Teresa Kuskey Nowak, founder, director and head cheerleader for La Boheme Dancers, and Rick Oshay — that man-about-town philanthropist and alchemist of exotic local parties — presented a Mardi Gras party to end all Mardi Gras.
Oshay and his Oshay Family Foundation presented the dinner and entertainment event as a fundraiser for La Boheme at Santa Barbara’s Carriage and Western Art Museum.
Well, first we have to sidebar and go back one year ago.
You see, Oshay and Nowak launched a wonderful public party for Fat Tuesday 2022 in the 1200 block of State Street. Nowak primed her gals for performance amid costumes and glitter of purple, green and gold.
Their high-spirited dance took off in an impromptu parade for just a block and a half to the delight of the crowd that followed.
As it turned out, this was a Terribly Naughty thing to do, and Nowak received: A Warning from the City.
You see, even though the streets are already closed to traffic, and people are hobnobbing aimlessly about on the asphalt, and even though the whole purpose of a flash mob is the spontaneity of it all … you nonetheless need a permit!
Yes, you need to go in to a City of Santa Barbara office and apply for a permit to plan for a sudden inspiration to perform. So now you know.
Alrighty, back to the fun … So for this year, Oshay and Nowak put on the second annual Mardi Gras mob madness, but at the Carriage Museum.
It started off with a parade with all the evening’s upcoming performers. Nowak led off the gaggle of girls (hmmm, or should that be metaphor be called a giggle of gals?) to the upbeat tune of “When the Saints Come Marching In.”
They were followed by the performers for the show: drummers, exotic dancers, trombones and more.
And now the show begins! What entertainment! Let’s take a look at a few of the performers:
Next up, local rocker Maitland Ward strolled out in a long crimson fur pimp coat, singing “The House of the Rising Sun.” A total hoot.
At one point, between verses, Ward looked down, shook his head smiling, and groaned, “Oh man — tomorrow this is going to be all over Facebook.”
But wait! — there’s more! Belly Dancer Nilay Engin-Wheat, Katelyn Carano in the ring of things, the terrific Trombone troop!
By now you are thinking, wow this has everything but the kitchen sink, what’s left? The Ginsu Knives … or mebbe a guy in drag? Well you’d be half right … BellaDonna Santa Barbara crooned a tune.
To top it off, the ubiquitous John Palminteri (serving as emcee) was crowned as this year’s Mardi Gras King, and popular reporter Tracy Lehr was invested as La Bohème Goddess!
And when Nowak named sommelier Richard Payatt and Gretchen Lieff of La Lieff Wines) King Bacchus and Queen Bacchus, I think I heard the crowd let out a little wine (… ouch).
King Bee provided music we could severely bop to, so we were able to work off all the calories we enjoyed.
And THAT is how you throw a Mardi Gras party. Laissez les bons temps rule!