Category Archive for New Orleans

Graveyard Goth! Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans. Egyptian Sphinx pyramid tomb, Weeping angel statue.

blue purple goth colored hair

Every Goth who goes to New Orleans is naturally drawn to the graveyards here. St Louis Cemetery is the most famous one, and home to the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau.

However, I’m going to take you on a tour of a lesser-known but more fascinating resting place: Lake Lawn Metairie Cemetery (5100 Pontchartrain Boulevard, New Orleans, LA).

new orleans tombs, cemetery

My friend Molly and I heard about Metairie through our playwright / artist friend, Cynthia von Buhler. Like in a lucid dream, we wandered between Metairie’s dramatic marble tombs…

pyramid tomb, new orleans

… and kissed the Egyptian Sphinx. Read on, and we’ll take you to the Weeping Angel (as seen on the cover of Nightwish and Evanescence albums), and more marvels.

pet cemetery, dog statue

If there’s one place where a vampire cape is appropriate attire, it would be a graveyard in New Orleans. Mine is by Black Peace Now, a Japanese brand (so it’s well made, not a costume piece).

My long blue dress is from Alice’s Pig, and the coffin purse is by Killstar. Shoes are Michael Kors. More Goth inspiration below:

metairie lake lawn

Molly reflects, “I remember learning that cemeteries were the first parks, where you would go for a day out in the sunshine, and this felt true to me at Metairie. I felt a tremendous sense of peace, in this place where thousands of people were resting who had experienced the same things we do: love, sadness, learning, changing, curiosity. It made me feel strangely connected to people around me.”

Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home and Cemeteries

“I always like to think that I’m so different and weird, but the sheer scale of the number of graves made me feel wonderfully not unique… that in one of those tombs lay someone who must have viewed the world like I do, even if it was in another era and thus, with different circumstances. Basically, it made me feel like the ‘good old days’ weren’t really different.”

butterfly tombstone

I enjoyed walking quietly down  the well-manicured paths, and noticing small details like this butterfly headstone.

goth outfit post, hair color

Details of my purple-blue-red hair, braided at the top to show the colors. My hairstylist is Stephanie Hoy, at Stratosphere salon in Vancouver, Canada.

angel mausoleum

The cemetery is enormous. It’s not located in the city of Metairie, but within NOLA city limits (about a 30 minute taxi ride from the French Quarter).

new orleans cemetery tour

Molly and I saw maybe three other people during our stroll. She says, “We were definitely rare tourists at Metairie, but I thought the staff was incredibly kind and welcoming. I liked seeing how well organized the records of the tombs were. It felt like the memories of people’s loved ones were safe here, which is how I felt about NOLA in general.”

amazing weirdest cemeteries

The cemetery was once a horse racing course. In the late 19th century, it turned into the final resting place of notable and wealthy locals.

coffin shaped purse

At first glance, the white marble mausoleums look similar. But the closer you look, the more you see.

The staff told us that there are about 10 different types of crosses gracing the roofs. Above is one with a crown.

moog tomb, headstone

The atmosphere at Lake Lawn Metairie wasn’t sad or eerie. Instead, it felt like a peaceful space for reflection. I admired the intricate carvings on this tomb (the family is not related to the Moog synthesizer, though they share the name).

Lucien Napoleon Brunswig tomb

At Avenue D, Plot 113, we found what we were looking for. This is the Lucien Napoleon Brunswig tomb, shaped like an Egyptian pyramid.

sphinx winged statue

Brunswig (1854-1943) founded a large pharmaceutical company. I’m not sure why he chose to have such a unique and striking tomb. There isn’t any other design like this in Metairie (although actor Nicholas Cage erected a pyramid for himself in Saint Louis Cemetery).

egyptian pyramid tomb cemetery

Practicing my disco moves, to match the guardian on the left.

brunswig tomb metairie

She points to a Winged Sun, surrounded by two cobra snakes. This ancient Egyptian symbol is associated with divinity, royalty and power.

sphinx face, statue carving

There’s something uncanny about this Sphinx, who wears the royal “nemes” striped headcloth. When you look in his eyes, it is as if he stares back. I haven’t sensed this with any other statue.

He’s the keeper of riddles and mysteries. Who carved him? Why? Is the crack down his nose intentional? An accident, or tribute to the noseless Great Sphinx of Giza?

kissing egypt sphinx

I don’t know. (If anyone holds the keys to these mysteries, please let us know in the comments).

All we can say for sure is that the Sphinx deserved a kiss. Our friend Cynthia did this first, and inspired us to make the same pilgrimage. Perhaps you’ll come here too, and add another peck to his lips.

paws of sphinx statue

Molly holds on to his big paw. The Sphinx is, after all, a mythical creature with the head of a man, and body of a lion. (Oh, I want to go to Egypt so badly…)

goth modeling cemetery tombs

Metairie has the largest collection of funerary statues in the city. I could have wandered here for hours.

(Sneakers are Michael Kors)

colored glass tomb

Some had colorful stained glass windows.

vampire in cemetery

Some plots were empty. Some had fresh graves.

goth fashion blogger, modeling

Others were dark and crumbing.

For the most part, however, the tombs were strikingly well cared for. This doesn’t at all feel like a tourist destination (unlike Saint Louis Cemetery, where you’ll see groups going on guided tours).

metairie cemetery army of tennessee

Our shadows approach the Army of Tennessee memorial. This monument honors fallen Confederate soldiers of the American Civil War.

weeping angel nightwish evanescence album cover

We paid a visit to the Chapman tomb’s Weeping Angel, which glows under blue stained glass. (It’s found between Avenue G and Central Ave, at plot #1.)

This “Angel of Grief” is modeled after the 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story. You might recognize this moving image from the album cover art of Goth bands, Evanescence and Nightwish. 

cemetery photography

Angels also rest on the top of monuments…

marble angels tomb

… and stand on guard at the entrances. As you can see from the photo above, some of these memorials are the size of a house.

southern usa tombs

I felt like I had landed in a strange new world. When I glimpsed the Sphinx, I felt like the time-traveler in H. G. Wells’ “The Time Machine.”

metairie cemetery dog statue

A buried family, guarded by their faithful dog who holds fresh flowers.

dog guarding burial tomb

The dog is shedding tears for the dead.

killstar coffin purse

Details of my wood Moat House wood sunglasses, and Killstar coffin purse.

gothic fashion girl

Believe it or not, this was one of my favorite travel experiences of 2014. It’s hard to describe, but I think Molly expressed this feeling well at the beginning of this post. Standing by tombs from the 1800s, we felt like we were part of the same human experience.

pet cemetery new orleans

On the other side of the lawn, there’s a garden and Heaven’s Pets.

Heaven's Pets lake lawn metairie

A place to remember our loyal animal friends, who leave “paw prints in our hearts forever.”

new orleans cemetery walking tour

Thoughts upon thoughts, as the sun began to set.

vampire cape, costume, dress

And then I spread my vampire cape, and flew away.

How do you feel about visiting cemeteries? If you have any insight into the Riddle of the Sphinx, please let us know in the comments. (The staff wasn’t able to tell us anything, and I couldn’t find much more about the enticing Brunswig tomb.)


New Orleans Tree of Life, Audubon Park. Voodoo vampire shops, Jackson Square cats, Katrina homes.

la carmina hair, beauty, makeup

I’ve always been fascinated by how themes of life and death are expressed so vividly, in New Orleans. This is a city where locals party hard, and play jazz in the streets. At the same time, NOLA is famous for cemeteries, haunted houses, voodoo shops and vampires. 

To celebrate Mardi Gras, we’ll climb the Tree of Life…

glowing lights new orleans night walk

… and then wander through the French Quarter’s dark side. At the end, we’ll take a frank look at the Katrina aftermath, and the struggle to rebuild neighborhoods destroyed by the hurricane.

black fringe sleeve dress

– I’m wearing a dramatic KillStar dress, similar to this black dress with long fringe sleeves. You could also wear a black leather jacket with fringe down the arms for a similar look.

❤ Shop my style below ❤

audubon park bridge

My friends and I rode the historic St Charles streetcar to the Garden District, about 20 minutes from the stop near the Hotel Modern. It’s a scenic ride that costs only $1.25 each way.

We passed by grand Southern houses (some photos at the bottom of this post), the Eiffel Society, and the Loyola and Tulane university campuses. We got off at Audubon Park, and found ourselves surrounded by majestic trees and lakes.

audubon park duck pond

“I’m like a bird…” A variety of creatures make the park their home. We spotted a Great Egret soaring above the water, and a mother duck with a row of babies swimming behind her. Do you see the squirrel on my left?

new orleans lake

This land was once a plantation. In 1871, the city purchased it, and made it into a park. It’s named after John James Audubon, an artist / naturalist who lived in New Orleans at the time.

nola garden district park

The more time I spent in New Orleans, the more sides I saw of the city. I wish I could have stayed longer, to explore more of the outer neighborhoods and nature sites.

southern oak trees, louisiana

Like Elaine from Seinfeld, I don’t use the word “breathtaking” lightly… but it seems like the right word to describe this pathway, shaded by Southern oak trees. 

killstar model, goth dress

The twisting branches and soft, mossy canopies are a quintessential part of Louisiana’s landscape.

climbing tree of life

After walking for about 15 minutes, we reached the Tree of Life. This immense oak is the size of a building, and the branches dip to the ground — the ultimate invitation for climbing.

dress with fringe sleeves

Beneath these powerful, century-old branches, you can’t help but admire nature’s grandeur.

kill star model, alt modeling

I braided part of my hair, to show the contrast between purple and blue, over red. My hairstylist is Stephanie Hoy at Vancouver’s Stratosphere salon.

❤ Click below for details of my clothing ❤

black silver japanese boots

– My boots are from Japan, and similar to these leather buckle ankle boots by Jeffrey Campbell.
– Find cross print tights like mine here, as well as sheer crucifix stockings.

new orleans big tree

The Tree of Life is a popular spot for couples to get married. According to legend, someone planted this tree to honor his new wife, during the days when Audubon Park was a plantation.

girl yoga on tree branches

Molly (who took the photos of me in NOLA) says “I know nothing about Audubon Park from a history angle, but let’s just discuss how much fun I had climbing that tree.” 

paule ka purse leather

– I turned of the knobs into a make-shift hanger for my handbag. (It’s by Paule Ka and available here.)

wood sunglasses, pink floyd iphone case

– My wood cat-eye sunglasses are from British designers, Moat House Eyewear.
– The Pink Floyd “Division Bell” iPhone case is from SVNTYHere are more photos of me with my wood phone case.

hanging tree girl

Molly tried out some pole and yoga moves on the branches.

sleeping girl in tree

Nature makes the best seat in the house.

witch vampire dress

The trailing fringe from my dress mimics the strands of Spanish moss, hanging down from the trees.

giraffes audubon zoo new orleans

Next to the tree of life is Audubon Zoo. The giraffes are so tall that you can see their heads poking out from above the fence!

goth alternative girls

It’s disappointing when visitors to New Orleans never leave the French Quarter. Less than 30 minutes away, Audubon Park is a joyful place that shows a different slice of life.

fancy southern plantation home

The surrounding homes are stately antebellum mansions with columns and gardens. Since the Quarter and the Garden District are located on high ground, these upscale areas escaped the devastating flooding from Hurricane Katrina. 

hurricane katrina cross markings

Molly and I felt it was important to see the areas of New Orleans that were most heavily hit by Katrina. Taxi driver David Hammer gave us a 3-hour personal tour, which took us to the Lower 9th Ward, the breached levees, and more. (To arrange for one of his city tours, phone David: 503 931 0323)

A local who is versed in the history of New Orleans, David didn’t shy away from speaking about the ongoing problems with rebuilding. We saw homes marked with “X-Codes” or “Katrina crosses,” which rescuers used to indicate if there were hazards or deaths within.

katrina destroyed homes

Ten years after Katrina, many of these neighborhoods remain destroyed. Some homeowners came back and tried to rebuild, but lack of funds forced them to abandon their properties. We drove on bumpy roads, warped by the water. We passed overgrown and empty lots, followed by temporary housing, followed by ghost-houses like the one above — hazards for vermin, squatters and other dangers.

new orleans delapitated house roof

Molly reflects, “It was really painful to see a house, then a space where a house used to be, then a house, then more space. I kept thinking about what it must be like to come home to a house next to a space. Was it lonely? Scary? Do you wonder if Katrina will happen again? I used to not understand why someone wouldn’t come home if you could, but now, I think how do you come back to a place that completely fell apart? Aren’t there times where you just have to start over?”

katrina reconstruction houses

“So, I guess what I mean is that both the spaces and the rebuilding make sense to me.” Yet there is still so much that needs to happen, before these neighborhoods are livable again. There’s a lot more one can say about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, but I’ll wrap up with the photo above: a reconstruction attempt that was abandoned probably due to lack of funding, and left as a decaying shell.

new orleans misissippi river bank

That feeling of life, death and all the areas in between come to the forefront at night, in New Orleans. Not far from Jackson Square, you can buy a hot buttered rum to go (alcohol is allowed in the streets here), and walk right up to the banks of the Mississippi River. Yes, that’s a rainbow on the top right.

new orleans waterfront night

The streetlights give off an eerie glow. They illuminate the history of the city, from old rail tracks to new hotels.

st louis cathedral nighttime

The castle-like Saint Louis Cathedral is the oldest in North America, established in 1720. A horse and carriage raced across, taking us back several centuries.

mask shop window display

The spirit of Mardi Gras haunts the city all throughout the year. A feathered mask peers out of a window.

rev zombie's voodoo shop

I was keen to learn more about voodoo, which has roots in African spiritual/folk traditions, and took on a life of its own in Louisiana. We popped into Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo shop (723 St Peter St), which offers readings and rituals.

new orleans voodoo dolls

Gris gris (talismans or amulets), voodoo dolls, and powerful queens like Marie Laveau are part of this tradition. While some of New Orleans’ voodoo shops have a touristy feeling, there is a tangible power in the masks and dolls we saw..

occult new orleans esoterica

I was in my element, visiting these occult, spiritual, witchcraft and esoteric shops.

ghost vampire cemetery tours

Another way to experience the darkest side of New Orleans is by joining a ghost, vampire, cemetery and voodoo tour. Some are on the cheesier side, so I recommend doing your research and looking for niche tours run by insiders.

jesus statue shadow st louis church

How spooky is this image of New Orleans? It’s a marble statue of Jesus with hands aloft, casting an ominous shadow onto St Louis Cathedral. 

witch stores goth new orleans

Don’t be surprised if you run into skeleton hands and witchy-women, in the streets of the Quarter.

vampire shop

Vampires are a major part of the culture of New Orleans. This city is not just a setting, but almost a character in the novels of Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire, Queen of the Damned) and Poppy Z Brite (Lost Souls).

new orleans vampire culture, store

We visited Boutique du Vampyre (709 St Ann St), a collection of all things bloody (fangs, candles, handcrafted gifts).

vampire wine

There’s also a strong vampire subculture here in New Orleans. Members belong to Houses, and some engage in ritual blood-drinking.

jackson square cats

I leave you with the stray cats of Jackson Square. Quite fitting that cats are associated with witches and the spiritual world.

new orleans stray cats

I hope you’ll come to New Orleans, one of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever encountered. Joyeux Mardi Gras, everyone!