New Orleans bounce superstar Big Freedia isn’t able to take her show on the road these days. Like everybody else, the Queen Diva is self-quarantining, thanks to the coronavirus contagion.
But that doesn’t mean she’s not entertaining her army of fans. In a series of hourlong online home-cooking demonstrations, Freedia has traded her microphone for a frying pan.
The shows are casual, minimally produced and unpretentious in the extreme. Wearing a T-shirt and fluffy slippers, the international icon wanders her crowded kitchen creating the sort of delicacies rarely seen outside of the Crescent City.
During the series, viewers are treated to Freedia’s “Bent-Over Biscuit Benedict,” made with sautéed shrimp and crab meat; fried “Wobble Wings” and waffles and the “Turn Up The Heat Po-Boy” made with Patton’s hot sausage patties and scrambled eggs. Plus — the piece de resistance — spicy liver and onions with grits.
“I’ve cleaned this liver about five times and it’s still bloody,” Freedia said during the April 19 installment, as she pressed the glistening meat into a colander with her fingers, which were surmounted by luxuriously long nails. “It feels really weird too, ya’ll,” she said.
Freedia’s Sunday morning gospel brunches begin with a prayer, which she offers up with such passion that, at least once, she’s wept. As gospel choirs soar on her home sound-system, Freedia typically sips a modified Mimosa cocktail made with Patron premium tequila and flavored Red Bull — which came in handy to toast legend Little Richard, who died on May 9.
When the urge arises, Freedia puffs a cigarette. Her dogs, Royal and Beyoncé, wander the floor as she banters with her audience while stirring sauces. During one episode, an off-camera voice warns Freedia not to let her waterfall of curly hair come too close to the stove top.
Viewers of the broadcasts will become aware that the fiery performer is far from restrained when it comes to spice. Her incendiary arsenal includes black pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, which she dispenses liberally. During one blizzard-like application of spice, the cameraman sneezed.
From start to finish, the DIY broadcasts are beyond charming, as the hundreds of thousands of viewers can attest. The shows are a silver lining on the dreary coronavirus cloud.
The timing of the release of Freedia’s new album, “Louder,” couldn’t have been worse. The record dropped March 13, just as COVID-19 was running rampant across the country. Her coast to coast tour, which is still forlornly listed on her website, was canceled, leaving Freedia with a reduced income and time on her hands.
It may be no surprise that Freedia went the Rachael Ray route during the musical hiatus. Time and again during her career, she has shared recipes and conducted cooking demonstrations.
Also, as fans already know, Freedia is no stranger to performing for a video audience. Her popular Fuse television reality show “Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce” lasted for six seasons.
Freedia’s manager Reid Martin said that there are plans to invite a live audience to watch The Queen of Bounce cook and sample her cuisine. Starting on June 25, Freedia will move her show from her home to the Botanical Garden in City Park, where 32 or more guests will be invited to attend, while maintaining safe social distancing. Martin said that the tickets will soon be available via Freedia’s Facebook page. The admission charge has not yet been determined.
Meanwhile, “Big Freedia’s Gospel Brunch” episodes take place at noon Sundays and her “Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesdays” take place on, well, Wednesdays, at 7 p.m. Recipes and merchandise are for sale to help make ends meet.