Let's settle this age-old question right here and now.

With one major tourist extravaganza just wrapped up and another one exploding today, New Orleans residents had the luck this month to be hammered by twin tsunamis of drunken, boorish, punchy-flaily roisterers. But while the screaming masses of the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras might seem identical on the vomit-crusted surface, there are qualities among the groups that make them subtly more irritating in different ways.

So let's settle this grudge match right now: Who is worse for the average New Orleans citizen, carnival revelers or Super Bowl fans?


(Reuters/Sean Gardner)

New Orleans old-timers might enjoy Mardi Gras the classic way: going to balls, catching coconuts in the Zulu parade, seeing some live, local music at the Maple Leaf or Vaughn's. Visitors who come here once a year are more likely to head to the French Quarter, imbibe tomorrow-destroying drinks served in grenades, and spend the night chucking plastic trinkets at ladies in hopes of seeing a boob (or if you're a woman, perhaps accepting said trinket for a slip of nipple. You can exchange them for real money the next day at the Central Bank of New Orleans, after all, to use to buy back your dignity).

That's obnoxious, sure. But being crass in the Quarter is just one part of the boozy, multi-experiential muffuletta that is New Orleans life. Football fans who flock to the city for the Super Bowl are by and large not here to support the local culture. They want to see their team win and then rub it into the opposing team's face in front of news cameras. The fact that they may be clutching 108-ounce beers is irrelevant; they're here to party for football, not for New Orleans.

Worse: Super Bowl fans


New Orleans' municipal managers are still counting beans. But early reports suggest that football is bringing more cash than the stumbling hordes chasing Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras organizers estimate that 1 million people are visiting this year who will pitch about $300 million into the local economy, according to Reuters. The Super Bowl was predicted to have attracted a much smaller crowd who would nevertheless totally make it rain to the tune of $432 million, reports USA Today. Here's how the paper explains that discrepancy:

More than 150,000 people are expected in the city for the [Super Bowl] weekend, many of them with sizable corporate expense accounts and occupying nearly every one of the 38,000 rooms in and around the city, said Kelly Schulz of the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau. Demand for rooms has been so high – and available rooms so hard to come by – that tourist officials have redirected visitors to hotels as far away as Baton Rouge and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, she said.

Worse: Mardi Gras revelers


Sure, it's true there are some people who settle for Mardi Gras regalia like this:

(Corey Ann/Flickr)

But true carnival-goers look like they've descended from Planet Fantastic to impress us earthlings with their dimension-warping threads. For every sad jester rocking a necklace of plastic doubloons, there's one intrepid Captain Babyman leading the universe toward a greater understanding of partying:

(Corey Ann/Flickr)

Or the Tulane philosophy professor dressed up as the living analog of licking a poison toad and watching Priscilla, Queen of the Desert:


Whereas Super Bowl fans tend to favor off-the-rack gear like this:

(Reuters/Stacy Revere)

It's going... going... yaaaawn.

Worse: Super Bowl fans


Maybe because of the incredible security measures surrounding the Super Bowl (possible sniper nest!), or perhaps because the fans get enough vicarious violence watching the action, there wasn't a ton of attendees brawling in the wake of this year's Super Bowl. (At least not in New Orleans.)

Compare that with the four people shot this Saturday on Bourbon Street. Or the five people busted for gun possession at an intersection of St. Charles Avenue already tarred by a shooting at last year's Mardi Gras. Go to the city's online crime map and zoom in on the French Quarter for this weekend's time frame and you'll see more than 10 other gun violations. It's a party, guys: Does everyone really need a pistol to open stubborn champagne bottles?

Then there's the alcohol-fueled stupidity that leads to situations like this one, in which a parade gawker allegedly throws beer at a cop and then gets into a non-allegedly bruising bout of fisticuffs:

Worse: Mardi Gras revelers


(The first person to identify what is happening in this video will receive 5 pounds of virtual penis-shaped bead necklaces.)

As someone who once saw French Quarter coitus happening on the urine-soaked street under a U-Haul truck, this one's not even close: The Mardi Gras faction wins by a herpes-slide. Whether it's a topless woman resting her mammaries on the counter of a coffee shop or an adult man presumably with a day job sucking at a random lady like a hungry piglet, New Orleans around carnival time is guaranteed to please both lovers of Marat/Sade and late-night Cinemax. Super Bowl fans, meanwhile, are too invested in the game when it's happening to think much about getting frisky. Afterward, they're either so wrapped up in the collective love for their winning team to think of each other, or sunk in a mire of black loss so deep they won't think about sex for weeks.

Look at these Ravens fans celebrating their recent victory on Bourbon Street. With all the group dancing and chaste full-body jerseys, it's like they're attending a ho-down at the ol' church:

Worse: Mardi Gras revelers


It's hard to measure this one, as who knows what happens behind locked doors before Lent. But what is known is that authorities busted 85 people in a sex-trafficking sting right before the Super Bowl. Here's the Times-Picayune relaying news of the bust:

Operation Innocence Lost, carried out by the New Orleans Police Department, State Police, FBI and Department of Homeland Security, among others, netted arrests on charges of human trafficking, prostitution, pandering, narcotics and weapons charges, authorities said. Fifty-three people were arrested in the New Orleans area, while 32 were nabbed in the Baton Rouge area.

"Any time you have a large influx of tourists in town and they're spending a lot of money, there's a criminal element that moves in to take advantage of that," said Capt. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman.

The Times-Pic reports that officials believe "rampant sex trafficking" has "historically accompanied the Super Bowl," and even found a former prostitute who was coerced into servicing Big Game tourists. This is her depressing story:

Amid the parties and fun of Super Bowl 2013, authorities say, there is a dark underworld of girls and women being forced into the sex trade. Sitting in the festive lobby of a New Orleans hotel, festooned with San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens decorations, Clemmie Greenlee, a former victim of sex trafficking from Nashville, recalled being brought to cities around the South to prostitute for those attending such large-scale events.

For Greenlee's pimps, the influx of people provided a massive money-making opportunity.

"When they come to these kinds of events, the first thing you're told is how many you're gonna perform a day," she said Friday. "You've got to go through 25 men a day, or you're going through 50 of them. When they give you that number, you better make that number."

Worse: Super Bowl fans


Judging from these highly scientific measurements, it looks like Mardi Gras merrymakers and Super Bowl fans are equally corrosive to life in... wait a sec, what's this?

Why, it's a man who visited for the Super Bowl to promote his "Whizdom" device, a hidden rubber tube that lets people pee all over the city without being noticed. Now, finding a stall to urinate in during New Orleans' bacchanalia is notoriously difficult; there's a reason there's a song called "There Ain't No Place to Pee on Mardi Gras Day." But at least try, man!

The nerve of this guy sneaking his wee onto pavement that people are going to try to have sex on tonight – that's tilted the balance against Bowl attendees. Sorry guys, you are just an iota more intolerable the Mardi Gras crowd.

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