Tag Archives: drag queen

L.A. Pride for the First Time: A story for HomoCentric Reading Series

A Story for the Homo-Centric Reading Series
Read for the One City, One Pride Arts Festival
In Celebration of West Hollywood’s 30th Anniversary

Being a polysemic word, Pride means something different between members of the LGBT community. Whether it’s getting the masses to sign a petition, dressing in drag as a cultural protest, safely holding hands with a loved one in public or donning a colorful ensemble, these acts represent Pride. Los Angeles Pride is a smorgasbord of the above times twenty. At my first L.A. Pride, I had the opportunity to walk in the parade with Erase Doubt, an L.A. County-wide safe sex campaign. For the parade, I had to bounce a giant black beach ball that towered over my head. To launch it high up in the air, I lifted the ball above my head and smashed it to the ground. My arms cramped up from exhaustion after two minutes. Another guy had a matching beach ball. Printed prominently on our black balls was the AIDS virus.

Before the parade, I practiced what I would say to attract attention to our group. I settled on, “come stroke my black balls” and “don’t you want to juggle these?” Other people from our group would pass out condoms, beads, t-shirts, and drawstring bags with AIDS ribbons.

I was expecting a large crowd, but what I wasn’t expecting was the number of people that would greet us from the sidewalk. Thousands cheered, waved, high-fived us, stroked my ball, asked for pictures, and selfies. After the parade, an on-looker said it was quite a sight to see two colossal black balls bouncing toward The Abbey.

This year Pride turns forty-five, and that experience made me think about the first Pride in West Hollywood. How did those first walkers feel being greeted not only by the cheers of hundreds, but also hundreds of protesters? It must have been the disquiet that promised to suck the air from their lungs faster than a thumbtack through a balloon. For those brave men and women, I proudly bounced my giant black ball through West Hollywood.

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Notes on Shoe Shine Boxes: Another Essex Hemphill poem

A young woman wearing pink high-heels at Helsi...

Image via Wikipedia

HOMOCIDE: For Ronald Gibson by Essex Hemphill

Item:
Ronald Gibson, 20, was found shot to death in the 2700 block of Arizona Avenue, N.W. Police said Gibson was wearing a dress and high-heeled shoes at the time of his death. According to Homicide Det. Lloyd Davis, Gibson, also known as “Star,” hung out during the past two years in the area near 14th and Fairmont Sts., N.W., an area frequented by drag queens who solicit sex for money. Detectives say they have no suspects and know of no motives in the case.
 The Washington Blade, 1/8/82

The poemHOMOCIDE: For Ronald Gibson by Essex Hemphill

Grief is not apparel.
Not like a dress, a wig
or my sister’s high-heeled shoes.
It is darker than the man I love
who in my fantasies comes for me
in a silver, six-cylinder chariot.
I walk the waterfront/curbsides
in my sister’s high-heeled shoes.
Dreaming of him, his name
still unknown to my tongue.
While I wait for my prince to come,
from every other man I demand pay
for my kisses. I buy paint
for my lips. Stockings for my legs.
My own high-heeled slippers
and dresses that become me.
When he comes,
I know I must be beautiful.
I will know how to love his body.
Standing out here on the waterfront/curbsides

I have learned to please a man.
He will bring me flowers.
He will bring me silk
and jewels, I know.
While I wait,
I’m the only man who loves me.
They call me “Star”
because I listen to
dreams and wishes.
But grief is darker.
It is a white dress
that covers my body.
It is a wig
that does not rest gently
on my head.

E.N.D

Published in Blacklight Vol. 4, No. 4

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The Other Brazil: DVD REVIEW: Madam Sata

Madame Sata Movie Trailer

The directorial debut of Karim Ainouz’s, Madame Satã, is a pictorial marvel detailing the life of João Francisco dos Santos, a black Brazilian man living in 1930’s racially and socially oppressive Lapa (northern Brazil). João (Lazaro Ramos), along with Laurita, (Marcelia Cartaxo) his best friend and Tabu, (Flavio Bauraqui) his pseudo household maid, construct a colorful yet restrained, irrational yet tender, spellbinding yet dark world through prostitution, drug usage and fantasy. Having the desire to rise above his meager lifestyle, Joao aspires to be a celebrated stage entertainer (drag queen) and loved by the public. Madame Sata illustrates how João “negotiates being in the world,” reacts to its judgment and the harsh realities that hauntingly follows. Ramos and the entire cast of Madame Satã, unforgettably breathe life into the sounds, sadness, beauty, and personal narrative of the human experience. The movie alluringly captures the multifarious textures, shades, and rhythms of Brazil in dramatic lighting and cinematography.

Madame Satã (film)

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Emotional Scene from Madame Sata

Madame Sata is subtitled, it’s a Brazilian film in Portuguese. After the first five minutes it’s like you’re watching an English language film. The movie was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release and won Cinema Brazil Grand Prize’s top prizes Best Actor (Melhor Ator) and Best Actress (Melhor Atriz).

The name of the movie is taken from Cecil B. DeMille‘s movie Madam Satan about a woman trying to seduce her unknowing and unfaithful husband and teach him a lesson. In the movie João dresses as the character from Madam Satan.

Lazaro Ramos also stars in one of my other favorite movies, Carandiru, about Brazil’s largest prison in São Paulo. I only own two DVD’s Madame Sata and Carandiru.

Carandiru Movie Trailer

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