Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Robin Malta, 1964-2007

My friend Robin Malta from New Orleans has become the latest murder victim in the city. Robin was a much-loved figure in the French Quarter-Marigny-Bywater neighborhoods, a successful businessman and a gentle, sweet soul.

His sister found his badly beaten body in his locked house in the Bywater Monday night after he failed to show up for work. Police found his car hours later, abandoned and on fire near the Superdome.

Here's the latest on Robin's murder from The Times-Picyaune:
New Orleans police detectives questioned a 36-year-old man late Tuesday in the slaying of a French Quarter hair salon owner.

I should be really angry about this - furious about another terrible, senseless loss in a city that has endured this kind of tragedy over and over and over again for more than a decade now. But all I feel is sadness. Sadness for Robin's family, for all of us who knew and loved him, and for New Orleans.

Here's a photo of Robin and his sister, who was his business partner in Salon D'Malta located on Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

I met Robin in the early 1990s when he was a bartender and manager of Cafe Lafitte's in Exile. He soon become my regular hair cutter at Bourbon Cuts, which was two doors from Lafitte's on Bourbon Street. I had a habit of booking the first appointment on Saturday mornings, and I usually had to wait 15 or 20 minutes for Robin to show up and open the shop. He always looked like he had just come straight from the bars, but that never stopped him from being chatty and giving me a great haircut.

Robin was Grand Marshal XXVI of the Southern Decadence festival in 1998. It was my favorite Southern Decadence and the first time that a personal friend of mine reigned over the parade. Robin chose a TV reruns theme and dressed as Barbara Eden from "I Dream of Jeannie." Here is a profile of Robin written after he was named grand marshal.

My favorite memory from that day was when the parade turned onto Decatur Street and ran into a column of National Guard vehicles loaded with weekend soldiers. I remember a beaming Robin in Jeannie garb swinging from the side-view mirror of a camo-green military truck as the soldiers inside laughed their asses off. It was Robin at his finest.

Rest in peace my friend.

5 comments:

Jill Despaux said...

Robin was also an old friend of mine. We met in the 70s, when he had just turned 18. He was a bartender at Sammy's "Back Door" in Gretna. Robin was a breath of fresh air and there was never a dull moment. The one thing I will always remember, besides his laughter, was his reciting every word of The Wizard of Oz. Guess he'll now find his somewhere over the rainbow!

Rudy said...

Thanks, Keith, for a really great memorial to Robin. I had only been going to him for about four months. The last time I called for a cut (about 3 weeks ago), he told me he had an 11 a.m. on Saturday. Knowing him (and his wonderful sense of humor) I said, "I know what your Friday nights are like. I'll take 11:30." He was still 20 minutes late! (something we both laughed about.) He'll be greatly missed. My heart goes out to his family and friends. He was an exceptional human being.

Moyer said...

Keith

Thanks for posting about Robin. It's Thursday, and I am just finding out about this. I will miss Robin terribly. He gave the best damn haircut in this city, and was just one of the nicest guys I have known while living here. I have known him about as long as I have lived here, since the tender age of 21, when we worked at Lafittes together.-Moyer

Shelley said...

I never had a chance to meet Robin, but my heart goes out to all his friends and loved ones, especially those who are also NOLA residents... our thoughts and prayers are with you all over again...

When will this world be safe for all of God's beautiful and fabulous children?

On a happier note, the MA legislature delivered some good news on the gay equality front today.

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

Critifur said...

Robin was my friend, he was one of the first people I met when I went to New Orleans in 2001. I went into his salon on Dumaine to get my hair cut and he was such a great guy, crazy character. I still love the dyed blue faux hawk he gave me just before Gay Disney 4 years ago. He had so much life, so much more than me. Crazy, sexy, perverted stories to tell. Loved to make you laugh, I loved to hear him bitch. Robin always made me smile when I came into town, I had to go in to chat. He would visit me at work, he always looked devious, about to cause trouble. I love New Orleans but it is destroying itself person by person. He was the third friend of mine in NOLA killed within a year. Going back now makes me so sad. I know he is missed, and I send my condolences back up there to his family and friends.