"We're not just the Parade of Dicks," Joe Thompson said. "But we do have a bunch of dick floats."
It's a few days before the first parade of the Mardi Gras season, and I'm in a warehouse in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. Thompson is the official head of what he calls the city's only "underground" parade, Krewe Du Vieux.
Its gatekeepers may like to think of themselves as underground, but their 17-float street party draws thousands each year and is only growing; even the local paper ran a poll asking, essentially, if the event had run its course. The only parade still allowed in the French Quarter (and the only one where every float is either pulled by ponies or people), it's also the dirtiest, pun-iest, and most political—and the first one every year.
"It's political satire with a filthy interpretation, if possible," Susan, 72, tells me. She's the oldest member of the Mama Roux krewe, whose float this year is called "Genetically Modified Orgasms."
Ask around, and everyone has a Krewe Du Vieux story.
"One year, they had a giant flaming asshole," a bartender told me early last week. "Literally, flames were coming out of the asshole."
Nothing like that this year, but the theme was "Change," and there were plenty of floats addressing that, including one that had real mugshots of female teachers who had recently been arrested for having sex with their students. Bart Simpson was depicted next to a TV screen with "I will not have sex with my teacher" scrawled in chalk writing, over and over.
The parade was on Saturday night and featured almost a dozen brass bands, lots of balls, and so many dicks. So, so many dicks.
Happy Mardi Gras; here are some dick pics.
THIS IS NOT A REAL PRIEST HOLDING A MICHELOB ULTRA WHILE STANDING IN FRONT OF A FLOAT OF LOUISIANA GOVERNOR BOBBY JINDAL RECEIVING ANAL FROM A WOMAN. But, achievement unlocked. I asked some members of Krewe Du Crude—who made this float—what was happening; "That's Muhammad with a big, sparkly dick," one float man told me. I said I had heard it was Jindal (a fact later confirmed for me elsewhere). "No, I think it's supposed to be Muhammad," a woman with the krewe said. "Or, whatever it is, it's offensive. That's the goal, right?" Right.
I asked what genetically modified orgasms were. "That's not just science fiction," Susan the 72-year-old told me. "Think about what it's like if you're stoned in bed—that's genetically modifying your orgasms." Okay!
Lots of gay-marriage and weed-legalizing themes. Thompson conceded that change has pretty much come on these issues nationally, even though they haven't yet for Louisiana.
I asked Thompson if I could ride atop one of the floats during the parade. But no, it's a hazard. "We'll all be drunk while we're up there." As is everyone on the street. At one point, I asked a parade marcher for a sip of his beer; instead, he pulled out this hose from his other hand and told me to open my mouth. He plied people with his octane punch all through the streets the entire night.
The city loves its governor.
A crowd awaited the floats. The streets got so congested that security and police were constantly pushing people back onto the sidewalks. The parade was halted at one point for about 15 minutes while crowds were cleared.
This sort of thing happened a lot. So many dicks, so much grinding.
This is a box of dicks, filled with Jell-O shots. I asked her if I could have one, but she only had six left and stiffed me. "Make sure you get my boobs in the shot," I was told.
That's a joint in her mouth that occasionally lit up red. Genius.
SO MANY DRUNK-WHITE-GIRL SELFIES.
Probably my favorite part of the parade was seeing all the kids and families. Beaded dicks were being thrown out into the crowd, people were wearing illuminated sperms on their heads, and everyone was happier than anyone else anywhere in the entire world, and there was no such thing as PC, because, Mardi Gras.
My personal favorite. All the men were dressed as Fidel Castro, brandished "Pizza Sluts" pizza boxes, and had big fake cloth dicks.
Amy K. Nelson is a freelance journalist and photographer based in New Orleans. You can follow her on Twitter. All photos by her.
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