As promised, I’m elaborating on my too-short post about the experience of riding in the Krewe of Orpheus Mardi Gras parade with Quentin Tarantino (Vol. 1). After dancing with the Pussyfooters in the Krewe of Muses parade last Thursday, I had an epiphany that Mardi Gras is ultimately about love and smiles. Krewe members pay dues and buy thousands of beads and toys to throw to the city at the biggest party in the world. Bands, dance troupes, stilt walkers and more buy costumes and practice tirelessly. Then we all gather as a city and invite the world to join us at this huge, free 2-week celebration. And we all do it to express our love for this city, its culture and those who paraded before us – and for the smiles. Riding on the float with Quentin gave me the catbird seat to see the smiles and love reflected back.
Imagine being the Beatles on a balcony with screaming fans everywhere you look. Now imagine it for miles and miles as the balcony moves through the beautiful, historic city of New Orleans. It was something like that. Sure, most of the screaming fans were for Quentin, but the beauty of throwing beads off a Mardi Gras float is that anyone with a bead to throw has instant screaming fans. And giving them beads and cups made me happy. The happier they were to catch them, the happier I was they got them. It’s a short, beautiful human exchange that proves it truly is better to give than to receive.
I spent about half of the route on the sidewalk side and most of the rest up front with Quentin and it gave me a unique perspective but I think it afforded Quentin an even greater opportunity. Quentin loves his fans but he could never sign every autograph or pose for every picture. Riding through the city, he was able to give his fans a photo op of him at a party they were all attending together. Better yet, he was able to give something tangible to many of them – a party favor straight from his hands. Sure, there were plenty of people who screamed for the awesome cups with his face on them whether they knew who he was or not – but that’s the beauty of it. Everyone on a float gets to be Quentin Tarantino for a day and Quentin gets to be a Krewe member for a day.
I do have to say that a highlight for me was when a young fan of mine, Conway, a student at NOCCA Drama Middle, made a sign with my name on it and caught my eye on St. Charles. There was also a group chanting my name. Sadly, I was unable to shower them with beads fast enough. Then I noticed the ringleader was musician John “Papa” Gros who has been so supportive of my efforts here. Turns out, the whole throwing beads thing can be a real emotional roller coaster.
I did learn a few things about how to get more throws. You really can’t imagine how quickly the city rushes past you and how many people want the same thing at the same time. That said – there are a few things I noticed made people stand out. The easiest observation is that you’re not imagining things – the people in the front get the most throws. They’re well lit and easier to aim to. Anyone who pointed at me got my attention. It was almost Pavlovian. People with signs stand out, groups chanting stand out and people in fun costumes stand out. But if you really want beads – be under 10 years old.
The parade ends where it began – inside the Convention Center at the Orpheuscapade Ball. Who knows what Quentin imagined when they told him he’d be attending a Ball. He thinks in movies so maybe it was Cinderella or The Age of Innocence. Whatever it was, it probably wasn’t – passing a marching band as we follow the 610 Stompers like a horse-drawn carriage into a colossal party with floats riding through while throwing beads to people in tuxes and gowns with BYOB coolers next to their tables.
I’m so grateful that the Krewe of Orpheus and I connected to make this moment happen. It was my supreme pleasure and a rare opportunity to bring a little of my L.A. life and my NOLA life together in a moment of joy. What an unforgettable evening! As Quentin said in his SPEECH, “This has literaslly been one of the most exciting nights of my life.” Just one question – when does the land-sickness stop? My floors keep moving.
Since I was busy throwing beads, I wasn’t able to take many good photographs, but I did put together a video of the experience and have included photos from other photographers and news sources. Enjoy the day from the press conference with John Schneider and Cheap Trick to a tour of the parked famously-beautiful Orpheus floats, drinks at Tipitina’s, the parade and the Orpheuscapade Ball.