New Orleans, 1898. Creole society gasps against the incursion of "les Americains." A bounded "restricted district", dubbed "Storyville", made it illegal for bordellos outside the legislated area. For the next 20 years, Storyville became an entertainment Mecca, giving birth to a blaring, raucous music called "jazz." Enter two adventurers --- Pete the Pope, and Tom the Emperor. The Pope is a skilled, inveterate gambler and New Orleans native. The Emperor has adopted the city as his home, as the back streets suit his hard-boiled lifestyle. These two atypical heroes establish a saloon in the heart of Storyville, in a business relationship with the Pope's paramour Rita, a single-minded and straightforward sporting house owner.