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Carnival 2015, the year of the women’s organizations

26th January 2015   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

Carnival 2015 marks the 10th celebration since Hurricane Katrina and by the looks of it, the Mardi Gras women’s movement is evident.

As the Krewe of Muses celebrates its 15th anniversary, and The Mystic Krewe of Nyx hits the ‘largest female krewe in Carnival history’ milestone, this season of pageantry and revelry, has made room for two new all-female clubs.

Carnival 2015, the year of the women’s organizations

Carnival 2015, the year of the women’s organizations

The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale will debut this carnival season, being one of two organizations made up of predominately African-American female members. The Krewe of Athena will parade on February 6 in Metairie, on the traditional (Metairie) Veterans Blvd. Route.

The ladies of Femme Fatale will parade along the traditional uptown route in New Orleans on February 8 at 3 p.m.- following the Krewe of Alla parade. The theme of the inaugural procession is “The Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale Remembers Hollywood Horror Classics.” The movie motif pays homage to the advent of Hollywood South as an industry in the city, according to founder Gwendolyn Rainey.

The inaugural parade will showcase 14 floats depicting silver screen incarnations; along with 35 bands and assorted marching groups, including the renowned Buffalo Soldiers.

Rainey is pleased to see the emergence of female krewes, but felt there was still a missing piece, in regard to the rich culture of Mardi Gras.

“I was at the (2012) Zulu ball with family and friends, and I had a thought- I looked at our culture and asked: ‘Why in this rich culture do we not have a Black women’s Mardi Gras group?’

Some in attendance echoed her sentiment. Rainey spoke of organizing a krewe, and many friends and colleagues held her feet to the fire. Women she pitched the idea to encouraged her to pursue the mission.

“It was something that just would not let me go,” It just stayed with me.”

“We held a number of campaigns, promoting what we do throughout the community, “Rainey told The Louisiana Weekly, “We’re not just a Mardi Gras organization.”

Over the past year, the ladies of Femme Fatale participated in various community enrichment efforts.

In just its first year, the group has nearly 400 members (with a little over 300) riding members.

“We have members from DC, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston—all across the country-Doctors, law­yers, nurses-every profession you could think of is represented,” Rainey adds.

When Dr. Mary Anne Lewis Leach heard of the forming of the organization, she knew she had to be a part of it.

“In October, my sister Judy Lewis Wallace shared information about the new historic Femme Fatale krewe and without hesitation I responded.”

The New Orleans native (and current Baton Rouge resident) lived on the east coast for 30 years but the need and determination to return home deepened after Hurricane Katrina.

“The mission and goals of community-based support of this group heightened my interest as well,” Leach added. “It is an honor and privilege to be a part of the historic first all-female African-American Mardi Gras krewe.”

As its mission states from its organization’s website, ‘the Mystic Krewe of Femme Fatale offers women of all creeds and colors a unique opportunity to promote and support New Orleans’ cultural landscape through participation in the annual Mardi Gras season, while uplifting the community through various endeavors of engagement, awareness and social enhancement in order to further the growth of the organization.”

Rainey, an Orleans Parish Juvenile Court administrator is a Carnival Legacy who grew up in the Zulu organization as the daughter of board member emeritus George V. Rainey, a debutante in 1980 and also a former Zulu Witchress—consort to the celebrated Zulu Witch Doctor. Her Zulu ties helped her with the business aspects of founding a krewe.

“Some of it comes natural (being a part of the Zulu family) but “it is a lot of work,” she says.

The work and planning has been at an expeditious pace; The krewe had not planned to roll until Mardi Gras 2016; but received word that if a city permit was to be granted, it would be to parade for this season, in order to be grandfathered into future dates.

“We had about six months to put this parade together,” she says. “I think we’ve done a fabulous job. Right about now, I have to take some really deep breaths, but we’re here.”

Every krewe has a signature throw and the ladies of Femme Fatale are no different, offering a (makeup) compact, which, like the krewe logo, is embossed with a lipstick enhanced kiss. The image is meant to symbolize the significance of both inner and outer beauty, Rainey explained.

Parade-goers can also be on the lookout for logo cups, and medallion beads.

Ladies interested in becoming members of the Krewe of Femme Fatale or the Krewe of Athena can submit applications after the 2015 Carnival season, by going to and

This article originally published in the January 26, 2015 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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