Object title
Lulu White—Queen of Mirrors Built and performed by
Pandora Gastelum, the Mudlark Puppeteers Description
Lulu White is one of the most renowned madames in the history of New Orleans' red light district, known as Storyville (1897-1917). Born Lulu Hendley, about 1868, to a black housemaid and a white man of indeterminate employment in Selma, Alabama, Lulu would go on to become the darling of the New Orleans sex trade. The most sought-after courtesans of the Storyville era were the "octoroons," young women who attested to be of primarily European descent and possessed of one-eighth black heritage. The very same "one drop of black blood" that forbade these women from riding the streetcar, elevated them to the wealthiest appointments in the bordellos of Storyville. Lulu herself claimed this particular racial identity throughout most of her career, but claimed many variations on her racial and national identity throughout her life, engaging in an elaborate dance to the demands of shifting mores and financial pressures. An astute entrepreneur, Lulu established the majestic Mahogany Hall, a brothel specializing in "octoroon maidens of the greatest beauty and refinement." Also known as "the Queen of Diamonds" and "Madame White of the Hall of Mirrors," Lulu was one of the most successful creoles of color in her lifetime. At the rise of WWI, the American government demanded the closure of Storyville in the interest of protecting able-bodied soldiers from the influence of vice and disease. Prone to scandal and bouts of excess, Lulu, the sparkling shapeshifter, fell into poverty and isolation. She died in abjection in a passenger car on the way back to Selma, AL, but the legacy of her glamor and self-spun mystery lives on.
Living Objects theme
Puppetry and Storytelling

Production title
Blue Book: a Dioramic Guide to the Days and Ways of Storyville Years created and used
2013-present Medium
Papier-mâché, armature wire, textile, wooden dowel rods, synthetic hair
Type of puppet
Bunraku-style Dimensions
Height: 40”
Width: 16”
Depth: 12” (10” without controls)