Magnolia Cotillion

Rip & Marsha - A Very Special Story
Published Before August 17, 1994


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by Brad Benedict, AMBUSH Mag 2000

It was a mere twenty years ago that Rip Naquin and Marty Greeson met. That first meeting, although not actually love at first sight, was the beginning of a love story of fairy tale proportions. Rip was tall and slender, a good looking blond with blue eyes, a former New Iberian and student at Berwick High School. Marty attended Baton Rouge High School. At the time of that first meeting, Rip was attending Nicholls State.

It all happened at the Bourbon Pub and Pete's [now the site of Oz]. Rip had only been out about six weeks, and along with some friends at college had come to the French Quarter to find out what gay life was all about. At least this applied to Rip. In fact, he was so flustered by the entire situation that first time in the Crescent City that he caught a bus back to Thibodaux because he couldn't handle it.

It was July of 1974 when he actually met Marty - 8 a.m. to be exact, and Rip's group had partied all night. Marty and some friends had driven down from Baton Rouge and caught Rip and company leaving for the drive back to Thibodaux.

It was Marty who insisted they stay - until 4 p.m. to be exact again.

What was Rip's first opinion of Marty? Well, it was back during that period of time when jewelry - bracelets, earrings, etc. - were abundant glamour wear, and Marty, being stylish ahead of his time, was decked out in all his splender. He was like a movie star stepping out of that car. That image and fascination took hold, and Rip and Marty moved in together and officially became partners on August 17.

In the early days, Rip had dreams of grandeur. He could see himself as a dancer on Broadway, and even during this first month of their relationship, both thought it was going to be merely a fling. After all, no bells rang out proclaiming their common bond. It was purely sexual fascination.

Friends even tried to break them up, but this only drove them together. The foundation was being formed, and what started out as a roller coaster relationship developed into an unbreakable bond of love and trust. Their interests were alike. Rip liked showy things, and Marty fit the bill perfectly. Rip loved costume jewely, and Marty liked to show it off. From this glitter age of being in the limelight, the couple has now sought to downgrade this to a sense of privacy. The shutters on their Bourbon Street home hide them, but behind those walls, there still remains plenty to do.

Rip was a business administration and journalism major at Nicholls State and only lacked one semester of schooling. True love won out, and he quit school to be with the one he loved, something he has never regretted..

One thing happened right after he left Nicholls which is most interesting. Rip was heavy into the fraternity scene, and at the Greek Ball '94, he brought his Marty as Marsha, the current reigning Miss Gay Baton Rouge, all decked out in drag. Many of Rip's frat brothers thought she was reigning Miss Baton Rouge [you know-the straight/real one]. No one knew he was a male in drag, and they still don't know to this day, unless they are reading this story of their life.

It was during these early days in Baton Rouge that the groundwork was being laid for future publishing endeavors. The first journalistic effort was a local paper called THE ZIPPER. This was followed by THE ALTERNATIVE, a state publication but one not distributed in New Orleans. This one lasted four years.

Also during this period, this dynamic couple became heavily involved in the pageant scene, and Marty's career as the incomparable Marsha Delain blossomed. Following Miss Gay Baton Rouge 1974, the honors continued for the petit beauty with Miss Louisiana Halloween 1975, Miss Christmas Card 1975 and Miss Gay Louisiana at the Royal Sonesta in 1976.

It was politically correct during this period to be in the spotlight, and the 1970s saw Rip and Marsha involved in social and political activities as well as the pageant and Imperial Court systems.

AMBUSH is their third paper. The expense of Dreamstate during the early AMBUSH years just wasn't worth the effort, so with the help of close friends, AMBUSH offered a new approach to gay news reporting - both social and political. AMBUSH was a glossy monthly at first, and then it became newsprint, which has proven to be a successful format.

It was also in the middle '80s that the local economy in Baton Rouge drove them to greener pastures in New Orleans. Their magnificent home on Bourbon Street was not always their New Orleans dwelling. Their first home was half a shotgun, where they stayed for a year. Then they moved to the Marigny for a year, to Royal Street briefly, then the fabulous home they now live in at 828 Bourbon Street.

This was also the first time that they had room to place all their antique furniture, much of it inherited by Marty from his grandmother. He cared for her for ten years in Baton Rouge.

It was also during this period that Rip and Marty began entertaining with more elaborate parties - at least four major social functions per year. Of course the grand one is the Magnolia Cotillion, which marks their anniversary. It is the Old South as one would like to experience, and an experience it is. It is the social event of the summer season in New Orleans, and it is attended (by invitation only) by top political and social figures in the state. Mayors, senators, the wealthy and the not so wealthy, all rub shoulders in the pomp and pageantry that could only have happened at some palatial Southern mansion or plantation.

But how did these parties get started? They actually had their roots in Baton Rouge. Instead of dances or other kinds of parties, Rip and Marty entertained with swimming pool parties at their home - after the bars closed on Saturday nights. That's how it started, but the end was nowhere in sight.

On that first anniversary, there were two parties that year in Baton Rouge, the Cotillion and a Christmas bash. From this beginning, the Magnolia Cotillion has evolved into a huge extravaganza, along with several other major functions - Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence and Christmas.

On their twelth anniversary, a formal wedding was held at Petunias. Peter Thomas gave the beautiful bride away, and their holy union was consumated. Rip and Marsha pledged their love in another historic event in their lives.

Three years ago, Rip and Marsha began asking for donations for the NO/AIDS Walkathon. The first year they raised over $2.000, the second year, $4,122, and last year the total of $5,188 earned them a free trip to Rome.

Rip's first real job in the Crescent City was at Petunias as a waiter. He's now a general manager/waiter, and Marsha is the assistant chef. They've been here for nine years. Petunias used to be the old St. Louis Crepe Shoppe, and is now one of the finest restaurants in New Orleans with quality food and quality service.

Another historic first occurred last September 1, 1993. Rip and Marsha signed the rolls in New Orleans declaring their domestic partnership under the new ordinance for the city of New Orleans. Other honors are numerous and maybe not as colorful but yet they rate a mention here. The balcony at 828 Bourbon Street is widely known as the most interesting balcony in the French Quarter. The first major win came in 1987 in a Christmas contest sponsored by Patio Planters. This has followed with Mardi Gras 1988, and several others as the seasonal balcony takes on new and grander scales of beauty and creativity.

At Mardi Gras, it's a sight to behold. With the best pearls on Bourbon Street, it's a wild "you show, we throw" party - like no other in the historic old French Quarter.

As was noted by Rip when he first met his beloved, she likes jewelry, and it now takes a special vault in a New Orleans bank to hold her precious gems. It's a case of the bigger the better, making for an unusual collection. Some are very rare, and new ones are added at anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas. When asked what was wanted for their 20th anniversary gift, Marsha replied "a big bauble - or else." I think that's exactly what she's going to get - and more.

Another prize in their collection is the Fabrege Rose Bouquet egg done in gold and sterling silver with diamonds and rubies. In addition to this gift, Marsha also received a triple rose necklace with diamonds and rubies. Love apparently knows no boundaries at this home on Bourbon Street. AMBUSH headquarters are downstairs, and one must go down an enclosed passageway to enter the second level by way of a lovely old circular stairway leading up to an enclosed balcony overlooking the courtyard. The front balcony of course overlooks Bourbon Street. Like the song proclaiming those New Orleans ladies strolling from Bourbon to Esplanade, one has a gorgeous view of the downtown business district at Canal Street and beyond, and Esplanade, and the Marigny section in the opposite direction.

The beauty of the outside is only half the beauty of this setting. The real beauty lies with the couple inside. They are a shinning example of how love grows through the years.

This year marks their 20th anniversary. The Magnolia Cotillion of 1994 will be a grand affair. And it marks yet another milestone in the lives of Rip Naquin and Marsha Delain. Let the champagne flow! Let the party begin! The Old South will live again at 828 Bourbon Street in New Orleans' historic old French Quarter. The date - August 17. The function - the grand Magnolia Cotillion.

Congratulations go out to Rip and Marsha - the creme de la creme of gay society - and splendid examples for other gay and lesbian couples to follow.

Long may they reap the rewards of what true love has thrown their way.

It is a rarity.

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