I have always loved a costume party. In fact, the desire to experience Mardi Gras from an inside perspective was one of the things that drew me to New Orleans. Each year I hit the streets with friends to participate in, and document, this sacred ritual. Losing ourselves in communal celebration, we obscure our everyday personas in a theatrical and public exploration of our fantasies: to be queen for a day, or perhaps a demon.

Carnival season lasts for weeks and is a many-layered celebration. Night after night we gather with families, friends and neighbors to view parades. Mardi Gras – which literally translates to Fat Tuesday – is the culmination of the season, when we don our costumes and become the parade. It is a magical day filled with sights, sounds and a feeling of utter transportation, playfully engaging with masked strangers on the streets of the French Quarter, where turning any corner might bring you face to face with a dream or a nightmare.