Republic Of Lucha A Haven For Lucha Libre Fanatics

My latest story for KCET is now available for reading: Republic of Lucha Provides a Haven for Lucha Libre Culture in L.A.

EXCERPT:

“Lucha libre is something very dear and personal to all Mexicans,” continues Arau. “All of my work, be it music, animation, film or art, is about popular Mexican culture and lucha libre is one of the most visible things there is. Compare that with the culture here, the gringo culture, where a mask is usually something associated with terrorism, with sadomasochism. There’s no tradition behind it whereas in all of Mexico, the Indigenous communities use masks, all of the fiestas in every state utilize masks, there are museums dedicated to masks made of different materials. For us, masks are something very natural.”

The space features a store that sells custom lucha libre merchandise including apparel such as shirts, hats and leggings printed in-house at the Republic of Lucha Print Shop. There are small baskets filled with plastic-mold action figures of masked wrestlers. Two large, glass cases contain mannequin heads adorned with various wrestling masks worn in official matches by wrestlers such as Fenix, Penta, Psycho Clown, Tinieblas Jr., and others, all for sale. They also host the Lucha Movie Club most Saturdays each month when the rooftop is converted into an outdoor movie theater to screen classic lucha libre films, such as the ones featuring El Santo and Blue Demon, and more.

LINK: https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/republic-of-lucha-provides-a-haven-for-lucha-libre-culture-in-l-a

Life As Undocuqueer

My latest piece for KCET Artbound is my interview with artist/activist Julio Salgado. His work took off nearly a decade ago when he created his series of portraits of queer, undocumented activists titled “Undocuqueer.”

An excerpt:

The purpose behind the series is to remind people that the bulk of the work in pushing the national conversation on immigrants’ rights, in planning and executing protests and all the other unglamorous, behind-the-scenes work was done by UndocuQueers. It’s also to expand the conversation behind the perceptions of who these immigrants affected by these laws and policies are.

On multiple occasions, Salgado has had to educate numerous people about the diversity of people who identify/are labeled as undocumented. In one such instance, he and others traveled by bus from California to Washington D.C. for a massive march on the capitol.

“A lot of them were faith-based groups,” recalls Salgado. “There were some immigrants who were very homophobic that would say homophobic things and, like, how do you navigate those spaces? You have to educate people, which I don’t have a problem with that. Working in kitchens with a lot of immigrant men and their machismo, you learn how to use humor.”

“That’s why I started making those pieces,” he continues. “It was for our communities to understand that if we’re talking about accepting people or creating policy that doesn’t criminalize us, we can think about other folks who are also part of our communities.”

Read the full story here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/artbound/julio-salgado-undocuqueer-immigrant-artist

Artist’s Community Orchestra Project Needs No Experience, Camera or Mic to Make Calming Melodies

I have a new article up at KCET about a collaborative music project that I also partook in. The project by Joshua-Michéle Ross is titled The Adjacent Possible: An Evolving Communal Orchestra and is a collaborative work of art between anonymous collaborators that, as I explain in the story, is an “experience [that] feels like equal doses of guided meditation, creative collaboration and a space for introspection and relaxation.”

From my article:

The project’s name comes from the work of Stuart Kauffman, a doctor, theoretical biologist and complex systems researcher, who coined the phrase “adjacent possible” in 2002. His theory is based on his work in biological evolution and is concerned with how organisms and biological systems, which he also refers to as “autonomous agents,” evolve into larger, more complex systems/organisms by seeking out numerous possibilities within their environment. His theory has been adapted in other fields, including the arts.

For Ross, the theory describes “how human beings, as parts of a very creative universe, are always pushing at the boundaries of what’s possible and how the aggregate choices that we make from that creates the kind of world we live in. It’s kind of how the future gets made and the idea of how the small choices that we make and bring to things, despite constraints, how those choices add up the reality we live in.”

Ross brings this theory to life through a communal orchestra. Up to 20 people gather to perform at each event. Ross serves as the event guide and conductor, speaking slowly, softly and deliberately as he shifts everyone away from the Zoom call where everyone first gathers and onto a website designed specifically for the experience.

Read more at KCET: https://www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/artists-community-orchestra-project

Vaudeville, Folklorico, and Mexican Cinema

I have three stories published on KCET this week!

The first is about the Hola Mexico Film Festival. 2020 marks its 12th year and founder Samuel Douek had to make numerous changes to move the festival to an online format.

Read about it here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/southland-sessions/the-hola-mexico-film-festival-moves-online

Next is my conversation with Adriana Astorga-Gainey and Jesenia Gardea of the Pacifico Dance Company. The Los Angeles-based non-profit company takes a serious approach to folklorico dance that centers on training professional dancers.

Read it here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/pacifico-dance-company-sharing-the-love-of-traditional-mexican-dance-around-the-world

Finally, my favorite of the three: I delve into the history of Hispanic/Spanish-language vaudeville in Los Angeles.

Read all about it here: https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/broadsides-reveal-las-once-booming-hispanic-vaudeville-scene