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in the news-2

Volume 15/Issue 20

BUSTA Presents The Party!

I n celebration of Art For Art's Sake in the historic Warehouse District, Busta Martin, owner of BUSTA-The Full Service Salon, 752 Tchoupitoulas St. corner of Julia, once again mounts his annual gala, The Party! Now in its seventh year, The Party expands onto the Tchoupitoulas Pavement in front of the salon to accommodate a wide range of performers, dancers and a "generally fabulous crowd." The Party! is Martin's personal kickoff to his season calendar.

The Party! is bigger and better than ever this year with the inclusion of some of the city's most exciting performers lending their talents to this incredible event. Kicking off the evening is the African-American dance troupe N'Kafu, under the direction of Mariama Curry. Local actor and playwright Vatican Lokey has created an original cabaret for the event with pianist Karl Harrod and the lovely voices of Heidi Jensen, Katherine Arthurs and Allison Weinnig. Ballroom dancers Sam & Brigette from the Audubon Hotel also hit the streets for some hot swing and ballroom dancing on Tchoupitoulas, joined by several local dancers led by Carolyn Arthurs.

Capping off the evening is Casa Samba, playing outside the salon, while inside the atmosphere switches from cabaret to disco, and the place goes wild! The festivities begin on Oct. 4 at 6pm to 9pm. Lokey's cabaret will begin at 7pm; Casa Samba, 8pm. Admission is free.

Art Against AIDS Leadership Selected

Don Lemoine, Leslie Newman & Jim Lestelle T he NO/AIDS Task Force announced on Sept. 17 that Don Lemoine and Jim Lestelle have been named co-chairs of this year's Art Against AIDS fundraiser scheduled for Dec. 5.

In addition, artist Leslie Newman of Earth and Fire Gallery is serving as art chair, responsible for soliciting support from the art community, communicating with artists and galleries, and selecting and displaying art objects available for auction and sale at the event.

Art Against AIDS is the second-largest fundraising event for NO/AIDS Task Force, the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in the Gulf South and one of the oldest and largest organizations of its type in the U.S. This year's event, the 11th, will be held at the New Orleans Shopping Centre in downtown New Orleans.

Lemoine is controller for Gambit Weekly newspaper and a trustee of NO/AID Task Force. Lestelle is senior vice-president of Corporate Communications at Hibernia National Bank and serves as secretary/treasurer of the Task Force.

Hotel Inter-Continental's Unique N.O. Photo Gallery

N ative New Orleanian Jean Manale has spent years walking the streets of the Crescent City admiring its people, its culture and its classics. Some of her most precious images have been captured on film and can now be viewed in The Photo Gallery of Hotel Inter-Continental New Orleans.

Manale, a freelance photographer for the last 15 years, spends her weekends and spare time looking for what she calls "that moment," that instant when she can capture, on film, scenes or people, places or events that only occur once in a lifetime.

Manale has 18 photographs on display, everything from night scenes of the French Quarter to a photo she has titled, "Live Chickens." All of her photographs are on sale for those interested in purchasing her work.

Jean Manale's exhibit is displayed in the Photo Gallery of Hotel Inter-Continental at 444 St. Charles Ave. on the first floor. These photos will be on view to the public through Oct. 17.

Major New Survey Reveals Many People With HIV
Do Not Understand Their Condition
Or Treatment Options

T he greatest barrier between people with HIV and new lifesaving medications may be personal lack of knowledge, according to a study of 1,069 HIV- positive people, one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind ever undertaken. The study, released at the U.S. Conference on AIDS, was conducted by the Philadelphia EMA Commission, an advisory board to the Philadelphia Health Department.

The study finds that lack of knowledge may lead many individuals, particularly people of color, not to seek care at a time when appropriate treatment could dramatically improve their prospects for healthy life.

The U.S. Conference on AIDS is organized by the National Minority AIDS Council, an education and advocacy organization representing over 3,000 groups across the United States. 2,500 AIDS professionals attended the meeting held in Miami Beach in Sept.

According to the study data, almost one out of three (32%) people with HIV said they did not need doctor visits. Ten percent of respondents did not know their T-cell count and 33% did not know their viral load, an important indicator of disease progress.

The study found that lack of knowledge about HIV disease may be greater among people of color with HIV. Both African Americans and Latinos with HIV are over twice as likely as Caucasians not to know their T-cell counts (14% and 10% vs. 4% for Caucasians). Forty percent of African Americans and 50% of Latinos with HIV do not know their viral load, while only 17% of Caucasians reported the same. Further, 11% of African Americans and 9% Latinos do not understand the meaning of viral load, versus only 3% of Caucasians.

The study also revealed that people of color were significantly less likely to be using new anti-HIV drug combinations than Caucasians. Only 56% of the African American and Latino respondents in the study reported using protease inhibitors, while 71% of Caucasians reported using the drugs. HIV-positive women are also less likely to receive the new drug combination than are men (56% vs. 66%). The study found that, while transmission mode does not seem to be a factor in accessing the new drugs, insurance status does play a role.

"The statistics indicate that many people, and many people of color in particular, are not only infected with HIV, but also affected by a lack of information," said Pat Bass, Co-Director of the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office for the Philadelphia EMA. "If we are going to change this health care system, we must continue to put information in the community, particularly information that's targeted to communities of color."

"National Minority AIDS Council has been active for years in combating lack of information about HIV/AIDS, particularly among people of color," said Paul Kawata, executive director of NMAC, the sponsor of the U.S. Conference on AIDS, where the study was released. "This survey shows that we are correct in targeting awareness and knowledge as a key part of access, and that nonprofit organizations, researchers, government, and industry have a lot more work to do in terms of providing quality HIV treatment education to all people affected by AIDS."

"It's clear that many HIV-positive people do not understand that they need to start medical treatment early, and not wait until they're already sick," added Dr. Mick Mauer, the openly HIV-positive Co-chair of the Philadelphia Commission. "We've got new drugs that really make a difference now, but you'll never get close to taking them if you don't first understand that you should see your doctor."

According to Rick Britt, another openly HIV-positive commissioner, "African Americans just don't think doctors are going to treat them fairly. We don't trust the system, we don't want to be experimented with again. It's really ironic that this belief now means we're dying faster than White folks, because that's what it means. When you don't get the new medications, you die faster."

Scout, one of the project consultants, expressed concern over the study results. "This is disturbing because people around the country are trying to fix the problem of access to treatments, not even realizing that the low level of education about new therapies might be the invisible mountain that's standing in their way."

The survey of 1,069 individuals represents nearly one out of every 20 people with HIV in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia EMA HIV Commission undertook this project in July, 1997 in collaboration with Basile Ryan, Inc. and the Survey Research Lab at Virginia Commonwealth University.

"This is the largest survey of HIV-positive people that I am familiar with, and it also has a very high representation of the African American and Latino communities," said Dr. Judy Bradford, Director of the Survey Research Lab. "As a researcher, this gives me a lot of confidence in these results."

Gay & Lesbian Tourists
Impact New Orleans Economy

T hroughout the past year, the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Po- litical Action Caucus (LAGPAC) has conducted sidewalk campaigns to survey many of the city's lesbian and gay tourists visiting New Orleans to attend special events such as Southern Decadence, Halloween, Gay Pride, Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest.

The random sample included responses from over 500 visiting guests. This year's Southern Decadence weekend alone drew over 50,000 tourists to our city. Organizers of "Halloween," a 4-day benefit for Lazarus House, reported attendance at last year's events to number close to 10,000, with 50-60% of those in attendance from outside of New Orleans. It is acknowledged that the sample represents only a small proportion of the thousands of gay and lesbian travelers who choose New Orleans as a vacation or special-events destination.

According to the survey, 87% of respondents stated that they are repeat visitors to our city; of that number, 56% claimed to have visited New Orleans five times or more. When asked what other leisure opportunities would bring these visitors back to New Orleans, 68% said they would return to vacation, 81% said they would return for Southern Decadence, 54% for Halloween, 65% would return for Mardi Gras and 53% are interested in visiting during October's Gay Pride events.

While many visitors enjoy Bourbon St. and its many attractions, respondents also frequent other New Orleans tourist sites: 32% visit the Aquarium of the Americas, 16% frequent the Audubon Zoo, 41% take French Quarter tours, and more than a quarter of travelers visit the antique shops and art galleries on Magazine St.

59% of lesbian and gay travelers arrive in New Orleans by plane, while 40% arrive by automobile, indicating that our visitors are traveling from international, national and regional points of origin. Those surveyed represent a wide geographical array of visitors. International travelers hailed from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa and the United Kingdom. US travelers most often arrive from Alabama, Arizona, Washington, D.C., Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Cities were most often represented by Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, San Francisco, Pensacola, Tampa, Chicago, Kansas City, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Mobile and Birmingham.

Respondents report learning about our city and its special events from various sources: Internet: 30%; National, mainstream travel publications: 9%; National gay/lesbian travel publications: 15%; National gay/lesbian magazines: 26% ; and, Local gay/lesbian publications: 29%.

When securing lodging for their visit, the 500+ respondents reported utilizing more than 100 of the city's hotels, guest houses and bed and breakfast establishments. According to a quick poll of guest houses and hotels adjacent to or near the French Quarter, all reported full occupancy for the Labor Day weekend. Many of the larger hotels in the city have also come to recognize Southern Decadence and other festivities as "special events"-complete with special event pricing. Despite Labor Day weekend, generally regarded as a low point during the doldrums of summer, several hotels were charging premium rates, with many requiring 3 - 5 day minimum stays.

Many city businesses have already recognized the huge economic potential for marketing to the lesbian and gay community. The 500 respondents reported direct spending exceeding $550,000. 38% report average budgets of $500-999 during an average stay, 19% report spending $1000-1499, with another 10% spending in excess of $1500. Most report 3 - 5 day visits. Given the estimate of 50,000 tourists in town for this year's Southern Decadance events, and applying the lowest reported average budget of $500, we can assume a direct impact of at least $25 million to the New Orleans economy.

According to those responding to the survey, 51% have earned college degrees, with an additional 33% reporting post-graduate work. 43% of those surveyed claim to work in professional/technical fields, 20% identify themselves as working in the Executive/Management professions. 9% report working in sales and marketing, with another 7% describing themselves as self-employed.

48% of our gay/lesbian visitors are between the ages of 25 and 34. Of these, 39% report annual incomes in excess of $40,000. 37% of those surveyed are between the ages of 35-49, with 72% reporting annual incomes in excess of $40,000.

Christopher Daigle, Co-chair for the organization, stated, "While unscientific in its methods, this preliminary report should serve as a catalyst for city administrators to further investigate the huge potential in marketing our city to lesbian and gay tourists. Our community has always contributed greatly to the fabric of our city. This report helps to demonstrate the economic impact derived from encouraging diversity in our culture and politics. Gay tourists recognize New Orleans as one of the most progressive cities in the south. Embracing and encouraging cultural diversity is simply 'good business' for New Orleans."

The organization plans to report its findings to the city administration and the New Orleans Tourism Bureau to draw attention to the huge economic impact made by gay and lesbian tourists in our city. It is LAGPAC's hope that a portion of the city's tourism dollars will be allocated to promote New Orleans in various national gay and lesbian markets.

20 Something Group At Community Center

T he Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans is now reforming the 20 Something group which is open to all individuals, regardless of age. The 20 Somethings group will meet twice a month and has some very interesting upcoming events planned.

If you're interested, drop by the Lesbian and Gay Community Center at 816 N. Rampart St. or call 504.522.1103.

Authors At FM Bookstore For Pridefest 97

T he Faubourg Marigny Book store will host an array of talented local and national authors during Pridefest 97. These authors will be signing at the bookstore's booth in Washington Square.

Following is a schedule of the authors' appearances: Saturday, Oct. 11, 2pm - 4pm: Linnea Due, editor of Hot Ticket: Tales Of Lesbians, Sex, and Travel; Jean Redmann, author of Intersection Of Law And Desire; from 3 - 4pm, Gwen Leonhard, M.Ed., author of Feathering Your Nest: An Interactive Workbook And Guide To A Loving Lesbian Relationship; 3:30pm - 5:30pm, J. B. Harter will sign the book of his paintings, Encounters With The Male Nude; 4pm - 6pm, Honey Van Campe will sign his award-winning book, The Drag Queen's Cookbook & Guide To Sensible Living; and, Sunday, Oct. 12: noon - 2pm, Lisa C. Moore, editor of does your mama know? An Anthology Of Black Lesbian Coming Out Stories; 2pm - 3pm, Tony Fennelly, author of 1-900-dead; and, 2pm - 4pm, Charles J. Hebert will sign Swiming To Atlantis.

Developing Media Savvy

T he University of New Orleans is offering a workshop for community based organizations entitled Developing Media Savvy. The purpose of the workshop is to help community based organizations learn how to develop a successful relationship with the media. The workshop will be held Nov. 17 thru 18 at the University.

Topics include: developing a strategic marketing plan, media buying, writing press releases, and tips and techniques for a successful interview. Marketing and advertising professionals in the community will present these and other topics. Participants will also be offered opportunities to gain hands-on experience in writing press releases and radio/tv interviewing. A limited number of scholarships are available for qualified participants. For information, call Debbe Thompson, 504.280.6361; or, Pete Anderson, 504.280.7061.

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