Gay Mardi Gras: The Insider View
King and Queen Satyricon VI (2008).
Story and photo by LoAnn Halden
My hat is off to the krewes of New Orleans. Whether you're in the Crescent City right now, counting down to Fat Tuesday or planning a future Mardi Gras excursion, there's no better way to understand the spirit that kept New Orleans alive post-Katrina than by attending a gay carnival ball.
Everyone knows the public Mardi Gras, the full-feathered drunken revelry that parades through the city's streets, but prepared to be wowed by its elegant twin. Hosted by gay and straight local organizations (krewes) who also sponsor the parades, these opulent black-tie and ball-gown laden affairs attract the crème de la crème of society for an evening of cocktails, dancing, and over-the-top performances (Think "FEMA" sung to the tune of "Fever," crazy drag, muscle men doing acrobatics.)
This is serious pomp and circumstance: The krewe's reigning king and queen preside over the pageantry and then pass the crowns to their successors at night's end so that they may receive the ball's guests. Member invites are required for table seating, but gay krewes like The Mystic Krewe of Satyricon and the Krewe of Armeinius sell a limited number of general admission seats to the public.
Think of it as an opulent insider tour of NOLA's gay community -- with this much creativity on tap, it's no wonder the city survived.