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Crysta Jones

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How a 13-year-old launched a popular Atlanta hot dog stand

Mason's Super Dogs
Mason Wright started his own hot dog stand, Mason’s Super Dogs

Photograph courtesy of Mason's Super Dogs

Like many middle-schoolers, Mason Wright is into video games and science. But one particular after-school activity sets Wright apart from his peers. For more than two years, the 13-year-old from Lithonia has operated a street vending hot dog stand, Mason’s Super Dogs, which specializes in handcrafted hot dogs (he uses quarter-pound, all-beef Nathan’s dogs) and French fries.

Mason's Super Dogs
Mason’s logo

Photograph courtesy of Mason's Super Dogs

Wright got the idea for Mason’s Super Dogs while on a trip to New York with his parents. After seeing so many hot dog stands in action, he felt that Atlanta could use one, and that he could launch enough to buy a few science kits. His mother encouraged him to save his allowance—but Wright suspected that would take too much time. Instead, he earned money washing cars, walking dogs, and mowing lawns, and got a loan of $1200 from his grandfather.

Wright began selling his hot dogs at birthday parties and festivals before landing a once-a-week-spot at Morehouse College, where his biggest seller is a chopped chicken hot dog. He just celebrated a year of service at Morehouse College. He now runs the business with the help of his older sister and a few Morehouse students who mentor him. Mason’s Super Dogs also offers vegan options, topped with homemade goodies such as sweet onion relish or Hawaiian pineapple relish. His menu, tested and approved by his cousins and friends, includes a Philly cheesesteak-inspired hot dog, a classic chili-cheese dog, and a meatball hot dog served on a French bread bun. His favorite is the pizza hot dog with pepperoni, mozzarella, and his own secret sauce. Fans can even learn how to make his sweet onion and Hawaiian pineapple relishes by watching a tutorial video on Mason’s Super Dogs website. “I know some of you might go insane about me mixing the peppers and the onions, but don’t worry. Mixing them will give it an absolute kick. It’ll knock your taste buds out,” he says in the video.

Mason's Super Dogs
Mason with a customer

Photograph courtesy of Mason's Super Dogs

Currently, he’s looking for ways to make his business a “purple cow”—meaning one that stands out from the crowd. He hopes to expand Mason’s Super Dogs to a fleet of food trucks—and, further down the road, would like to own a chain of restaurants. However, his immediate goal is to serve as an example to teenagers like him—and the one who doubted him. He speaks at schools teaching other kids about starting a business. In May, he spoke at an young entrepreneurial boot camp.

“I want other kids that tease me to see it was all worth it,” he says. “I did not have to join a gang or take from other people to have nice things. I worked for it and gave other young people like me a chance.”

With the MiniMe Factory, anyone—even your dog—can become a pint-sized figurine

MiniMe Factory
Reza Nourali, captured in six-inch MiniMe glory

Photograph by Wedig + Laxton

As a child, Reza Nourali daydreamed of being like the Superman and Spider-Man action figures he collected. In 2017, the 45-year-old created the MiniMe Factory, a metro Atlanta company that creates pint-sized versions of people—or even their pets—with 3-D printing technology. Frustrated with programs that print one-color models that need to be painted, Nourali tested a German company’s cutting-edge 3-D technology that creates replicas in full color. Based in Alpharetta, the MiniMe Factory uses a photo booth with multiple high-resolution cameras in an array that captures 200 images of the subject from head to toe, all in less than three seconds. An artist then optimizes and renders images into a 3-D model—the process is called photogrammetry—and the printer does the rest. Three weeks later, your personal action figure (starting at $79 for a three-inch-tall version) arrives in the mail or can be picked up.

  • The life-like replicas are made from sandstone, a powder-based and ceramic-like material. Be careful: The replicas are for ornamental purposes and can break. For an additional fee, the company can add a water- and UV-resistant coating.
  • The sizes for replicas range from three to 14 inches for a single person, but 3-D printers can print up to four people posing as a group. Animals are welcome.
  • MiniMe Factory often captures pets with their owners and has worked with the City of Alpharetta to replicate their K9 dogs, firefighters, and mayor. They scanned a famous K9 pooch, Mattis, who has over 27,000 Instagram followers.
  • Want a block-like version of yourself? Subjects have the option of placing their “MiniMe Head” on a LEGO figure or other favorite character.
  • Props are allowed, but Nourali recommends subjects wear bright colors and large patterns. Eyeshadow doesn’t capture very well, and items without distinct borders—for example, rimless glasses or stilettos—are also tough to print.

This article appears in our May 2019 issue.

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: April 3-9 

Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival things to do in Atlanta
The former Baconfest has been transformed into the “Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival”

Photograph courtesy of Dad's Garage

Big Stupid Parking Lot Carnival
When: April 6, 1-6 p.m.
Where: Dad’s Garage
Costs: $10-$55
Details: Dad’s Garage Theatre Company has transformed their annual Baconfest fundraiser into a new, carnival-themed event with food, beer (or boozy slushies), hobo wine tastings, a wheelchair obstacle course, and an exotic petting zoo. 

Brookhaven Beer and Wine Fest
When: April 6, 2-6 p.m.
Where: Brookhaven Park
Cost: $45 in advance, $50 at the door
Details: Relax at Brookhaven Park for this 9th annual festival, which features more than 150 beer samples from both national and local brewers, along with wine, food, and entertainment. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Georgia Breast Cancer Coalition.

Color Run 5k Atlanta things to do
The Color Run comes to Atlanta this weekend.

Photograph courtesy of The Color Run

The Color Run 5K Atlanta
When: April 7, 8 a.m.
Where: Six Flags Over Georgia
Cost: $30-$35
Details: The early bird gets the worm at this colorful 5k race, with pre-run festivities that include music, dancing, and stretching. This beginner-friendly run, where runners are showered in colorful powder dyes along the route, is not timed, but leave the furry friends at home. P.S.: If you want to spend the rest of the day at Six Flags, you can order a half-off ticket for April 7th here.

Spring Festival on Ponce
When: April 6-7
Where: Olmsted Linear Park
Cost: Free
Details: Grab the kids and enjoy this 2-day arts festival in the historic Olmsted Linear Park in Druid Hills. Expect more than 125 arts vendors selling jewelry, paintings, photography, and more; a kids’ area, and plenty of food and drink options.

SCAD GamingFest 2019
When: April 4-6
Where: SCADshow
Cost: $30, free for SCAD cardholders
Details: SCAD’s School of Digital Media and School of Entertainment arts are hosting this 3-day festival, primarily aimed at students looking to break into the video game industry and industry professionals. Enjoy demonstrations and workshops on gaming development, virtual reality, motion capture performance, and more. There’s even a Super Smash Bros. tournament.

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: March 27–April 2

Wikipedia event

Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon
When: March 30, noon-4 p.m.
Where: High Museum of Art
Costs: Free with pre-registration
Details: According to Wikipedia itself, the online encyclopedia has a lack of women editors. That’s why this event will help anyone interested in editing, updating, and creating Wikipedia articles on feminism and gender—focusing on women artists in the High Museum’s collection.

Atlanta Braves opening night party

Atlanta Braves Opening Day Watch Party
When: March 28, 2 p.m.
Where: The Battery Atlanta
Costs: Free
Details: Grab some lawn chairs and bring the family to support the Atlanta Braves on the big screen as they open their season in Philadelphia against the Phillies. Enjoy live music and test your luck with raffle tickets that could win Braves tickets or other prizes. (The Braves open at home against the Cubs on Monday.)

Why Don't We

Why Don’t We
When: April 2, 6 p.m.
Where: The Fox Theatre
Costs: $39.50+
Details: Who says boy bands are dead? With five members, including Daniel Seavey who placed top 12 in American Idol, Why Don’t We is coming to the Fox Theatre to promote their first full-length album, 8 Letters.

Candler Park Art Block
When: March 30, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Where: Candler Park
Costs: Free
Details: Walk along Candler Park’s business district and enjoy local art and handmade goods at this day-long event.

Jeff Dunham
When: March 28, 7 p.m.
Where: State Farm Arena
Costs: $53.50+
Details: Crack a rib or two from a night with ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham on his “Passively Aggressive” tour. Join Bubba J, Peanut, and Walter at the State Farm Arena.

For the first time, a trans performer will play all 35 roles in Out Front Theatre’s production of I Am My Own Wife

Peter Smith in I Am My Own Wife Out Front Theatre Atlanta
Peter Smith in I Am My Own Wife

Photograph by Tyler Ogburn Photography

In continuation of groundbreaking performances, Out Front Theatre‘s latest production, I Am My Own Wife, marks the first time the Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning show has been staged with a transgender performer, Peter Smith, playing all 35 roles. (Typically, the roles have been performed by a cisgender male actor).

The theater company—Atlanta’s first and only devoted to LGBTQ stories—opened in 2016 by Paul Conroy with a production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical, the Broadway version of the 1994 cult classic film. But it was the final production of the theater’s first season garnered the most attention. The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, a re-telling of the biblical Adam and Eve as gay couple Adam and Steve, who join lesbian couple Jane and Mabel as they travel through history to present-day New York City. Conservative Catholic group America Needs Fatima protested the show’s portrayal of the Virgin Mary as a lesbian, describing the portrayal as “a vile insult.” But the show went on, premiering in late April 2017. The company’s second season kicked off with another cult film adaptation, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and the current season debuted the Southeastern premiere of musical The View Upstairs.

Out Front’s staging of I Am My Own Wife will be the second time the play has been performed in Atlanta, after Actor’s Express staged it in 2007. The show follows Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, a trans woman who survived life in Berlin under Nazi control and East German communism. Illinois-native and New York-based performer Peter Smith is a triple-threat entertainer with experience in theater, burlesque, and stand-up comedy. Smith (who uses they/them pronouns) began performing at an early age, writing and performing plays with their neighbor as a child before pursuing a professional career on stage. Smith appeared in Bard College’s SummerScape Theater performance of Peter Pan as well as Comedy Central’s Upcoming Variety Performers, along with hosting a weekly late-night stand-up show in New York City. Smith says that stand-up experience helps with undertaking such a large role. “Stand-up is a solo endeavor, so I’m confident as myself and alone on stage,” Smith says.

But that doesn’t make the preparation for I Am My Own Wife—getting into the mindset of all 35 characters with only three to four weeks rehearsal—any less of a challenge. “It’s very intense and very personal, and to have to mentally and emotionally go to 35 different places, in the beginning there was a little of sobbing and calling my friends to remember who Peter was and who Peter is,” Smith says.

Smith first saw the show in Chicago during its original run in the early 2000s as a “dysphoric Midtwestern preteen,” an experience they noted in a public statement as being “eternally grateful” for.

“I want to tell the stories of queer ancestors,” Smith says to Atlanta. “[to] give that [validation] to someone else who might be confused or who didn’t know [Charlotte] existed. I’m trying to prove that we’ve been here, we’ve survived, and we’ll continue to survive.”

See the show: I Am My Own Wife runs through March 30 at Out Front Theatre, 999 Brady Avenue Northwest. Tickets are $15-$25.

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: March 6-12

Atlanta Brunch Festival

Atlanta Brunch Festival
When: March 9, 12-4 p.m.
Where: Atlantic Station
Costs: $20, $25 day of event
Details: Sip on a mimosa and jam to live music as the Atlanta Brunch Festival brings together brunch favorites from around the city. This 21-and-up event will include dozens of sample-size dishes from Babalu, Cinnaholic, HobNob, Big Daddy’s Taco, Amanda’s BarBeeQue, and more.

Atlanta United Block Party
When: March 9, 12-6 p.m.
Where: Edgewood Avenue
Costs: $20
Details: Break out your scarfs and get ready for Atlanta United’s Sunday home-opener by roaming Edgewood Avenue on Saturday in your best red, black, and gold. Enjoy live music, giveaways, and exclusive drink offers from local bars at this 21 and up evening of open-street festivities. Curious about all things Atlanta United? Check out our A to Z encyclopedia of the MLS champions.

Rad Women Art Show
When: March 7, 6-9 p.m.
Where: Hodgepodge Coffeehouse
Costs: Free
Details: Celebrate Women’s History Month while contributing to a great cause. This art show will sell contributed art from local artists and donate all of its proceeds to Partnership Against Domestic Violence. Two complimentary drink tickets for beer or wine and Hodgepodge’s usual menu items will be available.

Atlanta Tattoo Arts Convention

Atlanta Tattoo Arts Convention
When: March 8-10
Where: Atlanta Convention Center at AmericasMart
Costs: $20 per day, $40 for three-day pass
Details: Self-described as the world’s largest tattoo convention tour, this traveling convention brings together hundreds of tattoo artists along with seminars, tattoo contests, and sideshow acts such as Alakazam the Human Knot and the Enigma.

Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo
When: March 9-10
Where: North DeKalb Mall
Costs: Free
Details: Gamers, Sci-Fi nerds, and cosplayers unite—without the usual cost of expos. This two-day event includes workshops, panels, LEGO-building competitions, and gaming tournaments. ASFE will feature local authors, game developers, voice actors, and more.

5 Atlanta events you won’t want to miss: February 27–March 5

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Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey Caution World Tour 2019
When: March 5, 8 p.m.
Where: The Fox Theatre
Costs: $72-$540
Details: Just the fourth stop on the Caution World Tour, the five-time Grammy award-winning artist is promoting her newest album, Caution, which has received positive reception since its release last November.

Beer, Bourbon, and BBQ Festival

Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival
When: March 2, noon for VIP and 2 p.m. for general admission
Where: Atlantic Station
Costs: $40 general admission, $85 VIP
Details: Beer, bourbon, and barbecue. Do we need to say anything else? Now in its 5th year, celebrate Southern food with 60+ beers, 40+ bourbons, and all the pulled pork, bacon, ribs, and sausages you can stomach. Also don’t miss out on eating contests, seminars from chefs, and live music.

Cardboard Con
When: March 2, 7 p.m.
Where: Various locations downtown
Costs: Free
Details: Dubbed as the “world’s most affordable science fiction and fantasy convention,” don’t be surprised when you see box-shaped Stormtroopers and Marvel characters walking around downtown. Alongside educational panels on how to build a costume, the convention will visit downtown bars and hold a parade to the Marriott Marquis.

Fleetwood Mac

An Evening with Fleetwood Mac
When: March 3, 8 pm.
Where: State Farm Arena
Costs: $100-$900+
Details: The 52-year-old, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted band is stopping by Atlanta. The band will include two newcomers with Mike Campbell as lead guitar and backing vocals and Neil Finn on rhythm guitar.

Atlanta Blooms! Atlanta Botanical Garden

Atlanta Blooms! at Atlanta Botanical Garden
When: March 1, 9 a.m-5 p.m.
Where: Atlanta Botanical Garden
Costs: Free with admission, $24 for adults and $21 for children 3-12
Details: With spring almost here, the Atlanta Botanical Garden is covered in hundreds of thousands of tulips, daffodils, and more.

15 ways to celebrate Mardi Gras in metro Atlanta

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Mardi Gras events

Festivals + Parties

Mardi Gras on The Roof
Where: Ponce City Market Roof
When: March 1-3
Cost: $15 admission, $27-$55 extra for crawfish boil on Saturday
Details: Spend Mardi Gras weekend on top of Ponce City Market with Cajun-inspired food and drinks throughout this three-day festivity. Friday and Saturday night will have a 21-and-up party featuring a live DJ and brass trio. Come Saturday and Sunday afternoon, expect more family-friendly activities with face painting, balloon artists, crafts stations, and a Saturday crawfish boil.

16th Annual Oyster Crawfish Festival
Where: Park Tavern
When: March 2, 2 p.m.
Cost: $7 for lawn tickets, $35 for general admission, $75 for VIP, children 12 and younger are free
Details: This afternoon is all about crawfish, hurricane cocktails, and festive tunes. With general admission, you can get more oysters, potatoes, sausage, Bayou Mules, Bloody Mary’s, and Mardi Gras Margaritas than you can stomach—all while jamming to the sounds of Blair Crimmins & The Hookers, DJ Ratetone, and others.

Mardi Gras events

Mardi Gras at Live! at the Battery Atlanta
Where: Live! at the Battery Atlanta
When: March 2, 8 p.m.
Cost: $10-$35
Details: This 21-and-up event is self-dubbed the “biggest Mardi Gras celebration the Battery has ever seen.” Spend the night partying indoors or outdoors while enjoying Cajun food, cocktails, jazz music, and plenty of beads. 

Beads & Booze bar crawl in Virginia-Highland
Where: 10 bars, restaurants, and clubs in Virginia-Highland
When: February 23, 6 p.m.
Cost: $30
Details: Experience a full night of NOLA-style partying as you hop from Neighbor’s Pub, Tiki Iniki, Fontaine’s Oyster House, Dark House Tavern, and more. Participating restaurants will offer New Orleans-themed shots, cocktails, beers, and food specials. Don’t expect to leave without beads.

Mardi Gras Festival at Glover Park Brewery
Where: Glover Park Brewery, Marietta
When: March 2, 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
Cost: Pay per drink or food truck meal
Details: This family-friendly day comes with face painting, a costume contest, and games with prizes. Along with beer, food trucks, and live music from Trombone Jesus, Glover Park Brewery will also be hosting the official Marietta Junior League Mardi Gras 5k post race party.

Mardi Gras on the Square
Where: Colony Square
When: March 5, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Cost: Free
Details: Get warmed up for your late-night Fat Tuesday plans at Colony Square with brass band Mardi Gras Trio, and New Orleans-inspired food and drink trucks, including Sunshine Alchemy Beverage Truck.

Mardi Gras Party at Blind Willie’s
Where: Blind Willie’s Blues Club
When: March 5, 7 p.m.
Cost: $6 cover
Details: Seating is first-come, first-serve for this 21-and-up live show from the Atlanta Crawdaddys, who will be playing tunes reminiscent of what you’d hear during a Mardi Gras street parade.

Mardi Gras Ball
Where:
 Ivy Community Center
When: February 23, 8 p.m.
Cost: $60, purchase food and drinks separate
Details: Guys, wear your tuxedos, girls, show off your ball gown dresses—this event is all about dancing. With live music by three different DJs, make sure you bring your dancing spirit (and festive masks).

Mardi Gras events

Good Eats

Mardi Party at Red Sky Tapas
Where: Red Sky Tapas & Bar
When: March 1–5
Cost: Price of dinner, $60 for Mardi Party Package (4 guests, includes beads, masquerade masks, and a round of drinks), $10 cover charge for Blair Crimmins & The Hookers
Details: OTP-ers: for five nights you can indulge on NOLA-inspired tapas, Crawfish Egg Rolls, Andouille Sausage, Cajun Baked Rice, and Shrimp Pasta. Wash the meal down with Hurricanes and Hand Grenades drinks while listening to musical acts such as Blair Crimmins & The Hookers and PR3 Project.

Mardi Gras Madness at Copeland’s of New Orleans
Where: Copeland’s of New Orleans, Kennesaw and Cumberland locations
When: March 5, 5-10 p.m.
Cost: Cost of dinner, $6 for souvenir cups
Details: Of course Copeland’s of New Orleans is celebrating Fat Tuesday. The restaurants will serve a crawfish platter alongside panĂ©ed alligator, boiled shrimp, Ă©touffĂ©e, king cake cheesecake, and hurricane cocktails. The atmosphere will be festive with beads giveaways and live music.

Mardi Gras events

Crawfish Boil at Oak Steakhouse
Where:
Oak Steakhouse
When:
 March 5, 5 p.m.
Cost:
$10, $8 for cocktail
Details:
 Stroll around Avalon while munching on a to-go crawfish, potatoes, and corn-on-the-cob meal that will be served on the restaurant’s outdoor patio. Oak will also offer a cocktail that’s a take on the hurricane, made with dark rum, cherry-infused light rum, orange juice, and passion fruit syrup.

Crawfish Boil & Party at Bon Ton
Where:
Bon Ton
When:
 March 5, 12 p.m.-1 a.m.
Cost:
 Price of dinner
Details:
 This Vietnamese-Cajun boil house makes it feel like you’re in New Orleans year-round—Mardi Gras season or not. With its menu already featuring crawfish and shrimp, the Midtown restaurant will also have a party on Fat Tuesday with beads, music, and costumes.

Big Easy Grille Crawfish Boil
Where: Big Easy Grille
When: March 2, 12 p.m.-11 p.m.
Cost: Price of dinner
Details: Celebrate Fat Tuesday early with acoustic music from Wasted Potential Brass Band accompanied with beads, king cake, boiled crawfish, and Abita beer.

Get Your Mardi Gras On at Serpas
Where: Serpas True Food
When: March 5
Cost: Price of dinner
Details: Chef and Louisiana native Scott Serpas will serve a NOLA-themed menu with Hurricane cocktails. Expect plenty of beads, masks, and the staff to break out into a second line dance at the end of the night.

Mardi Gras Midtown
Where: Tapa Tapa
When: Through March 5
Cost: Price of dinner
Details: Tapa Tapa is turning into a New Orleans pop-up. Tuesday through Saturday nights, expect Louisiana-inspired food and cocktails alongside music and beads everywhere.

Atlanta’s Good Gracious Variety Show combines music, improv, and storytelling

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Good Gracious Variety ShowA locally funded, A Prairie Home Companion-esque show, the Good Gracious Variety Show will celebrate a collection of Southern artists and talents when it holds its 14th event on Saturday. Created with the help of family, friends, and a sponsor through Kickstarter, founder Boyd Baker, a self-described “cat juggler and story sharer,” describes the show as “Southern fun for everyone.”

The family-friendly quarterly event began in summer 2014 with a performance at Agnes Scott College before expanding to locations around Atlanta such as Variety Playhouse, Switchyards Downtown, and the Plaza Theatre. To grow the audience further, Bakers started a Good Gracious podcast after the fourth live variety show. The podcast features live musical performances recorded at Wondershop, Baker’s studio in Candler Park, along with conversations with civic leaders, authors, and more.

The line-up for the Saturday evening show at Candler Park’s Neighborhood Church features a host of local talent: the Good Graces, improvers from Dad’s Garage, singer-songwriter Robbie Horlick, the Squirrel Census (a favorite, Baker says), the Real Ukuladies of Atlanta, and storyteller Billy Hall.

Baker says the show “isn’t like a film or concert where you connect only with the stage—you connect with the community around you. I want folks to feel part of a ‘family’ when they come to the show. It’s almost like a reunion at each show.”

See it: Tickets for the 8 p.m., Saturday, February 9 show at Neighborhood Church are $15 for adults, $10 for kids, and can be purchased here.

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