Eccentric New Orleans invites you to write if you have a question about any of the odd characters you knew or heard about in New Orleans. You can also write and share stories, photos, or information about anyone mentioned on this site, or anyone who should be mentioned. And let us know what city you're writing us from. Your e-mail address will NOT be posted on the website. If someone responds to your inquiry, we will forward his or her message to you, and possibly post it on this page, unless otherwise requested not to.
(2002) Former Quarter resident JOHN GRACE writes...
During the mid 1970's to the early 1980's I lived at 910 Chartres Street in a great apartment right next to Harry's Bar. I remember Ruthie, the Bead Lady, and the Chicken Man, so it was great to find your web site.
Now during that time there was this guy who walk around barefooted, dressed in some sort of Arabian get up (more like rags), he had a big gray beard, looked mid-eastern, and as he walked around, he would, in the most booming voice, speak some gibberish that sound like a blessing. Of course, after receiving these blessing we all felt obliged to give a small donation. We use to just call him King of the Burning Sands.
Any idea who this guy was?
(Many people responded to your e-mail about the "King of the Burning Sands."
Click HERE for more info from our readers. We even received a great color photo from Jane Dumestre. Thanks, Jane!)
MAR. 2002-- CHARLOTTE's memories of Tinkerbell in 1968…
When I was 18, I worked at the Royal Orleans Hotel at my first job. On my lunch hour, I would go hang out in Jackson Square and I'd see Tink there almost everyday. He was absolutely delightful and so sweet. My biggest memory of him is him going up to groups of tourists and saying "Welcome to New Orleans, where the girls and girls and so are the boys!". He borrowed bobby pins from me occasionally so that he could pin flowers in his hair.
I always liked Tink and wondered what happened to him. It's nice to see him on your website and that somebody else remembers him too.
(To read more Tinkerbell
letters, click HERE.)
MAR. 2002 - RENEE writes…
The other night I was walking home through the Quarter when I saw a person who was a dead ringer for the Lucky Bead Lady. Since she seemed to be about 100 years old 20 years ago, that seems unlikely. Does anyone know what became of her?
(Yes, Eccentric New Orleans does have some inside info on the Bead Lady. To read our response, and other e-mails sent to us about the Bead Lady,
FEB. 2003 - Music man MIKE BLAKE says HI…
Hi, I'm Mike Blake. I played guitar, banjo, and whistle in N.O. from 1985 to 1999, and some in 2000. I am returning there soon to live again. I also played folk music at Your Fathers Moustache in the mid Sixties. I didn't think anyone even remembered the place.
SEPT. 2002 - SPENCER asks about Stoney B and Grandpa…
Hello, I have been visiting your wonderful city yearly for about 5 years. I am always so intrigued by the street people and the wonderful musicians that make their living playing in The Quarter (I'm a bit of a sociology nut). Can anyone shed any light at all on the duo of Stoney B. Blues and Grandpa? Any info would be appreciated. I love their music and would like to know more about them.
AUG. 2002 - OWEN MURPHY recalls The Champagne Girl…
It's been awhile since we've last spoken but the e-mails from your site keep me up to date on your "subversive activities". When I became 18, the first thing I wanted to do was to go to Bourbon Street and actually go inside rather than the usual drive by which was so common at that time. We're talking 1964-66. I made 18 in Sept. of '66 and promptly got my best friend Rick to go with me. You can imagine how young I looked at 18; the first place we went into the manger flat out said, "I don't care if you are 18 and have ID, you still look too young; you'll have to leave." Undaunted we continued down the street till we came to the club where Rita Alexander, The Champagne Girl was performing. No problems there, they gladly accepted my money in the half-empty club. Now Rita was a site; tall, tall, at least 5'10", especially to a 5'4" still growing 18yr old; an incredible body and "blonde" hair. What a woman! After the usual bump and grind routine she got around to the specialty part of her act. She got down on her knees and bent over backward at
which time 2 champagne glasses filled with "champagne" were produced, each one proudly sitting on each of her magnificient sensational ample breasts. Then without straightening up she leaned her head forward, grabbed one glass with her mouth and downed the golden liquid, got rid
of the glass with a toss of her head, then did the same with the other glass. Act over, to great applause. I obviously never forgot it and it was the best, to finally be 18 and to legally buy and drink alcohol and go in a strip club on Bourbon St! The thrills and joys of growing up in
New Orleans were just begining.
JULY 2002 - DOC on human flowers…
I just stumbled on your site. Great stuff! I used to live in the Big Easy, and it was great to see the gallery of Viex Carre eccentrics. If I may offer a suggestion for membership in this hallowed company, how 'bout "Sister Liz, The Catholic Witch". She, along with Ruthie the Duck Girl are
among some of my favorite memories of the unique, and wonderful hybrid human flowers that could only thrive in the Quarter "Hot House". I met Liz the first time when she came and sat down at my table at Buster Holmes Soul Food, pentagrams tattooed on the backs of her hands, and started rappin' with me about the biker scene in New Orleans. I didn't know her from Adam, and the others at my table seemed a little alarmed, but she had this wonderfully quirky energy, so I went with it. We had a ball, and generally freaked out the rest of the table.
JULY 2002 -- BILL O'BRIEN on Porkshop and Jed's Bar….
What about "Pork Chop" the guy in the Quarter who did a softshoe? He was a genuine New Orleans eccentric. About 20 years ago, there was an article about the then Mayor Ernest Morial in the Wall Street Journal, and I think the article mentioned both Ruthie and Pork Chop as New Orleans characters. I'm thinking that for awhile that there were several people who claimed to be Pork Chop, and I remember seeing something on national TV about the different claimants for the title of the real Porkchop.
Uptown had it's characters as well. Did you ever know Jed Palmer, the owner of Jed's Bar on Oak Street? Jed died about 10 years ago. I think that his son owns the F&M Bar which was operated by Jed before his death. I graduated from Loyola in '76 and later went to Tulane Law School. There was a waiter named Harry at The Camelia Grill who was a genuine character. He had waited on President Roosevelt at one of the restaurants in the Quarter in the 1930's. There used to be a restaurant adjacent to the Touro Infirmary on Prytania named "Allgoods", and it featured a short order cook who would on occasion drop her spatula on the grill and roll her right hand into a fist and say to the patrons sitting at the counter that "If you want some Hawaiian punch you will get a Hawaiian punch".
JULY 2002 -- VICKY FARMER of Picayune, MS writes…
I used to work in the 200 block of Canal St. in the 70's and would like to be in touch with some of the people. I have a picture or two from back then (somewhere) and a pic now of a guy named Roy Gibbons or Givens. I used to call him "Strawberry" in the 70's and he hung around Louie Schwall and some other guys I can't remember at this moment. There were 2 brothers from Alabama and I used to work for Al Harper. I remember Barbara Harper (no relation) and Barbara Byrd. If you know how to contact any of these people please let me know. Thank you.
I used to work for Al Harper in the 70's and I know he owns the RB Club (I think that's the name) on Bourbon plus another club or two, but no one will put me in touch with him. HELP! Does anyone know "Cornbread"? (Roy Givens)
MAR. 2002 - ELLEN BAIN SMITH on Chicken Man
I have some of his dolls. I also have one story. When the coffee brewery across from the Bourbon Orleans (name escapes me) caught fire years ago, someone told me that the Chicken Man was bagging the charred beans and selling them as Gris-gris.
Read Rick Bragg's book, Someone Told Me, for an account of Fred Slaten.
JAN. 2002 - KIM asks about a French Quarter clown…
Do you know anything about the Randy Clown? He makes phallic balloon shapes and gives them to women (for free!). I've seen him a few times when I've visited New Orleans, on Decatur Street. I was down for a week this past summer and talked about him with a bartender who'd seen him (and who named him the Randy Clown). Tell me if you know who I'm talking about...
OCT. 2001 -- MICHAEL RODGERS asks about eccentric southern lawyer,,,
I would appreciate any information you might have on a practicing New Orleans lawyer who is, I am told, quite well-known locally. His trademark is a white suit and wide-brimmed white hat... and that he brings his bulldog, Beauregarde, into court with him!
Does this guy sound familiar? Certainly fits the "eccentric" moniker, if you ask me!
From GLENN TOCA:
I remember in the late 60's a club on Bourbon across from Your Father's Mustache that featured what I believe was a drag show with a performer called The Cat Boy. Anyone remember him and his name?
JO COLE-COX of Charlotte, N.C. writes…
I was a cocktail waitress at Valenti's Paddock Club for a while in the '60s. I was working there when Easy Rider was filmed because I remember them being asked to get out of the doorway as a Grayline Tour was due. After a while I went to work at the King's Room behind D.H. Holmes as a bartender. Winkie Dewey owned the place. I lived and worked in the Quarter for at least two years, leaving in 1970 for San Francisco. They were very drunk years. There was this wonderful old guy who sold newspapers, didn't speak much English, I think he was German. He always gave you Carnival beads or something extra with your paper. Does anyone else remember him or know anything about him? I have often wondered about him. I lived with a man named Terry Cole who worked at the Galley House, a gay bar, owned by Harvey (?) and I forget his partners name. I have been to NOLA twice since moving to Charlotte, NC and its funny how it looks so much the same and different at the same time.
CAROL ANN STAPLES of Gatlinburg, TN. wonders the whereabouts of…
Dick Ramson… he was also known as "the chicken man" because he made roach holders out of chicken bones… (thighs were the best). Dick used to own Funky Butts on Toulouse… very late night jazz club. I'm talking the 70's…
MS. MIKE on Dick's Bar in
Hi....Yes, I have
been to the bar in Bush and became friendly with Dick. He's quite a character!
He has an absolutely AMAZING collection of photos, movies and audio tapes from
his days at Funky Butts. I tried to encourage him to try and find someone who
would make them into a documentary. Although I haven't been over there since
2000, I heard not too long ago that he was still alive and doing well. He
lives in an apartment above the bar...if you know him, I'm sure he would love
to hear from you. Please let me know if you hear any other news about him.
Sincerely, (Ms.) Mike Enson
SANDY HANSON knows Dick...
I met Dick Ransom when I worked at the Dungeon in the late 60's. At that time it was a key club , and had a great variety of New Orleans
characters. Musicians, waiters, cocktail waitresses, oilmen, and seamen (Dick used to ship out when I first met him)..... I also tended
bar for a short time for Dick at the Funky Butt. Several years ago he
moved to Bush, LA. and opened a bar called "Dick's in Bush"
I run into him every few years at some great jazz concert. He was always a great jazz buff. It's been a few years now , and I often
think about him, too. It might be time to take a trip to Bush.
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