Zulu Ride Leads To Apology And A Resignation At Tales Of The Cocktail…


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Ann R. Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail with her husband Paul in New Orleans Wednesday July 20, 2011 at the Monteleone Hotel on Royal Street. (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

On Tuesday (Feb. 28), Ann Tuennerman, founder of Tales of the Cocktail, rode in the parade of Zulu, the African-American Social Aid and Pleasure Club. Her husband Paul Tuennerman, co-owner and chief business officer of Tales, posted a Facebook Live video of Ann in the blackface make-up worn by riders of all races in the parade.

The video’s caption read: “As he said ‘Throw a little Black Face on and you lose all your Media Skills.’ He did his best as the Interviewer.”

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Each summer, Tales of the Cocktail draws more than 15,000 bartenders and spirits professionals from around the world to New Orleans. And the negative response to the Facebook post from bartenders, both in New Orleans and around the country, grew throughout the week.

Some were offended by Paul’s comment.

“The comment suggests that by performing blackness Ann loses her ability to intelligently and effectively engage media. Which is racist,” wrote Mark Schettler, a New Orleans bartender, on Tuennerman’s Facebook page.

Others felt the makeup of Zulu was inappropriate, no matter who was wearing it.

“I have a problem with the blackface entirely. As do most people outside of the New Orleans tradition,” wrote Nikkole Palmatier, who according to her Facebook profile is a bartender in Chicago. “Just as those who live outside of Cleveland think the Indians logo is racist and the term ‘Redskins’ is racist.”

On Friday, Ann Tuennerman issued a public apology on the Tales of the Cocktail homepage that focused exclusively on her wearing blackface during the parade.

“It was an honor to ride with the Zulu organization, but in my ignorance, I did not consider how videos and photos of my participation in this parade would cause pain and incite anger for so many,” she wrote.

An attorney representing Zulu said the organization saw it as an issue between the Tuennermans and would not comment further.

A few hours later, Paul Tuennerman, who had made the comment many found offensive, announced his resignation from Tales of the Cocktail.

“My comment to Ann about blackface prior to the Zulu parade was meant to be a husband’s innocent teasing of his camera-shy wife, not a belittlement of others,” he wrote. “In retrospect, the words were insensitive, hurtful and just plain dumb and I feel horrible for the pain they have caused.”

Check back to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for updates.