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Michael Musa

I came to New Orleans to visit my brother in the summer of 1983. He lived in an apartment that Solange now lives in and Beyonce sat on the balcony of on the day of the Lemonade performance that I also sat on. It is located on St. Ann between Good Friends and The Rawhide's which were once known as the Louisiana Purchase and Tiger's.

The motherland was crazy in those days on Sunday afternoons with activity from these two bars and the Bourbon Pub and Le Bistro's (The OZ). This was before AIDS had devastated the city's gay population so everyone was hanging out and screaming with all the gaiety for from the life they left back home. We were dancing to the music of Viola Wills, Sylvester, Donna Summer and the Culture Club. Life was a continuous party with people congregating in the bars and on the streets celebrating the kinship we found in being with each other.

Im not sure the first time I heard of Tom Woods. His legend is larger than life. I've heard many stories of his hookups with rich lovers who gave him bars, cars and houses. There are stories of all the things he bought with money from being left in wills and how he built his empire.

Recently the legend is caught in the middle of local scandal involving his bar and his reporting of another bar where public sex and the underserving of minors had allegedly happened. The community is divided. He has offered $25,000 in reward money to anyone knowing information about the reporting of the activities. There are stories of people being unjustly fired by him - "I've been fired by Tom Woods!"

What you don't hear about is that he paid one of his long term employees insurance and gave him grocery money when he was unable to work.

While doing my latest photography project, I was granted the opportunity of photographing Michael Musa. I had long time dreams of being able to photograph in the Rawhides's.

He suggested that we also photograph in a house on Royal Street. The house is magnificent with Italian glass chandeliers, antique chairs, a Jackie O' Warhol, and art from local artists like Jim Pennington and David Harouni. There is also a bronze head statue of Ronald Reagan above a custom built fully stocked bar.

We went upstairs to the third floor and low and behold, Mr. Woods came out to say hello. I was shocked to finally get to meet him. He was cordial to Michael and myself and the "camera crew."

This project was for Michael being nominated to the New Orleans Pride board. Even though I don't really know much about Michael other than the more I get to know him the more I like him. I do know he has feelings about Korean buffets and has a gorgeous smile and teeth.

Thank you Michael and Tom Woods and the Pride board for this opportunity of accomplishing one of my goals.

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