Remembering Veronica Russell
by Janine Hayes
[Editor’s note: In this series, the ‘tit Rəx krewe pays tribute to beloved member Veronica Russell, who passed away August 6, 2014, at age 44.]
Honestly, I wish I had known Veronica better, but I'm happy that I knew her at all and that she thought so much of our krewe that she wiggled her way in.
I remember Veronica kind of just being around at some 'tit Rəx meetings in our second year. She was friends with some of our members, so I didn't think anything of it. You can't just sign up to make a float in 'tit Rəx — you have to be invited. But we don't disallow you from hanging around.
There was a social at Bacchanal back when we used to start our parades there. Everyone was drinking wine and carrying on. Veronica showed up and sat down at my table. I knew her from the scene of artists and theatre people. I knew she was a talented woman.
At some point she casually piped in about making a float. As a board member I knew the "rules" and immediately felt slightly uncomfortable because I didn't want to reject her. I think I vaguely mentioned something about having to be invited, and felt bad. She, on the other hand, took it in stride. She said something to the effect of, "Well, all right then, that's cool." (In retrospect it was like a cat waiting for a mouse to come out of its hole — patience!)
Time passed. Our parade rolled. The following year was an intense one, as we were up against Rex asking us to change our name. Someone suggested "Napoleon Avenue Complex" as our theme, and we went with it. As with all parades we needed a title float, one that sums up the theme in one fell swoop. Who would make it? It's a challenging task. Jeremy, our president at the time, had been hinting at inviting a guest artist to make the title float. Some names were bandied about, and eventually Veronica's made its way to the top of the list. Veronica Russell can make our title float!
Without missing a beat, Veronica made a stunning title float for our embattled year. "Mardi Gras for All" was emblazoned on it. Little tiny 'tit Rəx krewe members, sashes and all, stood on a shoebox float that resembled a traditional Mardi Gras float and demanded equality. A larger King Rex hung helplessly above a flame.
Brilliance was achieved once again by Veronica Russell. She was a natural fit to our krewe, and to this day I am glad she was persistent. From there she went on to make two more fabulous floats. Her technique will be sorely missed, as her work was beautiful in detail. Her spirit remains and she will never be replaced.