BY MERRYN JOHNS
From the moment you arrive at Louis Armstrong International Airport, the authentic spirit of New Orleans grabs you like a six-foot-four drag queen and never lets you go until, indelibly imprinted with glitter (and a hangover), you leave for home, feeling more like yourself than you have in a while. Here, in The City That Care Forgot, or NOLA, as it is referred to by locals, you can really be yourself, which may even be someone else, because for Halloween and Mardi Gras no amount of gay guising is too much. This town doesn’t bat a false eyelash at anything, which makes it the perfect place for a dyke to explore her inner decadence.
What to do
Art is the lifeblood of this city, devoted as it is to self-expression. The lesbian-owned Angela King Gallery at 241 Royal Street is worth a visit to take in some quality contemporary art and to support the gallery owner, a lesbian-art lover and California transplant, and the community of art-lovers she fosters. For some local color, Dr. Bob’s Folk Art Complex offers up mixed-media pieces (many a work is bedecked in beer caps straight off the local brews) priced from as little as $35. But NOLA is now on the map as a major U.S. arts destinations thanks to the superb collections at the Ogden Museum, which presents the most comprehensive assemblage of Southern art in the world, and the Contemporary Arts Center, which fearlessly hangs emerging and experimental pieces that would be right at home in New York City. The healing arts are flourishing here, post-Katrina, especially at the New Orleans Healing Center, a holistic and sustainable center with programs promoting physical, nutritional, emotional, environmental, and spiritual well-being. And lovers of the musical arts can bask in the sounds of every genre as national superstars sit down with the local talent at the Voodoo Music Experience, which is held every year around Halloween, come hell or high water.
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