“High Maintenance” dance party brings spirit of Voodoo Lounge to One Eyed Jacks Feb. 7 for Mardi Gras

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Ever since Lori Tipton and Andy Overslaugh took over the management of the Voodoo Lounge, the Rampart Street bar has turned into the host for one crazy dance party after another, blurring lines of sexuality, gender and genres. But sometimes the party can outgrow the venue, which is why “High Maintenance: A Celebration of Humanity” will find a larger home in the form of One Eyed Jacks on Sunday (Feb. 7).

The inspiration for this particular party came from Bobby Carrasquillo, who worked with Tipton at the now-defunct Lucky Pierre’s and approached her with the idea for a huge party where they could showcase friends and performers. Really, she said, the whole night, which will be hosted by Beverly Chillz and comedian Corey Mack, is a group effort.

“We also have a few other friends who have been instrumental in helping to create and contribute to the overall concept, which is a party that is all-inclusive, with performances that flow into the music as opposed to breaking up the dance party with separate, announced acts,” Tipton explained. “One Eyed Jacks has always been my favorite performance space in the French Quarter, and Ryan and Marcy (Hesseling) are nearly extended family to us, since Flanagan’s (which Overslaugh and Tipton previously managed) was around the corner from Fifi Mahoney’s for over a decade.

“We are creating a sensory experience, from the art displayed, to the music and the performances,” she said.

Beats will be provided by several DJs, including Carrasquillo (aka DJ Survibe) as well as DJ Rusty Lazer and Bennett Hendricks, with drag, burlesque, aerial and erotic performances woven into the party. Performers include Charlotte Treuse, Indica Torture, Athena, Nicole Lynn Foxx, Ilaynnah Eve DeLorean, Neon Burgundy, Wednesday Bonet Iman and Eureeka Starfish, and Dara Quick and Markus Davis.

Tipton also said the evening will feature representatives from BreakOUT!, whose mission is to support LGBTQ youth in New Orleans.

“Most importantly, we want all people to feel welcome and to have fun. This is a celebration of humanity. We are just very lucky that the humanity in New Orleans tends to be more debaucherous than other places.”

Follow Krewe du Vieux and krewedelusion parades on social media

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Here are some of the cool highlights from the 30th annual Krewe du Vieux parade Saturday (Jan. 23), which I previewed for the New Orleans Advocate. Send any cool photos to dlsnola@gmail.com.

Mystic Krewe of Satyricon’s 14th Bal Masque celebrates “Bal des Beaux Arts”

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The Mystic Krewe of Satyricon’s 14th Bal Masque was even more artistic than usual as it rolled out its “Bal des Beaux Arts” on Friday (Jan. 22) at the Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette.

Tableaux celebrated art through the ages while royalty, special guests and others were recognized. Richard Read kicked off the evening, filling in for President Wedon Brown, who was away for a family event. Varla Jean Merman and Amanda Zirkenbach served as emcees. (This capped off a busy week for Zirkenbach, who also performed at the fourth anniversary of “You Don’t Know the Half of It” on Sunday at Le Petit.)

Last year’s royals, Becky Allen and Marshall Harris, assumed their place near the front of the stage for the proceedings, with NOCCA musical theater student Kiersten-Italia Moore singing the national anthem. New Orleans costume designer Carl Mack presented as the 2016 queen, alongside the king, Darric Cavalier.

Longtime New Orleans entertainer Chris Owens was recognized for her career. Burlesque star Trixie Minx performed a costumed parody of the Confederate moments controversy.

The tableaux:

Pablo Picasso, “Women of Algiers”
Leonardo da Vinci, “Mona Lisa”
Jeff Koons, “Balloon Dog”
“A Portrait of Bobby Jindal”
Jacques-Louis David, “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”
“Elvis on Velvet”
“Learn to Paint with Bob Ross”
Salvador Dali, “The Persistence of Memory”
Andy Warhol, “Marilyn Monroe”
“An Homage to George Dureau”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Summer Days”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Canna (Bloom)”

Future gay Mardi Gras balls include the Krewe of Amon-Ra (Jan. 30, “All That Glittesr Isn’t Gold”), Armeinius (Feb. 6, “Beauty and the Beast”) and the Lords of Leather (Feb. 7, “There’s No Cure Like Travel”).

Mystic Krewe of Satyricon’s 14th Bal Masque: “Bal des Beaux Arts” (photos)

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Here is a sneak peak from Friday’s (Jan. 22) Mystic Krewe of Satyricon’s 14th Bal Masque: “Bal des Beaux Arts,” held at the Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette. I’ll have a full review of the evening complete with tableaux descriptions.

Short version: Once again, a fun time was had by all.

UPDATED WITH INFO BELOW:

Tableaux celebrated art through the ages while royalty, special guests and others were recognized. Richard Read kicked off the evening, filling in for President Wedon Brown, who was away for a family event. Varla Jean Merman and Amanda Zirkenbach served as emcees. (This capped off a busy week for Zirkenbach, who also performed at the fourth anniversary of “You Don’t Know the Half of It” on Sunday at Le Petit.)

Last year’s royals, Becky Allen and Marshall Harris, assumed their place near the front of the stage for the proceedings, with NOCCA musical theater student Kiersten-Italia Moore singing the national anthem. New Orleans costume designer Carl Mack presented as the 2016 queen, alongside the king, Darric Cavalier.

Longtime New Orleans entertainer Chris Owens was recognized for her career. Burlesque star Trixie Minx performed a costumed parody of the Confederate moments controversy.

The tableaux:

Pablo Picasso, “Women of Algiers”
Leonardo da Vinci, “Mona Lisa”
Jeff Koons, “Balloon Dog”
“A Portrait of Bobby Jindal”
Jacques-Louis David, “Napoleon Crossing the Alps”
“Elvis on Velvet”
“Learn to Paint with Bob Ross”
Salvador Dali, “The Persistence of Memory”
Andy Warhol, “Marilyn Monroe”
“An Homage to George Dureau”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Summer Days”
Georgia O’Keeffe, “Canna (Bloom)”

Future gay Mardi Gras balls include the Krewe of Amon-Ra (Jan. 30, “All That Glittesr Isn’t Gold”), Armeinius (Feb. 6, “Beauty and the Beast”) and the Lords of Leather (Feb. 7, “There’s No Cure Like Travel”).

Big Freedia and Carl Mack: Queens for a weekend, with Krewe du Vieux and Satyricon

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UPDATE: Check out photos and more from Satyricon’s bal masque, and follow the Krewe du Vieux parade images here.

Carnival season kicks into high gear this weekend with two events that, in their own respective ways, have come to symbolize the more creative spirits of New Orleans and LGBT culture. Carl Mack, the street performer turned costume designer, will return for a second reign as queen of the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon at its 2016 Bal Masq and its theme, “Le Bal des Beaux Arts,” on Friday (Jan. 22) at its tradition home of the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette. For three decades, Mack has been the go-to costumer for the gay Carnival krewes’ balls, often creating tableau that are works of art — and theatrical grandeur.

Speaking of three decades: Big Freedia, the bounce artist and reality TV star “(Queen of Bounce”), has been tabbed to reign as royalty for Krewe du Vieux’s 30th annual parade — unsurprisingly titled “XXX” — when it rolls Saturday (Jan. 23) from Faubourg Marigny through the French Quarter and into the CBD for its after-party at the Civic Theatre.

The choice of Big Freedia seemed a natural fit for Krewe du Vieux, as both pretty much told me in my preview for the New Orleans Advocate. As Big Freedia told me:

I’m very excited that I was chosen to be their celebrity grand marshal and I’m ready to hype up the city and the Mardi Gras season, and I’m very happy to be in this alternative parade and sit on their throne. I speak and represent a lot of people in the LGBT community. … It’s important to appreciate people from all walks of life.”

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.

(So elaborate that he was tabbed to make costumes for a Turbotax ad; see below.)

“My main focus when it comes to costumes for the (gay Carnival) balls is production,” Mack said Wednesday, the day before he and his staff loaded up the costumes to bring to the Civic Center. “I don’t let anything go out that’s just a costume for strolling around. We always have some king of comedy to it, whether it’s with dancers, or a circus act, or something.

“There’s always production associated with it.”

He quickly referenced last year’s Bal Masq, with it’s theme, “Satyricon Makes Scents: Bal des Parfums.” At one point, a tableau gave a nod to Clinique’s “Happy,” which set up the opportunity to create brilliantly orange tableau as well as a chance to capitalize on the popularity of Pharrell Williams’ hit tune. (Check out my story from the ball, and the amazing photos from that event. I also covered the 2014 ball.)

This year’s ball presents the opportunity to honor some of the great paintings and painters of all time, but, with Carl Mack at work (yes, he works even though he’s the queen) and Varla Jean Merman as emcee, the possibilities are endless. And so we’ll get “Elvis on Velvet.”

“Varla Jean set up as Elvis on Velvet will be very cheesy,” Mack said. “And behind her she’ll have two backup dancers of Velveeta cheese. So yes, for me, there’s always going to be production value, and comedy — especially for Satyricon. On Saturday, the people want that humor, they want to laugh, and of course, you’re working on a large stage.”

Big Freedia has been working on increasingly larger stages after years of being a cult figure in New Orleans’ bounce rap scene. (Music journalist Alison Fensterstock, my former Gambit Weekly and NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune colleague, has been credited by many including The New York Times for championing Big Freedia’s work. Check out some of that coverage here, here and here.) Her musical career explosion over the past six years included greater exposure in the form of her Fuse network show “Queen of Bounce.”

“It has been an amazing, amazing ride,” said Big Freedia, taking a break from her work on location in New Orleans in writer-director Angela Shelton’s upcoming film, “Heart, Baby.” (Read more here.) “Life has changed in so many ways and I’ve been through so many rollercoasters. Being at the forefront of bounce music and traveling around the world and make people aware of New Orleans music. There’s been so much change in so many ways and all for the better.”

Season 5 of “Queen of Bounce” is coming up, as is a new album, ensuring that the rollercoaster will continue on the upswing. But so will Big Freedia’s continued push for recognition and appreciation of the LGBT community — especially transgender issues, which leaped to the forefront in 2015 in everything from President Barack Obama using the term and in shows like Hulu’s Emmy-winning “Transparent.”

“It’s been amzing to have that platform and then have all those wonderful things happen in 2015, and seeing the transition is an amazing feel, you know,” she said. “People, not just in as much as being more accepting, but people are supporting others and what they do,” she said. “It helps to keep on opening that door wider and wider for the LGBT community. You just see it all over. It’s now like, you see a gay guy on every TV station. You see them incorporated into more videos.”

It will be an incredibly hectic next couple of weeks for Big Freedia, starting Friday (Jan. 22) at Republic New Orleans, and then Krewe du Vieus on Saturday, and then Jan. 28 at Harrah’s Casino Masquerade. On Feb. 5, she will emcee the BLT Ball at Southport Hall and make a brief appearance at the Zulu Ball. She will then perform Feb. 8 (Lundi Gras) at Siberia, and then at Gator Bait on the West Bank. And of course you can check her out on Fat Tuesday at “Mardi Gras Under the Bridge,” and then the Red Velvet that night on the West Bank.

Oh, and if you were wondering about any connection between Carl Mack and Krewe du Vieux, the answer is yes.

“I’m making donkey dongs and everything for Krewe du Vieux,” the other queen said. “You know, because of the Democrats. It’s an election year. What can I say?”

3 finalists chosen for “One Book One New Orleans” reading challenge

Three finalists have been selected for the “One Book One New Orleans” reading challenge of New Orleanians to read a book. They are:

Voting will be held through Feb. 22, 2016. The challenge is sponsored by the Young Leadership Council. You can cast your ballot here.

Check out the feature on “The Baby Dolls” here, and a review of “Empire of Sin” here.

Here’s a list of of previous selections:
“A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, 2004
“Rising Tide” by John M. Barry, 2005
“Coming Out the Door for the Ninth Ward” by Nine Time Social and Pleasure Club, 2007
“City of Refuge” by Tom Piazza, 2008
“Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at The New Orleans Table” by Sara Roehen, 2009
“Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans” by Louis Armstrong, 2010
“Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Life, and Death” by Dan Baum, 2011
“The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square” by Ned Sublette, 2012
Louisiana by Erna Bordber, 2013
“Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas” by Rebecca Solnit and Rebecca Snedeker, 2014
“New Orleans Boom and Blackout: One Hundred Days in America’s Coolest Hot Spot” by Brian Boyles (2015)

Bella Blue returns for Mardi Gras with “Touche” Jan. 28 at Joy Theater

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Building on the success of last year’s “CREAM!” show, Bella Blue Entertainment returns with another variety show in time for Mardi Gras with “Touché” on Jan. 28 at the Joy Theater. Drag queen BenDeLaCreme, the former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant who emceed last year’s show (held at One Eyed Jacks), returns as the emcee for this show that promises performers from the over-lapping worlds of burlesque, cabaret and drag.

“In true New Orleans fashion, ‘Touché’ ́promises a night to remember with an eclectic mix of performances ranging from classic Bourbon Street style burlesque to drag, boylesque, neo performance art, and more,” Bella Blue said in a press release Monday. “… We will also be revealing the latest project from Bella Blue Entertainment … you’ll have to come to the show and see it for yourself!”

Tickets start at $20 and are available here; VIP seating is available.

The lineup: Chicago’s Ray Gunn, 2013 King of Boylesque; New York City’s Gal Friday, “The 5 Alarm Fire of Burlesque”; New York City’s Madame Rosebud, “The David Bowie of Burlesque” (watch video below); Nona Narcisse, co-founder of New Orleans’ Slow Burn Burlesque; and Bella Blue. The “CREAM!” show, held during Southern Decadence, was co-produced by the burlesque team Kitten ‘N Lou (with former New Orleans burlesque performer Kitten LaRue) and featured BenDeLaCreme as emcee with performances by New York City’s Chris Harder and New Orleans entertainers Vinsantos, Eros Sea and Lady Satine.

The Thin White Duchess from Abe Goldfarb on Vimeo.