He met Marmelade down in ole’ New Orleans,
Strutting her stuff on the street.
She said ‘Hey Joe, wanna give it a go?’
In fairness, we had been warned. Patti Labelle, Christina Aguilera and even All Saints had done their best to show us that New Orleans is a party town. And by “party,” I mean “bachelor party”: beer at $1 a pop, at least three bars with “Larry Flynt’s Hustler” in their name, stale, greasy pizza by the slice and doormen telling you that “there’s plenty more pussy inside, guys.” Yay.
Bourbon Street is pretty much a gay man’s nightmare. I say pretty much because there were lots of glittery beads around (oooh, shiny!) and a smattering of half-empty gay bars further down the street, including the rather appetisingly named “Napoleon’s Itch.” (warning: don’t click on that link unless you’re a REALLY BIG fan of “It’s Raining Men” :))
Undeterred and clutching our list of “hot ‘n’ happenin'” bars from gaycities.com, we made our way – on foot – out to the Faubourg Marigny, where, N. assured me, gay nirvana lay. Which is how we found ourselves literally locked in a bar called “Big Daddies” with one other customer, a slightly ropey looking barmaid and the Pet Shop Boys’ Greatest Hits.
“What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this?”
Ok, ok I’m painting a pretty bleak picture. It wasn’t all bad (the hotel, for example, was fab) but it was the only stop on our trip that really disappointed us, I think maybe because we’d built it up to be more than it is. The problem is that there’s really not very much to do in New Orleans apart from party. Once you’ve seen the Garden District – which does have some beautiful houses – and Audubon Park, and walked round the French Quarter a couple of times – well, that’s about it.
We even took the ferry over to Algiers, only to find there was nothing going on there either – apart from a rather deelish lunch at the Dry Dock Café, which is heartily recommended. Still, it passed the time – pfft.
One of the two highlights of our stay in the Big Easy turned out NOT to be the “cuisine” (yes, actually, I’ve had nasty fried food before) but … wait for it… the THEATRE. While slogging our way back on foot from the Garden District under a blazing noonday sun, we stopped off for a Muffuletta sandwich. We got chatting to our waitress Lauren who told us she was appearing in a play that evening and suggested we go along. “Money in the Garter” by Sally Asher, “a play about Catholicism, Mythology and Strippers,” turned out to be a witty, wry affair that, while a tad long at three hours, kept us thoroughly entertained.
What was the second highlight? Earning $20 each for answering questions on gay tourists’ sexual habits while in New Orleans, including – rather alarmingly – whether or not we’d had anal sex with any women since swinging into town. Very bizarre and not very scientific if you ask me but it DID keep us in Jack and Diet for the rest of the night. Which is all you can ask for really, innit?