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The Krewe du Vieux parades through the Faubourg Marigny Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, to the theme, ‘The Crass Menagerie.’ Cartoonist Bunny Matthews was the king of the parade, known for its wild satire, adult themes, and political comedy. The group’s 17 sub-krewes wound through the Marigny and French Quarter before finishing in the Central Business District.

When Keith Twitchell, then-captain of Krewe du Vieux, went to meet then-District C City Councilman Troy Carter at City Hall, he found that Carter knew all about Krewe du Vieux: “You guys are the ones with the penises,” Carter told him.



Body — and bawdy — parts are a big feature of the krewe’s annual Mardi Gras walking parade, which first staggered through the streets on Valentine’s Day 1987, with musician Charmaine Neville as grand marshal and the theme “Odd Couples” (among them: Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee and Tina Turner). The following year, Krewe du Vieux settled in to its usual level of good taste; Chef Paul Prudhomme was grand marshal and the theme was “N’Awlins Eats Out.”

Other themes over the years have included “Unnaturally New Orleans,” “Depraved New World,” “Crimes Against Nature” and, in the year following Hurricane Katrina, “C’est Levee.”

This year’s theme is a backhanded salute to Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s positivity campaign. “LaToya is trying to brand us as the ‘City of Yes,’” Twitchell (now the krewe’s “Poobah of Publicity”) says, “so our theme this year is “The City of Yes Yes Oh God Yes.”

Krewe du Vieux began as a spinoff of another popular walking krewe, the Krewe of Clones, which fell apart after the city tried to make it a bit more respectable during the year of the 1986 Super Bowl in New Orleans. Like Clones, Krewe du Vieux actually is a loosely organized group of sub-krewes, some of which — Underwear, Mama Roux, Seeds of Decline and C.R.U.D.E. — have been with the group since the beginning. The current membership also includes Krewe of Space Age Love, Krewe of L.E.W.D., Krewe of Drips and Discharges, Krewe of K.A.O.S., Knights of Mondu, T.O.K.I.N., Krewe Rue Bourbon, Krewe de C.R.A.P.S., Mystic Krewe of Spermes, Mystick Krewe of Comatose, Krewe of the Mystic Inane, Krewe du Mishigas and Krewe of SpanK.

The parade is known for its homemade floats of various levels of sophistication, which are drawn through the streets of the Faubourg Marigny and French Quarter by mules. Most parody local officials and themes and range from PG-13 to decidedly X ratings. This year’s floats will include “Spermes Gets Entergy Customers Turned On,” “Pot for Potholes” and “The Lyin’ King,” a tribute to President Donald Trump.

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021519 Krewe Boheme
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021619 Krewe Du Vieux
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021619 Krewedelusion
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021619 Bilge Boat
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021619 Poseidon

Has there ever been any pushback from city officials? Twitchell mulls the question.

“Maybe a little,” he says, “the year we did ‘Mitch and Marlon Make a Porno.’”

The float was a takeoff of the Seth Rogen comedy “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” and featured Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlon Gusman’s heads superimposed on a video screen that was showing a heavily censored gay porn flick.

Suffice it to say: Parental guidance is suggested for Krewe du Vieux.

“Only the most progressive parents want to take their kids,” Twitchell says.

Follow Kevin Allman on Twitter: @kevinallman