Storytelling in a French Quarter Hair Salon

This story is an excerpt from an email I sent to friends in early December 2005 describing life in post-Katrina New Orleans. It describes the scene at a hair salon, Arthur\'s House of Glamour, in the French Quarter, as Arthur cared for his clients and we listened to one fabulous man tell his story of survival.\r\n\r\n I spent three hours at Arthur\'s House of Glamour in the French Quarter Saturday afternoon getting a cut and color. The place was jumping, or, as Arthur\r\nwould say, *twirling*. \r\n All the chairs were full, people were detouring from their strolls down Royal Street to pop in and say hello. The salon has been open since October 1 and nowadays Arthur won\'t talk about how Katrina treated him. The question is dismissed with a hand wave and loud \"Girl, we are not even going there. Not. Even. Going.\" He is, of course, curious about how others made out and asked about our mutual friends. While I was there one of the regulars, a man in his 30s with blond, cropped hair wearing jeans and a crisp white shirt, perched in the display window with his back toward Royal Street and regaled all his fellow Seekers of Glamour with his Katrina story. He lived in Lakeview, he said, and he had to climb into the attic to avoid the rising water. Eventually he had to chop through his attic ceiling and climb out onto the roof. \r\n We listeners made the appropriate sympathic noises. We\'ve all heard similar stories but we knew this one had a happy ending because the survivor was\r\n here among us, 100 days after the levees failed. \r\n Arthur kept the mood light and bantered with his customer. \r\n \"What did you use to cut through? Your nail clippers?\" Shrieks of laughter fill the sunshine-yellow room. Indeed, the storyteller did not look like he would be handy with a chainsaw, unlike some of Arthur\'s friends who dress with lumberjack flair. \r\n \"No, I had a hatchet. I had a hatchet and two bags. One bag had bottles of tequila and some clothes. The other had my sex toys.\" \r\n The Seekers of Glamour applauded at this last detail, and, I suppose, the storyteller\'s priorities. He waited for the laughter to subside and huffed with mock\r\n Indignation. \r\n \" I didn\'t want my personal stuff floating around to other to find! I didn\'t want my things bobbing around that filthy water in the house.\" \r\n \"I was up on the roof for two days. After the first day I decided they must not be able to see me, so I took a sequined hat from my bag and put it out on the roof\r\n where it would catch the sun. It worked! I was rescued by a helicopter full of lesbians!\" \r\n This is one of the best endings to a Katrina tale we Seekers of Glamour had ever heard. But the story was not finished. Weeks later, our survivor told us, a FEMA inspector came to document the damage at the remains of the Lakeview house. \r\n\r\n \"Mr. FEMA looked down at his clipboard and said, \"Sir, it says here you live alone. What are all these women\'s clothes doing here? I just looked at him and said, Honey, I\'m a drag queen! Haven\'t you figured that out by now?\"\r\n


“Storytelling in a French Quarter Hair Salon,” Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, accessed December 6, 2022,