Frequently asked question
What is the Bearded Oysters?
The Bearded Oysters is a parade organization devoted to sisterhood, fun, art and personal growth. Over 850 women and men have participated throughout the years. The Bearded Oysters have performed in hundreds of parades in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and New York City as well as on television and film. They have certainly proven that the world is their oyster since their first parade in 2004.
How do I become a Bearded Oyster?
You can join now by purchasing your membership on the Join Us page. After you purchase, you will receive an email from the Mother Shucker on how you would like to receive your uniform pieces. You can pick it up or have it mailed to you.
When is a good time to join Bearded Oysters?
Anytime. Bearded Oysters have opportunities to parade throughout the year. Carnival is considered by most to be the height of our year. Although many members have benefitted from doing some practice parades before the big parades of Carnival. Some years we have been unable to meet demand for uniforms in the weeks before Carnival, so please plan as far out as possible.
Who is the typical Bearded Oyster member?
The similarities among the Bearded Oysters are their love of fun and parading including getting attention, crafting, costuming, revelling and spreading smiles with their many creative talents. People of all ages, backgrounds and paths have found friendship, personal growth and a schuck-load of fun while marching with us. We have members from ages 21-70+ years old and believe this diversity is what makes us the best krewe for all ages. People of all sizes are included in our troupe.
What do we do during a parade?
Parades offer an opportunity for you to share your talents with an enthusiastic audience. Look fabulous with iridescent LED isis wings. Check out our dance routine here, its super simple! Smile, wave and pose for photographs with the crowd. Enjoy laughing, dancing and strutting with old and new friends.
What shouldn’t we be doing in the parades?
Disengaging from the audience. Parading is about sharing love and fun with others in the audience. That means be emotionally and performatively available to the crowd at all times. Smile at the audience, not into your FaceTime or selfie stick. You are the show and that is the most fun you can imagine.
Maintain sobriety for your own good. While a popular concept, being intoxicated in a parade is a bad idea. Many paraders have ended up in the hospital from walking into things, getting run over by floats and vehicles, twisting ankles, tripping on beads, getting hit in the face with beads and so on. There are also police every couple of feet all the way down the parade route and if they think you look too messed up to be walking by 1000s of kids, they will pull you out. And… No Smoking, No Glass, No Drugs, No Sexual Harassment, No Body Shaming and No treating others with rudeness.
How long are parades?
Parades vary in length. Some can be as short as a mile while others are up to 5 miles. Parades can take from 1-3 hours. Lineup and break down can sometimes add hours too.
How long have the Bearded Oysters been parading?
The Bearded Oysters began with 40 members in August, 2004 for the Krewe of OAK Midsummer Mardi Gras Parade. The Bearded Oysters have participated in hundreds of parades and events as well as television commercials and film.
Who can be a Bearded Oyster?
Any person over 18 can become a Bearded Oyster. Special permission for those under 18 can be given if they are accompanied by an older member.
Can men be Bearded Oysters?
Yes. Check out our page for Men.
How can I participate between parades?
As a Bearded Oyster, there is always something you could be doing to advance yourself and the troupe. Making a connection with a neighborhood oyster restaurant is a good start. Restaurants are typically psyched to give you their discarded oyster shells for decorating. Oysters can be fun to decorate with friends and sometimes even with children.
If you are feeling crafty, but painting isn’t your thing, you could elaborate your uniform. It is fun to decorate a pair of sneakers with tinsel, spray paint, glitter, costume jewelry and more. Adding fringe or a feather boa to your skirt is an easy hand-sewing project for a lazy afternoon.
If you are feeling social, get on our Facebook page and round up some fellow Oysters for a good time. Plan a tubing trip, a spa day, a luncheon, a stilt walking practice, build a small float…the world is your oyster.
Do I need throws?
No. Our group will be dancing with LED wings and will not need throws to entertain the crowds. If you would like to make craft items as symbols of our krewe, we have long been known for our decorated oyster shells. These are best handed out before the parade or saved for those very special and deserving friends to be given as a Carnival favor or gift rather than tossed in the parades.
Are there rehearsals?
Yes and No. We never have mandatory group rehearsals. Optional rehearsals happen before Carnival and offer an opportunity to connect with other members. The rehearsals are more for community than learning the choreography as it is so simple. For parades we bring out our isis wings and perform a very simple choreography that you can check out here.
What if the weather is cold?
Winter parades can be very cold, in the past temperatures have been as low as 30 degrees. Your enjoyment depends greatly on dressing appropriately for the weather. Wigs, layered nylons, leggings, hats, scarves, long underwear, coats, etc can be worn under and over your costumes. Wigs can be any color, but please wear white, grey and silver clothing to match your uniform. Hand-warmers can save the day, but nothing beats staying together and dancing.
What if the weather is hot?
Summer parades can be dangerously hot. Feel free to shed uniform pieces as needed. Wigs can get very hot. Stay hydrated. Parasols are a great way to protect yourself from the sun while elaborating your parade attire.
What if it rains?
Parades sometimes roll in the rain. Most rained out parades will be rescheduled. If a parade is cancelled it will be announced on the local news and you will receive an email from your Mother Shucker with updates.
Do I have to wear a beard?
Yes. Bearded Oysters wear beards (or mustaches). Don’t be scared, embrace it, its part of the fun. There are endless options from a big, bushy beard to smaller drawn ones filled with rhinestones and glitter.
Is there a Facebook group?
Yes, please join.
Is there an Instagram page?
Yes, please follow it.
Can I alter my costume?
Yes. You are welcome to display your creativity with your uniform. Please follow these rules though. You may create your uniform however you like with our colors of silver and white. Please do not add lights that could interfere with the presentation of our LED wings. Merkins do not need to be silver and white, they can be any color. Wigs can be any color.
Please wear sneakers or comfortable shoes when parading. The streets are often uneven and go-go boots and heels can prove dangerous.
What is a merkin?
A merkin is a pubic hair wig. Many Bearded Oysters choose to wear one to enjoy the attention they receive when they lift their skirts for the audience. You can wear one if you want.
Bearded Oysters membership costs $375 depending on what membership level you purchase. Membership is a one time purchase. Once in a while, events cost additional money to cover costs. In the past, this has been for Muses parade and was $50-$100.
Cleaning My Uniform?
Flapper headbands should not be cleaned. Do not wet your feather. You can wipe the sequence with a wet cloth.
Mardi Bra can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and pat dry.
Skirts can be cold water washed. Use stain remove stains. Steam or low-iron.
Spandex sleeves can be soaked in soapy/detergent water, rinsed and hung to dry.
White fur legwarmers and stole can be machine washed. Spray liberally with stain remover where needed. Wash with cold water and fluff (regular heat) in dryer or hang dry.
Am I too big to fit in the costume?
No. You are just fine no matter what your size is to be a Bearded Oyster. You can customize your uniform with costume pieces that work for you. We have had many bigger women join us and we are committed to keeping our troupe body positive for all.
Do I have to live in New Orleans to be a Bearded Oyster?
No. Bearded Oysters can be from anywhere and are welcome to participate when they visit.
What do the Bearded Oysters do other than parade?
Recently, the Bearded Oysters have been cast in several television shows, movies and national commercials. In addition to that, the Bearded Oysters often participate in social movements and art events throughout New Orleans.
Who founded the Bearded Oysters?
Mother Shucker and Founder, Karina Nathan aka “Katrina Brees” founded the troupe in 2004. Brees is well known for her many Carnival contributions including her Mardi Bras and developing green alternatives to Mardi Gras beads. In 2011, Brees founded the Krewe of Kolossos to showcase her eco-friendly papier mache floats powered by tricycles. Katrina’s newest artistic practice is her ego-friendly Fantastic Caskets.