What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Venezia. Sitting outside at Caffé Florian, the historical coffee bar and sidewalk café that hugs the arcades along St. Mark's Square in Venice. My favorite moment in time is a late springtime afternoon, with people and pigeons wandering about in the Piazza foreground, orchestra and violin music playing in the background — with a good book at hand, a white tablecloth setting with heavy silver, crystal, glasses and cups; coffee, chocolate, cookies and finger-snack tea sandwiches on the table. Paradise!

The perfect place to watch the personality of the world unfold, rise and fall. No wonder this special spot is called "the drawing room of the world."  

0Q%26A

Where would you like to live?

Where I live, New Orleans and Palm Beach, but I also love Palm Springs and Key West. One of my favorite fantasies is to discard all my possessions at a house sale, pack one duffle bag and live aboard a classic wooden sailing schooner venturing to different ports of call, but I get seasick and am afraid of falling overboard.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

The smell of roses and coffee and a fireplace in every room; sunrise and sunset over the ocean; the sound of waves lapping.

What are your greatest fears?

Probably a tie between snakes, flying, heights, fanatics, fascism and a resurrection of McCarthyism.

Which historical figures do you most identify with?

Beloved Margaret Haughery of New Orleans!

Nazi hunters, Florence Nightingale, Annie Oakley, Queen Esther, Prophetess Miriam, Golda Meir, Dian Fossey, Margaret Mead, Coco Chanel, Juliet, Joan de Arc, Hedda Hopper, Marie Laveau, Pontalba, Captain James Cook, WWII resistance fighters and ambulance drivers, Gypsies, Scout Finch, Jessica Fletcher, Lady MacBeth, Miss Marple, Dorothy, Scarlett O'Hara, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Lassie.

TJ Fisher

Which living persons do you most admire?

CNN Heroes, Jane Goodall, Barbara Walters, Oprah, Bono. 

What are the traits you most deplore in yourself?

Paradoxical workaholic, headstrong, big-hearted, overly sensitive, cry easily.

What are the traits you most like in yourself?

Paradoxical workaholic, headstrong, big-hearted, overly sensitive, cry easily.

What are the traits you most deplore in others?

Narrow-mindedness, vapidness, shallowness, superficiality, laziness, pompousness, condescension, self-importance, egomania, insincerity, holier-than-thou attitude, self-entitlement, fur-wearing, cruelty toward animals.

What are the traits you most like in others?

Open-minded intelligence, flexibility, humor, wit, grit, spunk, creativity, sassiness, nerve, enthusiasm, hope, intuition, commitment, curiosity, street smarts, generosity, an ability to change one’s mind.

On what occasion do you lie?

Rarely since adolescence do I tell true lies.

7

What are your favorite journeys?

A ride anywhere in a convertible in the moonlight; cross-country skiing in the quiet of the wilderness; a bike ride; a hayride.

Your favorite painters?

Unknown Haitian, African, flea market and folk artists; James Ensor, Tamara de Lempicka.

Your favorite musicians?

New Orleans small-club jazz artists, street musicians and marching bands.

Do you sing or play a musical instrument?

I sing like a frog; I tried and was a failure at the accordion, piano and flute.

What are your favorite Broadway Shows?

Phantom of the Opera, The Color Purple, Wicked, A Street Car Named Desire, Mary Poppins.

9a

What do you consider the most overrated virtues?

Being upbeat and happy; positive thinking and being blonde.

What do you consider the most underrated virtues?

Compulsive worrying, gossip, charm, a suspicious mind, and eccentricism.

Favorite article of clothing?

A pair of lace-up embossed Victorian boots and a feather hat.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry?

Irregular pearls; I like the idea of something so beautiful being spawned from a speck of sand and a homely clam.

What living person(s) do you most despise?

Mum is the word; only my close friends know for sure... However I do have more than one nemesis...

2Q%26A

What event in history would you most like to have attended?

The Boston Tea Party.

Which word or phrases do you most overuse?

Lately I have developed a terrible habit of, whenever I really want to irritate someone, instead of shouting or arguing I simply shrug and respond: "Whatever."

What are your greatest extravagances?

Lulabell, my "late great" pink Cadillac and a love of art and strange artifacts.

What are your favorite colors?

Purple, pink and red.

What would your favorite adventure be?

A classic Hemingwayesque tented safari and a steamer trip down the Amazon.

What fascinates you?

Humanities, ancient cultures, folklore, superstitions, the Olympians, imaginary places, deep waters, wishing wells, the Blarney Stone, medieval castles, the mad hatter, tree houses, Irish fairies, plate smashing, Père-Lachaise, Cities of the Dead, ceremonial masks, Mardi Gras Indians, speakeasies, attic trunks, old love letters, statues, tiki huts, supper clubs, haunted houses, African dancers, hot air balloons, thunder and lightning storms, rain, palm trees, picnics, balconies, verandahs, antique fountains, headdresses, candelabras, a harvest moon, gazebos, vaudeville, swings, see-saws, pumpkins, tap dancing, the Rockettes, player pianos, carriage rides, old mirrors, Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancour, vintage gas pumps, historic railcars, clawfoot bathtubs, jesters, mimes, memoirs of time standing still.

8

What is the color of your hair and eyes, and your height?

I am a flaming redhead (a reformed bottle blonde) with blue eyes - prone to sudden lapses of blondness! Yes, I change my hair color a lot. I am 5’8" in Von Dutch sneakers and cowboy boots but like towering high heels, shoes and boots with all types of divergent heel heights and shapes.

Favorite fragrance?

The signature scent Orléans Embrace — by Vieux Carré 9th Ward Fashions, Opium and Obsession.

Do you dress uptown or downtown?

I like to sport a layered downtown/uptown hybrid-mix look. My fashion style is an idiosyncratic hodgepodge combo of femininity and androgyny, topped with interesting accents. A woman can never have too many accessories. I love vintage doodads. I am not into the art of understatement.

Preferred designers?

Vieux Carré 9th Ward Fashions, The People of the Labyrinths (Dutch avant garde and offbeat underground couture), Alexander McQueen, Pucci, Anna Sui, Ed Hardy, Gaultier, Burberry, Zandra Rhodes, Cavalli, "retro-glam thrift store chic."

What do you collect?

Memories, stories, picture frames, masks, sunglasses, Betsey Johnson.

Favorite diamond shape?

Antique Asscher.

Do you prefer coffee or tea?

New Orleans-style coffee, lots of it, strong and caffeine laced.

3Q%26A

What is your greatest indulgence?

Vintage hatboxes and suitcases.

What is your great regret?

My regrets are too long to even begin to list.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

My one-and-only husband.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could do a perfect cartwheel and dance classical ballet; however, I was kicked out of ballet class at age five for my inability to do a backwards or forward somersault — I remember the teacher’s name, Olga of Russia.

What and where were you happiest?

As a sunburned child at the ocean with my dogs and a tuna fish sandwich.

What are your favorite animals?

Hmmm… Dogs first, then a toss up between lions, tigers, elephants, monkeys and zebras, followed by wolves and carousel horses.

9
(Parody!)

What is your favorite meal?

Char-grilled Kosher hotdog or hamburger with a no-salt straight-up Margarita (oops...hmmm...just give me the bun and condiments, as I no longer eat meat); peanut butter eaten straight from the jar is a second runner-up, and Spaghetti Marinara paired with bubbly champagne comes in third.

What satisfies your sweet tooth?

Snickers Bars and Peanut M & Ms. I admit, I am a carbohydrate and junk-food junkie. Cotton candy and marshmallows make me melt.

What is your favorite breakfast?

Buttered crumpets and jam or a hot donut.

What is your current state of mind?

Unpredictable.

7Insert2

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would love to have a lyrical accent, preferably English or French.

What are your favorite events to attend?

Mardi Gras parades, cookouts, second-line parades, Jazz funerals (as long as it is not my own), plus I like dogsledding and rock concerts.

What do you do for exercise?

I hate exercise, especially group activities. I flunked aerobics 101, as I jump the wrong direction as everyone else and fall off the step boxes. The best exercise is tromping around and maneuvering the French Quarter in high heels. But I would like to learn boxing and fencing. I think I am a natural.

What do you consider your great achievement?

The commitment of taking care of my mother and pets through extended illnesses, nursing them and keeping them going for far longer than anyone ever expected.

10A

What are your most treasured possessions?

My dear darling doggies. My oldest is Dud, a little dog with the heart of a Lab in a tiny body. I also love old jewelry with an intriguing past, a history and a story.

What do you consider the lowest depth of misery?

The death of someone I love; the loss of a pet; the loss of a home; the loss of a city.

What are your most marked characteristics?

Resourceful, rebellious, tenacious and unafraid to voice my opinions.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

A mischievous sparkle in the eye and a great sense of humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

A strong voice and handshake.

What do you value most in your friends?

The ability to lend a shoulder, empathize, sympathize, laugh, listen and then say nothing.

Who are your favorite writers?

In no particular order, I love and find inspiration in the diverse works of classic and modern writers — Lafcadio Hearn, Tennessee Williams, James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, George Washington Cable, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, William Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm, Nelson DeMille, Joseph Campbell, Truman Capote, Anne Rice, Horton Foote, Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann, Judith Krantz, Marcel Proust, Marjorie Rawlings, Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Emily Brontë, Virginia Wolf, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Hunter S. Thompson, Sydney Sheldon.

TJ and her dogs

Who are your favorite poets?

King David of Israel, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, William Butler Yeats, Bedros Tourian, William Blake, France Preseren, Sylvia Plath, Ezra Pound, Maya Angelou.

Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?

Miss Marple, Dorothy, Scarlett O’Hara, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins, Lassie.

Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Atticus Finch, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Lancelot, Indiana Jones, Robin Hood, Howdy Doody, Ben Hur, Don Quixote, Tim Finnegan, Jack Bauer, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Old Yeller, Rin Tin Tin.

Who are your favorite heroines in real life?

New Orleans First Responders, volunteers who gut homes, LASPCA workers.

Wild Horse Annie, Mother Teresa, Susan B. Anthony, Molly Brown, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pocahontas, Dame Edna, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc).

Teachers, police, fire fighters, EMS workers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Pulitzer winners, women of the cloth, field journalists and war correspondents.

3B

Who are your favorite heroes in real life?

New Orleans First Responders, volunteers who gut homes, LASPCA workers.

President Kennedy, Moses, Paul Revere, Nelson Mandela, Confucius, Walt Disney, pony express mail carriers, Blaine Kern (Mr. Mardi Gras).

Teachers, police, fire fighters, EMS workers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Pulitzer winners, men of the cloth, field journalists and war correspondents.

What magazine can you not live without?

Vanity Fair.

Favorite Films?

Out of Africa, Casablanca, The English Patient, The Wizard of Oz, Bonnie and Clyde, Schindler’s List, The African Queen, The Birds, Annie Hall, To Kill a Mockingbird, March of the Penguins, The Godfather, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Psycho, Dr. Zhivago, The Great Gatsby, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, 21 Grams, The Maltese Falcon, North by Northwest, Citizen Kane, Some Like it Hot, Titanic, All About Eve, Lawrence of Arabia, the Grapes of Wrath, A Streetcar Named Desire, Avatar, Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider, Sunset Boulevard, Enchanted April, Ben Hur, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Magazines — women's fashion titles — I devour them cover-to-cover.

4Q%26A

What paves the road to success?

Sleep deprivation, a string of failures, self-doubt, wicked witches, masks, pirates, skeletons, chance, destiny, reinvention.

What is always in your handbag?

Lipstick.

Favorite place to shop?

The French Quarter, hands down, its fun and festive — warm, inviting and intimate — with the friendliest shopkeepers and best eclectic stores anywhere. I love it. The streets are crammed with endless treasures, everything from used knickknacks to chi-chi couture and Louis XVI antiques.

Name something unusual people would never suspect about you?

I was a fire-baton twirling majorette. Once upon a time I was a "Rose" at Ireland's Rose of Tralee International Festival. In my life I’ve been both poor and broke (yes, there is a difference). I fight opponents like a scorched earth gladiator. When I was a toddler I bit strangers in the bum. I have memories of my second birthday. My favorite stroller was a laundromat cart. I love bumper cars. I am good on stilts and a pogo stick. You never want to receive one of my poison pen letters. I’ve always wanted to be a spy or a roller derby queen. I inherited a love of crazy weather and desolate places off-season. The snarled branches of my ancestral family tree entwine with Daniel Boone and southeastern Kentucky's mysterious Melungeons.

10B

Anything else?

There’s always more to the story. I believe in miracles. I am a daredevil in disguise. I can scream like a Banshee. I keep a secret stash of "mad money" like granny said Southern woman must do. I take in and mother stray pets and people. I am stubborn and prone to a one-track mind that thinks of a million things at once. I was a kid barrel racer on a Palomino pony named Silver. When I was 13 my nickname was "Venus" and I pretended to be 21. I was a "wild child," still am. I love to vacuum/scrub/clean house with a toothbrush. (In the Victorian era, I think I was a Gosford Park Irish domestic servant and scullery maid in another life.) I don't cook. I don't understand cooking or kitchen utensils. I know how to make three delicious things in one cast-iron skillet. Fry-pan hot dogs, biscuits and crispy pancakes. Like Tom Petty says, I don’t back down. I keep a peacock carousel "horse" named Gertrude in my bathroom. I am an ex-surfer girl who never could stand up on my surfboard. I like the underdog, the black horse, the long shot. I never plan ahead or "book early." I instinctively lean the wrong way on motorcycles and snowmobiles. I do not understand eating dinner at 6 p.m. — 10 p.m. or later suits me better — so I like all-night diners.

When you were a kid, what were the worst jobs you ever had? 

Picking tomatoes in rural Florida for my grandmother, fearful of snakes. Baiting fishing lines at a tackle shop. Manning my parents’ flea market booth. Mowing neighborhood lawns. Working at a bowling alley renting out shoes, while the cool girls at school made fun of me. 

When you were a teenager, what were the best jobs you ever had? 

Hot dog vendor at a racetrack, meeting swank gamblers. Checking ID at a chi-chi private club, they didn’t know I was underage (hah!). Boat show hostess. Department store mannequin model. Columnist. Fashion model.

Who is on your iPod?

U2, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, the Killers, Coldplay, Prince, INXS, Louis Armstrong, Oasis, Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, Billie Holiday, Mat Kearney, Mary J. Blige, Black Eyed Peas, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Keane, Matchbox Twenty, Kermit Ruffins, Donald Harrison, Florence and the Machine, Bush, Foo Fighters, Black Keys, Snow Patrol, One Republic, The Fray, Pink, The Band Perry, Blondie, Mumford and Sons, Pitbull, Florida Georgia Line, Lana Del Ray, Fun.

5Q%26A

Are you Old Guard or New Guard?

Out Guard. I am a warrior-poet.

Do you burn your bridges behind you? 

I set them afire before I cross.

Who are your favorite pals?

High friends in low places, low friends in high places, my dogs, soulful streetlight people, outcasts from the witness protection program.

What are your favorite chain stores?

Home Depot, Target, Charles Jourdan, Louis Vuitton.

What is your best advice for sound decision-making?

Flip a coin. Seriously. If I am really unsure about something, I toss a quarter and leave it to the fates. I love it; it immediately takes the worry and pressure off. It's sort of like divine intervention. There are no infallible crystal balls, so when it comes to two options I often leave it to chance. The outcome is unpredictable yet good odds rest best with pure luck.

What do you think about gossip?

Scandalous people and gossip make the world revolve. My grandmother sits on one shoulder saying, "If you can't think of something nice, don't say anything at all." Truman Capote sits on the other shoulder saying, "If you can't think of anything nice to say about anyone, come sit by me." All literature is gossip.

8Insert3

Who or what do you find irresistibly appealing?

Lady Luck, parlor games, arts and letters, accessories, chantilly lace, big sunglasses, fog, gardenias, cabinets of curiosities, candlelight, torches, museums, cacti, roadrunners, upside-down truths, talismans, tantrums, tuxedoes, top hats, velvet, dark stars, fallen aristocrats, dethroned royalty, androgyny, Oriental rugs, magic carpet rides, antique wicker, boardwalks, unicorns, Superman, scene stealers, croquette, fortunetellers, (yikes, I avoid!), voodoo queens (oh dear, I avoid!), tarot card readers (oy vey, I avoid!), old wooden-yacht Trumpys, biplanes, hotel lobbies, lullabies, Flamenco dancing, powdered wigs, primping, Zulu baskets, warriors, crusaders, la dolce vita, hidden meanings, bleakness, auspicious beginnings, the human heart, errors in judgment, Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, ice-cream cones, kibbutzim, bougainvillea, hibiscus, secret gardens, tribal rituals, flamingo dancing, masquerade balls, Pandora’s Box, pushing the envelope, fishnet stockings, camouflage, bravery in the face of defeat, the unspooling of fate, willpower and wisdom.

Did you attend private or public schools?

Public. Where I grew up alligators were real and nearby, and readily available on the menu, not emblems on clothing.

What were the most interesting possessions you had as a kid?

A monkey, a round bed, an antique watch, a canoe, a window air conditioner.

How would you sum up your life story?

A quirky soap opera, a twisty mystery — to be continued.

6Q%26A

Favorite mottoes?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The truth is best told in jest. Let the games begin.

As an adult what was the worst job you have ever had?

Unmentionable.

As an adult what was the best job you ever had?

I am still looking.

How would you paint a self-portrait?

Something colorful, controversial, scandalous, kicky and carnivalesque, wildly allegorical; artist James Ensor says it best, with bizarre and troubling compositions of expressionism and surrealism, I love his work, it's me... (Click here to see!)

Favorite TV shows?

Downtown Abbey, House of Cards, Homeland, Mad Men, Absolutely Fabulous, Old Dallas, New Dallas, Falcon Crest, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Saturday Night Live, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan's Island, Sopranos, Sex & the City, Golden Girls, The Odd Couple, Twilight Zone, CNN, MTV, VH1 (I am infatuated with music videos) and anything on Animal Planet or the History Channel.

7qa

What is it that you most dislike?

Arrogance, conceit, puffery and people with a sense of entitlement. The world owes us nothing.

3

What is it you most like?

People who say what they mean and mean what they say, pumps, historic railcars, clawfoot bathtubs, jesters, religion, philosophy, the Bible, the Torah, foreign policy, historic cathedrals, Old World architecture, Addison Mizner-designed castles, coquina stone, terrazzo, old bricks, deserts, oases, mirages, pulp fiction, hard-boiled crime novels, film noir, World War II, saints, sandcastles, prophets, pilgrimages, healers, pink flamingoes, black and white photos, neon lights, tile mosaics, flambeaux, soap operas, gloves, parasols, grainy home movies, Kelzmer bands, Mizrahi music, parrots...

What is it your favorite historical saying?

Beard the lion in his den.

What is your favorite symbolic animal?

The Dolphin. Swimming with ruthless sharks... I will never be a shark. I am a dolphin. Dolphins grin a lot, like to frolic...they represent wisdom and trust, the spiritual and esoteric...and they are very smart...however, they do have teeth, and can use them. Dolphins are héroes and healers. People love dolphins. Never underestimate the power of a dolphin. Sharks are afraid of dolphins and that's for good reason. Sharks are voracious but dolphins are smarter than you think! Sharks are cold-blooded...dolphins are warm-blooded...

10

What is your heritage?

My historically diverse and mixed ancestry is deeply rooted in Colonial America, from Jamestown to Salem, and the Southern society of the "Old South." I have many deeply flawed "crazy" ancestors. I descend from a long line of deeply-flawed colorful characters and riches to rags — and rags to riches — fabled tales that have a mythic quality that echoes Greek tragedy. My own life is a classic Tennessee William play, a continuum, set in umpteen acts. I live an over-the-top Southern Gothic life that no novelist would ever dare to pen. I am an ultimate survivor, in the face of adversity.

How would you like to die?

Fly off into the sky on a parrot-head umbrella and evaporate into a twinkling star.

What is your motto?

Be careful of what you wish for because you just might get it.

More "TJ Fisher" details about gossip and fact can be found at tjfisher.net.

Palm Trees