Here are some examples of Carnival face-painting and body-art.

More body-art.

Here are some typical
New Orleans masks,
which we sometimes use as
samples for face-painting.

New Orleans Mardi Gras
(Fat Tuesday) is the biggest, wildest, the most spectacular and colorful Carnival in North America. About 6 million people come to the Big Easy to see all the action. Mardi Gras Day is always 40 days before Easter Sunday and marks the last day of partying before Lent.

Artists and models from the doggie-parade, the "Krewe of Barkus" - where pets and their owners dress up and march around the French Quarter.

Me & Sasha ready for work.

Face-painting for kids and tits-painting for maidens. Girls like to do it - they feel less shy to show them to guys - which is a Mardi Gras favorite pastime, especially on Bourbon street.

Girls who show their tits get a lot of beads - the rest of the crowd has to buy them or catch them from the floats during parades. Beads and doubloons (souvenir coins) are Mardi Gras play money - they can be traded, collected or given as a gift for more or less innocent sexual favors. We got tons of beads for face-painting (we preferred cash - but I'd work for really good beads too). My flat is still covered with them all over.

Here are the kids catching beads and doubloons. Families occupy their spots along St.Charles Avenue, bring ladders, chairs, matrasses and camp there for the whole carnival so they can see all parades. The best captive audience I ever had!

Bourbon street on Mardi Gras Day 1996 - you can't walk - there's a wall to wall crowd.

Mardi Gras colors are green, purple and gold - you can see them everywhere in the city: on balconies, in costumes, banners etc.

Russian face-painting team on tour! From the left: Irina, Boris and Sasha.

The "last parade" of Mardi Gras - cops cleaning Bourban street from people at midnight on Fat Tuesday. They are followed by cleaning machines - so you'd better hide, if you don't want to get wet...

Mellow Ash Wednesday - carnival is over... Till next year.

Street performers are a part of Mardi Gras, as a usual Big Easy attraction. New Orleans is probably on of the nicest cities in USA for buskers, but the competition is fierce too...

More Mardi Gras Photos

The parades start on Friday night and run for 13 days. There are 5 or 6 parades on weekends and 2 or 3 parades on weeknights.

Parades are organized by KREWES - local clubs, funded by their members and structured as a royal court - with kings, queens, knights, ladies, etc. So, each parade has all these characters present on the floats.

Parades are named after their krewes: Rex, Bacchus, Zulu, Endymion, Thoth, Tucks. Maskers throw beads, doubloons, plastic cups, and toys from the floats and the spectators try to catch them. It's a big game!

Each parade has a theme: Rex in 1998 was presenting "gems," so each float was decorated in the colors of different precious stones.

Rex, King of Carnival.

Night parades are spectacular - Bacchus and Endymion are the most famous. I don't have many pictures of them (too dark), but I do have several hours of video-tapes. Each float is decorated with colored lights. Bacchus even used lasers last year.

Here are more pictures
from the pet parade.

- obligatory on Mardi Gras Day. Everybody is dressed up. The best ones are usually in 700+ blocks of Bourbon, where all gay clubs are.

King of Thoth.