Who: Teddy Mars
What: Performer and host of the New Orleans Carnival Kings
Q: Where do you feel like you breathe differently?
TM: When I’m out in the woods or fishing, my breathing slows down. I hold my breath a lot; I’m an anxious person, and the one place I don’t hold my breath is when I’m out in nature.
I believe comes down to who we are, as animals. There is something much more natural and less demanding of us when we are out in nature. We’re an apex predator, so we do not typically feel threatened when we are in the wild.
It would be much different if we were a house cat wandering around in the woods. They would have to constantly be on alert, but unless you are in a high-risk area, like a jungle with low visibility, or swimming is open water where there are sharks, we tend to relax our bodies. Our lizard brain lets us know that we are not at risk. We are in a green space that we can enjoy, and not fixate or consider the demands that our culture and society puts on us when we are in a city.
Q: When was a time when you learned a truth?
TM: When it came down to marriage and relationships, I always got the impression that when you found the right person everything became easy. Life became simple and the ‘Happily Ever After’ kicked in. That is simply not the case.
I have been in a relationship for almost 6 years. I am a genderqueer individual, and I married my partner a couple of years ago, once it became legal. As a queer person, I never thought I would get married. When I did, I found that marriage is a constant state of compassion and compromise.
You can agree completely on ideologies and values; those are very important in a long term relationship. But when you are both indecisive about what you are going to cook for dinner, you can’t slack off at being your best self. Getting impatient and sniping at my partner is not my best self; admitting that I’ve had a bad day and need her to make a choice is what I owe her. You have to try to be your best self, as often as possible. Although that sounds really hard, with practice, it comes to you more easily. For the record, I am my best self approximately 40% of the time. I need a lot more practice.
Early in our relationship, my partner said to me, ‘Love is a verb, not just a noun.’ It’s not just a thing, or a descriptor of where you are in life. That has always resounded with me. She’s a very emotional conversive person; she’s three times the person I am. She’s very aware of the depth of connection and intimacy that needs to be present between people–whether the relationship is romantic or not–to actually take care of each other.
Q: What do you often say when you are trying to come up with something to say?
TM: I like to claim that time and say, ‘Give me a minute.’ I will acknowledge that I need a moment to think, and I won’t pretend that I know what to say. When I’m hosting a show, and I have to stall, I will turn to the crowd, and let them start guiding the conversation. What they have to say is at least as important as what I have to say, and probably more so.
If the conversation is around a specific topic, I don’t mind claiming ignorance. This happens all of the time with my son.
I feel like every conversation that my son and I have–even if it starts off with his asking why we use tomato paste in spaghetti sauce–eventually comes down to WWII, or something else extremely complex with a lot of nuance. Children will push you to explain whatever they do not find readily accessible, and you have to be ready to say, ‘I don’t know; let’s think about that and research it together.’
Q: Who do you think tells you the best stories?
TM: The first person that jumps to mind is my mother. She’s an attorney, and she has a way of discussing politics and news in a very eloquent way. Even if she’s simply telling a story about events that happen between her and her co-workers on a typical day, she has this great sense of timing that makes her stories engaging. That is such a gift.
Many families have fictional tales that they share; parents will make up bedtime stories and pass along their favorites. What’s interesting is that the stories we heard and told in our house tended to be non-fiction. They were about what was going on around us or funny experiences from the past. Don’t get me wrong, we love Harry Potter and everything, but when we tell stories, it’s about what is going on in the world around us.
Q: How do you think about the ‘other’ when you create?
TM: I am terrible at doing things for myself, and the creative process isn’t different. Everything I do, which is typically verbal, has to be centered on someone else. Usually that’s an audience. When I’m hosting a show or officiating a wedding, I feel like that’s when I get to be the most creative. I don’t read off of cards.
Everything I say aims to be inclusive. As much as I can, I don’t want to create anything that is single-minded or just for one audience. I want the thoughts and words to be universal, or at least universally appreciated. Avoiding tropes and stereotypes is important to me because while there can be humor there, it’s only one side of the story.
I love to listen, and that helps a lot when it comes to thinking about the ‘other.’ Overhearing conversations and not jumping in, or listening to people before or after a show gives me an insight into what they’re thinking, what’s going on with them, or where they are at.
I think I prefer studying other people, because I’m actually terrible at sharing things about myself. I get so caught up in listening to other people, that it has become important to me to constantly have my finger on the pulse of the room, the temperature of my audience. I need to resound with something that isn’t just myself.
Teddy Mars is the host and general manager of the New Orleans Carnival Kings, which is a bi-monthly show consisting of drag kings, queens, and variety performers that are based in the queer community. You can follow Carnival Kings and their shows on their Facebook page. They will also be performing at the 2017 Oracle Gala to benefit the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana.
The Oracle Gala is the flagship annual fundraiser for the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana. Each year at the Oracle Gala, theorganization honors individuals and organizations who have contributed substantially to permanently preserving LGBT-related archival materials. The 2017 Oracle Gala will be held on Saturday, November 11, 7:00-10:00 PM. at the Joy Theater (1200 Canal Street). Tickets are $50.00 ($40.00 for Members). To purchase tickets, call (504)941-1633 or you can purchase them here.