Meet the Mother Shucker - Page 2
Written by Adam Peltz
Thursday, 15 February 2007 21:56
|Meet the Mother Shucker|
How many oysters do you currently have in your troupe?
Currently we have a membership of 100 women.
Can anyone be a Bearded Oyster? What are the requirements? Height? Weight? Age? Gender?
Any woman can be a Bearded Oyster. It seems that women who seek me out and want to participate are usually the right women for the job. There are no age or body-type requirements. I have Oysters in undergrad at Tulane and their mothers. I have several ladies in their fifties and sixties. I love having the different ages together. Every woman who participates enriches the troupe. These women are sexy and funny in so many ways that I could have never dreamed up. I watch my own mother, who moved to New Orleans a couple years ago, as she struts down The Avenue with the Bearded Oysters; it seems to inspire her to bring out an inner-self that probably would never have been exposed without this opportunity. I think it does this to every woman. It truly is such a special experience that I encourage anyone who feels the calling.
Is it true you design and make all the costumes for the Bearded Oyster? Tell me a little about the Oyster costumes.
It is true. The costume comes from a combination of pieces from different collections I have put together in the past. I love every piece as it is designed both for a great look but also to maintain comfort as we dance the equivalent of the Crescent City Classic (maybe more.) The ensemble is all white, from head to toe, and starts with an ostrich feather, flapper-style headband with a real oyster shell, a white fur stole, a pearl oyster shell Mardi Bra, pearl belt, white satin skirt, and white fur legwarmers—and, of course, a beard.
You design other costumes and fashion items as well, is that correct? Are you not the creator of the Mardi Bra?
Yes, I am. The Mardi Bra really allowed me to break into the industry with a bang. The Mardi Bras seemed to fit into Mardi Gras so perfectly.
You have a pretty interesting way of sizing your bras. If someone wanted to order one of you Mardi Bras, how would they know what size they should order? How would they contact you?
I make two sizes for the cone shaped Mardi Bras: less than a handful and more than a handful. It sounds silly but it actually works. Anyone looking to buy a Mardi Bra or any other of my designs can check it out at www.misskarinas.com. My work will also be at Kunflama (on Magazine) after Mardi Gras and Mardi Bras are always on sale at the Maple Leaf Bar.
How long have you been designing fashion? If you could, please tell me a little bit about what draws you to fashion as a creative medium.
I remember designing fashions as a childhood game at five years old. During elementary school I started teaching myself to hand sew. Through high school I enjoyed working with the theatre department designing costumes. During college I enjoyed making Halloween costumes for my dorm mates, but I never thought I would pursue fashion as a career. Fashion has always been in my family. My two uncles both ran apparel companies and my cousin is a designer in New York. So I had seen the business of it my whole life. When I moved to New Orleans in 2002, I began to see an entire industry of costume design. I started small, doing local fashion sales on Frenchmen Street at Café Brasil and over at the Mermaid Lounge. Then things just started for me. My phone started ringing with people who wanted to pay me to do this. I called my uncles and asked if I should go to design school. They both encouraged me to pursue my Masters in Business, which I worked on at the University of New Orleans. There are two sides to the industry: the art and the business. I think I’ve come to enjoy them both creatively. Fashion offers an art form that everyone can comprehend. It is the only art form that everybody buys. Since pursuing fashion, I have also begun to push myself in other artistic directions. Since a good designer is good at any kind of design, I have found quick success in other art forms such as papier mache sculpture, web design, photography, cartooning, dance and jewelry design. I am constantly interested in learning more because each new art form makes my fashions even better.
You seem to know a lot about oysters, but you are not a native New Orleanian?
No, I am not a native, but I have been re-born in New Orleans. I am originally from the suburbs of Boston which never felt right. I came down here in 2002 and was immediately in love with the city, the culture, the people. I convinced my mother to move down two years later because I felt that everything (in me) that made me love the city came from being her daughter. We both evolved and blossomed and experienced more joy than we could have ever imagined in New Orleans. We definitely have developed some deep roots in New Orleans with great friends and we enjoy giving that joy back to the city.
Okay, last question. Are you this year’s Queen of OAK? I’ve heard you are.
Yes, I am. But the Queen of 2006, so my reign is quickly coming to an end. The experience of being Queen of OAK has been a magical journey. I knew I was in line to be queen for a couple years but never realized how much it means to be Queen of OAK. I thought being Queen meant a fabulous costume and a lot of attention on parade day. But it is so much more. I really was the Queen for a specific group of people. I would be in a restaurant and all of a sudden a shout of “All Hail the Queen” would draw all eyes to me. In the beginning, it was hard to absorb the attention. As time went on, I realized it wasn’t just attention but love, loyalty, and respect from my people. Truly the largest honor of my life.
So, there you have it. That’s what I’ve learned, so far, from the reigning Queen of OAK and the Mother Shucker of the Bearded Oysters. I’m positive, however, I’ll learn a bunch more from her after the parades start to roll, and I can’t wait!! I’ve picked up my costume from her funky little studio above the Maple Leaf Bar, and have almost figured out how to cram my more-than-ample ass into it. So I’ll leave you now with the sentiment I found printed on the tag inside my brand new Mardi Bra, “Enjoy and Be Outrageous!”