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Mardi Gras Home Story of Trip 1 Story of Trip 2 Story of Trip 3 Pictures of Trip Who Went

The Story of the
2004 SSQQ Trip
to Mardi Gras!!

(Please note that this page contains references to nudity as well as a dozen pictures. 

I don't believe a story of the real New Orleans Mardi Gras is complete without mention of the everything that goes on. 

However if this decision is offensive to any of our readers, you have my sincere apologies.

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Tuesday, February 24, was the date of this year's Mardi Gras.  Since we were stuck in Gulfport, Mississippi, the first thing we had to do was take a bus trip over to New Orleans.  Our group met in front of the ship at 10 am. 

As you can see from the picture, the day was overcast.  Although it had rained heavily the day before, we were fortunate to avoid anything tougher than a little morning mist.  The temperature was around 55.  Most of us dressed for comfort.

However a couple people took the day a little too seriously for my taste.  I teased Tim and Marcia several times for wearing these most excellent  concept-coordinated outfits. 

I told them I didn't like anyone who went out of their way to deliberately look cooler than the rest of us.  Why couldn't they dress boring like I did??

Now that I am calmer, they did look kind of cute, didn't they?  I think that hat really works for Tim.

The bus trip was blissfully quick. To our surprise there was very little traffic.

The bus dropped us off at the Riverwalk pier on the Mississippi River.  

It turned out that not only could our ship not get in to New Orleans, another Royal Caribbean ship named the "Mariner" was unable to leave either.  This enormous vessel just sat there like a ghost ship waiting for the M. River to reopen.

This group picture was taken at the Riverwalk by George Sargent.  George contributed many of the  wonderful pictures you will see on this page.

After our picture at the Riverwalk, our group began to walk north up Julia Street.  Eight blocks and twelve minutes later, we were at the corner of Julia and Saint Charles Street.  We were amazed at how close the ship terminal was to the action.  And we were also excited to find we had arrived just in time to watch a parade called "Rex".  Crowds lined both sides of the street 3 to 4 deep. 

We moved along the sidewalk until we found a good opening to watch from.

The floats were amazing.  Many of them had a mythical theme from Greek and Egyptian mythology.  This was my first experience.  I must say I was very impressed at the pageantry.   Not only were the floats beautiful to look at, it seemed like there was a new marching band coming down the street for every two floats.  I even saw a band from Texas A&M!  

In particular, the crowd went into a frenzy when the LSU marching band came by.  Louisiana State won the national football championship this year.  To say the least, their band was very popular!

Most of the bands featured fantastic drummers.  The ever-present pulsating drum beat made the parade ever more exciting to watch.  About this point we started to relax a little.

Like myself, most of us were first-time visitors to Mardi Gras.  We had heard all sorts of horror stories.  We were on the lookout for the so-called dregs of society: pickpockets, thugs, drunks, perverts, transvestites, and streetwalkers.  We worried about vomiting drunks, urination in the streets, and puke everywhere.  We had been warned we might be walking ankle deep in trash and human waste. 

Plus we had been told the crowds got so thick and pushy that your group or the person you were with could be swept away and lost.  All of us were concerned about getting separated from the group.

The humorous picture of the little boy at right illustrates clearly that the fear of losing someone wasn't all that far-fetched.

But now that we were here, Mardi Gras seemed like fun!   Maybe it was time to let down our guard a little. One by one most of us made it over to a nearby margarita stand.  We discovered a wonderful by-product of ordering our drinks - we now had permission to use their restroom whenever we needed to.  I don't know about the others, but this took a load off my mind.  I intended to keep drinking all day long if a trip to the restroom was included in the price. 

As we began to loosen up, we discovered a game called "Catch the Beads".  Again speaking for myself, I had heard of the bead game, but had never quite understood the attraction.

I watched with amusement as each float rolled by.  From above the crowd, masked and costumed riders constantly flung beads to eager members of the crowd. 

At first I gathered every bead in sight whether I caught it or not.  I found lots of beads on the ground. Let me add the margarita helped fuel my enthusiasm.

I wasn't the only one caught up in bead frenzy.  Several of the ladies in the group became very serious about bead collection.  Each person had a different strategy.

Becky Hauri and Judy Walsh developed a friendship with a local lady who enjoyed sharing her excess beads with them.  

As shown in the picture, Judy and Becky were soon awash in bead paradise.

I was a bottom-feeder.  I was universally teased for picking beads up off the ground.  What else was I supposed to do?  For one thing, no one was throwing any to me.  I was standing behind at least four people.  No one could even see me.   Beads that missed their target were constantly landing on the ground, so I swallowed my pride and went over and retrieved them.

Iqbal Nagji used a similar strategy to me, but with more sophistication.  Iqbal was excellent at retrieving overthrows.  He figured out that the bead throwers delighted in hitting far-off targets.  People were leaning out of second-story windows above Iqbal pleading for beads to be thrown to them.  However they were tough targets to hit.  Frequently beads would barely miss their target and glance harmlessly off the wall. Iqbal caught many of these near-misses on the fly before they even hit the ground.  Sometimes he even threw them back up to the disappointed people in the windows above.  I was stunned at his generosity.  Finders Keepers was my attitude!  But Iqbal was not quite as acquisitive as I was.  I hate mature, sober people.

Eva Lue used an interesting "charity" approach.   She told all the local people that she was from the ship that had been stranded in Gulfport.  This made her something of a celebrity.  All sorts of local people felt sorry for Eva and made sure she got a generous share of beads. 

There was a group of ladies that were getting very frustrated.  Marla, Roz Weinstein (Marla's sister in law from California), and Veronique Frizzell were working hard to get the float crews to throw them beads, but were getting nowhere.  It turned out they were standing right behind a busty woman who stood tall on a cooler shaking her assets.  Although Marla, Roz, and Veronique are very attractive ladies, Miss Cleavage was more powerful than a lighthouse in the fog.  Our Texas Trio was practically invisible standing behind her.

I suggested to the ladies that they move about ten yards to the left where I had discovered an opening in the crowd.  Now they were upstream from Miss Cleavage.  Also in the new spot there was no one in front of them to distract the bead throwers.  From the moment we made this strategic re-location, our ladies began to make serious bead headway. 

Freed from the imposing shadow of Miss Cleavage, our ladies began to flirt shamelessly.  First they would make eye contact with the "floaters", then once they had the men's attention they would shake their hips, shimmy their chests, blow kisses, and wave unabashedly.  They pleaded, they begged, and jumped up and down. Soon all three ladies had far more beads than they could handle. 

I enjoyed their success thoroughly. I discovered I was an excellent bead snagger.  I caught many beads that were thrown off-target to the three ladies and spent time draping the beads over their necks.  After a while, Marla in particular got so loaded down she complained of neck ache.  I guess there's a price for success in every endeavor.

Finally after a couple hours of watching the parades and collecting beads, the group decided it was time to move on.  Just one block from where we had been standing was an open area known as Lafayette Park. It was here we decided to take a group picture. 

Our group totaled 18 people.

Pictured are George Sargent, Eva Lue,  Gay Anseman, Veronique Frizzell, MG Anseman in back, Martin Thomas, Marla Gorzynski, Rick Archer in back, Diama Cortez, Judy Walsh in front, Merida Guzman, Becky Hauri, Susan Arevalo, Imre Kondor in back, Roz Weinstein, Eileen Konder in front, Larry Weinstein, and Iqbal Nagji.

You may notice everyone is heavily beaded now.   We belong!!

As our group headed east on Camp Street towards Canal Street, we began to see people wearing some of the most amazing costumes.  It looked like Halloween in broad daylight everywhere we went. 

In the picture at right, we met a group of super heroes including Wonder Woman, the Joker, the Hulk, Batman, plus a couple more in back. 

This group was a bunch of wholesome, well-covered clean-cut preppies.  But I noticed the further we walked, the more interesting the outfits became.

Soon we ran into this bizarre threesome.  One woman was showing a lot more breast than Janet Jackson.  You might notice her friend in the middle is a man dressed as a woman.  Just a friendly local transvestite. 

All three had masks on.  I wondered what these people do for a living?  Are they normally respectable pillars of the community?   Bankers?  Doctors?  

I wondered if wearing the masks liberated them to reveal a different side of their nature on this special day. 

15 minutes after we took our group picture in the park, we arrived at Bourbon Street.  Bourbon Street is the epicenter of Mardi Gras debauchery in Sin City. 

This narrow street felt like a canyon.  On either side of us were towering three-story row houses complete with balconies and bead throwers.  For much of the day, Bourbon Street was full of wall-to-wall people. It was very easy to feel claustrophobic in such tight quarters. 

I can easily see how it would be easy to get separated from the group in such a situation, but fortunately we all managed to stick together. 

It turned out that Bourbon Street was lined with strip joints.  I was pleased to note one of the first strip clubs we passed was my side business, Rick's Cabaret.  (just kidding).

There was a huge crowd and we could barely move.  I looked up at the balcony above and was astonished to see that some of their pros were putting on a free show for the highly appreciative on-lookers below.

Up till now, I had not seen anything worth looking at, but these women were serious eye-candy.

As we slowly crept along, I observed that almost all the lower balconies were lined with bead throwers and on-lookers. 

Here the bead game turned more serious.  Many of the men on the balcony responded to any show of interest from a woman down below with a gesture that indicated "show me your stuff".  

Some used signs, some used sign language, and the guy in the picture at right used a bull horn.  At first I just laughed.  What woman in her right mind is going to bare her breasts for some cheap beads? 

Then to my utter incredulity, I watched open-mouthed as quite a few women cooperated.  Up went the shirt, down came the beads.  Amazing.   Why doesn't this work in Houston?

The only logical conclusion I came to is that these women wanted to show off their breasts.  What other explanation could it be?  

One lady in the crowd lifted her shirt for some beads. Several photographers rushed over and asked her to do it again.  After three more exposures, I overheard her say to her girlfriend, "Let's go.  I'm tired of showing my boobs." 

I also noticed that a high number of the exposed breasts such as the lovely lady in the picture had been augmented.  My guess is that many of these women reveal their breasts for a living.  It seemed to me they were far too comfortable with the show to be amateurs.

I was more than slightly shocked at number of women who walked in plain sight with their naked breasts covered in body art. 

I saw at least a dozen different women lining Bourbon Street with painted breasts.  And not all of them wore masks either!

At first I gazed in amazement at their comfort with public nudity.  I certainly had never seen anything like this at the Renaissance Festival, but then maybe painted breasts weren't a big part of Merry Olde England. 

After I got over my shock, I slowly realized that the whole thing was not as big a deal as I had dreamed. 

In fact, I began to realize that the vast majority of breasts being offered for public consumption were ones I could have lived without seeing

I decided that in most cases, I would have preferred they keep their shirts on.  In fact, to my utter dismay the entire naked breast thing got boring quickly. 

I saw more naked breasts in one day than I had seen over my entire lifetime.  I cannot begin to say how terribly disappointed I was to discover that most women's breasts do not look like those in the magazines.

Even the breasts that were attractive were almost always augmentations. If I am a plastic surgeon, the Big Easy is clearly the place to set up practice.

I came away from the day terribly disillusioned.  Could nudity be over-rated?  Maybe some things should be left to the imagination.

Another interesting phenomenon was the occasional strip tease up on the balcony.  Unlike the professionals with the fake boobs back at Rick's Cabaret,  there were quite a few women who looked like they were doing it strictly for the fun of it. 

One of the first things I noticed was that the amateurs usually had real breasts.  How refreshingly original!! 

May I add that this lady was the proud owner of the only pair of real breasts I enjoyed looking at all day?
For all of 5 seconds - then the shirt came back down.  Thank goodness for photography.

Did I mention nudity was everywhere?  If naked women and men was something you wanted to see, New Orleans and Bourbon Street was ready to help.

One club had the doors so wide open that anyone in the crowd could watch the strippers in action.  Several men from our group enjoyed the free public show while the women rolled their eyes in disgust. 

Another club down the street featured live sex acts.  Anyone who wanted could peak in and watch.  I passed on that one.  Any doubts that New Orleans deserved its bad reputation were long gone.

Back on St. Charles Street during the parade, Martin Thomas had thoughtfully acquired a set of breasts for his very own.  Martin has always had a Hugh Grant roguishness about him, but today we saw a new side. His audacity made him oddly popular all day long with the locals. 

Several girls even offered to paint his breasts for him.  Martin reluctantly declined, but I could tell he was tempted.  I think he had a better time than he deserved considering how much embarrassment he caused us.  We of course pretended not to know him.

Many of you may have heard the rumors and now I will confirm that it is true - here at the studio we run a lucrative side business in blackmail.  However not all of my schemes work out.

All day long the various ladies in our group had been more than slightly irritated at the obvious lust displayed by the men in our group as one half-naked woman after another strode by. 

For example, as I mentioned earlier eight of our guys stood in front of the strip tease joint with the open door watching in open-mouthed awe as gorgeous women casually would lift their shirts for a peek, then quickly hide them again.  Then there were others who were completely naked and stayed that way.  Let's face it - men love to look at naked women.  What else would account for the success of clubs like these?

On the other hand, I can sympathize with the ladies in our group and say that they had a legitimate beef.  It couldn't have been easy for them to retain much respect for our guys.  We often made fools of ourselves by desperately hustling to get a better look at a strip tease act that randomly would appear out of nowhere on the street in return for beads. And some of us would put on sunglasses and watch out of the corner of our eyes, but I doubt we fooled anyone.

Then came the moment when Susan Arevalo spied one quite naked gentleman in the crowd.  Susan displayed impressive quickness at rounding up both the naked man and George in one swoop to get a commemorative photograph.  As you can see, the gentleman in question was more than happy to cooperate.  Susan doesn't seem too unhappy either, now does she? 

I asked Susan about the incident later on the ship.  She said she was so fed up and disgusted with the boys drooling and lusting that she felt it was time for the girls to have a little fun too. 

On the day before I was ready to publish this picture, I asked Susan if she wanted to fork over some cash to suppress its publication.  To my utter shock, my thinly-veiled attempt at blackmail failed.  She blushed a little, then said, "Print it."

More bravery like that and I might have to get a real job.

It has been said that New Orleans has the second largest Gay-Lesbian population in the USA after San Francisco. 

Although I noticed numerous people in attendance that were probably gay, I never felt ill at ease.  If anything, I liked many of their costumes! 

Everyone was having a great time.  Isn't that all that matters?? 
Laissez les bons temps rouler!!

As our group sauntered slowly down Bourbon Street, I heard the sounds of blues music drifting from the open window of a jazz bar.  Without hesitation I grabbed Marla and started to dance the Whip on the sidewalk right there next to the window. 

Marla and I had way too much fun.  The music was awesome and we both really got into our dancing.     Marla's hips were moving every direction possible, capturing the exact spirit of the Honky Tonk Woman.  We were struttin' our stuff on the street!   Did I mention we were both a little drunk?

Let me tell you something, once you have been slapped in the face by a million Mardi Gras beads you quickly learn not to lead too many turns! 

Other than the bead mishap, we danced our butts off. When the music ended, we looked up to see a crowd of fifty people who had gathered around were clapping appreciatively.  We were now certified members of the street performer union!   Too bad I forgot my tip jar.

I couldn't let it stop there. I took Marla inside the bar.  It was time to refuel anyway.  Most of the group came in and joined us.  One drink later, we got out on the floor and danced and danced to the live blues band. 

I never sat out one song for an hour and a half.  The highlight of my evening came when an attractive lady came up and whispered, "I don't know what you've been taking, but I sure want some of it!"

It was the most fun I have had dancing in years.  Whip was meant for joints like this.  It is a naughty, sexy, provocative dance where the woman's hip action captures the spirit of the music perfectly. 
After the live jazz dancing, it was getting dark.  We were tired and hungry.  The majority of us headed back for the bus.  We had had quite a day. 

At midnight the police come out. This marks the official end of Mardi Gras.  We didn't quite last this long.   We decided to head back to the ship and start repenting early.

Story Three: What Else Happened on the Trip?

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