Ambush on the Road: Go Go Gulfport
I am a wonderful fan of quick getaways from NOLA that are just a short drive away. They do wonders for your mental state and you get to explore cool places. One of my newest favorite spots for a break from NOLA is Gulfport, Mississippi about an hour and change form the city.
Gulfport is located along the Gulf Coast and boasts sandy beaches, good restaurants, gaming and a surprisingly fabulous gay scene. My friends Beaux, Barrett and I along with Mama Leggio in tow arrived on Sunday. We had brunch at this amazing restaurant called The Chimneys. The brunch was truly a dining experience. Oozing with Southern charm, The Chimneys has broad porches that surround the home that you can sit and enjoy your meal. On Sundays, they have an incredible brunch special that includes unlimited champagne or mimosas for $5. You are also able to get an entree with two sides and one glass of champagne for only $20. The service was outstanding and the food was delectable. This meal alone was worth the entire trip to the coast. I highly recommend reservations because it does get crowded.
After a few champagnes, we checked into our rooms at the Island View Casino also located on the beach. Our room was in the Beach Tower which has great views of the coast. Island View is one of my favorite casinos because it offers lots of different amenities from their dining options to the entertainment and of course gaming. Not being a big gambler, when I stay at a casino it’s the extras that win it for me. The BeachTower has its own bar that overlooks the water, an adults only pool (honestly who brings kids to a casino) and a quaint work out facility.
The hotel is also in the midst of constructing a non-smoking casino attached to the Beach Tower. So we gambled a little bit before hitting the town for some more Sunday Funday experiences. We had dinner at El Agave Mexican Restaurant, a popular spot that has fresh food and a large menu with many options. Whether you want something light or deliciously rich, this is your place. Their margaritas are also top notch. This was the perfect place to start our night since literally only steps away is the city’s gay establishment, Sipps. This place has everything your little gay heart desires form a stage for some fabulous drag shows which usually happen every other Saturday to a pool table, courtyard with fun games (love playing jingo) and a large bar both inside and out.
We had a great time hanging out with some of the locals and the bartender was witty and made us feel right at home. He also can concoct some mean shots! The bar has specials on certain nights like Drink and Drown on Mondays and Thursday, Sin buy one get one on Tuesday and Karaoke on Fridays in addition to the shows on Saturday. Simps is definitely worth checking out.
I normally do not do buffets, but if I do the breakfast ones are the best and Island View has an awesome one. We started our day with breakfast, then little shopping at their outlet mall located right along the interstate followed up with a matinees at their cineplex which also had everything – coffee shop, restaurant, bar and arcade. It was quite the full day.
We ended the evening at one of my favorite steak houses on the coast, Carter Green which is also located inside Island View. On Monday nights they have an incredible deal: a $20 prime rib dinner that includes a soup or salad, side items and dessert, The food, service and atmosphere made it the ideal ending to our fast two day jaunt. So next time you are thinking of an enjoyable escape, try Gulfport, you will not be disappointed!
When someone has been a pivotal part of your life the way Rip Naquin has been, it is truly hard to put into words how to say goodbye. Many of the things I have become part of was because of our friendship. Even before I started writing for Ambush, I have admired that man who created a publication that has lasted longer than most gay magazines, rallied a gay community around events such as Southern Decadence and Easter and whose philanthropic contributions have helped many non-profit organizations.
You lived life to the fullest all the while working tirelessly to make Ambush a success. I was lucky not only to be a small part of your publication but to enjoy being part of your outside life. Your New York wedding was truly one of the most special events I have ever witnessed, and I am grateful to you and Marsha for allowing me to be part of this special occasion.
As cliche as this may sound, my life has become infinitely better through knowing you. Rip, at different times you were many roles in my life: boss, teacher, confidant, mentor and most importantly friend. Thank you for everything you have done to support not only me, but the Gay/New Orleans community. Your achievements will be remembered for years to come. As the saying goes, the sun never sets on a legend.
Farewell my friend.
There were lots of noteworthy events over the last two weeks from movie showings to fundraisers and even a little naughtiness. On November 1, All Saints Day, NOAGE along with the LGBT Archives presented a movie showing of Portrait of Jason, a film by Shirley Clarke who taped her subject, nightclub performer and gay African-American prostitute Jason Holliday, nonstop for 12 hours, resulting in this intense and moving portrait. These movie nights put on by NOAGE, this was the first collaboration of both organizations, but hopefully not their last, are wonderful ways to meet people and see lms you never experience otherwise.
For those who know me, I am a total shopaholic, so I was ecstatic to attend the opening of the new Tommy Hilfiger store in the Riverwalk Mall. It has been a while since I have been there and was thoroughly impressed with the selections available to me. If you are a Hilfiger fan, check out this place, they have some great sales and with Black Friday here, you know you may get some great deals.
I also attended two theatrical offerings, the first was an entertaining cabaret entitled Varla Jean and Deven Green in New Orleans. Local funny lady and chanteuse Varla Jean Merman was joined for this show by Internet sensation Deven Green most known for her portrayal of Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian. Once again, Varla and guest who played mean electric ukulele had the audience roaring with laughter. My second show was The Last Five Years showing at Le Petit. The Last Five Years is a musical written by Jason Robert Brown and was produced Off-Broadway in March 2002. The story explores a five year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress. The show uses a form of storytelling in which Cathy’s story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and Jamie’s is told in chronological order (starting just after the couple have first met). The characters do not directly interact except for a wedding song in the middle as their timelines intersect. The show was fantastic (albeit sad) with a great cast thanks to the talents of Adair Watkins and Meredith Owens.
My second Saturday was quite the whirlwind of events (four to be exact on one night). My first one was the LGBT Archives fundraiser at the Joy Theatre. It was a roaring twenties theme and the guests dressed the part from flapper girls to dashing guys in their Gatsby-esque suits. There was an auction, raffle and performance by the New Orleans Carnival Kings. The evening’s Oracle Gala honoree was BreakOUT! They also celebrated the donation of their archival materials to Newcomb Archives & Vorhoff Library Special Collections.
The next stop on my party train was the Christmas Toy Drive Boozy Bingo hosted by the Big Easy Sisters at the Phoenix. They had a nice crowd and collected lots of toys. The Sisters kept the event lively and there were some fun prizes to be had. Then next up I attended the Metropolitan Community Church of New Orleans fundraiser at Cafe Istanbul featuring artist Mia Borders and her band.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mia Borders is heralded locally and nationally as one of the city’s best talents. All the proceeds benefit the work and ministries of Metropolitan Community Church of New Orleans. Not only was their great music, but they had one of the best silent auctions. I got a great prize and now am officially a new member riding this year in the King Arthur Parade. Bring on Mardi Gras!
I ended my night on a more sexy side when I attended Risque, the sultry side of drag show at the Always Lounge. Emcee Johnny Passion put on an incredible show with some sensuously talented performers such as Pussy Hertz and Monique Michaels Alexander. I now have a new must see drag show that is new and refreshing.
On Sunday, I attended a thank you gathering for the hosts of Bon Appétit. This year was their 10 year anniversary and a success for Project Lazarus. It was their biggest to date raising over $50,000 for the organization. The event was held at the gorgeous home of Warren Backer, Jr., and David Cortez. The event was generously underwritten by Scot I. Billeaudeau and Waterfront Wealth Management. They gave out fun awards to all the hosts at this afternoon soiree. The awards were created by artist Gary Schiro and each was designed specifically for the recipient. I adore my Drama Queen one. Also a giant shout out goes to the wonderful Baton Rouge contingent (Robert, Michael, Jason and Khanh) whose extraordinarily hard work which includes their movie nights and drag show brought in a huge sum. If you did not have an opportunity to attend this year, put it on your calendar for next year. This is definitely a great party!
That concludes my highlights for the last two weeks, until next issue, keep partying.