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A Newcomer Overcomes Costume Anxiety

There are three sounds you hear in New Orleans this morning.

You hear heads pounding as Super Bowl fans stumble their way back to the airport. Followed by voices cheering as residents bid a most joyous farewell to said fans.

But, listen closely, and you’ll also hear hearts racing. That’s the sound made by those who awoke this morning with a condition that New Orleanians fear more than the flu.

Yes, I’m talking about costume anxiety.  

When I first moved here, I had costume anxiety. It lasted an entire year.

You see, I moved to New Orleans from Boston. As you can imagine, the Puritans aren’t too big on glitter.

On top of that, I’m a writer. Words are my thing. Boas? Not so much. Before moving here, I had never worn a tutu, owned a wig, or purchased eyelash glue.

That all began to change late one night, in a dive bar far, far away, when I signed up to roll with the Star Wars-themed Krewe of Chewbacchus.

I told myself I’d buy a storm trooper costume online and be all set. “Not so fast,” my friends told me. “We make our costumes in New Orleans.”

I had not a clue where to begin. I can’t even cut gift wrap paper. How in the world was I going to make a costume? 

And then, two days before the parade, a miracle occurred. In the form of a bartender at Coop’s. 

“Look, honey,” she said between shots of whiskey (for her, not the patrons). “Relax. In New Orleans, anything can be a costume.”

She set me out onto Decatur to seek inspiration. Block after block, I looked for anything. Shop after shop, I found nothing. 

And, then, a second miracle occurred. This time it was precariously perched on the head of a bald mannequin who was missing her left arm.

The miracle was a gold, three-pronged swirly-ma-jig. About a foot tall with multi-colored balls on top of each tinseled prong.

That swirly-ma-jig spoke to me. “You will be a gay space alien,” it said, “and I will be your antennae.”

I had seen the light. And my costume. Within hours, I had traded my anxiety for a can of silver spray paint and a jar of red glitter, which I used to transform my t-shirt, gym shorts and tennis shoes into a sparkly costume. The next morning, I bought a pink wig and, holding a hot glue gun for the first time, carefully attached my swirly-ma-jig. Hours before Chewbacchus rolled, I painted my face silver, glitterized myself from head to toe and biked over to the parade where I soon found myself standing in a sea of joyful aliens and space nerds.  

Just as we were getting ready to step off, an Ewok handed me a blue boa. “There,” she said. “Now you’re costumed!”     

And I was. I was the most fabulous gay space alien the world will ever see. Perhaps, the only one. 

To read a related article written by Brett Will Taylor, visit