1998

La Pocha tours Borderscape 2000. Described by critics as a "high-tech Aztec Spanglish lounge operetta," the performance critiques the corporate appropration of multiculturalism, attempting to reintroduce the political discourse absent since the backlash against muliticulturalism began, when audiences grew tired of "political" art. One image lingers in my mind: a stylized gang member clubbing a chicken to the tune of "Hotel California." We cross the PC border. The performance is heavily criticized by theorists for contributing to the fetishization of extreme Latino imagery. It's clear to La Pocha that we have reached a dead end and that we need to open a new door.

I team up with producer Michael Milenski and theater director David Schweizer to create a Chicano-ized version of The Indian Queen, a 17th century opera by composer Henry Purcell and poet John Dryden. In collaboration with Elaine Katzenberger, I re-write the original script in Spanglish. In our version, the Indian Queen is a fallen Hollywood starlet and her throne is a lowrider car shaped as a red stiletto.

Enrique Chagoya, Felicia Rice, and I publish a book/art piece, Codex Espangliensis, first as a limited edition of 50 books printed in amate paper for collectors (Moving Parts Press), and then in paperback form (City Lights). The Codex describes with performance texts and "Post Columbian" comic book imagery, the history of Nafta, from the conquest of Mexico to the present.

I become obsessed with trying to understand X-treme pop culture. What 10 years ago was considered fringe "subculture" is now mere pop. The insatiable mass of the so?called "mainstream" has finally devoured all "margins," and the more dangerous, thorny and exotic these margins become, the better. In fact, stricto sensu, we can say that there are no margins left. "Alternative" thought, fringe "subcultures," and so?called "radical" behavior, as we knew them, have actually become the mainstream. Stylized racism and sexism are now daily spectacle. This poses all kinds of questions for us. If we choose to mimic or parody the strategies of the mainstream bizarre in order to develop new audiences and explore the zeitgeist of our times, what certainty do we have that our high definition reflection won't devour us from inside out and turn us into the very stylized freaks we are attempting to deconstruct or parody? And if we are interested in performing for non?specialized audiences, what certainty do we have that these audiences won't misinterpret our "radical" actions as merely spectacles of stylized radicalism?

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*Radio Free Pocha