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  • Writer's pictureArthur Severio

818 Bourbon

Pearl started her mornings making a pot of Community Coffee medium roast in a drip pot on the stove. The tradition was passed down from my mother. Pearl came into the bedroom with my cup ready to get the day going. Today was a big day-it was my first Mardi Gras.

Living in the 800 block of Bourbon Street, we were used to the street noise. Saturday nights turned into Sunday mornings of going to sleep to Madonna's "Burning Up," and waking up to Jennifer Holliday, Patti Labelle, or Sam Harris, on constant replay along with Tina Turner's, "Let's Stay Together." The boys and girls left over from the night before walked up and down the block trying to make their morning coins from the gentlemen driving around in their cars.

818 Bourbon was on the third floor and one of the largest rental apartments I've ever seen. The space was great. The reason we loved it was for the windows that gave us a front-row "balcony" view of the street theatre that happened below us.

The streets were crowded early on Fat Tuesday with people who were dressed in their colorful feathered and rhinestoned costumes. People wanted to claim their spots to see the annual Bourbon Street Awards, a showcase for the gay's costumes. The population of homosexuals in 1983 New Orleans was at its largest. People from uptown and Lakeview forgot their homophobia for the gay Mardi Gras Krewes Ball that happened every year and got larger and bigger with the ball captains competition with each other. In the next year, the krewer would many members to AIDS.

It was my first Mardi Gras. I was going as one of my heroes, Boy George and Pearlie May, was wearing her costume from Celestial Knights, one of the two largest krewes. Lipps, Inc.'s "Designer Music,"and Manhattan Transfer's "Twilight Zone," Madonna, and Cyndi Lauper set the set the makeup and clothing trends of the day. Pearl, who usually favored an Elura Showgirl wig in strawberry blonde, a Flashdance top and faux leather pants-as she said herself looking just like Juice Newton

If the weather is nice on Fat Tuesday God sends down glitter from the heavens to rain on the reveller's. And my first MArdi Gras was a gorgeous day.

We got out early to parade around while my brother stopped to take pictures for the photographers. Pearl knew how to work her crowd, and turn it on. She had what she called her "puss-swa" walk or "walking the dog."She pinted her feet forward and it was a top, slide, and then heel. I would giggle to myself, because she believed it to be so.

Happy Mardi Gras"

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