Sunday, July 31, 2011

Karen Anzoategui's Visa to the Rescue!

Meet Visa. She has the solution to the debt ceiling fiasco, anti-Islamic Norwegian would-be murderers, and undocumented immigrants. It’s there, between her legs: magnanimous genitalia, ready to spring into action for a fee, or for a good cause. “My name is Visa. Yes, because I charge,” she coos, plumping out her bright red lips and swinging her long wavy brown hair.

She’s on the sidewalk in front of the Dose of Art Gallery in Los Angeles, at the Vanguardia Erotika Series 2 Art Exhibit, surrounded by admirers who want a photograph with her. Visa obliges, putting her left hand on her hip, thrusting her cleavage, and posing flesh-to-flesh with them. I’ve heard she's got multiple sexual organs, and I whip out my little recorder to ask her a few questions.

How do you like having both a penis and a vagina? I ask. “There’s no borders at that point. There’s just everything. 2012, we will all become one. That’s what the Mayans are saying. We’ll become one, so let’s just have an orgy. That’s what I say.” Then, in her thick Cuban accent, she adds, “Cuando van a la luna, vamos todos.” Life according to Visa, in her skintight black lacy dress and red sequined wedge platforms, is intriguing. She carries a small shapely bottle of Patron tequila, offering it to potential customers.

What about the U.S. policy on immigration? “I feel bad for the undocumented, the illegals, whatever you want to call it, be it politically correct or not,” she says. “I would put them all in my pussy. Todos. Como Juan, Pepe, Ana Maria, Guadalupe, Cesar Chávez. A ver, todos, que vengan todos. Ahí se meten allá adentro. Make yourselves at home, there’re room, grab a beer. I’d take them to another state or something, like Nueva York, you know? I’d give birth to them all, and they’d be legal. Yes, my pussy would be a coyote.” She pauses. “My coyote pussy would not charge. That would be what I’d do for my country.”

She’s a charmer, that Visa. Coquettish and kind-hearted. Disarming. She moaned a lot and made me laugh. From whence does this trans-Latina philosopher hail?

Meet Karen Anzoategui. On Facebook, she says, “I’m a writer, actor, activist, poet and I have a solo show called SER. I work in the HIV field. I’m queer as queer.” She studied Theatre Arts at Loyola Marymount University and has been doing theatre and standup comedy for 12 years. A native of Argentina, Anzoategui recently performed her 90-minute one-woman show in Los Angeles. I was fortunate to be in the audience for Ser: LA vs BA. It’s a semi-autobiographical soccer-zany show that has young Karen bouncing from Buenos Aires to southern California amidst her family’s drama. A Maradona-infused soccer ball guided her along the way. The show was high energy and humorous, with a few still and tender moments.

Visa came to life two years ago. “I live with a lot of prostitutes on my block,” says Anzoategui. “I decided they needed a voice, so everyone can see them.” Through her work in HIV services, she’s met transgender prostitutes trying to get away from prostitution. “There’s also the struggle they go through to be a woman. They want to be seen as women but our society doesn’t accept that.” Visa is a way for people to see transgender people as real. “It might be funny, but it’s based on people I know,” says Anzoategui.

As a character, Visa is accessible to people who might otherwise be closed off to transgender people. “Everybody loves Visa, but they don’t want to talk about it,” says Anzoategui. “They love Juan Gabriel, who’s like a woman, and so dramatic. They have this fascination with Visa and they love to talk to me afterwards. It’s safe for them.”

When Karen gets into costume as Visa, she goes for it, improvising in the moment. “It gives me license. It’s liberating for me. It’s so rewarding. Sometimes you hold yourself back, but I’m free with Visa. People grab me. I love it. I feel I’m liberating them. Yes, grab me. If it was just me they probably wouldn’t do that. The impulse to do it, it’s awesome. No borders here.”

I got it. No borders. One love. One big orgy. 2012. Thanks, Karen! Thanks, Visa! So now, can Visa get to work on all those snarky right-winged senators who are bent on supporting millionaires and screwing the rest of us?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Debut Novels, Events, Awards, Las Comadres - and Medical Advice

Melinda Palacio, of La Bloga fame, and her pal, Lucrecia Guerrero, take over the world-renown Tattered Cover in Denver on August 12. Let's give them and their new books a great welcome.

Lucrecia Guerrero - Tree of Sighs
Melinda Palacio - Ocotillo Dreams

August 12, 2011 7:30 pm

Writer Lucrecia Guerrero will read from and sign her debut novel Tree of Sighs (Bilingual Review Press), the story of a young Mexican woman’s journey to uncover her past as she straddles two cultures in the search for her own identity. “I have been following Lucrecia Guerrero’s writing for several years with great pleasure and fascination. Tree of Sighs takes her art to a whole new level. Full, alive, and stately. This novel really delivers.” —Luis A. Urrea

Request a signed copy:

Poet Melinda Palacio will read from and sign her debut novel Ocotillo Dreams (Bilingual Review Press). Set in Chandler, Arizona, during the city’s infamous 1997 migrant sweeps, Ocotillo Dreams is no run-of-the-mill border tale. In this captivating tale, Palacio skillfully weaves a story of politics, intrigue, love, and trust. "Evocative ... powerful.... [Melinda Palacio will] no doubt leave an indelible mark on her readers." - Denise Chávez

Request a signed copy:

Location: 2526 East Colfax Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80206

LinkWe The Animals
Justin Torres

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - September, 2011

[from the publisher]
An exquisite, blistering debut novel.

Three brothers tear their way through childhood— smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn—he’s Puerto Rican, she’s white—and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.

Life in this family is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense familial unity felt by a child to the profound alienation he endures as he begins to see the world, this beautiful novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sly and punch-in-the-stomach powerful.

Written in magical language with unforgettable images, this is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.

Justin Torres grew up in upstate New York, where this novel is set. His work has appeared in Granta, Tin House, and Glimmer Train. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is a recipient of the Rolón United States Artist Fellowship in Literature, and is now a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He has worked as a farmhand, a dog-walker, a creative writing teacher, and a bookseller.

Latino Books Into Movies Awards
[Announcement from Latino Literacy Now]

Nominations Now Open

Many of us would love to see more movies being produced that star Latinos and feature Latino themes. Realizing that many movies start with a great book, Latino Literacy Now has created a second competition within the framework of its International Latino Book Awards: the Latino Books Into Movies Awards

The 2011 awards will be presented during the Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival that takes place annually at California State University, Los Angeles. The awards will be given out on Saturday, October 8.

We've added a new category to the Latino Books into Movies Awards: It's the Biography or Bio-Pic category. Here in the USA far too few Latino bio-pics have ever been made. In an effort to help create more we've added this category to the awards. The 2011 nominating form is now available and may be downloaded here.

The first annual Latino Books into Movies Awards were held during the 2010 Evening With The Authors at the Golden Eagle Ballroom, California State University, Los Angeles, on October 9, 2010 as part of the 2010 Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival. A complete list of those winners can be found here.

Latino Literacy Now has been dedicated to advancing the cause of reading and promoting literacy in the Latino community since our first event, the Los Angeles Latino Book, Culture and Travel Festival was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center in 1997. Since then Latino Literacy Now had produced more than 60 Festivals, Book Awards and Folklorico Dance competitions around the United States drawing more than 1,000,000 participants and attendees.

Our Chicago and Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festivals, both into their second decade, are stronger than ever and our two publishing awards, the International Latino Book Awards and Latino Books into Movies Awards, are industry staples enjoying widespread international participation from publishers and authors alike.


Presentation and Discussion

Dr. Arturo Ornelas Lizardi, Director of El Centro de Desarrollo, Humano hacia la Comunidad (CEDEHC) in Cuernavaca, México and Dr. Eliseo Torres with the University of New Mexico.

Date: August 2, 2011
Time: 10 a.m. to noon
Location: Council Chambers, City of Longmont, CO, Civic Center Building, 350 Kimbark St.

Join us in a presentation and discussion with traditional Mexican Healers on the Curanderismo perspective regarding health, illness, prevention and treatment. Estara is working in partnership with Holistic Health Practitioners to facilitate integration of Ancient Healing Systems that are supported by
science with Primary Care.

Presented by Estara Integrative Programs, Sofia Chavez Frederick in collaboration with City of Longmont Community & Neighborhood Resources Div., Senior Services, Salud Family Health Center-Longmont, Boulder County Public Health, Multicultural Action Committee- Health Taskforce
Questions for Longmont – Presentations/Demonstrations to Health Professionals and Community Partners

Contact: Carmen Ramirez at 303-651-8444

Finally - Earlier this week I had the honor and distinct pleasure of participating in this month's teleconference put on every month by Las Comadres Para las Americas, which describes itself as "an informal internet-based group that meets monthly in many US cities to build connections and community with other Latinas. Click me Click here Click me to subscribe and join Latinas who connect with their comadres every day." The group sponsors a book club that uses their monthly conferences to speak with writers about their books, the craft of writing, trends in publishing, etc. This month's conference featured John Phillip Santos (The Farthest Home Is An Empire Of Fire: A Tejano Elegy); Chuy Rámirez (Strawberry Fields:A Book of Short Stories); and yours truly talking about King of the Chicanos. We were interviewed by Javier Rodriguez and Lucha Corpi. It was a terrific, wide-ranging conversation, and if you missed it, you can still check it out by clicking on the audio link at the Comadres' website. Click here. And support the community-based literacy efforts of this group.