Krewe of Underwear
Huge route change this year, no idea why, but I plan to find out.
Normally the route starts and stops in the Marigny, and goes through the French Quarter too. This year, we march through the Marigny and the French Quarter but instead of doubling back, we march into the Central Business District, and turn up Julia St to O’Keefe where we end. I believe the length of the parade hasn’t changed, it’s still 3.8 miles. We cross Canal Street for the first time, that is exciting. Canal, Bourbon and St. Charles are the best known streets in the City That Care Forgot.
Marching in a parade is what living in New Orleans is all about. I’ve been in Krewe of Clones, Tucks, and now Krewe du Vieux. Mardi Gras is lots of fun as a spectator sport, but joining the parade changes things big time. The fun, comradeship and excitement of belonging to a Mardi Gras krewe cannot be beat. It’s a top drawer New Orleans experience.
From the KdV web site- The Krewe du Vieux was founded in 1987, born from the ashes of the fabled Krewe of Clones. The Clones began in 1978, based out of the Contemporary Arts Center. This ‘Art Parade’ became wildly popular for their imaginative and creative street performance art. By 1985, the Krewe of Clones had grown to 30 sub krewes and over 1,500 marchers. After the Clones imposed rules designed to create a respectable Uptown parade, Craig “Spoons” Johnson of the Krewe of Underwear and Don Marshall of Le Petite Theatre du Vieux Carre conspired to form a new parading Krewe. Their intent was to bring back parading in the French Quarter in the free-wheeling style of the Clones without myriad rules and expenses. Free from the constraints of decorum and reality, KdV was established as a official parade.
The next paragraph is from Wikipedia.com–
The Krewe du Vieux is perhaps simultaneously the most individualistic and the most traditional of all New Orleans parading krewes. It has no large tractor pulled floats like the larger krewes, using only old-style, small, human-drawn or mule-drawn floats interspersed with marchers on foot. It has no recorded music blaring from boom box trucks, for the Krewe du Vieux uses music only from live bands. The floats are handmade and decorated by members of the respective sub-krewes, often with themes satirizing local politics and customs, sometimes of a bawdy nature — in such aspects arguably closer to early-19th-century Carnival traditions than any other Krewe currently parading. The Krewe du Vieux is the only Krewe still allowed to parade through the French Quarter (other than some small walking Krewes on Mardi Gras Day); krewes with larger floats have been prohibited in the narrow streets of the old town since the 1970s.
In fact, Joan of Arc gets to parade in the French Quarter on 12th Night. They are a walking parade, much like KdV.
There aren’t many adult parades in Mardi Gras but KdV fits the bill. Ribald and rude is how I would describe my own Krewe of Underwear. I’m going to post some rude pictures of our floats in this article, so you can see for yourself.
These photos are courtesy of Jack Radosta, fellow Underwear Escort for many years. Thanks very much, Jack! This year’s parade and ball were the best ever, and that is saying an awful lot. Happy Mardi Gras!!
68 degrees and sunny is the forecast for my parade, the ultra cool, edgy, historical KdV. My costume is taking shape very nicely, my throws are novel for me, and I’ve reviewed all rules and regulations I’m supposed to know as a Krewe of Underwear Escort. The parade rolls through the French Quarter and Marigny at 6 pm. KdV’s theme this year is Where the Vile Things Are. Our king is wetlands restoration advocate and historian John Barry.
Check out my story on Ray Nagin’s federal corruption trial, now with the jury, here.
A bit more about my main costume. I have a furry purple and green animal jumpsuit/costume. Over that I have neon green pimp’s jacket. I have a long purple, green and gold silk scarf with a pansy design, plus a purple sheer scarf with shiny gold mini dots throughout. I’m going to cross the scarfs around my neck and down my back in a cape-like way, and secure the crossing with a Carnival colored crown pin. I have some old KdV and MOMs Ball buttons to wear on my jacket. I still need a hat and mask, but I’m going to the Costume Bazaar on Feb. 16 at the Healing Center, 2572 St. Claude Avenue.
The tune is by June Victory and the Bayou Renegades, Don’t Rock the Bow, from their release, June Victory and the Bayou Renegades.
Krewedelusion follows KdV. They have a New Orleans celebrity for their 2014 Ruler, DJ Soul Sister, aka Melissa Weber! This is a good way for a krewe to garner some free media. The Nola Defender broke the story. Queen Melissa “DJ Soul Sister” Weber is inheriting the throne from Cheeky Black, last year’s Queen. The Soul Sister is the R&B bomb! Her DJ sets are considerably hotter than many live music sets that occur before and after her set.
We are honored, announced Captain Oscar Diggs in a release, that New Orleans native and internationally renowned superstar disc jockey Melissa Weber shall be our next Ruler and shall be crowned Soul Sister #1 and Captain of New Orleans.
I’m such a huge Mardi Gras fan, I love those purple, green and gold Carnival colors. Except for a couple of exceptions, I always costume in those colors. I cannot help it- they are the only ones that will make me happy when I costume, I admit. I’ve got a super, special, all new for me costume for KdV and Fat Tuesday.
Last year, Carnival wasn’t the same to me, the first since my wife passed. This year, I feel my old Carnival mania and deep seated love returning. It feels great. I live a scant 2 blocks from St. Charles, and 1 block from Napoleon. That’s parade central! I think I’ll have a crock pot of gumbo ready all parade season. Maybe set the record for gumbo serving over 10 days.
The 2013 Carnival season in New Orleans was one of the warmest on record, I didn’t wear a jacket until the last couple of days of the season. The Super Bowl interrupted Mardi Gras this year, so parades were held before and after the 9 day break.
Had a rather tough time at the parades this year, my large group of parade goers had winnowed down over time to just me and my beloved wife. Now that she’s gone, I saw the parades by myself. That’s not much fun, and it’s kind of sad.
I still enjoyed myself when the parades rolled. I’m such a huge Mardi Gras fan,I couldn’t help myself. I love the atmosphere, the bands, marching groups, floats, etc.
So we’ll start with the King of Carnival, REX. I dress in purple, green and gold most Mardi Gras, and this year I had a felt frog hat that added a bit of mirth to my serious costume.
REX is an old line krewe that is composed of 3 circles of membership. The inner ring is old blue blood types, and the King and Captain come from that group. The middle ring is new money types. They can become officers, but that’s it. The outside ring is composed of anyone, more or less. If you are successful in life and give something back to the community, there is a good chance REX may have a parade spot for you.
The first two rings of REX are very haughty on the parade route. They only throw to pretty girls and children. The last ring of REX throws to anyone. They are just happy to be riding with REX and give throws to the male sex even! Obviously, the sentiments laid out here are generalizations only.
REX looked grand, it’s the best looking daylight parade by far. The floats aren’t the huge ones that Bacchus, Endymion and Orpheus use, as the float chassis are build on very old wagon bodies, with wooden wheels on the floats!! I don’t know who repairs the wheels, the last wheel wright died a while ago, and I lost touch with the process.
Zulu rolled right at 8 am on Jackson Avenue on a beautiful Mardi Gras day. Marlin Gusman was on horseback with a gaggle of sheriff’s deputies, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was also in the parade.
Zulu appreciates costuming, and if you have a funny aspect to your costume, that only helps. Zulu has some haughty riders, but most aren’t. When the double decker, double length floats arrived, they were handing out coconuts with a frenzy. I caught 5, gave away 2 on the spot, and one later. I don’t remember any double floats in the past handing down so many coconuts.
Zulu now color coordinates their coconut colors! If the riders wore orange gowns, their coconuts were painted the same color orange.
I had to leave Zulu at 9 am to go home to pick up the smart card for my camera, then off to REX. On the way I say a man and his son walking around near Zulu. They were having a tough time getting there, so I reached into my bag and gave them a nice Zulu coconut. You never saw such big smiles! I was happy to give them that coconut.
Proteus the night before was one gorgeous parade. They are a very old krewe, from the late 1800s. Proteus also uses wooden wagon chassis and wooden wheels from long ago.
Muses is the biggest all female Carnival krewe in existence. The crowds turn out for Muses, since their reputation for new, novel throws has grown large. Their most unique and rare throw, the Muses decorated shoe throw, is highly sought after. I didn’t get any shoes this year, but got lots of other unique throws, including a Muses magnetic shopping list with pad, special marker,and erasable writing surface; Muses collapsible drink flask with carabiner; Muses shoelaces in a cool plastic test tube; Muses flashlight that flashes the Muses symbol (as in Batman and the Bat signal commissioner Gordon uses to get Batman’s attention); a Muses reusable grocery shopping bag; and a Muses bead catching net. The net was a pain at the parade, all the folks who received them waved them in everyone’s faces while trying to catch throws.
I noticed for several years that Muses only throws stuff with their logo on it. That means the krewe must buy all their throws from the krewe. That’s a very expensive proposition. Most other krewes require their members to buy some throws with their logo on it, but allow the members to augment their krewe purchases with generic, cheaper throws. I bet the Muses dues is less than the cost of purchasing all those krewe throws. I really don’t think the average Muses krewe member cares. To belong to Muses, is well, one of the more divine and sublime experiences in the New Orleans Carnival world.
Krewe du Vieux rolled very early in the season, moved back a week by the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, the first parade of the season had rather warm weather this year, As readers of this blog know, I’m in KdV, and I’m very partial to it.
All the reasons- the historic parade route, the donkeys, the brass bands, and the outright over the top ribald floats- have been covered in this blog numerous times. Yes, I love my KdV!!
Roger Goodell, long time NFL Commissioner, made a statement alluding to the KdV float, the anti Goodell signage in stores,restaurants and bars all over town, and the voodoo dolls he’s been given. He claims none of that influenced his decision to lift Saints Coach Peyton’s suspension a couple of weeks early. We all know better!
I generally dress in the colors of purple, green and gold for Fat Tuesday. I’ve always identified with Mardi Gras, and dressing in those colors seemed like the right thing to do. Below is a picture of me on Fat Tuesday in my purple, green and gold costume. You can tell by the squinting of my eyes that I’m smiling broadly.
I was hanging out on kickstarter.com, as I was mulling over ideas to try out there. I notice an Amazing Capes project, and I took a look (to try your own project on kickstarter, it helps to donate to a few projects first).
So for $35 I became a kickstarter backer of the Amazing Capes project, and for that money I was promised an Amazing Capes for my backing. I asked for a purple, green and gold cape, but was told that the initial production line only included a set number of designs, and the purple cape edged in gold (named Noble Rainbow) with a multicolor striped reverse was the closest one. Since one side was a correct color of Carnival, I felt the cape would work well with the rest of my costume, and I was told as late as yesterday that cape would be shipped on February 4. As Fat Tuesday is February12, I am sitting pretty with my new cape arriving in time for the big day.
Kickstarter is an amazing online beast with a crowdfunding model that works for many and fails for many more. If you ask for $1,000 and you raise $999 in the prescribed period, you don’t get the money and you have to return it all to the backers.
Indy musician Amanda Palmer asked for $100,000 for new concept album, and raised $1.2 million.
I helped a local roots rocker, Lynn Drury, fund her West Coast/Canada tour via kickstarter. My $25 got me an autographed copy of her latest CD. She asked for $3,500 and received $3,615. Half her money came in during the last 48 hours. She made her goal and made her tour. The tour was booked, she needed food, hotel and gas money for the trip.
Though lots of folks mask during the Carnival season, more don’t. One thing about masking; the minute the mask comes on and you go outside, your identity is hidden. As people who know you approach you, they won’t know you with the mask on.
During Carnival, to mask, is an exhilarating experience, and it’s liberating also. It’s liberating because you are not recognized for yourself, and it’s exhilarating because it frees you up to act differently while the mask hides your identity.
I remember when I was in my twenty’s, I hated for Carnival to come to an end. I never told anyone of this feeling, since I didn’t want to appear crazy! Fortunately, as I got older, this feeling lessened, and now it’s gone completely.
My advice to all those who attend any Carnival event around the globe, in New Orleans, Galveston, Cannes, Viareggio, Mobile, etc., is to MASK!!!