Missing New Orleans

Originally published in Lavender (September 30, 2005)


"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" I do—now more than ever.


Over the years both leather culture and gay culture have been among the many that have benefited from the spicy influence of New Orleans. That influence sends the despair and destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina far beyond the Gulf Coast region.


For me, amid the shock and horror of the news, it was memories that came flooding. The first time I visited New Orleans was in the mid-1980s at Christmas. My partner and I stayed at a hotel on Canal St. at the edge of the French Quarter. The holiday atmosphere was charming. They even had some snow for us Northerners.


For several years New Orleans hosted Pantheon of Leather, and the New Orleans leather/fetish community showed Pantheon visitors the most gracious kind of southern hospitality. The event was always the first weekend of Mardi Gras, when things were festive but still manageable. The Barkus parade (dogs and their owners in costume) became a Pantheon and Mardi Gras tradition for me.


I remember the food—beignets at the Cafe Du Monde, country French comfort food at La Madeleine, grand dinners with other Minnesota leatherfolks at the Palace Café on Canal St., Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun specialties at K-Paul’s Restaurant, burgers cooked under a (real) hubcap at the Clover Grill, and pralines from Aunt Sally’s to take home. My midwestern palate always appreciated the way New Orleans chefs are able to make food spicy yet flavorful (as opposed to just burning hot).


© Copyright 2014 Nelson Borhek Press