October is here and we are enjoying those cool fall days in the high 80s. Hey, I’m just happy we are no longer in the 90’s or triple digits. But I am dying for sweater weather.
One other thing the Fall season ushers in, other than better temperatures, is lots of parties, fundraisers and the start of many of the cultural organizations’ new seasons. I was able to enjoy all of the above as well as celebrate my birthday which also happens to be National Coming Out Day. So I guess, literally and figuratively, I came out at birth.
Started week one doing the New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders (NOAGE) weekly walk at Audubon Park. This was one of the last times it is being held at the Park. Now that daylight savings time is almost gone and the night comes sooner, the time and location have been changed. The walks will now start at 6:10pm at the Lafitte Greenway. The meet-up point is the entrance at Bayou Beer Garden, 326 N. Jefferson Davis Parkway. Go and check out the new location.
Wednesdays now are a horror, American Horror that is. Our weekly little American Horror Story watch party is growing in number. I never knew that getting together with friends to watch a show could be so much fun. I binged Game of Thrones. I’m so used to waiting till the season is over and binge-watching all the episodes at once, which can also be fun. If you are not watching this season of AHS 1984, however, you’re missing out. The music alone is worth your time!
On Thursday, I got a little Wicked. Before the fabulous show at the Saenger Theatre, tho, I attended a hospitality networking event hosted by New Orleans and Company at the newly renovated Rooftop on Basin. Located at the Basin Street Station, this event space can hold up to 200 people upstairs and boasts incredible views of the cityscape as well as St. Louis Cemetery #1. Messina’s handles the catering for the venue and served some delicious food along with lots of cocktails. It was a great pre-game before going to see Wicked.
This was my third time seeing the show (all at the Saenger) and it did not disappoint. From the superb set to the talented performers, especially the actresses playing Elphaba and Glinda, everything was outstanding. This play has one of the best scores as well as a very engrossing storyline. Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire which is equally as good but so much darker, the story tells of the land of Oz before Dorothy and Toto landed. It’s quite a story that surprisingly resonates in today’s terrible political climate. Unfortunately, the Hard Rock Hotel disaster cut short their three week run, but with the popularity of the show in this city, I am sure it will be back.
On Friday, I attended the 10th anniversary of Scales and Ales, the premier fundraiser for the Audubon Aquarium. Chriss Knight and Lon Nichols were the chairs of this fabulous evening which included entertainment by Flow Tribe, over 40 restaurants serving their top dishes and lots of cocktails. The Aquarium looks great and they are gearing up to open their new shark and ray touchpool named “Shark Discovery.” They also added a great new feature for VIP’s. The Natchez Riverboat was docked alongside the Aquarium so VIP’s can party dockside and enjoy great views of the band and the river. It was a gorgeous night to celebrate one of the top attractions in our city.
The Krewe of Armenius was getting into the Halloween spirit on Saturday afternoon with their pumpkin carving social. Guests were given an open beer bar while they glittered and carved pumpkins. Several of the krewe members were on hand to give tips on how to spray paint, glitter and carve. It was a great time creating bedazzled and oh-so-very gay Halloween decorations. After this event, I can never just regularly carve a pumpkin again–I need rhinestones, glitter and metallic spray paint! Martha Stewart back up, there is a new crafting queen in town!
That night was all about the art as a few friends and I made our way down to Magazine Street for Art for Art’s Sake, one of the city’s largest cultural celebrations. Art galleries, museums and boutiques all over the city had special shows, opening events and sales while they served cocktails. That is the best selling tool in the world–give people alcohol and they will buy more, especially art. Things tend to look better through beer (or in my case wine) goggles.
Afterwards, since we were on Magazine Street, we tried out a new restaurant for me Del Fuego located at 4518 Magazine Street near the corner of Magazine and Napoleon. I can see how this eatery was named one of the top 31 Mexican Restaurants in America by Thrilllist. The food is exceptional and delicious. The service was amazing and their margaritas are delightful. I highly recommend their muddled jalapeño margarita, spicy!
My birthday fell on the following Friday, October 11, which is also coincidentally National Coming Out Day. I was going to write this heartfelt explanation on how I came out to my friends and family, but then decided maybe another time. Suffice to say, I may have come out late, but I am out, proud of who I am and never going back into a closet again. Well, unless it is a walk-in one with designer apparel, then well okay.
But I digress.
I celebrated my birth with a few select friends and Mama Dawn at one of my favorite steakhouses in the city, Crescent City Steakhouse. As always, the meal was delicious but the best part was a special surprise gift from my dear friends Beaux & Barrett Delong-Church and Matt Dow. They had the fabulous artist Freddie Guess paint a portrait of me in drag. The inspiration he used came from my photo shoot for the Armeinius Drag Calendar which will be out this month. The painting is spectacular. Noone has ever given me such a kind and unique gift. The entire restaurant got an eyeful when I unwrapped the gift in full display of the entire dining room. If I was not out before, I am now.
After dinner, we followed up with cocktails at an exciting new restaurant that just opened on North Rampart Street called Palm & Pine. This place is one of my new favorite spots. The atmosphere is modern and airy with Latin and Caribbean accents. They have an incredible original cocktail list as well as some great wines and sparkling. They also serve late night eats. We just had drinks, but when they found out it was my birthday, they sent over a delicious dessert called a Sugar Cane Pie. This dish is literally heaven on a plate. A perfect way to cap off the night.
On Saturday, the Krewe of Armeinius had the second of their fundraisers during this period, their highly successful Cocktoberfest at their den. Custom steins emblazoned with a blue rooster filled with beer (or in my case vodka) were hoisted high in the air as there was much signing and merriment. They had lots of bratwurst on hand along with other delicacies to elicit the German in you. The evening also included a silent auction and entertainment. At the last minute, Barrett had called me and said he needed some help, so my sister Antoinette Champagne Chardonnay threw on a frock and came out to entertain (if you can call it that) the guests (and scare the children). She wore a Fifi Mahoney Candy Pink wig and a gold lame jumpsuit. Very understated. The evening was a huge success and both Antoinette and I had a marvelous time.
How do you follow up roosters, but with flamingos. I started my Sunday Funday with brunch with friends at Flamingo A Go Go, home of the bottomless rose of which I definitely partook. My friend Daryl Dunaway who is a designer extraordinaire made me a flamingo crown helping me graduate from being basic, at least for a day. Anyway, we ate, drank and watched the Saints’ victory. It was a great start to the day which we followed up by going into the Quarter and enjoying Tea dance at the Pub, then more libations at Good Friends before calling it an early night.
That concludes my column as we get ready for a spooky next few weeks. Enjoy October and Happy Halloween!