Sep 26, 2011

The Dirty Rice in the Dirty South

I was in New Orleans to perform in the 3rd Annual New Orleans Burlesque Festival a couple of weeks ago. I was in the Friday night "Bad Girls of Burlesque" show at the House of Blues. Not only did I met amazingly talented women and men alike but I got to experience the city of New Orleans for the first time! There were things I loved and not loved about this infamous city. I loved the charming architecture, the enchanting history and music culture, and the rich air that was palpable with folklore and mystery the minute you set foot in the French Quarter. As soon as my boyfriend and I checked in the Westin (the official festival hotel) we dumped our bags and went exploring. Naturally, the first stop was where all the strip bars were on Bourbon Street!

Strip clubs on Bourbon Street!
There were some skeevy men hanging out in front of every strip club but I did enjoy oogling the black girls in metallic bikinis doing their New Orleans "bounce". Bounce describes a popular dance trend and a type of party where all the girls bounce their booty up and down and all over the place making it all jiggly. The music usually goes something like this, "Make the booty bounce, make the booty bounce, Make the booty bounce!" and "Up, down, up, down, up, down!"

Obviously I could never master the bounce cause I have flat Asian booty as seen here which is all the more reason why I love watching other performers do butt tricks. The two NYC performers who in my humble opinion are the reigning booty-queens are Gal Friday and Peekaboo Pointe. It's hypnotizing to watch them shake their booty. It just reverberates like an earthquake in my eyeballs and I can't look away!

So after quickly experiencing the drunken fraternity atrocity that is Bourbon Street we made our way to Cafe Amelie where I had the best shrimp and grits and crabcakes I've ever eaten! This was just the beginning of me saying "the best (fill in the blank) I've ever eaten" for the rest of the week. Sure enough the next night, Thursday, we went to the famous Vaughn's Lounge where Kermit Ruffins have played for over ten years! Kermit is famous for being a jazz musician, a chef, and a regular on HBO's show Treme. Everyone I talked to knew who he was. That night was an extra special night because Kermit was cooking for everyone and playing with his brass band. HBO and FoodTV were there to film the line of people queuing up for his food. I was so glad that Armitage Shanks (from Seattle who was also the MC for my show on Friday night) told me about it and Peekaboo Pointe went with us that night. Kermit made dirty rice and beans, grilled some crazy delicious andouille sausage, salmon, sweet potato, and Peekaboo's favorite, grilled quail! I was to find out more about Peek's bold culinary tastes on this trip too...

Peekaboo Pointe & I at Vaughns Lounge
After seeing Kermit play we went to the 2nd after-party that Rick Delaup (producer of the NOBF) organized for all the performers. We also went to the Wednesday night party in his suite at the Westin, and like the Thursday night party at Broussard's, it was a very fun and open bar event. The Wednesday night one was actually curtailed because hotel guests complained about the noise we were making.

Thursday After Party at Broussards with Lou Lou D'vil, Bettina May, Mina Mechante, Deidre Doll, Charlotte Treuse
What I liked most about these parties is meeting in person people I know from Facebook. For instance I finally got to meet met Burgundy Brixx from Vancouver. She produces Kitty Nights there and I've heard so much about her through Fem Appeal. I also met Betsy Bottomdollar from Victoria (also in Canada) and she is SO fun and a total riot! We all went to the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleon after Broussards where the bar rotates while you sip away at your cocktail. There was a vampire convention at the Monteleon so it was really funny to see all these "vampiric" Twilight-to-be's hanging out at the bar drinking. Betsy said that these "vampires" have a system of gestural language to communicate amongst each other. For instance, if you cross your arms and put them across your chest, it means you are "invisible". If you raise your arms above your head, it means you've transformed into a werewolf! Hahahahahahahahah. I can't wait to be "invisible" next time I rob a bank or don't pick up Chewie's poop on the street.
Me and Betsy Bottomdollar
Friday was my show day and I usually take it pretty easy so we didn't go walking around for hours in the New Orleans sun. I went to tech/sound check at The House of Blues in the afternooon, and I was very impressed with how organized, on time, professional and nice everyone were.

Show Setlist for "Bad Girls of Burlesque"!
Everything from day one has been running like a well-oiled machine and that's major kudos to Rick Delaup. It's a three day festival with a lot of people coming from all over the place. The show was beautiful and I met even MORE women backstage. There were hot food provided for us too. Rice and beans and grilled chicken. My favorite combination. Gimme a bit of Tabasco, I can eat this every day!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the "Bad Girls" show and Saturday night's "Queen of Burlesque" show.

Iva Handful, sodomizer of fan dance
Medianoche who competed in Saturday night's Queen of Burlesque
With Angi Bee-Lovely from Dallas. She does beautiful aerial work!

I would have spraypainted this plastic astronaut helmet silver and developed an act to "Space Oddity" by David Bowie
Saturday was my official day off! We spent the day walking up and down Magazine Street shopping and had brunch at Slim Goodies Diner. There were great vintage shopping and I almost bought this astronaut helmet. I didn't because I still had to go to Dallas, Texas after New Orleans plus my fans to carry...USAirways charged $25 per luggage! And you know what all airlines now charge to travel with an in-cabin pet? $125 EACH WAY!!! It's totally fucked up. It used to be $80 each way for Chewie, but every year, they unreasonably raise the price for carrying a pet who doesn't even sit in a chair so they are NOT taking up extra room other than the pet owner having to share their feet space. On top of that, you can't use your miles to pay for your pet. It's totally a greedy way for the airlines to make more money. Traveling nowadays is definitely NOT fun or glamorous like the show Pan's just stress and sheer boredom and annoying strange men trying to strike up conversations with you even after you make a big show of putting on your headphones.

We also took the tram on Saturday after stumbling around Magazine Street and going into Commander's Palace in our shorts (ooops). They were in-between brunch and dinner so Michael took some impromptu "hair" photos across the street in front of Lafayette Cementery. He took quite a few great shots that I love on the street, not "burlesquey" pictures but regular, more fashion-inspired shots since that is his day job and background. You can see them here on my Facebook page.
Some fun outtakes

Earlier I mentioned how enchanted I was with the architecture in New Orleans. It seemed like every porch and every corner house with open balcony windows beckoned to me to leave NYC and come spend balmy nights sipping a chilled Sazerac on the porch with perhaps a vintage palm-leafed fan lazily spinning on the ceiling...aaah. We even looked at some real estate rental listings and talked to a couple friendly locals on the street who gave us some pointers. It's a lot cheaper to live in NO, obviously it's a lot cheaper to live anywhere other than NYC! I just realized during this trip to the south that I've been in New York since 1998 - that's 13 grubby years! These thoughts and more have become more frequent the last 5 years. Thoughts about leaving NY, where to go, why to go... these  beautiful buildings in their silent majesty and power can evoke strong feelings of longing for something unknown... New Orleans is indeed magical in this sense.

Sunday was our last day in NO. We went back to Mothers which was just down the street cause I become obsessed with their crawfish etouffe. It was the best thing I've ever eaten! We also discovered a casual, cheap taqueria called Felipe by the hotel that was surprisingly delicious! We went there almost every day for their fish tacos that were $1.85 a piece and seasoned so perfectly. We also went on the free cocktail tour that Rick had so kindly organized for out-of-towners given by the very knowledgeable and fun Brian Huff. He took us to 4 different places: Sylvaine (I had a Moscow Mule), Pirates Alley Cat Cafe (I drank Absinthe but couldn't finish it...hate the taste), Court of Two Sisters (Pimms Cup), and the last stop was Arnaud's where I had the French75. Peekaboo met us here at the end of the tour, ravenous. We all ordered nibbles to eat and she ordered turtle soup! I was impressed that a white girl was ordering like a Chinese person, a turtle soup! Holy reptiles. Arnaud's was most interesting because of the rich family history that is full of twists and turns. The daughter of Arnaud, Germaine, was a notorious figure among many other things. The restaurant has a non-publicized mardi gras museum upstairs displaying several of Germaine's opulent mardi gras gowns from decades past. This was an amazing spectacle and I'm so glad Jo Boobs told me to check it out. Besides the amazing craftsmanship and devotion to the annual event, the museum is supposedly HAUNTED! If you see unexplained reflections in these photos that's probably why...

In my zeal for haunted history I convinced Betsy and Paul, Lucy Sky Diamond, and Peekaboo Pointe to go on a haunted tour called "Ghosts & Vampires" with me Sunday night. Our tour guide was a kooky old lady who was very...animated. I felt bad that I made everyone spend $20 on a tour that was not what we expected. We were expecting more of a historical fact tour about locations, buildings, and landmarks. Not a comedic re-enactment full of ghost noises. It would have been perfect for a younger group, just not for us. But - she did take us in front of a building where a ghost named "Julie" haunts the roof where she froze to death trying to prove her love to her lover. She said that by the fourth shot on an automatic camera you will get light globes and sure enough, three people in our group of about 15 captures light globes in their photos of all different sizes and locations. That was pretty scary and that wrapped up my trip!

The next morning Michael went back to NYC and I went to Dallas. I was booked to perform in Vivienne Vermouth's show "The Orient Express" at The Bone in Deep Ellum that week, and it was something I was really looking forward to. Three of my high school friends came with 3-4 of their friends. My brother and sister-in-law came with 4 of their friends. My mom and my aunt came. And an old childhood friend came with her husband. It was an amazing night and my first time performing in Texas! I made my brother go out to smoke a cigarette when I performed, and he did! Haha. I met several people including the beautiful pin-up model Angela Ryan who I met last year in NYC when she came to my Thursday show at Nurse Bettie. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the show. That's the end of this posting! Now that I've taken off TWO whole months from my day job, the job that pays for my rent and my rhinestones, I am going to buckle down for the fall/winter and save some money!

No comments:

Post a Comment