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A tale of two inspired cocktails: Richard Cheese and the Steampunk Ball

They say that imitation is flattery, and flattery abounded in New Orleans just a little more than a week ago at a pair of events replete with food, music, and drinks flowing -- appropriate during Tales of the Cocktail week. I am talking about the Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine show at the House of Blues and the First Annual Steampunk Ball at the Howlin Wolf

Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine are the brainchilds of Mark Jonathan Davis, who has attempted pretty successfully to revive the whole airport hotel bar karaoke lounge scene. Since his debut in 2000, he has managed to put out 14 studio albums and five live albums. His blend of specialized lounge-style arrangement of recent popular rock, metal and hip hop songs are campy to say the least, but the audience at the House of Blues took every bar in stride. The act relies on Richard Cheese’s wit and personality. While the male-chauvinist tendencies of his act grew boring at times, he managed to reel the crowd back in with his next campy cover. While this was not a definitive Tales of the Cocktail event, the spirit (pun intended) was there, something like a real dirty martini.

On the opposite end of the spectrum was the first Steampunk Ball at the Howlin Wolf. Hosted by Gen-XX of the Genitorturers, it offered steampunk music and fashion performances by Gen-XX, Defenz Mechanizm, Angelica Synthetic, Vera Vermilion, Dark Stilter, Aurora Von and DJ's Mr. Automatic, and DJ IX. The evening's VIP experience was hosted by Russian Standard Vodka, which regularly sponsors Gen’s similar event in Florida. Gen said, “We have been producing the Steampunk Ball in Tampa, Florida, for the past six years and we decided to bring the event during this time frame (during Tales of the Cocktail) as many of our bartenders, friends and fans from Tampa were in town. Also, with the connection to our band, you may have seen some fans that are not necessarily 'steampunk' folks but are longtime Genitorturers fans, as the band has been playing in New Orleans for many years.”

Steampunk as a concept goes well beyond the boiled-down concept of Victorian-meets-Sci-Fi. In many ways it is an “I’ll know it when I see it” type of thing. The ball itself could have used more costumes, but the décor was spot on and the addition of a projection screen showing “steampunk” influenced shots was outstanding.

The main event of the evening was the Genitorturers. The three piece band is headed by Gen-XX, who serves as lead singer and ringmaster. The performance-art pieces in the show combine well with the industrial vibes of the music. The concluding act of the set isn’t for the faint of heart, to say the least. I’m looking forward to next year’s event. As Gen stated, “We are planning on making this an annual event in New Orleans, and look forward to making the next one even bigger and better. Our next event will have a specific 'story' and theme attached to it that will absolutely encourage and inspire more costumed participation. For this first event we did not have a mandatory dress code because we wanted all to feel comfortable to attend.”

You can see more pictures here.

Steven Hatley is a New Orleans-based photographer. You can find more of his photography here.