1992-93

During the heated debates surrounding the Columbus Quincentenary, Coco Fusco and I decide to remind the US and Europe of "the other history of intercultural performance," the sinister human exhibits, and pseudo-ethnographic spectacles that were so popular in Europe from the 17th century until the early 20th century; at the turn of the century in the US, they transformed into more vulgar exhibits like the dime museum and the freak show.

In The Guatinaui World Tour, Coco and I live for three-day periods inside a gilded cage as "undiscovered Amerindians" from the (fictional) island of Guatinau (Anglicization of "what now") in the Gulf of Mexico. I am dressed as an Aztec wrestler from Las Vegas and Coco as a taina straight out of Gilligan's Island. We are hand fed by fake museum docents and taken to public bathrooms on leashes. Taxonomic plates describing our costumes and physical characteristics are placed next to the cage. We tour the US, Europe, Australia and Argentina. Sadly, over 40% of our audiences believe the exhibit is real yet they do nothing about it. The most drastic audience response is from an Argentine military man who throws acid on me during the performance in Buenos Aires. The tour is chronicled in the film Couple in the Cage.

Coco and I tour New World (B)order, a sci-fi piece based on the following meta-fiction: border culture and hybrid identities become official culture as Anglo-Americans become a minority culture. We begin to practice "reverse segregation" of our audiences as they enter the art space, with members of "minorities," immigrants, and bilingual audience members entering the space first. The idea is to assume a fictional center and force monolingual/monocultural Americans to feel like foreigners and "minorities" in their own country, even if only for an hour or two. Coco leaves the project in the middle of the tour and Roberto Sifuentes replaces her. To continue the tour, we are forced to reconstitute the entire performance in less than a week. It somehow works. To this day, Roberto remains my main collaborator.

Roberto and I become interested in Spanglish pirate radio. We stage our first pirate radio project in a performance festival in Hull (UK). With a low-tech radio transmitter, we broadcast from the top of a 10 story high building. Local radio pirates explain to us that it will take 20 minutes for the police to locate the source of our transmission and get to the site. As the police are circling the building, Roberto and I escape through the back door.

The backlash era begins as multiculturalism gets a bad rap. I move back to LA and reconnect with the Highways performance scene. The LA earthquake transforms the city into a compassionate place. We see racial, social and generational borders break down in front of our eyes as people help each other and speak with each other as never before. Sadly, this only lasts for a few months.

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*Radio Free Pocha