The holiday season is going full steam ahead in New Orleans.
Beginning with Labor Day/Southern Decadence, our city’s holiday season goes all the way through New Year’s Day or 12th Night.
Many argue, however, that our holiday season is all year long, especially in the LGBT Community. We have our holiday beacons that move us through the year — Gay Carnival season in January, February (and sometimes March), Gay Easter (March or April), Gay Pride in June, Southern Decadence in September and Gay Halloween in October. Add to those, the festively gay way we celebrate New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas and you have a “Year of Living Fabulously!” Which by the way, shameful plug, buy your Armeinius Drag Calendar on Amazon.
But I digress, let’s discuss my two weeks of adventures which actually incorporate Halloween night. It was days filled with merriment, costumes, riverboats, drag queens, birthdays, boys and ending with a clown. And no I did not take a trip to the White House!
I had some friends fly in from New York for the Halloween New Orleans weekend, so on Tuesday after all the festivities, I took them for a dinner cruise on the Riverboat Natchez. I love being a tourist in my own city and enjoying activities that make people fall in love with New Orleans; a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez is one of those things.
The dinner cruise combines the history of the city, the awesome power of the mighty Mississippi River, a delicious meal, great cocktails and soulful live jazz music all rolled up into one excursion. The boat itself is lovely and seeing the city at night illuminated from the river is magical (and romantic). Besides enjoying a fabulous dinner, guests are able to tour the engine room and see how the riverboat is powered.
We were lucky to have our own personal tour guide Matt Dow show us around. So whether you have out-of-town guests or just want to have a unique dinner in an ultra cool setting, an evening cruise on the Natchez is the perfect night out.
Even though the big gay Halloween celebration was over, I still managed to enjoy some gay fun on the 31st which fell on Thursday this year.
Some friends and I went to the home of Don Schwenn and Michael Shlenker for their annual Halloween party. Their neighborhood is transformed into a spooky wonderland and their house is situated right in the middle of all the action. They give out lots of candy to all the children, and their parents, neighbors, & friends enjoy all the adult libations they can handle. Champagne Merlot made a special appearance that night to frolic among all the partygoers.
The event had specialty cocktails in addition to a free-flowing open bar, great bites, full-size candy bars (love that) and lots of eye candy. After the kids go to bed, the PG version of the night turns to an R rating. We saw so many great friends and met some new people as well. In fact after Don and Michael’s party, my friends and I were invited to another house in the neighborhood which had been transformed into a disco nightclub. Ms, Kerri Frey Becker knows how to decorate a house like Studio 54! We danced the night away and had a few more cocktails before calling it a night. Now this was a Halloween to remember.
On Friday, I headed down to the AllWays Lounge for Johnny Passion’s Risque Show. Misti (Johnny’s alter ego) is one of the best entertainers in the city and has a knack for assembling incredibly talented cast members for her shows. This month’s show starred Ava Gina, Ginger Longbottom and Trixie Lacroche. This group of performers gave the audience quite a show from the sassiness of Ava’s numbers to the deep soulful songs done by Johnny and the hysterical theatrics by Ginger. Keep an eye out each month for Risque, it’s well worth the price of admission.
I love a good drag brunch and on Sunday, my friends and I went to Cru to enjoy a delicious meal, bottomless mimosas and an exquisite drag show. The show was led by Vanessa Carr Kennedy and had a lively cast. Chef Marlon’s food is delectable and everyone loves bottomless mimosas. Definitely you need to check out this brunch.
I was out and about early the following week. On Tuesday, some friends and I had dinner at one of my favorite places in the Marigny, Arabella. Everything at this restaurant is amazing from the service and drink specials to the homemade pastas and their prices. When people ask me what is one of my favorite local dining spots, this is in my top ten.
Afterwards we stumbled upon a brand new weekly event at Kajun’s Pub called Queens Against Rumanity. Think cards against humanity and then flip the switch and add a drag component to it. Players are given cards and then they have to fill in the blanks from statements made during RuPaul’s Drag Race. The evening is hosted by the lovely Laveau Contraire and mixes in drag performances in between games. This is a very interesting, unique and fun way to spend a Tuesday night.
Wednesday I was back at a friend’s house to see the second to last episode of American Horror Story. Watch parties are my new favorite things to do, especially AHS. It helps break up the week and gives me something to look forward to on Humpday. And this season of AHS is gory, campy fun! I cannot wait to see the final episode.
The following day, I got my theatre fix when I went to see the play November at Rivertown Theatre. Written by David Mamet in 2008, it is uncanny how it speaks volumes about our current political situation. November centers on President Charles Smith several days before his second election. He is a racist pig of a human being that does some incredibly unlikable things and does not care about anyone or anything. Sound familiar?
What was so interesting was that before the play, Gary Rucker came out to let people know about the excessive use of the F bomb in the show in a very hysterical way. But he also had to explain that this play was written well before President Trump and nothing in the script was changed. He actually had had people approach him upset about the show and its content. His speech about the show and how it is a comedy and should be viewed as that, was moving and spot on. The fact that the President of the United States acts like this character (a buffoon) is just happenstance. Great show and Bob Edes stole the entire show as the president.
On Friday, it was birthday wishes for Cody Devin McClain who had a bar crawl celebration that started at Crossing. I love a good drinking crawl with friends. Cody had food and cake at the first stop before we sashayed to The Corner Pocket and then 700 Club which after numerous cocktails was my last stop of the evening.
I ended my two weeks on a funny note with none other than local-boy-made-good, Bianca Del Rio. I went to see her show It’s Jester Joke at the Orpheum Theatre. It seemed that most of the LGBT community came out to support the Season 6 winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, who is from Gretna. Bianca’s show was a comic tour de force. She kept the audience in stitches from the moment she stepped on stage. Her opening act was Wendy Ho, a very funny comedienne whose reworded versions of popular songs have become drag queen hit numbers.
The night belonged to Bianca who wore a fabulous clown frock and wasted no time in letting loose with a string of hysterically funny, politically incorrect jokes. For the more cringe-worthy jokes, she tempered them with a “Fun Fact.” I have not seen a comic who delivered such biting humor with such finesse since the legendary Joan Rivers; Bianca was actually the penultimate guest star on her show In Bed with Joan.
Jester Joke was a great way to cap off the week. Every Sunday should be spent laughing. I truly believe that we need to laugh more in this world. And just an FYI, Bianca’s merchandise is on point. I practically bought one of everything she was selling from totes and tee shirts to pins and signed photos. How she has not gotten a cable special yet is beyond me. If you missed her in NOLA, check out the remainder of her tour dates and make a trip to see her in another city. It is well worth it.
That ends my two weeks of fun. Until next issue, stay warm and enjoy November!