It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of Satyricon’s founding captain, Mickey Gil. He was a wonderful man — a friend, a leader, and a visionary. He will be greatly missed by the many whose lives he has touched, not only here in New Orleans, but around the world.
We’ll hold a celebration of Mickey’s life at on Sunday, March 21, at 1:00pm at Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Avenue. We’ll remember the many facets of Mickey’s life with performances by Becky Allen, Ricky Graham, Dorian Rush, and others, accompanied by Jim Walpole. We’ll even have a place for you to record your own fond memories of Mickey for posterity.
In the meantime, please read the touching obituary that John Pope wrote for Mickey for the Times-Picayune. It’s pasted below.
Michael “Mickey” Gil, who swept to glittery glory as the captain of two gay Carnival krewes after careers as an officer in the Israeli Air Force and the co-owner of a New York City restaurant and cabaret, died Monday at Touro Infirmary of complications from gallbladder surgery. He was 73.
Born in Menachamiya, Israel, to Russian immigrants, Mr. Gil settled in New Orleans in 1982 after stints in Vienna and New York City.
Mardi Gras interested him early on, he said in a 2003 interview, but as a spectator. In 1985, Mr. Gil’s companion, George Patterson, persuaded him to join the Krewe of Petronius. A year later, Mr. Gil was its captain, the man who not only ran the organization but also was master of ceremonies at the annual balls, the pageants where outlandishly spangled and feathered men in drag, generally topped off by towering headdresses, strut and preen for applauding audiences.
His reign lasted 15 years, until Mr. Gil was ousted by members who felt others deserved a chance at the top job. So he walked out of the krewe, Patterson said, followed by 16 others, and formed a new organization, the Mystic Krewe of Satyricon, with Mr. Gil as captain.
In 2003, a year after Mr. Gil’s last appearance at the Petronius ball, he was front and center, in a costume featuring exploding fireworks and a full-flame mantle, at the first Satyricon ball. Its theme: “Some Like It Hot.”
“He found his niche when he found Mardi Gras,” said the entertainer Becky Allen, who reigned as Queen of Queens at the first Satyricon ball. “He loved glamour; he loved beauty; he loved people. Being the captain of the ball satisfied his soul.”
That role, he said in an interview, was part of a lifelong character trait: “I’ve always held a position of leadership, no matter what it was that I am doing.”
Mr. Gil “is not just another Indian,” said Roy Haylock, a performer and costume designer, in a 2003 interview. “Mickey was born to be a chief.”
In his native Israel, Mr. Gil joined the air force and rose to the rank of major. He served six years and was discharged in 1961.
Mr. Gil, who spoke English, Hebrew and a little German, moved to Vienna to work in a hotel. To rise in the organization, he said in the interview, he was told he would have to learn more languages, so he added Spanish and French to his repertoire and improved his German. Six months later, he was made a manager.
Because he had relatives in Queens, Mr. Gil moved to New York, where he started working in restaurants. In 1974, he was made back-of-the-house manager at the tony Four Seasons Restaurant, a job he held for four years.
He and Patterson met in New York in 1974 and opened a restaurant called Mickey’s in midtown Manhattan. At night, it became a cabaret that, Patterson said, presented performers such as the singers Karen Akers and Cissy Houston and the comedian Joy Behar.
In New Orleans, Mr. Gil managed several delicatessens. At his death, he was manager of MRB, a French Quarter bar.
He also cultivated a reputation for kindness. “He was always generous, and he always had a kind word,” said Carl Walker, a local theater director.
In addition to Patterson, survivors include a brother, Yehuda Gil of Tel Aviv, Israel.
A memorial service will be held March 21 at 1 p.m. at Le Chat Noir, 715 St. Charles Ave.