A Semi-Demi-Quasi-Pseudo Autobiography

John Leguizamo
Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona
10th July, 2001

John Leguizamo’s first one man show, entitled SPIC-O-RAMA, A Dysfunctional Comedy, showed his diversity and talent. He followed that with another one man show, Mambo Mouth, which introduced a slew of new characters to terrorize, disgust, and thrill us, and it seemed as if he found his niche. But artists are never happy are they?

Movies were the next logical step – and a mistake in my opinion. His film career has included roles in Casualties of War and Carlito’s Way (both directed by Brian de Palma), Revenge, Hangin’ with the Homeboys, Regarding Henry (Mike Nichols), Whispers in the Dark, Super Mario Brothers, Pyromaniacs: A Love Story, Executive Decision, Spawn and The Fan, staring Robert DeNiro and Ellen Barkin. Not exactly thrilling.

It was his breakout role as Chi Chi Rodriguez in the drag comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, that earned him a Golden Globe Nomination for best supporting actor. Although I enjoyed To Wong Foo…. that was only because I was reminded of his character “Manny the Fanny” from the Mambo Mouth tour. Movies are not his forte. I think he’s more at home on stage. . and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s obvious from the onset that this is going to be an ethnic showcase. John Leguizamo is a melting pot of Hispanic culture and it shows. His mastery of the diversity of accents, body language and colloquial phrasing is unbelievable. He comes on stage with an anger, an intensity and a Ritalin-needy persona, introducing the audience to different cultures simply from the dances they did as teens, growing up in the 80’s in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York. Having had the advantage of also growing up in the 80’s in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, it probably made more sense to me, than to 90% of the audience, but they were all still captivated by his recounting of life.

His biography of exactly how dysfunctional his family was, provided vivid portraits, all told frantically, of his ancesters and immediate family, without the usual play-like characterizations that audiences have come to expect from him. Leguizamo reveals his exceptional talents as he portrays dozens of different ethnic characters he has encountered – Italians, Irish, Germans, Koreans, Jews, Latinos and West Coast “white dudes.” Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if there’s more than one person on stage. He allows us to view issues, such as abuse, neglect and peer pressures from a funny, straight to the point, view. Each event is unfolded, first as a story, then physically acted out, and concluded.

There are morals in there, or just maybe a giant think-tank of observations, in the hopes of coming to terms with his childhood problems. I think this tour is possibly a suggestion from his therapist, in order for him to vent his issues as he progresses forward into the future with his own children. A saving grace perhaps? Maybe…

Chris Fata
Trash City Magazine

Cereal Killers

There was a time when breakfast cereal was a simple affair, and the endorsements were just as plain. You had Rice Krispies, with their trio of noise-making munchkins; the cuddly Tony the Tiger and his Frosties; and Corn Flakes, which has a pop-art rooster, surreal enough to make you wonder precisely what it was that made Mr. Kellogg rise and shine. But a recent stroll through the supermarket here revealed that cereals have become a good deal more…well, hardcore. Needless to say, TC sallied forth with an armful of the best, and bravely risked hypoglaecemia to bring you the following test results.

The Big Unit Breakfast
Sugar content: 37%
Best ingredient: Pyridoxine Hydrochloride

Randy Johnson is the star of our local baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and is known as the Big Unit, a somewhat obvious name given he measures up at 6’10”. He’s known for an intense demeanour, and has been voted the best pitcher in the league, three years in a row. Despite this, and a glower on the box stern enough to turn milk sour, his cereal is a meek-looking creature, being small and blandly O-shaped – shouldn’t it be K’s? [Explanation for British readers: baseball strike-outs, at which Johnson is the undisputed master, are known as K’s]

Their fine taste and excellent crunchy texture – even after soaking – thus came as a pleasant surprise. Admittedly, I’m not sure how much of it was due to the fact that we’d run out of regular milk and had to use diluted condensed milk instead. Attempts to replicate the experiment later with normal semi-skimmed failed, as the kids had already consumed the rest of the test subject. Which I guess is something of an endorsement in itself.

The cereal also provides a good workout, as from about half-way down, you have to expend serious effort, chasing the damn things round the bowl. I believe the baseball term for this is “a nasty slider on the corner of the plate”. [Explanation for British readers: a slider is a type of baseball pitch which…er, don’t worry about it – there will be no more obscure baseball jokes in this review] The box offers an opportunity to purchase an exclusive Big Unit T-shirt and hat; not very exciting, but some of the proceeds are going to help the homeless – and looking at the shirt, you’d probably have to be homeless to want to wear it. Still, Randy never claimed to be a fashion icon. Packaging D, Visual Appeal D-, Flavour B+

Sting
Sugar content: 42%
Best ingredient: Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil

In all likelihood, this will be coming soon to a remainder aisle near you, given the recent conversion of the WCW into a patsy for one member or another of Vince McMahon’s clan. But the mere presence of a breakfast cereal is perhaps symptomatic of the cancer which eventually ate the federation up. Never mind merchandising tie-ins, they failed to focus on basics, including the fact that stars such as Hulk Hogan were well past their sell-by date. Veteran wrestlers are fine when they’re good – the Hulkster was palpably not.

So what about the cereal? Much the same, I’m afraid. The early signs are good, the words “cocoa frosted flakes” promising an intense sugar rush, and it turns the milk an intensely chocolate shade in short order. But the taste… Whatever it is, chocolate doesn’t appear to be involved: reading the ingredients, I see “cocoa (treated with alkali)”, and it would appear as if rather more of the latter than the former made it into the finished product.

Indeed, as I write this, I notice on the bottom of the packet the words, “100% Recycled Paperboard”, and can’t help wondering if that figure includes the actual cereal as well as the packaging. You can also get it in Goldberg flavour (similar, except without the chocolate), but I imagine our packet of that will be stored away in a safe place. Five years down the line, we’ll hopefully be able to auction it on Ebay (“mint – in original box”) to some collector, and make our money back. Packaging C, Visual Appeal B-, Flavour E+

The Powerpuff Girls
Sugar content: 30%
Best ingredient: Carbon dioxide

If it came to a steel cage death-match, there’s no doubt that Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup would take down those noisy pixies, Snap, Crackle and Pop. The merchandising monster behind the Cartoon Network’s biggest stars rumbles steadily on, with this double-barrelled sound machine, which takes Rice Krispies to the next dimension. These don’t only pop in the bowl. By incorporating Pop Rocks (a.k.a. Space Dust) – in colours which somehow manage to be both garish and pastel simultaneously – they also pop during actual consumption. This provokes some interesting scientific questions: how do they distinguish between milk in the bowl and saliva in your mouth?

Nutritionally, this is probably the most dubious of the three, with any dietary benefit being outweighed by the additional candy elements. One also wonders whether your stomach would explode if you ate too much, though the ratio is low enough that you’d probably keel over from a Krispie overdose first. Tastewise, they’re not significantly different from regular RK’s, since the Pop Rocks seem to have no taste of their own.

Nice box though, brightly coloured, and with the shiny patch at bottom left an attention-grabbing beacon. It is also the only one of the three to offer any non-commercial activity, with a comic-strip on the back and a couple of puzzles, as well as a code for the EETandERN website (www.EETandERN.com); in this case, “2JM2-NQMK-K9R2-798”. Packaging B+, Visual Appeal B, Flavour C-