Friday, June 15, 2018

Remembering the Up Stairs Lounge: upcoming memorials and panels

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 5:13 PM

A marker on the sidewalk at the corner of Iberville and Chartres streets memorializes the 32 people who were killed as a result of the Up Stairs Lounge fire in 1973. - PHOTO COURTESY THE ADVOCATE
  • A marker on the sidewalk at the corner of Iberville and Chartres streets memorializes the 32 people who were killed as a result of the Up Stairs Lounge fire in 1973.

This week's cover story about the Up Stairs Lounge fire that killed 32 people in the French Quarter in 1973 drew some discussion online, from those who were surprised they'd never heard of the tragedy to others who remember it well.

"I was a new attorney at the firm that was handling the Up Stairs fire case and the deceased victims claims," local attorney David Oestreicher of Oestreicher Law wrote to Gambit. "I was assigned to go into the space right after the fire and investigate. It was very sad and grisly. The great shame of the event is that there was no way to exit the lounge; and further, there was no insurance coverage available for the victims and their families of this disaster. What a hard way to begin my career."

Several events commemorating the Up Stairs Lounge will take place over the next few weeks. Here are the ones we know about right now:

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Upstairs Inferno screens at Broad Theater June 23

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 1:00 PM


In this week's cover story, Gambit editor Kevin Allman took a look at a new book about the Up Stairs Lounge fire, which claimed the lives of 32 of people at a French Quarter gay bar in 1973. A screening of an award-winning documentary about the fire with an accompanying panel discussion takes place at the Broad Theater June 23.

The 2015 documentary Upstairs Inferno includes interviews with survivors, witnesses and family and friends as well as news footage and images. Director Robert L. Camina appears at the panel immediately following the film, joined by Marilyn LeBlanc-Downey and Skip Bailey, the sister and nephew of one of the fire's victims.

There are several other events around town this month commemorating the 45th anniversary of the fire, including a memorial service and second line hosted by LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana at St. Mark's United Methodist Church (1130 N. Rampart St.). That service begins 5 p.m. June 24.

The screening begins at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 23. Tickets are available online

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

'Family Equality Day' for LGBT families returns to Longue Vue June 10

Posted By on Tue, Jun 5, 2018 at 3:10 PM


A robust list of Pride weekend activities in New Orleans is capped off by Family Equality Day, an annual outdoor party at Longue Vue House and Gardens.

Now in its third year, the event welcomes LGBT parents, children and family members for a daytime celebration including entertainment, kids' activities and a community resource fair. New Orleans Gay Men's Chorus performs and there's a planned puppet parade through the gardens, plus house and garden tours. Food and nonalcoholic drinks also are served.

Children's activities will include work with Fly Circus Space circus arts performers, art projects, lawn games and circuit building with STEM group Electric Girls. Kids also can enjoy interactive projects in the Discovery Garden dealing with plants, bugs and nature.

It's free to attend the party, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, June 10. Participants are encouraged to carpool, as there is limited parking near the historic home and gardens.

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Friday, June 1, 2018

Six literary events in New Orleans in June

Posted By on Fri, Jun 1, 2018 at 9:46 AM


An unusually temperate-feeling New Orleans spring has (tragically, inevitably) come to an end. Farewell, festivals; hello, desticking your thighs from leather carseats and reassuring yourself "everybody sweats like this."

In this less hospitable weather, it's necessary to come up with air-conditioned activities. Below, a few picks for literary events — generally indoors! — where you can chill out.

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Friday, May 25, 2018

Meet the producers of 'ChokeHole,' a DIY pro wrestling drag show

Posted By on Fri, May 25, 2018 at 3:46 PM

Anyone who's been on social media during WrestleMania has experienced just how far and deep pro wrestling's tentacles reach. What may seem to non-fans like a niche or curiosity is, of course, one of the modern world's most popular art forms.

I recently interviewed three of the promotional impresarios behind a genre- and gender-crossing performance series ChokeHole, a late-night "XXXTREME DRAG PRO WRESTLING" event that spans two weekends, Saturday, May 26 and Saturday, June 2. While die-hard pro-wrestling freaks like myself tend to look askance at non-wrestlers dabbling in pro wrestling, on reflection what's most surprising is that drag and pro wrestling haven't been combined more often.

Drag and pro wrestling are both protean performance arts that ravenously remix and recycle elements from all strata of culture and politics, digesting contemporary anxieties into a physically demanding theatrical form that's proudly lowbrow and yet capable of allegorical profundity. Both are rowdy, cheap-seat-pandering entertainment recombinators of drama, spectacle and humor populated by commanding, larger-than-life archetypes. Both are defiantly transgressive, both combine glamour, artifice, gender excess, sleaze and a performance dynamic hinging on crowd engagement. All in all, it's a perfect if unholy memetic marriage.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

'Pride Prom' May 11 celebrates LGBT youth

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 2:25 PM


Bounce royalty Big Freedia will headline a free Pride Prom for LGBT teens and young adults at Hyatt Regency's Celestin Ballroom May 11.

The prom, organizer Marc Behar says, is designed as a safe, fun and alcohol-free party for LGBT youth ages 15-21. Such events can help resolve issues such as restrictive dress codes or not being able to bring a date of one's preferred gender to a high school prom. Teens from both public and private area schools are encouraged to attend.

This prom is the first major event of its kind held in several years in the New Orleans area. In addition to performances by Big Freedia and DJ Brice Nice, it includes a prom royalty "Strut-Off," in which teens walk the catwalk for a juried costume contest to win non-gender-specific crowns. There also are complimentary professional prom photos and free food and drinks.

While adults over age 21 may not attend the event, chaperones from sponsoring groups HyPride, Jewish Pride NOLA, PFLAG New Orleans and CrescentCare plus Hyatt security staff will provide supervision.

The prom takes place from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, May 11. There's no charge to attend, but participants should register online.

Designated attire is "whatever makes you feel fabulous."

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Friday, March 23, 2018

Louisiana Supreme Court halts Gov. Edwards' order to protect LGBT workers from discrimination

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 5:47 PM

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry. - PHOTO BY GAGE SKIDMORE/CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

The Louisiana Supreme Court has sided with Attorney General Jeff Landry in his challenge against Gov. John Bel Edwards' executive order to protect state government workers from discrimination against their gender or sexual orientation. The court's 4-3 decision to not take up Edwards' appeal of a lower court ruling.

In a statement, Edwards said while he accepts the ruling, he's disappointed in the decision, which rejects protections for state workers and people in services provided by state agencies from discrimination on the "basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, political affiliation, disability, or age."

"That disappointment is only overshadowed by my frustration that the courts believe that discrimination is something we should tolerate in Louisiana," he said. "I, for one, do not think discrimination of any kind has a place in our society, much less the workplace. More importantly, Louisiana’s diversity is what makes it the greatest state in the union. Unfortunately, this puts us on the wrong side of history."

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Politically themed drag show Extra opens at AllWays March 27

Posted By on Tue, Mar 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Drag performer Quinn Laroux as a "Gulf Coast oil spill mermaid."
  • Drag performer Quinn Laroux as a "Gulf Coast oil spill mermaid."

"Especially right now, everything in the news is just getting more and more ridiculous," says drag performer and producer Quinn Laroux, mentioning a recent tossed-off presidential remark about a military space force. "With drag, you're already starting on a note that's a little ridiculous to begin with."

That idea — commenting on the food-processed 2018 news cycle through the excesses and outrageousness of drag — is one Laroux has had for a while. In more satirical, conceptual performances, she's performed a reggae-based number that skewered cultural appropriation and sent up Kendall Jenner's racially-tinged Pepsi ad fiasco to "Where Is the Love?" With Extra: A Political Drag Cabaret, Laroux brings an entire show's worth of political drag and variety acts to AllWays Lounge & Cabaret March 27.

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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Louisiana equal pay protections, minimum wage increase clear Senate committee

Posted By on Thu, Mar 15, 2018 at 3:36 PM


Baton Rouge lawmakers have moved forward a package of bills that aim to end gender-based pay disparities, establish a statewide minimum wage and combat workplace discrimination.

The state Senate's Labor and Industrial Relations committee on March 15 advanced seven bills from New Orleans Sens. J.P. Morrell and Troy Carter, who were joined by Gov. John Bel Edwards urging approval for the measures listed among his legislative priorities this session. The bills now head to the full state Senate.

Carter's Senate Bill 162 would establish an hourly minimum wage of $8 beginning in 2019, which would then increase to $8.50 in 2020. Louisiana is among five states that that have not set a minimum wage above the federal minimum of $7.25.

Morrell's Senate Bill 117 requires companies that contract with the state to adhere to the state's Equal Pay Law, and his Senate Bill 149 prohibits employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees for discussing wages — an effort to promote wage transparency and highlight pay discrepancies that breach protections for equal pay for equal work.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Art exhibit highlights costumes of women, people of color and historically marginalized New Orleans groups

Posted By on Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 12:09 PM


An exhibit opening at Antenna Feb. 2 celebrates costuming among historically marginalized groups in New Orleans, including women, LGBT people and people of color.

"King for a Day" is curated by Zibby Jahns and Lindsey Phillips and includes four installations representing costumes that are worn by various New Orleans communities, such as Baby Doll marching groups, Lords of Leather and punk and DIY groups. The costumes are displayed among fabrics and materials artisans and crafters commonly incorporate in those garments.

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