Saturday, June 13, 2015

Oddities and Peculiaria: Sideshow Shenanigans in the Big Easy with Michael de Meng; Day Three and Four

Tuesday, January 27th

Today I had breakfast at Vacherie.  I was lucky to sit next to John and Marilyn Werst so we had plenty of opportunity to catch up since the last trip together.

Our workshop, Oddities and Peculiaria with Michael deMeng is located in The Audubon Room on the first floor of the hotel.  This is our first year in this location so we are all sniffing out the room to find our own comfort zone.

In this class we will be creating a sideshow stage featuring unusual character of our own invention.

I want to make my sideshow stage out of an old bible cover that I brought from home.

After I cut the peephole in the cover, I can place it onto a standard Michaels box I also brought with me.

At we are off for lunch and some NOLA junkin'.  First stop today is the Bywater neighborhood.

Lunch today is a fan favorite:  Fready’s.  Fready's serves sandwiches so fluid that they literally drip down your arm.  While others run to the flea markets to get the great finds, I ran to Fready's to be the first one to dive into my sandwich.  Mine ends up being so huge that I share it with Mary, something I will do with food but never with cool finds in the flea market.

There are two junk stores and one has the most interesting signs.

As I age, I find that more and more I do not need to buy more stuff.  I have a lot of stuff at home.  Maybe too much stuff.  However, I still love looking at stuff.  And...maybe buying stuff.

A visit to The Jefferson Flea Market was next.  This place is huge and is always fun to go through.  It does occur to me that repeated visits to the NOLA area by de Mengians may be stressing these shops abilities to re-stock the kind of thing I am looking for in just one short year.

Dinner this night was at Marigny on Frenchman street with Kelley, Lynn, Michael, the Goulds, Katherine and Bill, Bill's son and Leslie Perez who is not in class but is always welcomed to visit.

I went to bed at 10:30 as I was still not feeling well.

Wednesday, January 28th

Today we are going to work, work, work in the workshop.

I have decided that my sideshow freak is going to be a bird man made from a bird head and a perfume bottle. The first job is to get the head attached to the bottle.

I brought two frames from home and decided that I would saw off some of one and rearrange it on the other so the combo looks more like a marquee.

The Michaels box is an easy thing to paint up...

and the interior is used to create a collage that will be the backdrop for the stage of my sideshow.

The bird man is fun to paint up and, if I must say so myself, looks pretty dang good when I get it done.

Joann stops by, using her super powers for good.  Most folks wander off in the afternoon as they are eager to get ready for tonight's extravaganza.

Katherine has organized a special 2nd Line Parade just for us.  Our job is to wear a sideshow freak oddities costume.  From home, I brought a full body suit which has a glow in the dark skeleton on it.  As it turns out, I might have tried this out at home before I ended up in NOLA.  First off, the full body suit included a hood that went completely over my head.  When I pulled it over my head there were two problems.  One, the suit was not porous enough for me to see through.  Two, I have to wear my glasses and now with the suit pulled over there I look remarkably like Woody Allen in Sleeper.

There is one bigger problem.  This is a full body suit and it fits very tight.  Very tight.  Like male ballerina tight.

I took one look in the mirror and decided there was no way I was going to parade around NOLA with my package in full I put on pants.

It also became evident to me that the body suit was not glowing in the dark.  Either the suit was a rip off or it needed to be cooked under a light to light up.

Then, it was cool, so I put on my sports coat.  So basically, when I was done, the only thing that looked like a costume was my hands which appeared to be wearing mittens.  Later, as the night wore on and more and more of the participants asked where my costume was, I would hold up my hands, covered in blue nylons, and then walk away.

Every one looks absolutely fantastic.

After a few moments in the lobby, we moved out into the street to await the band.  

Once the Front Line arrives, we are off with a police escort.  If I understand the New Orleans lore, we are the first line.  When we hire a band and march, anyone who wants to can join the parade and become the second line.  While we were not all that successful on attracting a second line, we were a hit.  Folks loved the music and loved the costumes.

Michael is our lead player in our portion of the parade.  

When we got back to the hotel, the band kept right on playing and we partied in the street.  

I said earlier that we did not attract a big second line but we did attract one NOLA citizen.  

I would say that all of this is about...

or it could just be about scary clowns.

To view all the photos from this trip at once, visit

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