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This was my street urchin experience there. Note that the Stripper’s Ball was held at the Toulouse as was various live bawdy events.
Fat Tuesday 1979. Police strike cancels Mardi Gras. No law. I’m a 19 y.o. boy hustling draught beer for a buck a cup in front of Toulouse St. Theater (now One Eye Jacks). Old man dropped by, friend of the owner and said the strike canceled his gig out at Tipitinas. Hell, said my boss, let’s drag out the piano so’s you can play, and so we did, him a big burly full bearded man wearing a bottle fly green chemise, garter belt w/net stockings, and spike high fuck me heels and all scrawny and street ragged, hauling a untuned upright out onto the cobbles. All so I could sit and sell beer and hotdogs while old man banged out the night like crazy and drew up a crowd.
We didn’t sell many beers or dogs, We all listened while he played, hours went by, getting drunk drunk on piss warm beer foam and trying to top eachother’s bullshit stories, he way more than me. It got misty-damp around 3 and the streets were deserted, everyone kinda quiet and thoughtful, like the devil sneaking from the pews. We shook, His long boned fingers giving me the grip, I, a dumb white boy, and he, just a who that to me then, he to a game somewheres and me to the lobby and sleep. Dawn broke through the mist a couple hours later. Turns out that that was my last Tuesday and I learned later that the old man died before the next coming Mardi Gras. That’s what he did on his very last Mardi Gras. Turns out, though a lot of folks said he was Mardi Gras, A one Mr. Professor Longhair….
It was good sleeping on those huge bags of leftover hotdog buns, all buzzed with ghostly triplets flowing in echos through my ears. Thank you Fess!
I believe that it was soon after the Theater closed, due in part, to the night of the strike. Wild shit happened everywhere that night because there were no tourists or cops, just the national guard and they didn’t lift a finger….