Sister Edith Myflesh
11 November 2003
I Left My Habit In New Orleans
Well, not really. But I certainly managed to have a fabulous time in New Orleans. Of course, I would've had to have worked really hard not to. The trip was a huge success in all respects: I had a great time sightseeing and doing tourist stuff, I finally got to spend some time with the legendary Sister Reyna Terror and The Sisters made a great impression on all of the lovely folks we met. Our little Halloween party raised about $600 for The New Orleans AIDS Task Force and the Belle Reve Hospice and, in true Sister style, we had a great time doing it. We also impressed the lovely owner of the Country Club so much that he would love to have us back again next year. I certainly wouldn't say no to that!

We arrived late Thursday and, after dinner, we checked out the Country Club, planning our stage set up and working out the logistics. Friday was spent doing a little sightseeing and getting ready for the big night. I didn't have time to pick up some new grease paint before I left San Francisco, so we popped over to Fifi Mahony's for a little shopping. The store has everything a Sister needs and then some. Unless you're looking for spirit gum which they didn't carry for some bizarre reason. They did have a wide assortment of glitter and make up and some gorgeous wigs. It was rather difficult, but I managed to leave the store with just two brand new Ben Nye colour wheels. And a new purple powder.

Getting into Habit that night was a bit of a challenge. It was already tough finding spots for five Nuns to get made up and the heat and humidity didn't help any. We struggled through it and I think we all managed quite well. We arrived at the Country Club only slightly later than we were planning (definitely on Drag Time, though) and finished getting set up. Sisters Reyna and Rox! took up positions at the front door greeting the guests and shaking them down for donations. Sister Kitty had gotten there earlier and was already spinning the grooves she's famous for. Sister Zsa alternated between taking pictures and helping Rox! and Reyna at the door. I headed straight for the bar, of course. I was mighty thirsty after getting into Habit in the heat!

The entertainment wasn't scheduled until later in the evening, so we had time to wander around and chat with the ever-growing crowd of people. Although I did get asked "What are you supposed to be?" more than a few times, I was surprised at the number of people who knew who The Sisters are and what we do. There were also a large number of ex-San Franciscans in attendance. I don't blame them: I think if I were to pick a city besides San Francisco to live in, it would be New Orleans. Jonno and Richard showed up, looking delightful. Although I didn't spend a lot of time chatting with either, I found them to be as charming as I had expected.

We finally kicked of the evening's festivities with a drag number by Princess Stephanie. A raucous Southern belle, I'm told that the Princess works her lashes off for a whole slew of New Orleans charities. Following Princess Stephanie was the costume contest. Rain vodka had donated $500 worth of prizes for the five major categories. With the help of the Country Club's judges, Zsa MC'd the contest and helped to hand out the prizes. Following the contest was the Sisters' infamous Oh Communion. For those of you who have never partaken of this blessing, we offer indulgent taste treats — in this case Fruja raspberry and Hershey's chocolate — in place of the tradition wine and wafers. The sentiment is similar to the Catholic version, although we encourage seconds and even thirds. We rounded out the evening by blessing the Country Club and its owner: Sister Kitty painted a large cross in chocolate syrup on his chest. I didn't see, but I hope he found someone to help him get it off.

My last duty for the evening was handing out boxer shorts that had been printed up. My attempts to do so from the stage proved to be less than effective, so I enlisted the help of my Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and we wandered through the club trying to give away as many as possible. "Oh, I don't wear boxers," one man said to me. "That's okay, darling, they make excellent cum towels." We managed to give away about half of the box before retiring to the bar for another cocktail. With the evening's events over, we were free to relax by the pool, sipping cocktails and watching the half-naked (and naked) revellers enjoy the evening. After the Country Club closed, my Big Bad Voodoo Daddy escorted me to a local bar for a nightcap and then dropped me home. Such a gentleman!

I spent most of the next day recovering from my indulgences. That evening we all headed over to Big Daddy's to take in a local drag show. It was quite a change from what I was used to here in San Francisco. The biggest difference was the way the audience tipped the performers. If you've never been to a drag show, it is customary to tip the performers that you enjoy. At most of the shows I've been to here, the tips are okay. At Big Daddy's, however, the girls had people coming up to them left and right and on more than one occasion I saw a ten and some fives. I'm not sure if we're all just jaded in San Francisco or if it was a Southern thing or what. While it was neither the most glamourous or creative drag show I'd ever seen, it certainly was entertaining and those girls knew how to work it.

Sunday was more exploring. We took a trip to St. Louis Cemetery No. 3 where we saw several Orders' mausoleums. It was interesting seeing the generations of nuns buried there and even more interesting reading all of their names. And I thought our Order had some outrageous names! I think my favourite was Sister Good News David. Of course, we also had to tour the Ursuline Convent, a magnificent edifice in the French Quarter. It would be really nice to have something like that for The Sisters. Later in the evening we headed back to the Country Club to catch the last bit of Sister Kitty's set. She had so impressed the owner that he asked her to come back on Sunday for a DJ gig. The Country Club is a great space and I certainly hope it does well.

After we collected Kitty, we headed over to Le Chat Noir to meet up with Richard and Reyna's housemate for dinner. After a quick drink, we headed over to a little Italian place where I finally got my muffaletta. It wasn't nearly as good as Central Grocery's but the conversation and company made up for it. As Sunday night was our last night, we had to do a tour of the local gay bars. Like the Castro, most of the bars are within easy walking distance. During our tour, we managed to hit Voodoo at Congo Square, Seventh and Ninth Circles, Good Friends, The Bourbon Pub and Oz. It was quite an interesting mix ranging from the "local pub" all the way to the big giant disco bars. Voodoo, with it's lovely decor was my favourite. Because we were leaving the next day, we turned in early-ish.

Monday we took a quick jaunt over to the Musée Conti Wax Museum where we learned all sorts of interesting facts about New Orleans. Apparently the Ursulines, in addition to teaching the girls, also married them of to the local men. Of all the throws to rain down from the many floats in the Mardi Gras parades, the Zulu coconut or "Golden Nugget" is the most sought after. However, the lawsuits from people alleging injury from thrown coconuts meant that the organization was unable to get insurance coverage in 1987. That year, the honored tradition was suspended. After much lobbying, the Louisiana Legislature passed SB188, aptly dubbed the "Coconut Bill," which excluded the coconut from liability for alleged injuries arising from the coconuts handed from the floats. If only we could get similar legislation passed for The Sisters. We also learned that the blood of the chicken is the same as the blood of the lamb.

Before we got on the plane, we did a quick survey of the antique and thrift stores in the Quarter. I managed to find a lovely broach for my Mother, a necklace for my Little Sister and great black veil for myself. All too quickly, it was time to go. We said our fond farewells and were off to the airport. As we were checking in our bags at the airport, the sun was setting, all gorgeous and red. A fitting backdrop for the end of our trip.

All told, it was a great trip. Many thanks go to Sister Reyna and her housemate, both of whom helped make it as successful as it was. Our little event raised a good amount of money and got some decent press and we might even be doing it again next year. I certainly think I could make a jaunt to New Orleans a Halloween tradition.

"Condomation!!!" illustration, © 2003, Jim Jeske; photo credits: All photos © 2003, Mark Kliem.

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