.
On Friday, I had a marathon day. It started with an office baby shower for my co-worker Cat Damare at Ernst Cafe. I’m not a baby sort of person (well, kids in general), but I can get into a baby shower with a full bar.
Next, I jetted off to the Audubon Zoo to get things ready for the New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders gala fundraiser at the Cajun Ballroom in the Swamp Exhibit. The event was a huge success with a sold-out crowd. Guests were greeted at the entrance to the zoo and given a Smirnoff Moscow Mule, then were whisked away by train to the Swamp Exhibit. The Zoo Lights were on this evening so guests received an extra treat by getting a sneak peek at the holiday light display before it opened to the public.
In the Swamp Exhibit, guests enjoyed food, music, a silent auction and an opportunity to see some wildlife like bears and otters. There was also a costume contest for those guests who dressed in the theme which was “Enchanted Wood.” I personally had three costume changes during the night. Two awards were also given out. The Trailblazer Award winners were Dr. Jody Gates and Marilyn McConnell; Jason Tudor won the Community Recognition Award. Guests danced the night away to Israel followed by DJ Kerem. If you did not have an opportunity to come to this year’s event, make sure you get your tickets early next year before they sell out.
I ended my two weeks by catching the show Trans Scripts at the AllWays Lounge & Cabaret. It starred two very wonderful friends of mine Teryl Lynn Foxx and Joann Guidos who were both (like the rest of the cast) superb. The show was poignant, funny and gut-wrenching at different times, but most of all it is a show that everyone needs to see. Very powerful stuff.
That ends my two weeks. I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and let’s get ready to Ho-Ho-Ho this holiday season!
Do you want your party
or event covered? Invite me!