I love myself a little deviance. I mean, where do you think this blog title came from, really? New Orleans is definitely not in short supply of queer, sexy, nighttime fun! And so I'm going to bring you the sampling I tasted back in November.
I had one night during my work trip to New Orleans to experience the nightlife. The other nights I had to behave. A bender on bourbon street would not have boded well for my conference presentations the next day. So I was very happy to have Saturday night to get a little wild with my bestie, Erin!
Our night included tons of queer, sexy, funny entertainment—and also some horse poop. Allow me to explain.
I love burlesque. So I was thrilled to find that New Orleans has a ton of it!
I must give a nod to Ms. Phoenix Rose who "turned me on" to the burlesque scene in NOLA. She was working at a little hippie souvenir shop on Canal Street near the hotel. They had a cute little flyer for a burlesque show there. But it was not just any burlesque show—it was a nerd-themed burlesque show!
Unfortunately, the show featuring Phoenix was happening when I'd be out of town.
"That's OK – there's a similar event going on tonight!" She said.
Phoenix told me about "Talk Nerdy To Me" taking place that evening at Dragon's Den. Talk Nerdy To Me happens weekly on Saturday nights. The hour-long, 7:30pm show ends early enough to fill your night with even more deviance after. Perfection!
It was Erin's birthday, so I took her out for dinner at Angeline.
The evening was cool and comfortable, so we had a delicious meal outside on their back patio (also read: 12 Foods You Must Try in New Orleans). Then we took an Uber over to Dragon's Den on Frenchman Street. We were just in time for the show!
The show was on the second floor of the building. For a worthy admission charge of $10 each, we sat down near the back of a rowdy audience seated in chairs facing a small stage. A bar at the back handed out plastic cups of alcoholic delight. And out emerged the MC for the show.
The MC was in drag as Linda Belcher from Bob's Burgers. She had the voice to match the outfit—it was spot on and hilarious!
Since this was a nerdy burlesque show, I was ready to witness some comic-book, super-hero, star wars, star trek, star-everything-themed performances. To my delight, that was exactly what we got! We saw performances featuring characters such as Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, Mystique from X-Men, and Akasha from Queen of the Damned.
Gay Bars of Note
We could have gone to see more burlesque after the show ended. The MC announced a second burlesque show happening later that night at a different bar. But we opted to check out the gay bars around New Orleans instead. The queer side of me was itching to ever since I visited with Jono in Summer 2016!
I have to thank the queer concierge at the Ritz Carlton for pointing me to all the worthwhile gay spots. He even marked them on a map for me. According to his map, all the gay bars were within a 2-3 block radius of each other—how convenient for all the stumbling drunks in the French Quarter!
Cafe Lafitte in Exile
Who is the oldest gay bar of them all? According to folks in New Orleans, it's Cafe Lafitte in Exile on Bourbon Street. Or is it?
Apparently, there's a collection of gay bars sprinkled around the USA all claiming to be the "oldest gay bar." A large plaque inside Cafe Lafitte in Exile describes the long history of the establishment. It says its the oldest "continuously operating" gay bar in the country. I suppose this is true if you're willing to overlook a few things.
For one, it was in operation since the end of the prohibition era—but we don't know exactly how early. The plaque says 1933 (the official end of prohibition), but it may have been earlier. Other gay bars around the country claim earlier unofficial opening dates.
Second, the bar was in operation at a different location for its first 2 decades. It had a reopening in 1953 at the corner of Bourbon and Dumaine Streets where it still exists today.
I love that a lesbian, Mary Collins, managed the bar in its early days. A female-run business that brought in a mixed crowd was impressive for the time—especially when the government criminalized homosexuality and the psychiatric community considered it a mental illness.
I also appreciate that the bar keeps with New Orleans' ghost-storytelling tradition. The bar claims to have its own ghost roaming about named Mr. Bubbly. Hang out at Cafe Lafitte in Exile long enough and you may feel Mr. Bubbly's ghostly fingers pinch your bottom!
While I evaded Mr. Bubbly's assault from beyond the grave, I did meet two awesome creatures. They are a married gay couple who had just come from a same-gender wedding. They told us the grooms said to "dress whatever way makes you feel fabulous." They certainly took some liberties in interpreting that dress code! And I loved it!!
From there, Erin and I checked out Good Friends bar. This was a typical bar scene with a big central square bar and music videos playing on screens overhead.
The bar is known for bringing in a mixed crowd of various genders and sexual orientations. This was true as far as I could see.
Erin and I didn't stay long here but we did enjoy the atmosphere. We could see it being a great place to come with a large group of friends.
Missed Opportunities: Oz and Bourbon Pub
There were a few other bars on the concierge's list. Alas, Erin and I ran out of time to check out them all. We were also being a bit cheap! Bourbon Pub and Oz are both dance clubs with cover charges on Saturday night.
It would have been worth it if we had more time. Both have great, ongoing events and shows including "boylesque," drag performances, comedy, karaoke, and more.
I would love to return to NOLA and delve a bit deeper in the LGBT scene there. Perhaps one day I will have the chance to return and see more!
Bourbon Street Poop
Instead of paying cover charges, Erin and I decided to have our fill of free entertainment along Bourbon Street.
Every night on Bourbon Street, you'll find a bricolage of debauchery. Even when it isn't Mardi Gras, you can entice drunks to throw down beads to you from their balconies above.
You can dance to street music with all the drunken freaks.
Or you may even find something unique for your own personal enjoyment. For instance, Erin and I walked out of one bar when we noticed a group of people laughing hysterically. That's when we looked down at the street and noticed the horse poop we were about to step in.
Cops ride horseback up and down Bourbon Street monitoring the activity all night. With the street closed for pedestrians, horse manure ends up all over and careless drunks inevitably trample through it.
Erin and I were actually sober and we still almost couldn't avoid the poop. We only missed it thanks to the laughter of the group who was watching from the sidewalk.
We realized a bunch of the young people in the group were not actually laughing at people walking into the poop. They were laughing at this one older guy who was having a fit! He had an infectious laugh that would burst out of him every time someone stepped in the horse poop.
It was so hilarious, I had to record it:
New Orleans is a great city to visit if you want to experience a bit if deviance.
Between the gay bars, burlesque shows, and, um, horse poop on Bourbon street, you'll have plenty of options to choose from!