Getting It On in the Big Easy

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Larry Mulvehill / Corbis

Between job stress, irreconcilable schedules and general inertia, my live-in boyfriend and I had fallen into a serious sex rut — we weren't having any. So when he suggested last Halloween that we spend the weekend in New Orleans — or, as I like to put it, getting sleazy in the Big Easy — I jumped at the chance.

I arrived in town a few hours earlier than my boyfriend, so I ducked into a divey-looking bar in the heart of the French Quarter called the Copper Monkey (725 Conti Street; 504-527-0868) for a beer and an awesome burger. The toothless gentleman to my right regaled me with tales of the chef training he received in Angola (the state penitentiary, not the country). When I tried to buy him a drink, he waved me off, saying, "Women don't pay for beer down here," and sent one my way. I was really starting to like this town.

Booze is a huge part of French Quarter life; I hesitate to call it "culture," because the sheer number of dead-drunk people gets depressing quickly. In fact, if you want to turn yourself off liquor for good, take a slow walk down Bourbon Street on a Saturday night. You'll see everyone from stumbling frat boys to gassed grannies slurping and burping the ubiquitous hurricane — the fruity rum concoction supposedly invented in New Orleans during World War II. But if you're going to drink, I'd recommend the chocolatey, dangerously drinkable local brew called Abita Turbodog. Turbodog is more potent than Abita's other brews; the company advises, "Beware of the dog!" I would heed that.

Once my boyfriend arrived, we went shopping — for sex. We hit the lingerie store Dress to Kill (207 Dauphine Street; 504-558-9111), which was doing a booming business in vinyl nurses' outfits — it was Halloween weekend, after all. Nearby, Trashy Diva's lingerie outpost (831 Chartres Street; 504-581-4555) catered to the more tasteful pervert with its collection of retro and classic underpinnings. We also stopped at the NOLA Hustler store, which, in case you were wondering, is just as cheesy and sleazy as the original L.A. venture, though my boyfriend did not mind watching the silicone-enhanced woman trying on bras in the middle of the floor.

On Friday night, we were lucky enough to catch the first-ever New Orleans Halloween Parade, which was amazing — as raucous, titillating and over the top as you might imagine — but it was hard to feel sexy while covered in greasepaint, and then in hives from the reaction to the greasepaint. (Note to self: next year, spring for naughty nurse outfit). The following night, however, upped our heat quotient significantly. We went to an old-timey club called One-Eyed Jacks (615 Toulouse Street; 504-569-8361) and saw a brilliant, theatrical band called Rock City Morgue and watched the beautiful burlesque girls of the local vaudeville troupe Fleur de Tease contort and comport themselves for our viewing pleasure.

And then there was the food. It's near impossible to have a bad meal in New Orleans, and if you're in town to get your romance on, you will not go hungry. Oysters are a well-known aphrodisiac — their stimulative properties may or may not be legit, but we figured it never hurts to try — so we decided to eat as many as humanly possible. We started with a plate of clean, raw oysters at Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House (144 Bourbon Street; 504-522-0111). Then my man discovered that you could also get oysters with caviar on top, so we ordered a half-dozen of those too, paired with a crisp, cold glass of pinot grigio. I've never enjoyed a meal more. That is, until later that evening, when we went to Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville Street; 504-522-5973) and tried them chargrilled and covered in cheese. Wow.

At night, we retired to the Olivier House (828 Toulouse Street; 504-525-8456), in the honeymoon suite. (That was pure luck: One bride's canceled wedding is another woman's happy weekend.) With its floor-to-(nearly)-ceiling shuttered windows and curlicue iron balcony rails, I felt like Brooke Shields in Pretty Baby (except legal and not as cute). The French Quarter hotel, built in 1839, was charming and utterly transporting, but if you're in the market for fancy, keep looking — some of the wallpaper here is peeling, and the furniture sags. And although we loved the Olivier House, next time we're going to keep things a little quieter by staying in the Garden District at either the Maison St. Charles (1319 St. Charles Avenue; 504-522-0187) or the Columns Hotel (3811 St. Charles Avenue; 504-899-9308).

As for the success of our ultimate goal in the Big Easy, we'll leave that to your imagination.

Read TIME's Travel Avenger column.