Friday, July 23, 2010

A Legend in His Own Mind-27

October, 1983

Dear Lázaro,

Time rolled on and this crazy scenario with this rather odd theatre family has come to a rather tumultuous finale.

Buffo invited me to a penthouse to discuss the choreography for the following show. It was still six months away but he said he liked to plan ahead.

He told me he was housesitting a penthouse overlooking Biscayne Bay for a friend that had just been deported. He didn't want to meet me at his house because Arpeggia disapproved of "American" music. He didn't want her negative influences disturbing us. He asked me not to tell anyone about this penthouse because it was the perfect party place and then everyone would want to go there.

When I get there he tells me that he just came from an interview with some producers who are developing a sitcom a la "¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A?" and they want him for the starring role.

Remember when we were in high school, “¿Qué Pasa, U.S.A.?” was the big bi-lingual hit on PBS about the Cuban-American family in Miami? Remember it made a star out of Steven Bauer?

So he says to me, "As a matter of fact, there's a part of the young Anglicized son that would be perfect for you. I'm going to suggest you for it but first I need some information."

"I can bring a picture and resumé to the theatre tomorrow," I said all excited.

He said "No, no. I have all that. It's for the costumer. They would need your measurements."

I told him I didn't know them off hand and he said, "No problem."

He dashes into the bedroom and comes out with a tape measure. He then proceeds to measure me. Then he keeps insisting that I take off my shirt.

You know that I don't do that. If I had your muscular build I wouldn't mind, but with my little boy chest there is just no way. I think the only way I managed in "Queen's Reich" is 'cause the dancing took my mind off my slim build.

He kept insisting. He said that he couldn't believe that I, who was always bitching about the heat in Miami, could be in this hothouse.

I politely refused.

He stripped…down to a black and white striped bikini brief with his pot belly hanging over the crotch. Now you've got to picture this scene. I'm sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table with the costume designs for the dance numbers and he's perched up on the couch, knees tucked under his butt, pot belly and pelvis thrust out in the forefront looking at me with beads of sweat rolling out of his orange Afro. It was like a porno starring Ronald McDonald.

I discussed the songs that I wanted and he discussed the costumes. All of a sudden he leaps from the couch, puts his hands on the coffee table and stares me right in the eyes.

"I never noticed your contact lenses. They're huge!" he says to me.

I explained to him that I have a flat cornea so I need these special spherical lenses that make up for the curvature that my eye doesn't have. That's why you can see the rim of them around my irises.

He told me to take the sketches home and work on some ideas.

Next day, Bambi is in my dressing room ready for a dramatic denouement.

"I thought you were my friend!" she says all teary eyed.

I told her, "I am your friend."

"Friends don't keep secrets from each other. Why didn't you tell me you went to Daddy's penthouse last night?"

I told her that he asked me not to tell anyone 'cause it's not his.

"It's his! He bought it as his escape from Mom."

I was shocked. I told her that I don't betray confidences. "He said not to tell anyone and I didn't"

"I'm not just anyone," she says very defensively

I told her that he didn't specify, but she wanted to know what happened.

So I told her we discussed the dance numbers for the next show.


"And when I finished discussing them I left."

"Look, I don't mean to pry, but I love my Daddy and I want him to be comfortable. I know how he is about his things. Tell me, was there a TV set in his bedroom?"

I thought that was an odd question but I told her that I didn't know 'cause I never went to his bedroom.

"Well, Fausto's been to his bedroom."

Now I'm getting upset. I told her to ask Fausto about the TV. I didn't know.

This was getting very strange. What was she trying to find out? If I slept with her father? Please, I would turn straight first. Did he call me up there for a big seduction scene? If he did, I must have missed it. Did he try that on Fausto? ‘Cause he told me he was straight. Bambi even accused him of the possibility of having gotten her pregnant. Now he’s giving another meaning to “Dancing the Worm.” I didn't know what was going on.

Then at the end of the day, when Arpeggia was handing out the paychecks, she thanks me for reminding Buffo about his interview with Ibis.

"He used to have me to do those things for him but I'm glad he's found you."

Now I know my Spanish is pathetic and l lose a lot of things in the translation, but I think she's broadcasting this loud and clear. And I still don't know what she's talking about. Ibis has a talk show on a local cable station and Buffo invited me to go with him to publicize the show. Then he asked me to call him and remind him.

I don't know anything. Except the facts. Buffo announced that he was changing shows in two weeks. He told me that my choreography would be used for the big extravaganza that he’s planning after he comes back from having his eyes done. Then he handed out the scripts. Sugar had a solo belly dancing number. Fausto and Candy were doing a break dancing number with a kid in a gorilla suit. And where was the lead dancer and choreographer? Acting, in Spanish, in one of his skits playing the Indian Rubber Man in a blue uni-tard and a dragon mask.

All of a sudden I felt like Neely O'Hara in "Valley of the Dolls." When Helen Lawson cuts all her songs. I have a run of the show contract and until then I will be in this show in whatever capacity. I just told Pablo to strike my name from the program as choreographer. I really had nothing to do with those numbers.

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