My Years in the French Quarter, New Orleans! Nostalgia (part 8)

New.Orl.Mist.Hand to the heavens these are all true stories of my life in New Orleans. 1977-79 was a wonderful time to live in the French Quarter.  I was working full-time as an actor (stage, radio, TV) and since that never pays anything regular, I had a part-time job as personal assistant to the publisher of a tourist magazine.  So now to the storytelling:

My apartment was a two room attic above a restored (1860’s) town house. I couldn’t afford the downstairs. (starving artist, remember)  The slave quarters on the other side of the garden was also a luxury apartment.  But I loved my little place where when you opened the windows you could look out over the French roof tops and see just the upper structure of freighters moving slowly up the river.  Late at night I would lie there with the windows open and listen to the clip-clop of the horse-drawn carriages wearily making their way back to the stables.  The tenants changed out below me and  my new neighbors, it turned out, was the mob boss’s nephew coming up through the ranks and his (high-end call girl) girl friend who worked at Lucky Pierre’s (a lounge and escort service).  I’ll tell you more about the ‘connected guy’ later.  At the magazine I worked for, the staff was small. So I was doing whatever needed doing;  from selling ads to loading the planes with the magazine flying out to Mexico and South America.  Once, our advertising director was out sick and I had to cover an appointment that she

Each cover was a original art work
Each mag. cover was original art work

couldn’t change.  So I took the trolley from down town, across Canal St., back into the Quarter.  When I arrived at the address, an older gentleman, in a silk summer suit, sat in the back at a table.  I introduced myself and showed him ad sizes and prices, etc.  He bought a full page ad for the next three issues.  Beginner’s luck I told myself.  The publisher/editor about passed out when I brought him the contract.  He said, “Do you know who that was?”  “No, some old guy, owns the restaurant?” I replied.  He’s the Godfather of the New Orleans’ mafia and he just bought a thousand large ones in advertising.  I got you in the wrong job!”

So I’m doing live theatre, back to back.  Rehearsing every week night and performing in a different play on the weekends.  In those days we performed wherever we could find space and an audience.  Most of the time we were at the Camp St. Performing Arts Center and frequently rehearsed in the cellar of this old Kress’ Drug store. Beady, red rat eyes would watch us from the shadows. Some of my proudest moments on stage were during my

Bitter Glory
Bitter Glory

‘Naw-lins’ years.  The Investigation by Peter Weiss,  Bitter Glory, Bleacher Bums and  Othello,

Othello shot at the Italian Plaza
Othello shot at the Italian Plaza



Bleacher Bums
Bleacher Bums


One night I was trying to sleep,  without air conditioning, when the mob nephew and hooker returned home downstairs about 3 in the morning, fighting and loud.  I had had it and the next morning I marched myself down there to complain.  They were most apologetic and we got to chatting.  I mentioned the current play I was in (always the promoter)  told them they should come see it.  Jimmy, the nephew told me to come by the ‘bar’ and get some wine to sell during intermission.

Wonderful, I thought, a couple of bottles of wine to help make more money for the theatre company.  On the way to the theatre that night I stopped by the bar and it turned out to be The Absinthe Bar, the oldest and most well-known bar in the country.  Jimmy took me to the wine cellar.  He loaded up two boxes with wine and told me to come back each night and get more.  Did this mean that I too, was now connected?

My apartment was just two blocks off Bourbon Street.  My favorite time to walk in the Quarter was early morning.  The tourists were gone or still in bed, the streets were quiet, the air was still cool.  As I walked along the shop owners would be hosing down their section of the sidewalks of the previous night’s debris, spilled drinks and food. Smells of water hitting hot pavement, a sticky, sweet,  not unpleasant odor was stirred up.  I always thought that was the true perfume of the French Quarter.

To see more photos, visit the Gallery here on the site.  If you’d like to read the Prologue to this post click here.



In addition to my twice weekly blog I also feature an interview with another author once a month. So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!    Ann Gracie will be my November author.

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