10 most-read stories on PopSmart NOLA in 2016

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The most popular stories on PopSmart NOLA in 2016 are reflection of how the site has evolved over the course of the year, in some ways serving as a forum for New Orleans’ creative community to share their stories, thoughts and ideas. There were some fascinating ideas put forth, and so I thought it would be fun to close out the year with a look back at what you read. Here’s to more fun stories in 2017.

10) Big Freedia and Carl Mack: Queens for a weekend, with Krewe du Vieux and Satyricon
“Considering their respective senses of style and ties to the LGBT community, it should come as no surprise that the two would cross paths, as they did when Mack created the costume for Big Freedia’s appearance at the 2014 Voodoo Fest. (That it had such a royal appearance should shock no one, either; check out the photos!) His ball costumes are even more elaborate.”

9) Bella Blue to launch Foxglove Revue, a new burlesque troupe in New Orleans
“The inspiration behind the troupe might sound counterintuitive when you consider her stating the obvious of the current status of the scene: ‘Burlesque is really saturated right now.’ So why add another troupe? To make it better, she said. ‘The challenge is making it stand out. Making it unique. Making it really set apart from the others,’ Blue said. ‘What we feel we have done is chosen all very strong performers who are committed to not just bringing their A-game, but are also committed to learning.’”

8) Fleur de Tease’s Chris Lane on life as a burlesque emcee: “My job is to get off the stage”
“It’s a sticky wicket to address, as a male host, sexuality and female empowerment in burlesque; I’m not a woman onstage disrobing for strangers, I don’t have to deal with real life and online stalking, or body shaming. There have been a lot of great essays and discussions about empowerment and the Male Gaze, presented by much greater intellects; but at the end of the day burlesque is still a mediated experience, people are still paying to see someone onstage, there are still voyeuristic and exhibitionistic elements, so issues of sex, power and commodification collide alongside boas, pasties and glove peels. To navigate that minefield as a host, I personally do lots of crowd control and make sure the audience is getting their money’s worth, but without indulging in ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy or throwing performers under the bus.”

7) New Orleans actress Kerry Cahill on her own loss, following Pulse Orlando shooting
“I do know that I will probably not make it out of a mass shooting alive. I won’t win against an AR-15 or a Glock 45. I won’t, and that’s OK. I never want to have to fight one again, I already got lucky once: I was robbed at gunpoint and made it out alive. And if you think you’re tired of the violence, imagine how the 13-year-old in my school who lost her 3-year-old sister to a drive-by shooting feels. Imagine how I feel, imagine how a 9/11 survivor feels, imagine how a president who has had to hug more than 100 victims’ family members feels. So don’t get tired — get mad, get energetic, and don’t stop because I’m never moving out of the USA. I will stay and make it better. I hope you do, too.”

6) Check out the best in New Orleans burlesque, circus and sideshow for 2015
I’ve looked at the New Orleans burlesque and circus scenes for 2015. This was capped off with a series of ‘best of’ polls recognizing the work in several areas. The reasons for the polls were many. It seemed like a nice way to help put a cap on what became for me a year of covering a vital facet of New Orleans’ performance scene. It also seemed like a nice way to shine a spotlight on both the performers and productions throughout the year, both to provide exposure for the scene and to serve as an informal taking of the pulse on what fans were responding to.”

5) Vinsantos: Cabaret and drag shows turn into fundraisers after French Quarter fire
“We live in a very special compound on north Rampart Street that consists of the Temple, Deity Arts, our home as well as the homes of five residents. Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to put the pieces of these people’s live back together, The Voodoo Temple suffered a huge amount of fire, smoke and water damage and will not be reopening in its long-standing location. Both Hannibelle and the tenant adjacent to her have lost their homes. This is painful to us as we had the best neighbors that we could ask for. This isn’t something that can be fixed with a little drywall and some paint. This mixed-use building will be out of commission for a long while.”

4) David Bowie’s pianist Mike Garson recalls 1972 Ziggy Stardust show in New Orleans
“I loved that tour and I especially love New Orleans because I have a specific memory of, when we weren’t playing, I went into some of those clubs and just sat in with some of those Dixieland bands and played some of that music with them … So that was a thrill for me. And the inspiration for ‘Time’ I would suspect would’ve come from there. I was there, and he was writing that music through that whole tour and being affected by every city we went to.”

3) Polly Watts takes the Avenue Pub staff to Belgium (Field Trip)
The memories we created in Belgium always involved beer, but they were rarely about beer. The brewers we met talked as much about their families, the history of their regions and politics as they did about beer. In fact, geeky American-style beer discussions can be dangerous territory with a Belgian and filled with landmines when speaking to a Belgian brewer. Just like religion, converts to craft beer can be very enthusiastic and opinionated. The peeps in Belgium have been living beer for generations. There is a right way and a wrong way to brew/market/drink beers … and don’t imagine that all Belgian brewers agree on what is right and what is wrong. Introduce enthusiastic (but not professional brewers) American opinions and you will be quickly dismissed.”

2) The woman behind the coolest kiss at Southern Decadence
“The protesters seemed confused, and just tried yelling about how disgusting we were. They repeatedly condemned us, saying that we’re ‘gonna burn in hell’ and my friend calmly responded, ‘Well, at least I’ll be with her.’ And aside from a few giggles, those were the only words either of us said. The onlookers cheered and drowned out the negativity, someone with a bullhorn was taunting them asking why they liked watching it if it was such a sin, and a woman came up and “beaded” us before we walked off hand in hand.”

1) At Dook’s Place at the airport, New Orleans-style family of fare
“‘Dook’ spent a few years at Dooky Chase’s (which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2016) after graduating from the “intensive track” program at Le Cordon Bleu in France back in 2008, and then after working for Entergy and having two children with his wife, Gretchen, helped open Dooky Chase’s out at the airport before starting to chart his own path. A spot nearby, but with more of his influences, seemed a logical progression.”

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