The New Orleans socialite Mickey Easterling — known as much for her grand lifestyle and eccentric hats as for her cultural patronage and political activism — succumbed to an unspecified illness in her home earlier this month, aged 83.
Easterling was a flamboyant character of the old guard. As such, her family honored her wishes by throwing an elaborate tableau vivant of a wake, minus the vivant. The centerpiece was the mannered matriarch herself, dressed to the nines and propped up as if delighting in her own handiwork.
In attire befitting a Mardi Gras ball, she clutched a cigarette holder and a Waterford crystal flute filled with Veuve Cliquot, her favorite bubbly. On a small table sat a pack of American Spirit cigarettes, while her beloved brooch spelling out "bitch" in diamonds had been pinned to her chest and a pink boa draped across her shoulders.
According to the New Orleans Advocate, every detail — even the choice of venue, a theater where Broadway plays are staged and where she held many a premiere party — was carefully designed to meet her specific wishes.
We're reminded of Auntie Mame and her famous line: "Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" Given to sweeping pronouncements herself, Mickey Easterling could give Tilda Swinton's promised remake of the classic a run for its money.