People often compare New Orleans to a pot of gumbo. The pot is filled with unique ingredients but when mixed their flavors come together and make something bigger. This past week I had the opportunity to explore the French Quarter and talk with the locals. This experience reaffirmed the idea of New Orleans as a jumbo pot of gumbo; they truly are one of a kind and their stories are filled with inspiration, humor, and a whole lot of big easy love.
“We’ve performed in local clubs in the city, House of Blues, Vaso, Encore, you know different clubs in the city to keep the movement going.” –Two Men
“It’s actually very inspiring to know that you can work for a sex positive retailer. The owner Larry Flint changed the laws in America back in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s because of him that we are able to have a store like this in such a debaucherous city. It’s pretty exciting, it has is challenges though, it is Bourbon Street. Actually, I have kicked someone out for drunkenly humping a manikin.” –Employee of Hustler Hollywood, photographs of the staff are not permitted.
“I have been working in the French Quarter for about 12 to 13 years. Working at Felix is a really good place to work at, good, laid back you know. It’s we got the people, just interacting with the guest, learning other people’s culture.”-Waitress at Felix Oyster Bar
“My second day on the job some drunk homeless guy broke the lock and came in. I was in the back doing stocking and my boss was up front doing paperwork. My boss didn’t know he was very drunk and harmless. The guy starts running through the connected hotel. As I was walking into the front, unaware of the situation, my manager grabs a gun and yells at me to, “Grab a fu**king gun.” I grabbed the Tommy Gun and we are chasing after this dude. The drunk boy posts up next to a security guard, who thinks he’s a hotel guest. My manager takes the gun and swings at him. He misses him by three or four inches, almost killing him. The whole time I thought it was all an initiation joke. However, it was the weirdest experience I have had working down here.” -21st Amendment Employee
“I grew up in Queens, New York. The curiosity brought me down here and I ended up staying. I moved here in 2006 and after one week I found a job and have been in New Orleans ever since.” –Hotel Doorman
“I just moved here two and a half months ago. I visited it with my mom and fell in love with it.” –Praline Shop Employee
“It is pretty nice working down here. We get a lot of tourists. It’s a weird little family of service industry down here. We all kind of look out for each other.” –Barista
“I lost my father when right before I decided to leave Delaware. I moved to New Orleans three months after Hurricane Katrina. It was probably one of the most beautiful things I could have experienced. I got to see how we truly come together to heal together. Had I stayed there I would be the only one receiving a real life trauma, instead I came into a whole region.” –Artist outside Jackson Square
“We are here on business, can’t you tell?” –Tourist from Café Du Monde
“….” –Silent Street Performer
PHOTOS: Justin Haber