Tuesday, June 27, 2006
A John Waters movie?
This story, about a gang of drug-addicted, transvestite thieves terrorizing trendy shops on New Orleans' Magazine Street, was too weird to pass up.
It's gotten so bad that the storeowners have created their own "watchdog" system to alert each other when any one of them sees the gang coming.
Robyn Lewis, owner of Dark Charm fashion and accessories for women, represents the first line of defense for the Magazine Street shop owners. She is the first to see them come strutting in their pumps down St. Andrew Street, the bewigged pack of thieves who have plagued the Lower Garden District since May.
Like an SOS flare, Lewis grabs her emergency phone list and starts calling.
“They’re coming,” she warns Eric Ogle a salesman at Vegas, a block down Magazine Street. Ogle, who was terrorized by the brazen crew two months earlier, alerts neighboring Winky’s where manager Kendra Bonga braces for the onslaught.
Soon every shop owner in the 2000 block of Magazine Street has been alerted.
Sarah Celino at Trashy Diva eyes the door, ready to flip the lock at the first sight of the ringleader’s pink jumpsuit and fluorescent red wig.
The shopowners have complained to the police, but obviously the NOPD has more important things to worry about at this point. However, it's not all as funny as it might seem. Aside from a lot of lost merchandise, they sometimes get violent.
The transvestites, Ogle said, appear to be drug-addicted and fearless in their lust for designer shoes, jackets and jewelry.
“The city’s not functioning the way it was and I’m sure a lot of them were getting some kind of government aid, which they probably aren’t getting any more so they’re incredibly desperate,” Ogle said.
And sometimes violent.
When Lewis co-owned Trashy Diva, they attacked one of her partners in the French Quarter location, throwing her to the ground and tossing a heavy mannequin on top of her.
“They’re kind of confused because they think they’re women so they don’t mind hitting women, but they’re dudes. If you get hit by one it’s like getting hit by a dude. ...