psychogeographic oral history project

Former site of the Gondola Station
1984 Louisiana World Expo
(May 12- November 11, 1984)
728 Convention Center Boulevard

My name is Harold Short, and my drag name is Ursulines Burgundy. That's named after two streets in the French Quarter.

I came to New Orleans in 1984 to become the official clown of the 1984 World's Exposition, but it turned around that I started out as the official hot dog.  I wore this wooden hot dog  around my neck until they got a hot dog suit for me to wear.

I stayed at the World's Fair and then became the official clown. My costume was a  Mardi Gras costume. It was like blue and royal yellow with a few sequins on it and it stretched down past my knees and I had baseball pants, humongous sunshades, and a top hat. That was my costume.

The World's Fair was a great fair. There was Irma Thomas, there was Al Hirt, there was Michael Jackson. There was a lot of great people that performed at the World's Fair.

I performed in the Mississippi Pavilion and one of my acts that I progressed in was Michael Jackson's Thriller.  I would lay on the floor and I would come up like a dead corpse, and I would dance and lip sync as a mime clown to Michael Jackson's Thriller, and that went over big because Thriller was just then and there out. I did other things like  mime and dance routines to Ghostbusters, which was out  the same year as the World's Fair.

Seymore d'Fair and the Alligator and I would be out front just like welcoming the crowds to the World's Fair.  Seymore d'Fair, the Pelican, would do acrobatic tricks, somersaults and cartwheels. And I just don't see how they were able to turn cartwheels and somersaults in those big mascot outfits.

They had the gondola and I got into the gondola one night and we went from the New Orleans side to the Algiers side in this little bitty cable car. And there were three of us in the cable car,  Seymore d'Fair,  the Alligator, and I, fully dressed with all our mascot costumes on. And we got to the top, right over the Mississippi River, and the car started churning and turning in every kind of which way. We got over to the New Orleans side and it was, "Thank God, I'm glad this ended."

Harold Short (aka Ursulines Burgundy) on Mardi Gras Day, 2020
(photo by Sarrah Danziger)

Courtesy of Harold Short, 1984