In the weeks since former Mayor-for-Life Chris Hutto went into exile, Montrose’s ongoing state of leaderless turmoil has allowed roving gangs of craft-cocktail connoisseurs to claim large swaths of Westheimer as their own.

The rise of the Preppie Mafia, as these industrial-chic aficionados have been called, has forced many area residents to seek refuge farther afield than they might normally go. Amongst those offering sanctuary to Montrosians displaced by the collapse of the Hutto regime is Marianna Lemesoff.

Lemesoff has turned a yellow house at the corner of Westheimer and Taft into Avant Garden — a haven for youth uprooted by the waves of social unrest that characterize life in the “gayberhood” since the de-Huttification of Montrose’s government.

By sheltering dislocated young people, Lemesoff hopes to keep some of Montrose’s traditions alive — despite the region’s ongoing instability. She also tries to use Avant Garden to help preserve the district’s rapidly disappearing artistic heritage.

“The arts community needs to be reinvigorated,” Lemesoff said. She added that the preservation and restoration of the arts will help rebuild Montrose’s civic life.

“The City of Montrose has lost its unity,” she said. “We need a festival. There’s nothing like a festival to help people feel like they are part of a community.”

Lemesoff articulated her belief that a Montrose business owners’ association might have been able to help prevent the loss of the larger events that disappeared or have been relocated, like the long-gone Westheimer Street Festival and the Pride Parade.

“We let the festivals die,” she said. “We let the townhomes and neighborhood associations kill them.”

Regardless of Lemesoff’s intentions or her desires for Montrose, her mayoral campaign is dogged by alleged ties to the occult — which stem from her seemingly ageless beauty.

“Mariana looks the same now as she did fifteen years ago,” Scott Covan, a frequent visitor to the fleshpots of Montrose, said. “She must bathe in the blood of virgins, although I don’t know where she finds them around here.”

When asked about her reported immortality, Lemesoff casually brushed it aside by saying, “Don’t ask stupid questions.”

The rise of candidates with rumored, or documented, connections to fringe religious groups or the paranormal has led some outside observers to speculate that Montrose may be heading down a more theocratic path. Whether enlightened reason or religious fervor determine Montrose’s future remains to be seen.