Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-8

January, 1981

Dear Lázaro,

I'm glad this cable TV show I'm doing is only local, 'cause if you ever saw it you'd never let me live it down. It's called "Queen's Reich." It takes place in this run down gay bar in West Hollywood owned by an ex -SS officer. Guess what I play? Go-Go Gómez, the Puerto Rican go-go boy. I spend every show in this teeny-tiny speedo dancing on a barstool and lip-synching to things like Doris Day's "Secret Love", Mary Wells' "My Guy" and "There are Worse Things I Can Do" from "Grease."

Speaking of "Grease,” I went to the "Grease 2" auditions. My first Hollywood audition. I was scared stiff. I had never seen that many dancers in my life. And all of them so beautiful. Where do they find guys like that? I felt so common.

But I knew I could dance so I figured that's what they would be looking at. By the time they got to our group it was so long in the day that they told us to just do a chorus line of side kicks. They thanked us and goodbye. I don't know what they can tell from side kicks.

Someone later told me that they were eliminating all the tall guys ‘cause the lead was a little guy. Isn’t that a kick in the head? Height is one thing I can’t change with a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon.

I just found out from Merrick that "Queen's Reich" has been banned in some of the affiliates for being too risqué. So now he wants me to wear a G-string. The man is out of his mind, man. Either that or all that pot has affected his brain. I'm naked enough as it is. If Mother saw this show she'd run right over to 119th Street to Caracol's Botánica and buy every candle in the joint.

You know, Mother, she can be more Catholic than the Pope but she never stops dabbling in alternate religious methods. Hey whatever works, right? I know she has a standing account at this spiritual shop, the Pathmark for religious practitioners…herbs, lotions and potions right alongside statues of saints and shrunken heads.

But I guess you gotta start somewhere. That's showbiz, right?

Speaking of show biz, I had a singing gig the other night. In Spanish.

Tovah is our editor. She's this adorable Jewish girl who is obsessed with illegal Mexicans. She even taught herself Spanish in order to communicate with them. Her Spanish is better than mine. I know that's not saying much but she doesn't even have an accent.

When she found out that I was Cuban she decided to soak up more ethnicity for her repertoire. Little does she know that the only ethnicity she's gonna get from me is Obnoxious New Yorker.

She's been taking me to these little Mexican dives way out in East L.A. This is like El Barrio-Mariachi flavored. Instead of graffiti talking about "Henriqueta under La Marqueta," they have these big murals of Tenochtitlán and Quetzacoatl with Viva La Raza scrawled under them.

There are ladies on the street selling tortillas. I thought they were going to be those thick omelets that Abuela would make for Sunday breakfast. They're actually these pancake- looking things made out of corn meal and then stuffed with meat. Isn't that weird? We're all Hispanic but yet the cultures are so different.

Anyway, Tovah took me to a club called "El Tropical." They frisked us at the door. Not only the normal body pat and opening of purses but they dug their fingers into the women's big hairdos. Tovah later explained to me that a lot of the Cholas would hide their boyfriend's blades in their hair in order to pass it on to them later.

I was already scared at the looks we were getting. Like we were invading their turf. Luckily Tovah knew everybody there but I was still nervous. She entered us in the talent contest. She wanted to duet with me on a song. I told her I didn't know any Spanish songs so she quickly hummed out the tune to "Bésame Mucho."

When we got up there she had to write down the lyrics on a cocktail napkin. Would you believe they gave us first prize? I think it was on sheer audacity alone. I really don't think that I was a threat to Julio Iglesias. Or maybe it was be nice to Gavacho day. (That’s white guy to you non-Angelinos)

Technically I'm not an Anglo, but you know...same old story. One look at my white skin and blue-green eyes and my name might as well be Tad or Mumford.

Anyway, I'd better get going. If I really am gonna wear a G-string, I'd better go to the gym and increase the amount of weights on my squat machine. I am well aware that I am the only butt-less ballet dancer in the world. Unfortunately, a G-string leaves no room for padding.

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