American Horror Story (Unauthorized) Tour:
Since my sister’s friend and I love the show American Horror Story – and my sister is knowledgable in Madame Delphine LaLaurie’s torture of slaves, we decided to take the American Horror Story Unauthorized Tour. For $25 per person, you get a 2.5 hour tour that takes you through the places American Horror Story: Coven was taped, teaches you about the real-life tales that inspired some of Coven’s plot and discusses voodoo in New Orleans. The tour started at 9am and we met at Jackson Square, not too far from Café Du Monde.
Facts about the Lalaurie’s mansion:
Warning Graphic Content
Madame Delphine LaLaurie and her 3rd husband, who was a physician, thought they were doing scientific research when torturing slaves. Anytime she was caught, she only got a slap on the wrist or a small fine – most of the people in town (including the police) knew Madame Delphine and grew up with her
- One day a fire, which started in the kitchen, broke out in the LaLaurie’s residence. When the police and firefighters arrived, they found the cook chained by the ankle to the stove. The cook admitted to trying to kill herself in order to avoid being taken to the attic where people never came out. It was reported the next day in a local New Orleans newspaper that bystanders tried to enter the slave quarter that was attached to the LaLaurie’s residence, but was denied the keys to enter – so instead, they broke down the door and immediately discovered slaves that had been mutilated, tortured and killed. Some reports claim that slaves eyes were gouged out, were chained to the wall, their flesh had been sliced away, fingernails pulled off, limbs were amputated and more
- Once word got around of the LaLaurie’s torture house, an angry mob came and destroyed much of the residence – the LaLaurie’s had fled to Paris before the mob arrived at the residence
There has since been said that a curse has been put on the house and anyone who stays there becomes a victim. One of the most well known victims of said curse is Nicholas Cage, who has a history of buying islands and castles. He met financial ruin and mental health issues after buying the LaLaurie Mansion. Between owing the IRS millions of dollars, filing for bankruptcy, being arrested for public intoxication in a state that has an open container law, and not having another box office hit since buying the mansion – it’s easy to believe that there is a curse on the house or unfortunately for Mr. Cage, a bad series of coincidences
facts about Voodoo in New orleans:
- Voodoo in New Orleans came from the West African coast. It was forbidden for slaves to practice the religion, as they had to assimilate into the Catholic church, so they practiced in secret
- Because Louisiana slaves had to adopt Catholic practices, they ended up combining elements from both religions
- The second wave of voodoo came from Haitian refugees during the Haiti Slave Revolt
- Marie Laveau helped make voodoo a norm in New Orleans and was known as the “Voodoo Queen”. Marie Laveau became a hairdresser, which gave her access to the gossip happening in town from white women and their servants and slaves. Many in New Orleans believed Marie Laveau possessed powers because she “magically” knew so much information about others’ lives
- American Horror Story inaccurately depicts the life of Marie Laveau. They portray her as an evil witch who murdered, like Madame LaLaurie, but Marie Laveau never killed anyone – in fact, she tried to heal and help others using voodoo. Laveau specifically helped slaves with finding independence and healing
- Voodoo dolls were originally for healing purposes – the pins in the doll were a medical record. The pins show what was healed (e.g. if the pin is in someone’s head it’s curing a headache)
- Voodoo dolls turned negative because of Hollywood. Hollywood would make the pins represent suffering (e.g. pin in the head gives you a headache instead of cure)
- Congo Square is where early voodoo practitioners gathered – the square was closed for a brief period of time due to the fear of slaves uprising but later reopened
Studio Be is an art warehouse in the Bywater neighborhood and the current exhibit, called “Ephemeral Eternal”, was created by Brandan “Bmike” Odums – a visual artist. This is Bmike’s final BE installment and is only going to stay open until May 2017 – so you better get here quickly before it’s gone! This exhibit deals with the constant struggles of being black and black history.
One of the ways I find attractions in destinations I’m traveling to is by looking through others’ experiences, on Instagram, at that destination – this was how I found out about Studio Be and this exhibit. This exhibit in particular is empowering and moving – especially being a black woman in the U.S. One piece of artwork that stuck out to me the most was the “I am a man” painting – a piece that displayed Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Oscar Grant all holding a sign saying “I am a man”. The staff at Studio Be are warm, friendly and welcoming, they make sure you have a good experience while you’re there.
A 10 minute walk from Studio Be, we arrived at The Joint – a barbecue restaurant. I found out about this place the day before through a friend who tagged me in a video on Facebook, I was automatically intrigued! The Joint is known to be one of the best barbecue places around, possibly because they smoke their barbecue right out back. Besides the delicious food & drinks you can get, (like mac & cheese, sweet tea, pulled pork sandwich, ribs and lemonade) there is also great 90’s-00’s hip-hop playing in the background for you to sing along – or maybe that was just us?
Do any of the things I did on my 4th day intrigue you? Would you check out these spots? Let me know by commenting below!