Campaign of the Month: October 2017
Blood & Bourbon
“I can’t believe I work this hard to be this poor.”
“You know what the trouble is, Brucey? We used to make shit in this country, build shit. Now we just put our hand in the next guy’s pocket.”
Frank Sobotka, The Wire
“Rich people work hard and believe it’s perfectly appropriate to be well rewarded for their efforts and the value they provide for others. Poor people work hard, but due to their feelings of unworthiness, they believe that it is inappropriate for them to be well rewarded for their efforts and the value they provide.”
T. Harv Eker
The World of Darkness is rife with the grinding of machinery, the thuds and clangs of smoke-billowing engines, and the ceaseless and thankless toil of its pastry-faced workers whose lives are ended far too early due to the constant exposure to toxins, long hours and stress. Those with this influence are able to control and direct the energy and actions of mortals who move in the industrial complex, blue collar, and service industry sector, including engineers, contractors, construction workers, and the poor souls who labor in factories and dead-end, minimum wage jobs.
|Level of Influence
|Entry level employee
|Senior employee, low-level management, microbusiness owner
|Small business owner, middle management
|Larger business owner, upper management
|Massive business owner
Industry Influence ••••
Up and coming young entrepreneur trying to break into a number of established industries in atypical ways, including commerce with both the upper crust and lower crust of society. For the upper class, these include delivery services, shopping services, reservation holding at various establishments, ticket ‘sales’ for sold-out shows, and providing experienced professionals to troubleshoot an array of problems from the mundane (such as power outages or internet issues) to the more complicated and specialized. For those on the other side, he runs several food trucks, provides micro loans, and is pioneering “microemployment” in which he essentially has occasional on-demand employees across the city, many of them providing a very specific service, often off the books. Charismatic and good at convincing people to go along with or buy into his ideas, Mark is incredibly hard-working, putting in long hours, working weekends, and taking a great deal of personal pride in each of his enterprises.
Status: Aura Environmental Systems ••••
Owner of Aura Environmental Systems Inc., the waste company that collects much of New Orleans’ garbage, and founder of the controversial French Quarter Response Force quasi-police private security firm.
Industry Influence •••
Atticus “Tuck” Thompson
Tuck had the potential to be a good looking man. Dark skin, good hairline, solid bone structure. He might have even once been a good looking man, maybe even handsome. But the years haven’t been kind to Tuck. He’s got a bent spine from years of working under the hood, fingers with knuckles as large as his nose, and hair that’s more pepper than salt. His daddy stuck around long enough to put a few kids in his mom before he skipped town, and by the time Tuck was in high school he had the rude awakening that his momma’s two jobs weren’t enough to pay the bills. So he dropped out, took up the first work he could find, and made sure his younger siblings all got through school. He found he was good at what he did and didn’t mind being covered in grease and oil all the time, so he stuck it out as a mechanic and became a well-known name in the city. He’s got an affordable “pay as you can” plan for his lower income clients that he offsets with the custom engines he builds for the people with money, and his proximity to the streets means he’s often in the know. Set of wheels goes missing? Crash your daddy’s Porsche at 3 AM? Need to strip something hot? Tuck can take care of it all.
Status: Fouled Anchor Fitness •••
Retired Corpsman attached to Marine Force Recon turned owner and operator of Fouled Anchor Fitness, a small gym he opened two years ago that caters mostly to former military and offers both fitness and martial arts classes. Meticulously fit, Brian regularly participates in Spartan Races and similar events, and despite his small stature (he’s only 5’6") and age, he is exceptionally strong. Certifies all of his trainers personally—and is himself qualified to teach all of his classes. Between retirement and opening Fouled Anchor, Brian worked for private clients as a trainer. Shoots competitive three gun tournaments regionally and is, in truth, bored since his retirement. Only sleeps 4-5 hours a night and spends 2-4 hours a day working out according to a rigid routine, though he can feel his body beginning to slow down as age catches up. Bald-headed, clean-shaven, and sharp-tongued with a face as craggy as a mountaintop, and piercing blue eyes.
Status: Bloom Couture •••
Dahlia Rose Flores (no relation to Senator Maxen Flores or Celia Flores, though she considers both good clients) is a Honduran-born immigrant who came to the United States following the destruction to the country by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. She and her parents settled into New Orleans in early 2000 and had five good years before their lives were interrupted by another, more devastating storm: Katrina. Dahlia Rose was the sole survivor of the Flores family. She bounced around in foster care until she turned 18 and promptly set off on her own to see the world, pursuing a fashion design degree from Woodbury University in LA. By 2014 she was back to open Bloom Couture in the French Quarter, a combination conservatory and studio that marries florals and fashion. Her work has received great reception in many circles and is known all across the East Coast. Dahlia Rose herself is currently mid-twenties and usually busy working on various new lines and collaborations with a handful of local and national brands. She says she’ll slow down some day, just not today.
Dominic got his first dog when he was five months old, and by the time he was walking and talking he had that dog (a pit mix) trained to respond to the almost-snap of his infantile fingers. Ever since then he’s had a way with animals—dogs, mostly—that borders on a sixth sense and would put that ”Hollywood piece of shit trainer” to shame. Though his name isn’t as nationally well-known as the guy with the reality TV show, Dominic has enjoyed a lucrative career training dogs and other animals for all sorts of purposes: guard dogs, police dogs, bomb-sniffing dogs, even circus animals. He has a contract with Blackwatch and the NOPD that sees he receives all of their would-be guard and police dogs and takes a handful of private clients on the side, all of whom he charges out the nose for. Doesn’t like dog shows, but he does occasionally breed for them and fetches a hefty stud fee from his pedigreed lines. Claims prior security consulting work, military experience, and police training, none of which show up in a background check. Has a handful of his own dogs, the current favorite of which is a corso/pitt named Bruce.
General contractor who picked up and moved from Boston to New Orleans after Katrina, and subsequently made a killing. Avowed racist who hates African-Americans but not Latinos, whom he employs in mass. Claims his racism is based on experience rather than bigotry. Most of his work is residential, but he’s trying to get an in with local government for bigger contracts. Owns a fair bit of property throughout the city. Has six Irish Catholic brothers he brought with him working under him as job site supervisors. Indicted for assault with a deadly weapon after beating a man nearly to death with a pair of brass knuckles, but got off when the witness skipped town.
Raquel was a stay-at-home mom until her daughter turned four. When her husband didn’t show up for the child’s birthday party Raquel assumed something terrible had happened, and she spent the night making calls and trying to track him down. He wandered in at midnight with red lipstick smeared across his collar, smelling of booze and sex, and Raquel kicked him to the curb. She’d watched her mother go through the same struggle with her father and didn’t want to set that sort of example for her child. Unfortunately Raquel hadn’t worked in five years and quickly realized that re-entering the job market with no degree, limited hours, and a huge gap in her resume wouldn’t net her the sort of income she needed to raise a child on her own. Rather than throw in the towel, Raquel took it with her. The towel, that is. She started cleaning homes for her neighbors and quickly realized that an hour’s worth of work and a few dollars in cleaning products had the potential to grow into its own sort of business.
Partners in Grime began in early 2013 with a mop and a dream, or at least that’s how Raquel tells the story. She often says that maid services are a dime a dozen and as easy to start as any other entrepreneurial venture, and that she was drawn to the idea of starting a cleaning company because of the low overhead and start-up costs. Or maybe because she watched a little too much Sunshine Cleaning. Regardless, Partners in Grime began with just one maid and soon blossomed into the company that it is today. It’s still a relatively small company with only two dozen employees, but their flexible hours, friendly faces, and quick service means that they’re constantly busy. They specialize in residential cleaning but have recently begun to take on corporate gigs as well, and are known to be one of the companies to call for crime scene cleanup. Their motto is, “You do the crime, we’ll clean the grime.” Raquel herself is no longer one of the maids that visits houses (she started making enough to quit scrubbing floors shortly after her first few months in business), and now oversees operations while she pursues a marketing degree at Delgado Community College. Her ex showed up for the last time in 2015 and tried to sue her for half her company, then came after her for custody, but Raquel deftly handled both legal battles and he hasn’t been seen since. Her daughter, Olivia, is now a first grader at McGehee.
Industry Influence ••
Elizabeth “Liz” Williams
Blond and perky, most people are surprised and unnerved when they learn that Liz spends most of her days working with high explosives. A demolitions expert that contracts out to an array of construction companies, she got her start working with the Army Corp of Engineers and first visited New Orleans back in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina with them as a young enlisted engineer only a few months out of training. Upbeat, constantly positive, and genuinely loves her job, though in the days leading up to actual demolitions she tends to work long hours. Fierce social liberal, but hard-charging fiscal conservative who cleverly manages her money to avoid the feast and famine construction boom. Originally from the Midwest, she loves the diversity of New Orleans cuisine and music, having been fed on corn and country music as a child.
Family: The Broussards
Towering, thick-bodied ex-cop who somewhat famously works as a shoe shiner outside the unequivocally famous Hotel Monteleone and Carousel Bar. Less remembered for serving almost a decade at the Farm after being first convicted of brutally assaulting Vera Malveaux and later exonerated when the true perpetrator was discovered.
Former detective turned private investigator, Jack’s frequent employer Caroline Malveaux-Devillers considers him a poor substitute for Louis Fontaine. He left the force to save his second marriage in search of a job that let him work more reasonable and consistent hours. Jack lacks Lou’s connections and instincts, and is just a bit too abrasive with some people. What he does have is a solid knowledge of the city and who can do what, and of the city’s police force, which was Caroline’s primary interest in him. Good at following up on leads on his own time, and largely refuses to work nights. As a result, Caroline uses him mostly to follow up on bureaucratic leads. Coordinates relatively effectively, if not well, with others brought in due to his knowledge of the city. Caroline hired him based on recommendation of hired (out of town) investigators (and based on CBD convenience).
Despite the thick accent, Manuel was born in the States to Esteban and Carlita Lopez in southern California. Esteban worked in the strawberry fields, and whenever childcare fell through he would take Manuel and his siblings to the fields with him to keep an eye on them. Manuel grew up around plants. He learned from a young age how to care for and cultivate a variety of bushes, shrubs, and flowers, and when he was ten he began his first garden in his parent’s backyard. He took a landscaping job as soon as he was old enough to work to stay close to the plants that he loved so much, serving first as general labor and then as a consultant to clients who wanted to do something special with their rolling lawns. His name became known all across Southern California and, supposedly, he’s done work for plenty of A-list movie stars. He took a job at Woodbury University to care for their conservatory, which is where he met Dahlia Rose Flores. They bonded over their shared love of plants and became fast friends despite his non-student role on campus. When she moved back to New Orleans to open her business he came with her and has worked for her since. She laughingly calls him her “plant whisperer” because of his skill with the plants. Manuel works odd hours to keep up with his plants (he says some of them require care at night and others at high noon), but serves as the unofficial manager when Dahlia Rose isn’t around.
Unlike most of the security contractors at Harrah’s, Patrick didn’t take the rent-a-cop approach. He’s not former military, didn’t fail a detective test, isn’t a retired mall cop looking for a part time gig. He’s just a guy who gets paid to look at TV monitors. He’s what they call the Eye in the Sky. He spends a lot of time looking at tits and ass rather than searching for cheaters. Certifiable genius, though, so if something goes wrong with any of the systems he’s the guy to ask. Unfortunately his penchant for computers has left him a little lackluster with the ladies. Not because they don’t like him, but because he doesn’t like them. He’d rather hire escorts when he needs to get his rocks off or visits the Champagne Room on Bourbon Street if he’s looking for something quick and easy. He prefers his women to be seen and not heard, which is why he’s well-suited to watching multiple banks of monitors in the security room. Two years ago he caught someone cheating on a Bad Beat hand at the poker table that prevented a several million dollar payout and hasn’t had to worry about his job security since.
Family: The Pavaghis
Slovenly gaming recluse, lackadaisical IT manager for his father’s online businesses, and owner of the exploitive if financially fecund Dr. Sheen Sanitation Services, LLC.
A former door-to-door saleswoman turned community outreach manager, Shelby’s life was derailed by Hurricane Katrina. Losing first her job and her home, she faced homelessness and worse as she was forced to work varied menial jobs to make ends meet in a city that largely ignored the poorer (and blacker) communities during rebuilding efforts. Eventually hired on by Caroline Malveaux-Devillers at the suggestion of Jack Kinney, who had worked with her in in his past life as a cop in poorer districts, to assist with canvasing for Caroline both directly and working with other investigators. Has a good way with most people, and is often able to encourage others to offer information they might not of a uniformed (white male) investigator in the city.
Industry Influence •
Family: The Riveras
Bartender, maid, nanny, community college student, and single mother, Carla tries to do it all. Born in Mexico, she came over the border with her mother when she was only five years old. The family moved from Houston to New Orleans as part of the mass exodus in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to get away from the abusive influence of the coyote who got them across the border. Carla barely remembers Texas, let alone Mexico, but her illegal status makes it difficult to obtain legitimate employment. A devout Catholic, she has a large tattoo of Jesus Christ on her right shoulder, and another of the Virgin of Guadalupe on her left. Uncertain what her future holds, she prays frequently for her three-year-daughter: as an American citizen, she’ll have opportunities her mother never will. Carla remains willing to do almost anything to ensure that the little girl grows up to be successful, but it’s only a matter of time until her own past catches up with her. Though she makes a respectable living working as a bartender, and makes more on the side with her own small business with a maid service during the day, the trail of off-the-books money she depends on is eventually going to land on someone’s desk, and when it does INS is soon to follow.
Dao Le Phuong
Dao Le Phuong was born at the beginning of World War II in Saigon, Vietnam. Her father was active in the Viet Minh and lead waves of men against first the French and then the British soldiers stationed in the area in a bid for Vietnam’s freedom. She grew up learning from her mother how to care for the wounded, and though she was not allowed a combat role she still played an active and integral role in The French War and then The American War. Following the fall of Saigon in ‘75, Phuong moved to the United States and settled in New Orleans. Like most of the Vietnamese immigrants she moved into Versailles to live a quiet life. Only after Katrina in 2005 did Phuong decide to move herself closer to the city proper, and in 2014 she found the atmosphere of Bloom Couture to her liking. She set up an apothecary within the shop. Phuong doesn’t speak much English despite her four decades within the city, but she’s very good at understanding what people tell her and using gestures to effectively communicate. She seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what people need before they even speak to her about it.
Dao Van Quyen
Phuong’s grandchild and assistant at Eden Source Herbals. Recent graduate from Frederick A. Douglass high school but taking a “gap year” to decide which direction he wants to take with his life. He’s not really sure that he believes in all the “traditional medicine” that his grandmother peddles, but he plays it up for the tourists and suburban housewives that come into the store to try something new. When he’s not at the shop he’s usually running around Algiers or New Orleans East with his friends.
Darcy “Kelly Quirk” Quillen
Bass player, accordionist, and backup singer for the celtic-punk band, St. John’s Banshees. Ex-crack addict who attends “Father” O’Keele’s NA meetings. Gained local notoriety for her underage sexual involvement with a teacher at St. Augustine High School, prompting her to go by her current pseudonym. Presently works the shoe counter at Mid-City Lanes.
Estrellado “Star” Ortzi
Estrellado Ortzi is a forty-something maid that works for Partners in Grime, one of New Orlean’s cleaning companies. She’s been with the company since its inception in the early 2010s and is one of the most senior maids in the service. As a result, she’s often found polishing the floors of NOLA’s more wealthy residents. She has a knack for getting any stain out of any surface and even dabbles in crime scene cleanup. She might have been a looker in her youth, but Estrellado (she lets non-Hispanic people call her “Star” if they can’t roll their R’s properly) got pregnant right out of high school and has spent the past 20-odd years raising her babies. She married her high school sweetheart and was heartbroken when he passed away when her youngest was in kindergarten. She hasn’t remarried, instead choosing to work two jobs to make ends meet and pay the bills. Her friends say that her heart will always belong to Mateo. She was extremely proud when both of her boys were accepted into LSU.
Family: The Garcias
Iraq veteran and purple heart recipient who left the service trying to start over. Mild-PTSD, which bothers him more because of his mild reaction than its actual effects. Now works for O’Malley as a carpenter, though he’s uncomfortable with his boss’ racism and “hero” treatment of him as a former vet. Tries to play down his military service. Has a pregnant girlfriend at Tulane (Natalia Garcia). Fiercely pro-life, and trying to carve out a future for them both. Had an absent father and grew up extremely poor, doesn’t want his child to go through the same.
Family: The Malones
Half-Italian 17-year-old up and coming Golden Gloves boxing prodigy from the worst projects of the city with Olympic ambitions. Ricky is a local celebrity on the verge of greatness, if his gambling habits don’t destroy him first. Currently in deep to the mob, who have begun to threaten him. Son of a single mother who worked three jobs to pay for his training and education, and who could not be more proud of her “boy.”
Family: The Pavaghis
For all the wealth associated with the Pavaghi name, not all of that wealth is shared equally amongst its scions. Though Walter had once been looked down on for failing to be as successful as his younger siblings, the real embarrassment came when their younger sibling, Ishita, failed out of Xavier and ran off with her decades-older professor. Three years later she was back with two babies on her hip and no husband in sight. She quietly returned to life under her father’s rule, re-enrolled in college, and managed to earn a degree while nannies and her mother took care of her babies for her. The older of those two children, Zahira, was rebellious from a young age and had no intention of “falling back in” with the family that, in her mind, forced her mother into a career and a life she didn’t want with a stepfather who wasn’t particularly interested in her. Rather than go the traditional route of law or real estate, Zahira threw herself into the creative arts. After graduating high school she took an internship at Bloom Couture under Dahlia Rose, who has taken the wayward Pavaghi under her wing to teach her the ins and outs of the fashion industry. So far she has been exceedingly happy with her new position, and rumor is that she’ll be displaying her own line soon beneath the Bloom Couture name.
Real Estate Industry Allies
Industry Influence •••••
Family: The Pavaghis
Status: Pavaghi Holdings •••••
Real estate developer and mega-slumlord whose destruction of historic French Quarter properties has made him one of the most hated people in New Orleans.
Industry Influence ••••
Family: The Pavaghis
Status: Pavaghi Holdings ••••
Rich’s fourth-eldest son and perhaps the truest chip off his old man’s block. Where Raj presents a more respectable face for the family, Walter has his Houston startup, Fred went into politics, and Ran handles IT work, Chunder’s role in the family business is simple: he’s a slumlord, and one of the most notorious in all of New Orleans. Housing conditions in one of his buildings were so terrible that the tenants unanimously agreed to stop paying rent. Chunder retaliated (in a series of brazenly illegal moves) by cutting the power and phone lines, changing locks, boarding up windows, and sawing holes in unit floors from below while tenants were still inside. When they called the police, Chunder bribed the NOPD to soak tenants’ beds, clothes, and belongings in ammonia. This story is but one of many (and not even the worst) that tenants in his properties have traded about New Orleans’ “slumlords’ slumlord.” Chunder, though, is utterly without shame or scruples, and openly boasts to work associates about how much his tenants despise him. He’s considered the crassest and seediest of the Pavaghi brothers, but none of them deny: he squeezes his properties for every cent they are worth, and often far more than they are worth. He may well be the family’s biggest earner.
Family: The Pavaghis
Status: Pavaghi Holdings ••••
Rich Pavaghi has many children. Although Walter was born the second-oldest, he never managed to stand out from the rest, and watched for years as his siblings overtook him in the family business (or in Fred’s case, embarked on a successful political career). They were always the ones to close the bigger deals, develop the most properties, and bring in the most money. Frustrated, Walter moved to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, only to realize there was a lucrative real estate market in the vastly larger and faster-growing city (which didn’t even have any zoning laws, to boot). He could repeat his father’s business tactics here in a “land of opportunity” all without worrying about competition from his brothers. So far the idea seems to have paid off: Walter has solidly established the Pavaghi real estate empire in Houston and pleased his father. In a true chip off his old man’s block, he’s also derided as a slum lord and “vulture developer” by many locals, who dislike him intensely, even if fewer of their complaints revolve around destruction of historic properties in the much younger city. Walter appears blase to such resentment but periodically moves between homes in Texas and Louisiana, as he has a laundry list of complaints about everything from the food to the people in the former. His name comes from a Houston native he married, had one child with, and divorced several years later. The Rodriguezes have deep roots in the city, so he continues to append her surname to his own “for their son’s sake” and to sound more native. He’s also changed his given name to Walter from his birth name of Wafeeq (he was born in India before his parents immigrated).
Industry Influence •••
Status: Canal@Camp Apartments LLC •••
Residential manager who lives on-site at the Giani Building. Hugo is a middle-aged and obese man who is amiable and eager to please around the building’s tenants (or at least the moneyed ones), but alternately lazy and officious towards the maintenance staff. He is adamant in his refusal to take bribes, but only direct bribes—moneyed tenants who desire extra “comforts” in the building find him all-too accommodating in this respect as well.
Industry Influence ••
Residential manager at The Preserve, a Mid-City apartment complex near the CBD. Throat cancer survivor who can’t stand smoking, and has a son who works in a San Antonio law office. She consequently considers herself wise to most forms of verbal trickery and boasts that evasive tenants “only get so far” with her.
Resident manager of Emmett Delacroix’s former Royal Street apartment. Plain-spoken and never referred to by the tenants by any name besides “Mrs. Darnell.”
Mrs. Quách (“Mrs. Quack”)
The landlady of the Mid-City apartment complex Milo Glass calls home. Second-generation Vietnamese immigrant who’s never seen the country her parents fled, although you wouldn’t know it to hear her accent (a peculiar abomination of Cajun drawl and Vietnamese peasant dialect, the end result providing the inspiration for her nickname). She has a predilection for tenants who rarely interact with her, and once evicted a a newly moved-in family because they “said hello too much.” Milo’s persistent ability to blend in with the wallpaper and his willingness to keep the building’s wifi running both went a long way towards getting him the apartment. Though only forty, a few extra gray hairs, a slight stoop, and a sharply antisocial attitude make her seem twenty years older.
Salon Industry Allies
Industry Influence •••
Status: Flawless Spa ••
Alana began at Flawless in 2010, shortly after Celia moved from her loft-styled suite to the building she now runs out of in the French Quarter. She handles the day-to-day operations of the spa, including employee scheduling, inventory ordering, and client relations. She takes care of the little odds and ends that the spa and salon need so that its owner can focus on the bigger picture and her own clients. Though Alana still takes the occasional client to keep her skills sharp and will step in if one of her employees can’t make it in for any reason, she has stepped effortlessly into the role of management and is in the office more often than she’s on the floor. Flawless wouldn’t be the same without her diligence and savvy business acumen.
Family: The Flores
Status: Flawless Spa •••
Eldest daughter of Maxen and Diana Flores, Celia’s dropping out of Tulane University (where she had been a dance major) and subsequent birth of her daughter, Lucy, is the subject of some scandal in certain circles. Celia was able to obtain her esthetics license from New Orleans-based John Jay Academy and opened up her own business in the French Quarter in 2010: Flawless Spa. It began as a day spa and has swiftly become more of a medical spa once Celia opted to pursue a degree in the medical field. Despite her lack of a “real” education, the girl is doing quite well for herself and has quite a large social media following as well as a very successful business.
Status: Flawless Spa ••
Louise was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her mother was a show girl and her father was a poker dealer, so she grew up in and around casinos and glamour. She loved the glitz and glam and wanted it for herself; not to turn herself into something new, but to be able to transform others. At 18 she obtained her Cos license and quickly found her place in the salon world, but a few years later lost her license when her then-boyfriend’s undisclosed wife accused her of sleeping with her clients. She left Vegas behind and moved to LA, then to New Orleans when the company she worked for, Pangloss, opened a new location down there. It was in NOLA that she met Celia Flores, who, in 2014, offered to bring Louise on as a part-time receptionist. It wasn’t enough for her to leave her job completely, but she spent the next year learning the ins and outs of Celia’s salon under the tutelage of Alana Frederick and, in 2015, was promoted to assistant manager. She was pleased to see the back of Pangloss.
Industry Influence ••
Cassandra “Sandra” Burton
Cassandra—or Sandra, as she prefers to be called—was a stripper until she got fat. She blamed the birth control, the thyroid problems, the genetic predisposition to obesity. She blamed O’Tolleys and Cow Lord and Four Lads, serving sizes in America, an unhealthy obsession with being “stick thin.” She used to be a crusader for HAES and took to Mumblr to spout the same sort of “real women have curves” and ”Marilyn Monroe was a size 14” schtick that was all the rage a few years ago. She hated men, hated the media, hated herself. And then in 2013 she had Bariatric Surgery, lost 150 lbs in two years, and has managed to keep it off since. While she was in the process of losing the weight she decided to find something to do that didn’t involve flashing a crowd or grinding on a pole and went to school for Cosmetology. She enjoyed the hair and skincare lessons, but where she really shined was the bodywork. Years of being a stripper left her comfortable enough with other people’s bodies to read their moods and adjust her technique appropriately to give them what they really need rather than what they ask for. When Harrah’s announced that it was hiring girls for the poker room she knew that she’d be a good fit. Indeed, she’s one of the highest earners thanks to her ability to sell herself. She’s also a lesbian, which doesn’t stop her from flirting her way into bigger tips or offering ”extras” to clients that show an interest. She’s currently dating Amber Nichols, one of the dealers in the poker room who often suggests that players get a massage when Sandra is working. Amber seems to think that Sandra’s flirting is highly arousing, and the two often take their breaks together to let off some steam.
Landen grew up knowing that who they were on the outside didn’t match who they were on the inside. They grew up with bullying and an abrasive father and a mother that ”just didn’t get it.” When their ”teenage phase” turned into a lifestyle they were kicked out of their home and made their way to New Orleans, where they fell in hard with the LGBTQ+ crowd and were welcomed with open arms. They went to Cos school and graduated just in time to be snatched up by Celia Flores when she opened her spa, Flawless, who said that she felt a sort of kinship with the androgynous stylist. Despite some controversy, Landen and Celia are very pleased with their working relationship, and Celia is happy to push Landen to pursue their bigger dreams. Lucy Flores, a client of impeccable taste, will only let Landen touch her nails now and swears by their work to all her friends.
Family: The Landrys
A lot of people say that the salon industry is a young woman’s game. They see the glitz and glam of the women who work all around the world at salons—nevermind the fact that men are a very real part of the industry—and assumes that most of them are young, vibrant, and spry. Maybe Madison never heard those “rules,” or maybe Madison just doesn’t care about the rules, because at almost seventy-years-old she’s still going strong. She looks old enough to be someone’s grandmother but lacks the telltale wrinkles and still has a spring in her step, and she credits her good looks and savvy fashion sense to her time in the industry. Madison said she fell into the skincare business after a long career working in the correctional field, when she noticed the general lack of health and pallor among the inmates. She got her start in Hollywood in the mid ‘80s when she was already 40-years-old and names a number of old movie stars among her clients. She credits her time there with the name change from ”Betty Landry” to ”Madison Raine,” which just felt more elegant. She claims to have worked on such figures as former president Ronald Reagan and the Queen of England. Madison “retired” at 60 and moved to NOLA to be closer to her remaining family, then decided to come out of retirement and took a job at Flawless. She still likes to wear a bold red lip when she’s out and about and pairs it with large glasses, dangling costume jewelry, and a fire-cracker personality.
Status: Flawless Spa ••
Piper was one of the first official employees at Flawless. She was hired by Celia after only a few minutes of speaking, where Piper admitted that her favorite color was “sparkles,” her favorite decade was the 20’s, and she has no idea what her 5-year plan is. Celia would later describe her bumbling honesty and erratic energy as ”refreshing.” Despite a rather spotty track record at salons, Piper has proven to be an apt esthetician. She’s a hit with the clients, an incurable gossip, and wants to be everyone’s friend. More than that, though, she’s got a heart of gold beneath the slew of tattoos. She sometimes thinks about what else she can do with her life and knows that she doesn’t want to work in salons forever, but she’s content for now. Outside of work she is frequently spotted in the Quarter at various bars.
Industry Influence •
Erica “Anoushka Petrov” Wheeler
Erica had a pill problem in high school. Well, she didn’t consider it a problem, but apparently the administration, her parents, her therapist, and all her friends considered it a problem, so she ended up spending her senior year in rehab. Rather than graduate as valedictorian and “get out of this shithole city,” Erica ended up with a GED. She might have recovered from the rehab stint if that had been the only trouble she’d gotten into, but apparently she was slinging pills, coke, and heroin to the kids at her school. Because she was a minor she faced minimal criminal charges (or maybe because her dad was loaded and paid the right people to look the other way), but she still lost her scholarship to Brown. Erica ended up attending Delgado Community College with the intent to transfer out after two years, but she ended up enjoying the bodywork she’d started doing and stuck around to take the state test and get her license. She only graduated a year ago and happened upon the job posting for Touch of Luck, then impressed the owner with the trial massage and spunky attitude when she’d interviewed. The owner knew a fellow liar when she saw one, and rather than kick the girl to the curb she welcomed her in with open arms and taught her a few tricks, even helped her get some fake papers with a new name so she could leave the “pill popping” alias behind. Erica has had a bit of work done on her face—injections, rhinoplasty, some filler—and now almost nobody she used to go to school with recognizes her. She uses a Russian accent as fake as her new name to give herself an exotic appeal and even downloaded a handful of apps to help her learn how to speak it for real. She’s a big hit in the high rollers section.
Tina had a hard life. A lot of people think they have a hard life, but Tina thinks that her life might be harder than most people’s, or maybe that’s just the excuse she uses to be as abrasive as she is. Her daddy was a repo man for Auto Recovery, which means he was part grifter, part hustler, part tracker, and part conman. He had a CDL so he could drive his tow truck and used to haul parts across the state for General Motors, which Tina had always thought was pretty cool. Sometimes he’d let her skip school if he was going out of state and take her with him so she could see the road, then have her home in time for dinner. Of course she had to sit on the floor if they passed a weigh station or if he ever pulled into the GM Plant, but overall Tina had a lot of fun with her dad on the road. It gave her an interest in cars that was ”a little unusual for a lady,” and by the time she was thirteen she was about as knowledgeable about diesel mechanics as most girls were about boys and makeup. She might not have wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps by driving them, but she sure as hell wanted to be a grease monkey and carry around a big wrench when she grew up. So it made sense to both of them that, when he became a repo man, he’d take her with him. Maybe they should have realized that no one is happy to see the repo man. Maybe they should have thought about the fact that people don’t like having their property seized no matter what they did to deserve it. All Tina knows is that she was fifteen years old, sitting in the front of her daddy’s tow truck, when she heard the BANG that ended her world. She watched her dad fall, dead before he hit the ground, his face blown off by the double-barrel shotgun the piece of shit that defaulted on his car loan wielded. She watched the man jump into said car and peel out of the driveway then down the street, tires running right through the blood and brains that had splattered all across the pavement. Tina hasn’t wanted to work on cars since. She decided to go into something a little less dangerous once she left high school and settled on Touch of Luck at Harrah’s casino. After all, no one is ever unhappy to see their massage therapist. She still has idle fantasies about tracking down the man that murdered her daddy.