As Ambush enters it’s new phase, I wanted to change some of the focus of this monthly column which used to focus the Bartender of the month. But I wanted to expand on my recognition of deserving individuals in this column. You will still see bartenders featured, but I will also feature other service industry professionals such as waiters, hotel employees as well as all forms of entertainers (not just drag – theatre folk, musicians), people in the non-profit world; basically anyone who makes a difference in our lives.
My first spotlight is someone who is being recognized posthumously. Errol Rizzuto who worked at Clover Grill, artist, fundraiser, advocate, devoted member of Amon Ra and the epitome of a Southern Decadence Grand Marshal. I have known Errol for many years but it was not until I joined the Southern Decadence family as a Grand Marshal until I truly got to get close to this man whose kindness, laughter and amazing presence will be deeply missed by the New Orleans gay community.
Errol was an amazing employee and made any visit to the Clover Grill special. He also helped support many fundraisers through his many donations of gift certificates. And he was truly one of the most talented men I know, especially when it comes to costumes. He wowed many audiences at the Amon Ra Balls with his spectacular costume pageantry. Every year was a creative and dazzling masterpiece. But many do not know he also was a great metal artist. I have an amazing piece of art he gifted me and my other grand marshals of a metal figure on top of a world, in each of our colors. He also made a necklace for us too. He could hot glue the shit out of a wine glass also. Everything was feathers, glitter and sparkles and that was perfectly in line with his personality.
For me, Errol taught empathy, kindness and to have a sense of humor. Let the bitter people sing in the background because that is all it is background noice. Focus on the task at hand and what I want to accomplish and everything else will fall into place. Hen was prophetic like that even more so after a few dirty martinis which was a common favorite of both of us.
Errol, thank you for everything you have done to help the New Orleans Community. You are a champion of the gay community in NOLA and your legacy will continue. Long live the Dark Lady of Decadence!
It is so good to be back talking about the fabulous party scene in NOLA! Think of this as a gay version of the social pages in the Advocate or the Times Picayune except with more glitter. The two weeks leading up to Halloween was busy and starting off the festivities was the Krewe of Armeinius’ Cocktoberfest held at their den on Broad Street. If you have never attended this unique take on the German celebration, then put it on your calendar for next year. This year’s event brought the largest crowd since its inception. With Barrett Delong Church as the event chair and his female German alter ego, he kept the festivities moving. Church along with the help of the entire Krewe put on a fundraiser that included a drag show, silent auction, Weiner eating and beer drinking contests, dancing and a German feast. Of special note, Ray Durand’s witchy number was so much fun. The silent auction also was one of the better ones at a fundraiser. I adore my Bryce Landry Bunny art piece.
The weekend continued with Halloween New Orleans on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was the big event held at House of Blues. I had my reservations with the new format but they hit this party out of the park. The venue was perfect for the crowd. The Hosts Lounge was in the restaurant and the Voodoo Garden and included exclusive bars and delectable cuisine. The Music Hall was where they held the giant dance party and the costume contest. In the Parish Room was another DJ playing a more techno style. DJ Chris Cox was on fire and kept people on that dance floor until they turned on the lights. I would know because even in heels I was one of those who was there until the final song.
They followed up Saturday with one of the best Sunday parties I have experienced since I have been attending the event. It was held at Crescent Park and was a dance party that had the Australian super DJ Kitty Glitter who is just simply incredible. There was also lots of cocktails, food trucks, a cool pinwheel art display, and lots of gorgeous men gyrating to the beat along the river with one of the best views of the city. They followed this up with their second line to the corner of St. Ann and Bourbon to continue the party.
The next week started with a the introduction of NOAGE’s Pot Luck Social. It was held at the LGBT Community Center and had a very diverse crowd. This regular event is a way for the community to network and meet others. New Orleans Advocates for GLBT Elders is a wonderful organization that has many advocacy programs to help not only the elderly but people of any age. They had a nice crowd with an array of scrumptious cuisine. It was refreshing to get out and meet new people. I highly recommend becoming a member of NOAGE, the cost is minimal and you get so much out of it.
I also attended escape to Margaritaville at the Saenger and it was a fun night at the theatre. Making its way to Broadway, Escape is escapist entertainment that follows the formula of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back bit with an upbeat soundtrack. I have always been a Jimmy Buffet fan and his music fit perfectly for the storyline and the cast was outstanding. The surprise of the night was when Jimmy came out after curtain call and did two numbers “I will play for gumbo” and ”Margaritaville”. He brought the house down and the dropping of beach balls on the audience was the extra touch to end the show on a fabulous high note.
The Saturday before Halloween was house parties and a Carnival krewe fundraiser. The two house parties I attended was artist Bryce Landry in Metairie and Brandon Ferguson and Todd Bernstein in Bywater. Both parties had a different crowd of partiers and unique costumes. Brandon and Todd’s party theme of Disney heroes and villains brought out many interesting interpretations. The Krewe of Petronius also held a spectacular event at Mr. Ed’s restaurant on St. Charles Avenue. They put on a Halloween themed drag show and had lots of goodies to nibble on as well as a silent auction.
On Halloween night, it was back in costume (which by the way I love to do four costumes this year) for the annual Mimiskdo, the incredible home of Michael Shlenker and Don Schwenn. This over the top soiree included lots of specialty cocktails from their impressive bar. The house was fully decked out in Halloween decor for the delight of friends and neighbors. A ideal way to spend Halloween night.
I hope everyone had a happy Halloween, now lets see what November has in store for us.