We're Here, We're Queer, We're Tired
Written by Jennifer A. Kuchta
Tuesday, 11 September 2007 07:07
Last year’s Katrina-rattled Southern Decadence festival brought 75,000 folks to town, providing New Orleans with a much needed $60 million to help get herself washed up and put back together. For Decadence 2007, the projected numbers were much higher: 125,000 warm bodies that would shell out a cool $100 million over the course of the three-day event. Even with those numbers rattling around in my head, something told me I should just phone this one in and ride out Decadence from my weathered barstool in Molly’s. Maybe it was the Queen of Decadence Past whispering in my ear. But as a proud member of the now-defunct Pokey’s Posse, I rallied my breeders, and we trudged out of Molly’s comforting darkness and into the blazing light of a parade-filled Sunday afternoon.
Although somber clouds had gathered to the north, the weather over the Quarter held as two o’clock rolled around. As the weather held, I held my breath, recalling how last year’s parade was a bit of a bust. And while the 2007 parade was longer, seemingly more organized, and started out with a herd of my favorite things – skulls on sticks – the parade was still a mere whimper of its former self. Even though there was plenty of satire to be had thanks to Larry, David, Wendy and China, the antics of the min-pin on the balcony three stories up were far more entertaining as he trotted back and forth barking his pointy-eared head off. And while he was a neurotic bundle of energy, the same could not be said for the parade.
So, where to lay the blame? Was it the heat? Nah. Decadences of the past were far hotter. Can the Katrina Card still be played? No. The Quarter was well packed (well hung?) with revelers and gawkers, and if the aforementioned estimates turn out to be correct or even remotely correct, the numbers of steaming bodies and bills lured to town for Southern Decadence are nearly at pre-K levels. So what the fuck?
Watching the parade two blocks from its headwaters, my entourage and I should have been privy to its most energetic moments. We should have been buried in parade debris: tossed condoms, lube, and rainbow beads. But there was no music. There was no dancing. There was some chanting, but no happy, giggling, I’m-having-the-time-of-my-life voices to buoy the parade along. There were no floats, no bands, no mules except on feet. And still no Miatas. There were a few throws and some smiles, but the smiles were of the sad, tired, “here I am,” resigned school of smiles.
The most smiley and energetic bit of the whole shebang, beside Balcony Dog, was the woman in the maroon sedan at the very tail end of the parade. Positioned behind the last police car, a Holy Bible proudly adorning her dashboard, its gilded letters glinting in the sun, she waved and smiled to each and every parade-goer. Amen and hallelujah.
After further fortification at Molly’s, I set out once again, determined to find this missing energy – hoping that it was out there just waiting to be had. So I went on a Naked Butt Counting Mission. Last year’s tally was a mere two, so the odds were in my favor. Heading up Bourbon from the Nellie Deli, I recounted Decadences of the past – so far in the past that those memories get confused with Mardi Gras memories. That’s how I remember Decadence, as a hotter, nakeder, more manly, yet bigger busted Mardi Gras. (Although, to be honest, I did spend most of my Decadences in the darkened, cool interior of now-defunct Rubyfruit Jungle.)
As soon as I hit Lafitte’s in Exile, I was snapped out of my reverie as I spied with my little eye a man on his knees in the street in front of the Clover Grill. The shirtless lad had a hand on his head and a head in his . . . well, you get the picture. And while this wasn’t what I had set out to find, it did bring to mind the Decadence of Olde. However, it was more creepy and gross than nostalgic because there was no circle of men shielding this pubic event from the public and po-po eye. No ring of onlookers clicking and taping away or even pointing and encouraging them on. Even this lacked energy. Mind you there were other folks around, plenty of folks around, but it was as if everyone was simply playing a part. We’re here, we’re queer, we’re, well, quite tired actually. Even this week’s anti-Decadence Letters to the Editor lacked their usual bitingly homophobic and conservative Christian slant. Case closed. Oh, and no naked butts.
Seriously, if you boys are tired out from all of these years of having Decadence pretty much to yourselves, perhaps it’s time for the ladies to ride to your rescue. While we seem to be absent from Orleans parish, we are here, hiding out and using all of those new power tools we bought with our FEMA and insurance money, and we would be happy to lend a hand. Too tired or drunk to make that long, hot, high-heeled walk from the parade pre-party at The Friendly to the parade’s start at the Golden Lantern? Too tired to even walk the parade route? Have no fear! We will gladly exchange the services of our many big trucks and V-8 convertibles for cases of Miller Lite and drill bits.
Or maybe you should just give us the whole three-day affair. GASP!? Is that what you want? Southern Dyke Decadence? Three-days of poorly coifed, clone dykes in khaki cargo shorts and blue polo shirts swamping your favorite bars and watering holes? Three days of flannel and work boots and nary a Bear in sight? You bitches better get your shit together or the Quarter will become the new Unshaven Lesbian Mecca, and the Fruit Loop will be our breeding grounds.
All threats aside, in the end, this year’s Southern Decadence festival will surely be labeled a success because we all know that success in New Orleans is measured in bills and bodies. Quantity over quality. Amen. God bless us each and everyone.
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