Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Misfits go looking for Marie Laveau, 1982

(Note: We launched a new feature called LEGACY OF BRUTALITY today. So it felt like a good time for a voodoo, horror-punk themed installment of THE MORGUE!)


Death hasn’t stopped Marie Laveau from entertaining guests.

Her tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is among one of New Orleans' most popular tourist attractions. If you sign up for a walking tour of the city, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself at the door to her final resting place, leaving coins or some other trinket as an offering.

The Queen of Voodoo was born a “Free Woman of Color” in 1794 and lived to almost see the turn of the next century. Her death in the summer of 1881 was a celebrated event, with The Times Picayune praising her as a “Woman with a Wonderful History.” 
Marie Laveau
Those who have (passed) by the quaint old house on St. Ann, between Rampart and Burgundy streets, with the high, frail looking fence in front over which a tree or two is visible, have, till within the last few years, noticed through the open gateway a (decrepit) old lady, and a smile of peace an contentment lighting up her golden features. For a few years past she has been missed from her accustomed place. The feeble old lady lay upon her bed with her daughter and grandchildren around her ministering to her wants.

On Wednesday, the invalid sank into the sleep which knows no waking. Those who she has befriended crowded into the little room where she was exposed, in order to obtain a last look at the features, smiling even in death, of her who had been so kind to them.

The Times Picayune, June 17, 1881
Marie Laveau’s name will not be forgotten in New Orleans,” the story concludes, setting the stage for decades of misadventures in local cemeteries. Among those events was the arrest of horror-punk band The Misfits slightly more than 100 years after Laveau’s death. Following a concert at the long-defunct Tupelo’s Tavern on Oct. 17, 1982, The Misfits — accompanied by the kind of spiky haired kids you'd expect to see hanging out with a punk band  — decided to go looking for Laveau’s resting place. It was either an amazing night or a terrible one, depending on your point of view.

"Punk-rock musicians arrested in cemetery"

 From The Times-Picayune/States-Item: 
Four members of a punk-rock group and 14 of their fans who claimed to be looking for the tomb of a voodoo queen were arrested early Monday morning at a downtown cemetery, police said.

At the time of their arrest at St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, the members of the band called the Misfits were still wearing makeup, including dramatic facial painting, and one woman wore a black dress, fishnet hose and chains, said Carlos Diaz of Metairie, who was one of those arrested.

Diaz said the musicians, who are based in New Jersey, were looking for above-ground graves, including the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau.

But according to tradition, she is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.

Fifteen of those arrested, including members of the Misfits, were adults and were booked with criminal trespass. They are free on $75 bond until their arraignment at noon Tuesday before Municipal Judge Joseph R. Bossetta.

Yes, The Misfits were exploring the wrong graveyard in search of Marie Laveau's crypt. According to James Greene Jr.’s book, “The Music Leaves Stains,” the visitors were ratted out by residents of a housing project near the cemetery. In all, 18 people were arrested at the site. The Necros, an Ohio-based hardcore band touring with the Misfits, managed to evade arrest after convincing the cops that they weren’t part of the night’s scavenger hunt.

The Misfits at the Ritz in Texas, 1983. Photo by Bill Daniel.
The Misfits, though, spent the night in jail.

“Of course, (the police) started their assumptions immediately: We were robbing graves, we were Satan worshipers and all of the above,” remembers Mike IX Williams, one of the people arrested that night at St. Louis Cemetery No. 2:
"They lined us up along the street and interrogated (us) in the most fucked-up way that only New Orleans policemen can pull off (believe me, this is the South, they’re very original in their brutality). Me and two of my friends were singled out after they found out that we were juveniles and were way under the age of eighteen. One of us, a female, had a mohawk haircut, so they picked on her more than the rest, asking her “What are you? You a boy?” Obviously, she was not. She remained silent, so the prick in the blue uniform smashes her face and nose with his department-issued flashlight, right next to me, about six inches to my right side.”
The Misfits had a show in Florida the next day and opted to forfeit their $75 bonds and skip their day in court. The charges against them were dropped, but that was not the end of the story. More than a week later, The Times-Picayun reported that seven of the people arrested that night had filed false arrest and/or battery charges. I have a feeling their complaints didn't get far, even though the assault was witnessed by enough people to staff a baseball team.

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